Film Threat archive logo


By Film Threat Staff | September 3, 2004

1. A Tribute to Laura Linney S/Fri 6:30 PM – T/Sat 8:30 AM

Made possible by a donation from The Lucky Star Foundation

If it seems a tad premature to tribute an actress who just 14 years agowas still a graduate student at Julliard, consider the accomplishments. In those intervening years, Laura Linney has been nominated for an Oscar, a Tony and two Emmys (winning one). She has shared the screen with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Sean Penn, and Jim Carrey and seemed no less adept perpetuating the Whartonian emotional violence of THE HOUSE OF MIRTH (2000) as surrendering herself to the pristine meta-reality of THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998). Indeed, the trick where Laura Linney is concerned is to see if you can guess what she’s going to do next.

The daughter of playwright Romulus Linney, she has spoken of feeling as comfortable in a theater’s catwalk (where she began as a technical apprentice) as on its boards (where she has done Chekhov and Ibsen, and where she has continued to return in spite of her increasing demand as a movie actress). Fresh out of school, she got her first break understudying the daughter part in Six Degrees of Separation, then struggled through a familiar roster of starving-actor gigs. But such toil was handsomely rewarded when, in 1993, she was cast as Mary Ann Singleton in the brilliant miniseries version of Armistead Maupin’s TALES OF THE CITY.

Movie audiences would not get to know Linney until around the time of Frank Marshall’s CONGO (1995). In PRIMAL FEAR (1996), her prosecutor was so lithe, sexy, funny and tough that you left the theater feeling she could teach Marcia Clark a thing or two. That performance turned heads–not least among them Eastwood’s–though after doing ABSOLUTE POWER (1997) and TRUMAN, Linney’s attention began to drift off the Hollywood path. Thus, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME (2000), the movie equivalent of an off-off-Broadway play (it is said Linney earned less than $10,000 for the work) and the best evidence yet that, among her many virtues, the actress possesses a special capacity for putting a prim and proper face on a lively, unconventional soul.

Now she has taken on two films of unusual sexual frankness, both premiering at Telluride: Bill Condon’s KINSEY, where she is wife to the eponymous explorer of gender and attraction; and Dylan Kidd’s bold sophomore feature, P.S., in which her divorced college admissions officer falls for a kid named F. Scott, though she herself is the one overcome with Gatsby’s sense of longing. The latter is a triumphant piece of work in which Linney must be so many things, sometimes all at once–tender, tragic and, in one unforgettable scene, cruel enough to shock Bertha Dorset–that to watch her as she goes is both dizzying and heartbreaking. Put simply, it may be the most remarkable thing she has yet done in what has been an altogether remarkable career. -SF

A compilation of clips will be followed by the presentation of the Silver Medallion and a full screening of P.S. (U.S., 2004, 95m)

2. Payday S/Fri 9:30 PM – M/Sat 1:45 PM

In a proper world it would have been called ‘the big hit movie PAYDAY,’ but this 1973 film was considered too mean, uncompromising, and brutal for our tender sensibilities, probably because the two men that made it happen –director Daryl Duke and actor Rip Torn–refused to let the audience or the character off the hook. In a long line of theatrical and cinematic scalawags, outcasts, loners, sadists, and schemers, Torn has never gone sentimental on us, and his honky tonk and juke joint singer Maury Dann is a boozing, pill-popping, womanizing, ruthless son-of-a-bitch. The bitter pill for us to swallow? He’s hard not to like. Supported by a clever, knowing script by Don Carpenter and some great songs by, among others, the legendary Shel Silverstein, Duke dug into a part of Americana that had hardly been touched and mined some real gold. -BH (U.S., 1973, 103m)

In person: Rip Torn, Daryl Duke, Buck Henry, Saul Zaentz

3. Enduring Love S/Sat 9:00 AM – G/Sat 1:30 PM – T/Sat 9:00 PM

Joe (Daniel Craig) is a successful, articulate university professor living with, but not quite committed to, a quiet but passionate sculptress named Claire (the brilliant Samantha Morton). During what was intended to be a serene weekend excursion with Claire, Joe tries, and fails, to save someone involved in a freak accident. Jed (Rhys Ifans), another man involved in the failed rescue, decides the tragedy has revealed a mysterious bond between himself and Joe. As this increasingly creepy relationship progresses, Joe finds his rational, well-ordered universe unraveling. Craig’s superlative performance–he’s in just about every scene–is the core of this skillful, restrained exploration of the frailty and imperfection of love in its many forms. Roger Michell (CHANGING LANES, PERSUASION) directs; Joe Penhall adapted Ian McEwan’s celebrated novel. -LG (U.K., 2004, 91m) Preceded by SOLKATTEN (d. Stina Bergman, Sweden, 2004, 7m).

