First in a series of Telluride Film Festival roundups.
Volver. Penélope Cruz is no longer an ingénue. Welcome to maturity. Her performance here conjures the sensuality of Sophia Loren and the gravity of Anna Magnani. The movie itself is pure Almodóvar -- women's natural ability to endure guilt and death and grudgery -- though it's not quite Talk to Her. Even though it strives for the same profundity, it ultimately subverts itself with its comic tendencies. The results are good, not great. Festival buzz: Great (I mean, it's Almodóvar). Audience reaction: Grateful, but underwhelmed. My rating: *** Opens Nov. 3 in New York and L.A.
Infamous. In the festival guide, David Thomson called it "the best new film I've seen this year." David Thomson is on crack. Infamous, the second Capote film in two years, stars Toby Jones as the patron saint of effeteness. Jones appears to be doing his best impression of Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. The film boasts an all-star cast that is misdirected into the ground. Infamous feels like a Lifetime original movie written by the staff of Will & Grace. Clichés galore. Redundant jokes and one-liners inspired by Capote's eccentricities. Plot point by plot point, it's nearly identical to Capote, but stylistically, it's like comparing a martini olive with a fried Twinkie. By the time Jones snogs Daniel Craig (who, as Perry, sings directly into the camera toward the end), it's deeply apparent that it's time to let Truman Capote lie peacefully in his grave. Festival buzz: Good. Audience reaction: Tepid. My rating: * Opens Oct. 13 in New York and L.A.
Ten Canoes. Australia's submission for the foreign lanuguage film Oscar, and perhaps the first all-out aboriginal film comedy. Consider its tagline: "Ten canoes, three wives, 150 spears...trouble." It feels a bit long and redundant, and its concept is stretched to the limit, but it certainly isn't something you see every day: written in Ganalbingu language, shot on and around the Arafura Swamp in north-eastern Arnhem Land in Australia and, according to the film's Web site, "The entire cast are people indigenous to the swamp region, mainly Ganalbingu and related clans, who are also responsible for the making of all the traditional artefacts [sic] needed for the film, such as the swamp-specific bark canoes, the spears and other weaponry and the dwellings." Plus, there are a few good laughs and gags. Directed by Rolf de Heer, a Telluride honoree. Festival buzz: None. Audience reaction: Enthusiastic. My rating: ** Release date TBA.