Ironically, the film that was clearly the audience favorite, “Amelie,” directed by “City of Lost Children”‘s Jean-Pierre Jeunet, I missed. With so many films to see, it was simply impossible to ever make it to this soon-to-be-released Miramax Film which the program hailed by commenting, “imagine one of Kieslowski’s metaphysical parables rife with accident and coincidence, done with the postmodern speed of “Run Lola Run” and topped off with a dose of Keaton’s transcedent comic innocence.” From what I could tell, most people would agree with this assessment.
Fortunately, I didn’t miss Peter Bogdanovich’s latest, “The Cat’s Meow” (***). While I seemed to be in the minority in adoring the veteran auteur’s witty and savvy indictment of William Randolph Hearst’s ill-fated outing aboard his magnificent yacht in which sybaritic delights lead to murder, the film is so suffused with wonderful performances and expedient storytelling despite its claustrophobic mis en scene that I can’t see how anyone except those completely perplexed by the cast of real-life characters couldn’t be fascinated by the shenanigans. Eddie Izzard is particularly noteworthy as the lovestruck Chaplain as is Cary Elwes playing the ill-fated Thomas Ince. I’ve always found Bogdonavich a fascinating character; a brilliant film scholar, storyteller and rancouteur who seems to have an unerring ability to piss people off with his excessive ego bordering on the comical (I actually found the lengths he went to acknowledge his collaborators on the film a welcome reprieve from the days when he would refuse to appear on a panel together with ex-wife Polly Platt during appearances on behalf of “Targets” and “The Last Picture Show” at L.A.’s American Cinematheque). His fall from grace seems to suffuse the film throughout and if you’re keen enough to be in on the joke, it ultimately comes off as the final, loving tribute of a brilliant protégé to his mentor, Orson Welles, by soundly skewering Welles’ eternal nemesis, William Randolph Hearst. Film buffs will dig it and those who aren’t can just get off on Kirsten Dunst’s delightful turn as Hearst’s mistress Marion Davies or Joanna Lumley’s wickedly wry Elinor Glyn.
Another crowd pleaser was the latest Dogme film from director Lone Schefig, “Italian for Beginners” (***). An ebullient Schefig introduced the film by claiming that Dogme has fallen out of fashion in Denmark, but this didn’t stop her from making this charming one million dollar romantic comedy in which several quirky characters find their lives intersecting in an Italian class…for beginners. Although technically the film is on par with most Dogme films and won’t win any awards for cinematography or production design, the script is droll and delightful with moments of true pathos. It should find a ready and willing audience in the States hungering for this kind of fare when it gets its release from Miramax Films later this year.
Get the whole festival report in part three of THE 28th ANNUAL TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL: POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES>>>