In person: Roger Michell, Daniel Craig, Kevin Loader, Stina Bergman

4. Yes S/Sat 1:30 PM – G/Sat 7:00 PM – T/Sun 9:30 AM

None of the previous, formidable accomplishments of pioneer feminist filmmaker Sally Potter quite prepares you for the extraordinarily intricate splendors of this masterpiece. In YES, a successful scientist (Joan Allen) conducts an intensely sexual affair with a Lebanese immigrant worker. But Potter, in true Joycean fashion (“yes” is the last word of Ulysses), departs freely from plot, creating a series of brilliantly choreographed poetic meditations on everything from the metaphysics of dirt, the ever-deepening violence between the Muslim world and the West and the eternal dance of antagonism and desire between the male and female. The term poetic is not used lightly: 90 percent of the dialogue and interior monologue is written in superb Audenesque rhyming couplets! Allen is by turns cerebral and sentimental, bawdy and sensual; with Potter she has created the first fully realized, authentic feminist heroine of the 21st century. -LG (UK, 2004, 100m)

In person: Sally Potter, Joan Allen

5. Hunger S/Sat 4:30 PM – N/Mon 8:45 AM

Writer-director Henning Carlsen and actor Per Oscarsson scrape away everything non-essential from this world-famous Knut Hamsun story. HUNGER paints a landscape of obsession: the realm of a literally starving artist. Pontus, the protagonist in this terrifying tale, is possibly a genius and probably a madman, and he’ll waste away before jeopardizing his talent, integrity, or even his soul. Stunning black-and-white photography, Carlsen’s perfectly focused screenplay and Oscarsson’s scary, heartbreaking performance made this film a worldwide arthouse favorite upon its initial release. Carlsen has been making films for more than 50 years–documentaries, melodramas, comedies, biographies, and folk tales. It is one of the great ironies of 20thcentury literature that Hamsun, an almost universally admired author and Nobel Prize laureate, was also a proud member of the Nazi party. Hamsun remained an unabashed admirer of Hitler until his death in the 1950s. -BH (Sweden, 1966, 108m)

In person: Henning Carlsen, Buck Henry

6 A Tribute to Jean-Claude Carrière S/Sat 7:00 PM – E/Sun 9:15 AM M/Sat 9:45 PM

Made possible by a donation from The Burns Family

Only a few non-directing screenwriters have written a substantial number of significant films. In America, there is Ben Hecht, Waldo Salt and Buck Henry. In Italy, the screenwriting career of Tonino Guerra is a singular case. But in breadth of his interests and talent, in the variety of kinds of films he has helped create, and the range of sensibilities of the directors he has collaborated productively with, Jean-Claude Carrière stands alone. If an award were created for the greatest screenwriter, it would have to be given to Carrière. Look at his filmography and you’ll quickly realize that no one’s record of accomplishment even comes close.

As a young novelist, Carrière learned the art of cinema from Jacques Tati, and his career as screenwriter took off with help from Luis Buñuel. Offered the chance to remake Jean Renoir’s DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID, Buñuel was in need of a French screenwriter, and Carrière was brought to his attention. Thus an extraordinary creative collaboration was born. CHAMBERMAID (1964), which starred Jeanne Moreau, was followed by the erotic classic BELLE DU JOUR (1967), THE MILKY WAY (1969), DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE (1972), THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (1977) and THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY (1974). Carrière has said that Buñuel taught him the art of screenwriting, but it is more likely that the influence was mutual.

Carrière’s essential contribution to Buñuel’s 20-year “late” blaze of cinematic glory would itself be enough to ensure him or any screenwriter an important place in film history. With Carrière, there is more–much more. Along with Jean Gruault, Carrière is the most important screenwriter of the French New Wave, having worked with Jean-Luc Godard (SAUVE QUI PEUT) and Louis Malle (THE THIEF, MAY FOOLS, VIVA MARIA!). Carrière also was an indispensable collaborator for directors from around the world: Andrzej Wajda (DANTON), Phillip Kaufman (THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING), Milos Forman (VALMONT, TAKING OFF), Nagisa Oshima (MAX MON AMOUR) and Volker Schlöndorff (THE TIN DRUM, FALSE WITNESS).

Carrière’s accomplishments are not limited to the screen. He collaborated with Peter Brook on Mahabharata, an epic theater piece based on the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita that they later adapted into a film. He’s written numerous books, including the splendid Secret Life of Film, regrettably out of print, and collaborations with Buñuel, Brook and the Dalai Lama. Add it all up and Carrière clearly emerges as one of the world’s most multi-talented writers. -LG

6A. includes an hour-long selection of clips followed by the presentation of the Silver Medallion and an on stage interview.

6B. is the Carrière-Buñuel masterpiece BELLE DU JOUR (France, 1967, 101m) in a beautiful IB Technicolor print.

7 Viva La Muerte S/Sat 9:30 PM – M/Sun 6:45 PM

Political exile Fernando Arrabal had already achieved notoriety as a playwright and poet when he shot this surrealist blend of politics, eroticism, scatology and ultra-violence in the late ’60s. Less a narrative than an autobiographical collage-poem, VIVA LA MUERTE relives the trauma of a nine-yearold whose father was imprisoned by the Fascist Spanish government. The political allegory is laced with obsessive Oedipal and anti-clerical imagery, some of it revolting, some of it quite witty. In his imagination, the boy alternates between rituals desecrating and canonizing his much-loved, muchhated mother and seeks solace in the revolutionary spirit he associates with his missing dad. Animator Roland Topor (FANTASTIC PLANET) who, with Arrabal and Alexander Jodorowsky formed the Panic Movement, contributed brilliant hand-drawn animation. VIVA LA MUERTE initially was released in the U.S. by a brand-new arthouse distributor: Bob Shaye’s New Line Cinema. -LG (France/Tunisia, 1970, 87m)

In person: Fernando Arrabal, Peter Sellars

8 Overlord S/Sun 9:00 AM – M/Sun 4:15 PM

This mesmerizing film follows a young Brit from his induction into the Army, through his brief training and to his presumed death on D-Day. Director Stuart Cooper seamlessly combines rare archival footage with new material photographed in stunning black and white by Kubrick’s cinematographer John Alcott (he was on break between BARRY LYNDON and THE SHINING). OVERLORD looks as if it was all filmed entirely on location during the war, but, completed in 1975, it plays as fresh as any contemporary work, finding a poetic balance between documentary, narrative and experimental modes. The subtle OVERLORD exists at the opposite of the spectrum from recent big-budget tributes to the Normandy invasion, but is as effective as any of them. The film won several international awards upon its release, but has been missing in action for the nearly 30 years since. Seeing it on the big screen will be one of this year’s revelations. -GM (England, 1975, 85m)

In person: Stuart Cooper

9 Gunner Palace S/Sun 2:00 PM – C/Sun 7:00 PM – E/Mon 8:45 AM

Listen to Armed Forces radio in Baghdad, and you’d be sure that the war in Iraq is wrapping up neatly. Spend a day or so with some of the soldiers and you’ll find the opposite. This startling documentary follows the Gunner Battalion as they patrol the streets, conduct raids, and weather the Iraqi’s growing distrust. Filmmakers Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein spent most of a year taping the soldiers’ exploits, heroic and otherwise, and the result is as hip as APOCALYPSE NOW, as absurd as CATCH-22, as shocking as THREE KINGS and, by virtue of its immediacy, far more devastating than anything you’ll see on CNN. In fact, it’s hard to remember a more potent, pertinent war movie. GUNNER PALACE’s presentation is poetic and restrained–Tucker resists painting a sensational portrait–but its subjects are scared, angry, frustrated, and very eager to return home. -JS (U.S., 2004, 85m)

In person: Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlein

10 Aaltra M/Fri 6:45 PM – T/Sat 11:30 PM – S/Sun 4:00 PM

Two feuding neighbors–a sleepy-eyed tractor driver and a frustrated businessman–are forced to travel together after a freak accident. One hopes to indulge in his passion for Grand Prix motorcycle racing; the other is in pursuit of a mysterious rendezvous with destiny in Finland. Along the way, the two men test the compassion and generosity of those they encounter, with results that are, to say the least, less than encouraging but often very funny. Working in black-and-white Cinemascope, directorstars Benoit Delépine and Gustave Kervern fill AALTRA with imaginative, Tati-like visual gags. But the film’s gentle, comic misanthropic tone owes more to Aki Kaurismaki, who makes a memorable appearance (and utters the film’s final lines of dialogue). AALTRA was wildly popular at the Rotterdam and Kalovy Vary festivals. -LG (Belgium, 2004, 90m) Preceded by LIFE AND DEATH OF A BORING MOMENT (d. Patrick Bossard, France, 2003, 6m).

In person: Benoit Delépine, Gustave Kervern

11 A Tribute to Theo Angelopoulos S/Sun 6:30 PM – N/Mon 2:15 PM N/Sun 1:30 PM

Made possible by a donation from Charles & Jody Goodman

It is one of the most significant, if least widely known, careers in contemporary cinema. Since 1970, Theo Angelopoulos has been assembling a corpus of films marked by their lyrical examinations of contemporary Greek history and classical Greek myth, and by their restless efforts to understand how each weighs upon the other. And lest that make Angelopoulos sound localized in his concerns, consider that the filmmaker has long resisted the idea of becoming more “international,” confident that it is only by plowing deeper into the fractured national identity of his own home country that something of universal relevance might be achieved.

