I’ve just returned from the 37th annual Telluride Film Festival, held high in the Colorado mountains Sept 3-6th, and damn it was another good year. As a volunteer usher at the Chuck Jones Cinema for the third year in a row, I once again had a backstage pass to see some of the larger films that premiered and screened at the fest; in this post I’ll give ultrashort reviews of every film I saw, and try to recount a bit of the experience of being there as well, with links updated to more substantial reviews as I write them. Continue reading
Archive for the JAGP Category
Rejoice, Tim! /Film is reporting that Veronica Mars and Party Down creator Rob Thomas creator is moving to NBC with a new TV project dubbed “Temps.” It’s revolves around the lives of recent college grads, struggling to find livelihoods in the post-bust economy (a subject I have a special affinity for) and the hilarious, deadpan hijinks that will certainly ensue.
Currently, the pilot has been greenlight by NBC and is in production. Hopefully, the wider audience, national attention, and critical success of his previous projects will catapult “Temps” into new territory for Thomas – although, as /Film points out, the change from Starz to the more lowest-common-denominator-pandering NBC likely means the rehash will have to lose some of its ascerbic wit… and maybe some of the family-unfriendly drug use. Let’s hope the ratings meet the acclaim at least halfway, this time around.
Yep, this is a movie about penises. No matter what lengths the director goes to misdirect the audience with all the banality (read: derivative, Lifetime-appropriated teenage life narratives), the whole thing boils down to a disappointingly simplistic, pubescent fantasy. Yes: that’s bold, italics, AND underlines you see there.
In his first feature film, director Tze Chun weaves a powerful, understated tale about a small Chinese family’s struggles to survive and prosper in suburban Boston. With a keen photographic eye, a provocative script, and a gentle directorial touch, Children of Invention flows effortlessly from hilarious to heartbreaking, and packs a subtle political message about the American Dream that will linger long after its 86 minutes have flown by.
Looking back on the past 30 years of his career, it’s hard to imagine Sean Connery actually made this movie. Featuring scantily clad female dictators, giant talking statues flying through space, and a post-scientific hippie burnout theology, I’m sure he looks back on this as the youthful indiscretion of his filmmaking career, much as I regret the time I chugged milk until I threw up or tried to cough up french fries through my sinuses. That being said, Zardoz reflects a paranoia about the End of The World Due to Irresponsible Human Industry that has seen a huge resurgence in popularity these days, as we consider our power to destroy ourselves, and the need to rebuild humanity. Hopefully when it happens we won’t all be forced to don his bikini-brief costume.
The mid 90’s and early 2000’s were awash in the now cliche, obsessive-detectives-stalking-the-psycho-killer genre. Replete with repetitive story lines, celebrity junkie psychopaths, and the same hard-boiled grimace stamped on the face of every detective with a tender spot for Sam Spade impersonations, the genre surged in popularity during the dark renaissance inspired by the same culture which gave birth to grunge music. David Fincher’s Seven (or, for the typographically anal, Se7en) was certainly not the first, nor was it the last, of this particular niche of crime drama, but within the endlessly recycled mediocrity which has since worked its way almost exclusively onto direct-to-DVD labels, it managed to break new ground with its bold, bleak vision of contemporary culture and an intricate plot so original its twists and turns still resonate today.
I’m a sucker for films that muck around with traditional storytelling motifs. It’s not that I have anything against traditional three-act, beginning-middle-end narratives, but sometimes they can just get so droll and boring. I love a filmmaker / screenwriter who’s willing to take some risks and fool around with the audience’s expectations to produce a plot that breaks outside the bounds of the archetypal Hollywood film. Thank God for Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman.