So you’re here for the 48th Telluride Film Festival and have gotten your feet wet. You know your “Qs” from your “W2s.” What more do you need to know to enjoy the show to the fullest?
First, get rid of any notion that you’ll see everything you want to see. Yes, even with the added day and added outdoor screenings in Town Park, there’s no way you’ll see it all. Never fear, once you relinquish that goal, you can settle into the knowledge that what you do get to see will be excellent. This year’s program is packed with films, many that have been waiting a full year to screen here, and they will surprise, delight and move you.
Second, make the time to enjoy this beautiful place. Take a stroll along the river, ride the gondola just for the view, appreciate the stars that seem so close you could grab them from the sky. Make sure to visit the shops and galleries and get away from the queues to enjoy a meal, discuss films and make new friends.
Third, it’s my hope that every film fan will see not just a Hollywood film with guests in attendance, but all the special things that make this film festival unique. Don’t miss the chance to hear a noon talk in the park, bundle up and watch a film outdoors, and take a chance on a movie you know little about or a student film.
As a film lover and writer, this is my favorite film festival for those films that will likely receive an Oscar nomination. I also believe that recommending films is like recommending wine — you must know someone’s palate, mood and what they’re bringing to the table. I’m excited to see “Spencer” for Kirsten Stewart’s performance, “The Power of the Dog” because Jane Champion never disappoints and “Belfast” because Kenneth Branagh has long been a favorite of mine. I’ve had “The Duke” on my radar for the sweetness of the outlandish but true story featuring Dame Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent. How thrilling to have a tribute to Peter Dinklage, with his moving performance in “Cyrano.” Who knew he could sing? And how lucky we are to have Barry Jenkins, a former film festival staffer, as the guest director.
A few of these films have screened or will screen at other festivals, and I’ve been lucky to have seen them already. For me, the joys of festival life are seeing the gems that won’t play elsewhere. The films that Jenkins has programmed like “Looking for Langston” and the gorgeous “Russian Ark.” There are retrospectives like “A Celebration of The Outsiders” or Coppola’s “The Rain People” to look forward to. One film that pairs well with a leisurely meal and long discussion over a fine wine is the documentary, “Julia.”
This delightful documentary directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West (“RBG,” 2018) celebrates the warmth and passion of the celebrated chef and cookbook author Julia Child. It's a bold film that lets the images speak as much as the celebratory chefs interviewed on camera. Cohen and West create le mélange of archival footage and photos with sensuous close-ups of simmering bœuf bourguignon. There's a wonderful contrast of the footage of Julia Child creating dishes for the public television show and the sexy food photography crafted by Claudia Raschke.
For the low-budget television show, we get to glimpse the behind-the-scenes crew crouched below the kitchen counter to hand up ingredients or the premade finished item. There are huge hulking cameras and bright set lights flanking the set. The focus is on Child's personality and her chatty teaching style. In contrast, the interspersed contemporary footage is crafted to highlight the beauty, texture and sumptuousness of the food. The camera moves with ease floating around to get us up close so you can almost smell the food. The filmmakers are drawing us into Child's passion; trying to elicit our taste buds, but also to bring us a shared experience of the sensual nature of cooking.
The film is a love letter to a trailblazer who rejected her comfortable upper-middleclass position and sought adventure and fulfillment. Child could've followed the path she was groomed for in her parochial upbringing, but instead she became a groundbreaking television celebrity. “Julia” is as much about her marriage as it is about her cookbooks. She may not have labeled herself a feminist, but the loving support of her husband Paul, in an era where a woman's place was still very much defined by their husband's career, is remarkable. Child discovered joy and passion in France, and she fulfilled her desire to share that with the world. She was an exceptional woman, and “Julia” is an exceptional documentary.
Drinks with Films rating: 4 glasses of French wine, consumed over a leisurely lunch and possibly, if you’re lucky, a romp in bed out of 5.