Born into an Athens merchant family in 1935, he would go on to study law at the University of Athens, anthropology with Claude Lévi-Strauss at the Sorbonne and, ultimately, film at IDHEC. But his real movie education may have come within the hallowed walls of Langlois’ Cinémathèque Francaise, where he is said to have spent many hours enjoying, among others, the American musicals of Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donen. Upon returning to Greece, he worked briefly as a left-wing journalist before embarking on his debut feature, RECONSTRUCTION (1970), a loose retelling of the Clytemnestra story, with elements of film noir and a profound concern over the erosion of rural village life at the hands of cities.

That Angelopoulos was frustrated by cinema’s self-imposed limitations concerning time and duration was evident even here. But it was with THE TRAVELING PLAYERS (1975), his masterly study of an itinerant acting troupe in the years 1939-52, that he broke down temporal barriers to the point where a single shot might last for many minutes and carry us through decades of incident. The idea of “flashback” was rendered irrelevant, for in Angelopoulos, history is a continuum, inescapable and ever present. (And so his ALEXANDER THE GREAT (1980) is not about the historical figure at all, but rather a turn-of-the-century bandit driven by quixotic ambition.) Long before ULYSSES’ GAZE (1995, starring Telluride honoree Harvey Keitel), Angelopoulos’ characters often found themselves searching, like Homer’s famous protagonist before them (to say nothing of Angelopoulos himself) for some intangible notion of “home.” In the magnificent LANDSCAPE IN THE MIST, the displaced seekers are two young siblings who believe their absentee father can be located just across the border in Germany, while in both VOYAGE TO CYTHERA (1983) and ULYSSES’ GAZE, the central figures are themselves filmmakers. Indeed, it may be that Angelopoulos is most at home when he is wandering. And so the journey continues in THE WEEPING MEADOW (2004), a work of enormous summary power in which the focus is again on the Greece of the past, but which has been envisioned as the first part of a trilogy that will carry the story all the way up to the New York of the present. Thus, from one Ithaca to another. -SF

11A.The presentation of the Silver Medallion will be followed by a full screening of TRILOGY: THE WEEPING MEADOW (Greece, 2004, 175m).

11B. includes LANDSCAPE IN THE MIST (Greece, 1988, 127m).

12 Adam and Paul C/Fri 5:00 PM – N/Sat 6:45 PM – S/Sun 10:00 PM

Made possible by a donation from The Inn at Lost Creek

It may be the most unromantic comedy ever: two drug-addled, lovable losers stumble through 24 hours of miserable misadventures. Adam (Mark O’Halloran, who also wrote the screenplay) is the taller, slightly less incompetent one; Paul (Tom Murphy) is slight and prone to freak accidents. Homeless, penniless, and clueless, the two are recovering, or maybe not, from a tragedy involving a friend. No matter. Adam and Paul have work to do: scoring drugs, failing at even the most petty crimes, alienating any remaining acquaintances who will still look them in the eye. It’s tragic, painfully funny stuff, and defiantly deadpan: think Samuel Becket meets Laurel and Hardy. Director Lenny Abrahamson, who won the award for best first feature at the Galway Film Fleadh, mixes slapstick and grunge, including a blissful drug scene that unfolds on the dismal streets of Dublin. Politically incorrect, but priceless. -JS (Ireland, 2004, 82m) Preceded by RYAN (d. Chris Landreth, Canada, 2004, 15m)

In person: Lenny Abrahamson, Mark O’Halloran, Jonny Speers

13 Keane T/Fri 11:30 PM – M/Sat 7:00 PM – S/Mon 9:00 AM

If any plotted movie could accurately be called a one-man show, this is it. On screen every minute, Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers) is utterly riveting as William Keane, a mentally disturbed homeless man. At one minute totally oblivious to those around him Keane is in the next nearly fanatical in his demand for understanding and sympathy. Much of his agony derives from a moment of lapsed attention when his six-year-old daughter was abducted, an event whose very reality becomes questionable as we watch William’s self-destructive attempts to cope with it. Keane’s tentative overtures to an impoverished single mother with a little girl are overwhelmingly suspenseful. Lodge Kerrigan (whose CLEAN, SHAVEN and CLAIRE DOLAN premiered at Telluride) works in an intensely minimalist style, his camera never far from the tortured protagonist. A disturbing, demanding and remarkably accomplished film. -LG (U.S., 2004, 89m) Preceded by DROP (d. Robert Mowen, U.S., 2004, 6m)

