One Shy of a Six-Pack

If you’re going to watch five movies in one day—as I did at the Telluride Film Festival—

The Telluride view you don't see from a movie theater.

The Telluride view you don’t see from a movie theater.

you’d better start early, with the 9 a.m.(!!) screening. A quick oatmeal with fabulous in-season peaches will get you going.

And then zip right on down to the theater, the one in the elementary school. By the last day of the Festival the crowds are manageable so at least you don’t have to wait on line for hours. In fact I was second-to-last to buy a ticket for 99 Homes, a feature by Ramin Bahrani set during the real estate crisis in Florida. A man who is evicted from his home makes a deal-with-the-devil and becomes an evictor himself. It’s a great, if unsettling story, though I’m suspicious it will make it at the real theaters. Too discomfiting. After the screening, Bahrani does a Q and A with Telluride fixture Werner Herzog.

One of the nice things about being here is the in-the-know sensibility. Last Wednesday night I watched documentary Life Itself, about Roger Ebert, in Elks Park. Ramin Bahrani is prominent mong the young directors Roger Ebert championed before his death in that film and here is Bahrani, live and in person answering questions about this film. How slimy are Bahrani’s characters? Keep your hand sanitizer nearby. As research, Bahrani, spent a lot of time in Florida including at “rocket docket” courts where famously cases are typically decided, always in the banks’ favor, in less than 60 seconds. But when he was there, “the homeowners kept winning. Apparently the judge thought I was a reporter from the New York Times, and even though I wanted to leave I couldn’t. As long as I sat there, people got to keep their houses.”

Off to Movie #2. The car gets me closer to the gondola which takes me up to Mountain Village to for Wild, the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book, starring Reese Witherspoon. She was here earlier…the fancy people are gone now…but that means you can get in. It’s a faithful and good adaptation of the book about a young woman who’s been awful to most everyone in her life—especially herself—and who dodges all kinds of difficulties to find redemption on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Back down the gondola…hustling now…with Randye. We are aiming for Rosewater, Jon Stewart’s directorial debut about the imprisonment, in Iran, of Maziar Bahari, based on his book, Then They Came for Me. We’re making good time, so stop to pick up a sandwich to eat during the film. No time for sit down. They’re letting folks in as we arrive. Whew. Hard to believe this is made by the Daily Show Jon Stewart…powerful film about a reporter imprisoned in the country he’s from.

And next…? Tap my foot trying to decide. I’m always torn between seeing the next big thing months before my friends– like Wild—and movies that I will never be able to see anywhere else. Film #4, “How to Smell a Rose?”, definitely falls into the second category. (And has the added benefits that humping there is getting me lots of steps on my Fitbit, plus it’s at the tiny library theater and is free. “Rose” is a little film about Richard Leacock who invented the portable movie camera, was an early and important documentary filmmaker, and then a film professor at MIT. But most important for the film, he is an engaging and colorful character with lots of good things to say. A scene in his political documentary where the wonks are arguing over their steak orders, was later adapted into the commercial film The Candidate. “But it wasn’t as good there. The scene had to seem real, even if it wasn’t.”

How Far back does this line go?

How Far back does this line go?

And if you weren’t hungry before, Leacock’s cooking in the film will make sure you are afterward.

It’s 8:20 and full dark when I leave the theater.

Can I really do another? It’s Homesman, with Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank, and showing at the park. Randye has the chairs and my blanket in her car, and her movie is running late….but if there’s ever a time to watch five movies….

I pop by the car—I’ve moved it so often I keep careful notes on its whereabouts—to pick up my down jacket and ski pants. It gets to the 40s here at night….and trudge toward the park.

I’m starving and want some of Leacock’s cooking from the last movie, his leg of lamb, or pot au feu, or the crème caramel, “just a little bit of salt”. But there next to the park is a dumpling seller. It’s not leg of lamb, but it will have to do, and I hunker down next to my favorite tree at the park.

“Can you see?” asks the lady from her chair in front of me. Even though it’s crowded here people are so nice. Which helps, because I’m tired and stiff. All this sitting! If the library seats weren’t excellent, I’m now wishing I had one, or anything to protect the back. The knee is talking to me. The back is. Why don’t I leave? It would be nice to spread this movie going out, but this is my last chance…

It’s 1850 in the Nebraska territory and Hilary Swank’s character, who lives “uncommonly alone” is charged with taking three insane women back to Iowa so they can be cared for. So dangerous she hijacks a scalawag played Tommy Lee Jones to help with the mission. Somehow I just couldn’t help yawning. Was it the exhaustion, or was it the movie? A little of each I think.

Five movies. One day. And clearly, not time to post.


About Karen Ray

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