In person: Lodge Kerrigan, Robert Mowen

14 Baober in Love N/Fri 9:30 PM – T/Sun 11:30 PM – S/Mon 2:30 PM

Imagine a fusion between the post-MTV melancholy of Wong Kar-Wai and the high-tech whimsy of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s AMÉLIE, and you’ll get a feeling for Li Shaohong’s dazzling tragicomedy. Hugely controversial in China for its sexual frankness, the film is also noteworthy for its depiction of a completely new generation of middle-class Chinese, as technologically adept as anyone from the Silicon Valley and already disaffected with material comforts that don’t satisfy the heart. In the film, the diffident, ambivalent Liu Zhi (Huang Juc) is tired of keeping up with his wife’s business success and feverish materialism. Thanks to an errant digital videotape, he connects with the “baby” Baober (Zhou Xun). Shaohong roots Baober’s poignant emotional difficulties in eliptical memories of China’s traumatic emergence from the Maoist period. With virtuoustic contributions from Oscar-winning production designer Tim Yi and cinematographer Zeng Nianping. -LG (China, 2004, 99m)

In person: Li Shaohong, Zeng Nianping

15 Being Julia T/Fri 6:30 PM – G/Fri 9:30 PM – C/Sat 1:00 PM

Made possible by a donation from Warren & Becky Gottsegen

Istvan Szabo’s latest film is set in the world of London theatre in the 1930s, where the stage diva Julia (Annette Bening) decides to disrupt her daily routine. Turning her back on her fawning, adoring friends (acted by a stellar group including Myriam Mezieres, Juliet Stevenson and Bruce Greenwood), Julia also betrays her husband (Jeremy Irons), a witty but ruthless producer, by starting an affair with a young American who is using her to rise in society. Once Julia gets the lay of the land, the gloves come off and a witty comic revenge ensues. That Bening effortlessly dominates the proceedings is no surprise–she’s equal parts the Margo Channing of ALL ABOUT EVE and Madame Merteuil of VALMONT (a role Bening performed brilliantly). But Irons’ deliciously subtle comic line readings are a huge unexpected bonus. Ronald Harwood adapted Somerset Maugham’s story. -LG (U.S.-Canada, 2004, 104m)

In person: Annette Bening, Istvan Szabo

Pordenone Presents

16 Blackmail G/Sun 2:00 PM

Alfred Hitchcock’s best silent film was released in two versions. As the first British “talkie,” it pioneered sound effects that are widely discussed in film studies textbooks. But the earlier silent version, adapted from a stage play by Charles Bennett, is an even more compelling and enjoyable thriller. Its main themes (the elusive boundary between innocence and guilt) suggest Hitchcock’s later work (VERTIGO, NOTORIOUS). And its visual highlights include a climactic chase around the roofs of the British Museum that was shot in a studio with the Schüfftan process, then a revolutionary optical device. Presented in a new print, this early classic comes to Telluride with an original score from the Alloy Orchestra. Watch out for the director’s irresistible cameo with an unruly child! -PCU (England, 1929, 76m) Preceded by GUS VISSER AND HIS SINGING DUCK (U.S., 1925, 3m)

In person: Paolo Cherchi Usai and The Alloy Orchestra

17 Palindromes G/Fri 7:00 PM – T/Fri 9:00 PM – N/Sat 9:00 AM

Todd Solondz has always been a close observer of human passions and frailties, an artist whose palette is one of contradictory acts: of class struggle, sexual ambiguity, everyday desires and ambitions, of hope abandoned or perversely realized. Such themes figure prominently in Solondz’s startling, poetic new film, which explores the circular nature of life, joy, suffering, and death that encompasses the human comedy. With echoes and evocations of Alice In Wonderland and Charles Laughton’s NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, Solondz brings an exorbitant head and heart to the adventuresome plight of Aviva, a young runaway, and the squalid, ecstatic roadside attractions of her singular journey. There simply is no living filmmaker working in this theater: exploring taboo with eyes wide open, and an exemplary tenderness that lends dreams and reality an ineffable, spiritual iridescence. He is a warrior-poet of the first rank. -BW (U.S., 2004, 100m)

In person: Todd Solondz, Ellen Barkin

18 Nobody Knows C/Fri 8:00 PM – E/Sat 1:30 PM – N/Sun 9:00 AM

Keiko (the TV personality You) is an irresponsible but lovable single mom, a tragicomic figure who smuggles her four kids–each the offspring of a different father–into an apartment that’s more expensive than she can possibly afford. After Keiko goes off in search of her next dream husband, her eldest son Akira (14-year-old Yuya Yagira, winner of the best actor award at Cannes) must adopt the role of parent. Hirokazu Kore-eda (AFTERLIFE) takes a story “ripped from the headlines” and, instead of an earnest movie on the Crisis of the Contemporary Family, applies a mixture of melancholy, detachment and tenderness. A benign update of LORD OF THE FLIES, NOBODY KNOWS layers tiny detail upon tiny detail and contrasts scenes of pathos with bursts of unexpected comedy. Kore-eda treats all of his characters with immense but quiet compassion, building toward a conclusion that plausibly merges tragedy with stoic optimism. -LG (Japan, 2004, 141m)

In person: Hirokazu Kore-eda

19 House of Flying Daggers O/Fri 8:30 PM – T/Sat 3:00 PM

Made possible by a donation from The Bauch Family

From its astonishing beginning–a set piece mixing erotic dance and virtuoso martial arts fighting–Zhang Yimou’s film establishes theatrical role-playing and performance as main motifs. But HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is also a pleasing romantic melodrama and, finally, a high operatic tragedy that explores the conflict between honor and desire. Two policemen, played by Hong Kong action vet Andy Lau and Wong Kar-Wai leading man Takeshi Kenshiro, are on the hunt for the outlawed revolutionary group called the Flying Daggers. They plan to win the confidence of the blind daughter of the group’s slain chief (played by CROUCHING TIGER’s Zhang Ziyi) and then destroy the group’s new leaders. Telluride favorite Zhang Yimou, a tributee in 1995, effortlessly surpasses the achievement of his previous foray into period action, HERO, thanks to an awesome performance by Ziyi that thrusts her to the forefront of Asian actresses. -LG (China, 2004, 119m)

In person: Zhang Ziyi

20 Kinsey T/Sat 6:00 PM – G/Sat 9:30 PM – C/Sun 9:00 AM

Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey changed American culture with a simple but revolutionaryexperiment: he asked people for honest descriptions of their sexual lives. Kinsey’s wildly popular books revealed us to be far more sexually diverse than was ever suspected. By shattering myths and stereotypes aboutgender roles and sexual preferences, Kinsey helped create the sexual revolution. Liam Neeson brilliantly conveys the eccentricity and intellectual passion driving this scientific adventurer, and is aided by a skillful supporting cast headed by Laura Linney and Peter Sarsgaard. In his previous film GODS AND MONSTERS, writer-director Bill Condon imagined the forces that drove FRANKENSTEIN creator James Whale; the superb KINSEY does the same for our best-known sexologist. More remarkable, Condon makes intellectual activity compellingly dramatic, confronting its unpredictable personal and social costs. KINSEY is a film for adults in the best sense. -LG (U.S., 2004, 118m)

In person: Laura Linney, Bill Condon

21 The Worlds of Michel Gondry G/Sat 4:30 PM

There’s no such thing as a typical Michel Gondry music video. Each one seems to employ a whole new set of components–low-fi animation, mindbending stop-motion, dizzying aerial photography, Busby Berkeley-style choreography. Whatever the style, Gondry manages, in just four or five minutes, to build an entire little universe, one that’s often off-kilter, playful, and/or eerie. He’s both magician and theoretician, fluidly moving from the heady to the wondrous, from the neurotic to the exuberant, sometimes within the space of a single scene. In this program, critic Elvis Mitchell replays some of Gondry’s most memorable short films and videos (Gondry’s musical collaborators include Beck, the Rolling Stones and Björk), and discusses Gondry’s jump to feature filmmaking with ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. Gondry will also screen some new surprises. -JS (total run time: 90 minutes)

In person: Michel Gondry,

22 Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinémathèque E/Fri 8:30 PM – E/Sat 8:15 AM

To say that Henri Langlois (1914-1977) is a cultural icon of the 20th century is no understatement. He saved thousands of films from destruction under the Nazi occupation. He made the Cinémathèque Française one of the greatest film archives in the world. He helped give birth to the Nouvelle Vague by teaching the art of film to Truffaut, Godard, Rohmer, and Chabrol. His dismissal from the French Ministry of Culture triggered student protest in the memorable days of May 1968. He was revered for his knowledge of cinema, feared for his eccentric personality and hated for his autocratic methods. Jacques Richard has tackled this explosive mix in the most comprehensive biography of the only cinephile ever to receive an Academy Award. Your views on film preservation will never be the same after seeing Langlois in action! -PCU (France, 2004, 210m)

In person: Jacques Richard, Paolo Cherchi Usai

23 Million $ Legs N/Fri 7:30 PM – N/Sun 10:15 PM

This is the perfect film for 2004: its major themes are national politics and the Olympic Games. W.C. Fields is the President of the proud but really weird country of Klopstokia (take a bus to Freedonia and hang a left). Political challengers must beat the sitting president at arm-wrestling. Do you have to know more? OK–all the women in Klopstokia are named Angela and all the men are named George. Why? That question and other equally important ones are answered in the course of this dizzy satire, whose trek to the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles results in an inspiring melange of surrealist silliness. With Jack Oakie, Ben Turpin, Andy Clyde, Hugh Herbert and the inimitable Lyda Roberti, world-class vamp, nightclub singer extraordinaire, and possessor of one of screen history’s most impenetrable accents. -BH(U.S., 1932, 64m) Preceded by fragments from A BLONDE’S REVENGE starringRuth Taylor (U.S., 1926, 17m).

Presented by Buck Henry

24 Kontroll O/Sat 8:30 PM – T/Sun Noon

This strikingly inventive and original debut film, winner of the “award of youth” at Cannes, takes place entirely in a cavernous, artfully photographed subway system in an unidentified Eastern European country. It begins as a creepy, Stephen King-type horror tale: someone or something is throwing people in front of speeding trains. But that element quickly becomes a subplot as writer-director Nimrod Antal switches focus to a squad of ticket inspectors–the lowest rung of their society’s bureaucracy. These idiosyncratic comic losers are grunts in a domestic war to retain social control. The least incompetent among these funny, melancholic and weird men is Bulcsu (Sandar Csanyi), a memorable character whose destiny we come to care about. As an investigation of post-Communist uncertainties, KONTROLL is an attempt to meld social commentary with thriller-action film dynamics. It succeeds to an impressive degree. -LG (Hungary, 2003, 105m)

In person: Nimrod Antal

25 Bad Education T/Sun 6:00 PM – G/Sun 10:00 PM – C/Mon 9:00 AM

In ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER and TALK TO HER, Pedro Almodóvar deepened Hollywood’s screwball comedy tradition with unpredictable bursts of violence, melodrama, and theatrical irony. Here, he performs the same trick on film noir. In BAD EDUCATION, the hero-victim Ignacio (Gael Garcia Bernal), like many recent Almodóvar protagonists, alters his destiny by turning his experiences into a work of art. His short story The Visit tells of the revenge he dreams of taking against his femme fatale (a pedophile priest!) and of his childhood love for a boy named Enrique. The Visit comes into the hands of the grown-up Enrique (Fele Martínez), a successful gay filmmaker who is tempted to rework his own erotic-romantic past with Ignacio in both art and life. BAD EDUCATION reconfirms Pedro Almodóvar as one of our greatest directors. -LG (Spain, 2004, 110m)

In person: Gael García Bernal, Fele Martínez, Javier Giner

26 THX 1138 C/Sun 4:00 PM

Technical services provided by Texas Instruments/DLP Cinema

With astonishing lucidity–if not clairvoyance–George Lucas’ audacious, ambitious debut feature imagines a world where drug-induced conformity and constant state-sponsored surveillance rob people of their autonomy and humanity. In THX 1138, all existence is reduced to the promotion of consumption and corporate efficiency. Robert Duvall, in his first starring role, is superb as a machine operator who bucks the System, thus proving the System doesn’t work. Lucas teamed up with film-school pal Francis Ford Coppola and inspired editor/sound designer Walter Murch to create a dazzling, dystopian vision of a high-tech society gone awry. THX 1138 is alternately thrilling, funny and scary, and layered with social commentary– it arguably eclipses the STAR WARS films as a creative accomplishment. THX 1138 will be screened for the first time in a state-of-the-art digitally remastered version, featuring never-before-seen footage. -LG (1971, U.S., 95m)

In person: George Lucas, Elvis Mitchell

27 Unforgivable Blackness G/Sat 8:00 AM – E/Sat 7:00 PM

“In looking over the years of my tumultuous career I am astounded when I realize that there are few men in any period of the world’s history who had a more varied and intense experience than I.” That’s legendary heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson, writing in his autobiography In the Ring and Out. Ken Burns’ riveting four-hour documentary confirms this, showing how Johnson’s astonishing triumphs in the ring and determination to always be his own man smashed the myth of white supremacy. The flamboyant, articulate and supremely gifted Johnson broke the color barrier decades before Jackie Robinson stepped onto a professional baseball field, and his actions as an athlete and a public figure forever altered African-American experience and America itself. Keith David reads Burns’ elegant narration and Samuel Jackson gives us Johnson in his own witty and eloquent words. -LG (U.S., 2004, four hours including 20m intermission)

In person: Ken Burns

28 Harvest Time C/Sat 4:00 PM – E/Sun 1:15 PM – M/Mon 9:15 AM

Marina Razbezhkina’s first feature begins as a traditional memory-film, with the narrator-hero recalling his early childhood on a Soviet collective farm. His family includes his older brother, beloved father (who has suffered the loss of both his legs in World War II), and fanatically hardworking mother, a tractor driver who holds things together. In a manner reminiscent of early silent film poets like Dovzhenko, HARVEST TIME depicts rural Russia as both brutal and astonishingly beautiful. Animals, the weather and the landscape are fused with remembered family rituals in one sweepingly lyrical celebratory vision. But when the mother commits a savage ritual to save the father’s life, HARVEST TIME gives way to an ironic study of the fate of memory in Russia today. Razbezhkina’s film won the critics’ prize at the Moscow festival. -LG (Russia, 2004, 68m) Preceded by PROSHANIE (d. Maria Saakyan, Russia/Armenia, 2003, 27m).

In person: Marina Razbezhkina, Maria Saakyan

29 Moolaade O/Sun 8:30 PM – T/Mon 8:30 AM

The title of Ousmane Sembene’s new film literally means “protection,” and it refers to the ritual law assuring that a community must take responsibility for the well-being of its guests. MOOLAADE’s story follows Collie, a village woman who cites moolaade to shelter four neighborhood girls seeking refuge from a knife-wielding holy woman. Collie’s goal? To protect the girls from another religious practice: female circumcision. This utterly compelling drama, universally lauded at Cannes, is an example of Sembene’s great irony and tact, and more evidence that he is Africa’s most important filmmaker. Sembene does more than condemn outdated religious practices; he shows how traditional tribal values can be used for both humane and destructive purposes. MOOLAADE confronts one of the continent’s urgent controversies (the practice of female circumcision continues in 39 African nations); its shattering climax recalls the final scenes of ON THE WATERFRONT. -LG (Senegal, 2004, 120m)

Presented by Peter Sellars

Beyond Ecstasy: the Cinema of Gustav Machaty

Gustav Machaty (1901-63) remains one of the most underrated directors in film history, and this mini-retrospective asks the question: How did such a major talent get lost? The nomadic Machaty left Prague at 20, soon landed work as an assistant with D.W. Griffith and Erich von Stroheim and then directed his first feature, KREUTZER SONATA at age 25. Machaty created his finest work, including the three films here, at home in Czechoslovakia, but he returned to Hollywood, where he found only limited opportunities to direct. Despite support from Dalton Trumbo, with whom he worked on JEALOUSY, and, later James Agee, Machaty directed just two films after 1939.

Programs selected and introduced by Pierre Rissient.

30 Ecstasy M/Fri 9:45 PM

Famous for its nude scenes, for introducing Hedy Lamarr (then Hedwig Kiesler), and for a controversial evocation of a female orgasm, the scandalous ECSTASY was condemned by the Vatican after its premiere at Venice. But this is the work of a true cinematic poet, and is filled with magnificent details–when Machaty strikes right, the effect is unforgettable. ECSTASY, another of Machaty’s provocative love triangles, for years has been seen only in shortened, compromised versions; this restored print should help return the film and Machaty to their deserved places in film history. -PR (Czechoslovakia, 1933, 86m)

31 Erotikon N/Sat 1:45 PM

1927 and 1928 were two of the greatest years in film history, a time when silent cinema achieved such poetry, beauty, and radiance and then died– as do the loveliest flowers–while still fresh. EROTIKON, one of the finest of these films, tells the story of a young girl seduced by a wealthy stranger and then caught in a web of jealousy. Deceptive and lyrical, stark and sophisticated, EROTIKON caused a scandal when it was first released, thanks to Machaty’s frank, naturalistic depictions of sexual encounters. Today, it still feels modern: crystal clear, fluid, immediate, and urgent. -PR (Czechoslovakia, 1929, 87m) With the Mont Alto Orchestra in performance.

32 From Saturday to Sunday M/Sun 9:30 AM

Machaty’s film broke new ground technically–it was one of the first sound films in which the actors seem so at ease and natural. More important, infused with poetry–it may remind you of L’ATLANTE, the Czech films of Milos Forman and Ivan Passer, and even early Jean-Luc Godard. A pretty young typist is trapped in a web of misunderstanding involving an aggressive suitor, his 1000-crown note, and a more chivalrous man. Like EROTIKON, the poet Vitezslav Nezval wrote the film’s story, which is rich in social commentary. -PR (Czechoslovakia, 1931, 69m) Preceeded by Machaty’s MGM 1938 “Crime Doesn’t Pay” short THE WRONG WAY OUT (17m), which anticipates Nicolas Ray’s THEY LIVE BY NIGHT.

For more info, visit the Telluride Film Festival website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon