If you've caught our 2023 Venice Film Festival coverage, here are the highlights of the concurrent celebrations in Telluride. The Colorado-based fest has established itself as a showcase for indie-oriented darlings as one enters the awards season, so scroll down for some selected highlights of acclaimed movies to watch out for.
All Of Us Strangers pairs Paul Mescal with Andrew Scott
Man of the moment Paul Mescal (soon to appear opposite Saoirse Ronan in sci-fi drama FOE) fashions a compelling double act with Fleabag's Andrew Scott in this frank and emotive drama from acclaimed British director Andrew Haigh (Weekend).
Scott plays a man who falls into a relationship with Mescal's mysterious loner at the same time he experiences a life-changing event. Returning to his childhood home, he discovers the spirits of his deceased parents (played by Claire Foy and Jamie Bell), albeit preserved in their forties at the same age that he is.
The film's blend of eroticism, the supernatural and discourse on ageing, adapted from the novel Strangers by Taichi Yamada, infuses it with an opaque and intriguing structure, say critics. And the performances are what make it sing.
"Scott and Mescal have electric chemistry; their love scenes are sweaty, intimate, and visceral," writes Maureen Lee Lenker for Entertainment Weekly. "But though their romance has been the film's main selling point, that is actually secondary to the parental love story at play. Still, it's sheer bliss to see these two objects of the internet's affection, who also happen to be acting powerhouses, loving up on each other."
All of Us Strangers is scheduled for a UK release later in the year.
The Bikeriders puts Tom Hardy in control of a Chopper
Director Jeff Nichols has quietly carved out a niche as a chronicler of rural Americana. From his Michael Shannon meltdown pic Take Shelter to the resurgent Matthew McConaughey performance in Mud, Nichols revels in the eccentrics and outcasts to be found in the USA's Deep South and interior states.
Nichols' new movie, The Bikeriders, takes a leaf from the iconography of James Dean, Marlon Brando and the infamous Hell's Angels. Inspired by the 1968 photo book of the same name by Danny Lyon, it tells "a fictional story inspired by a Midwestern motorcycle club, seen through its members’ lives over a decade".
The outstanding ensemble cast includes Tom Hardy (himself no stranger to intense portrayals of loners), Austin Butler, Jodie Comer and the aforementioned Michael Shannon. Several critics have praised the movie as Nichols' best so far.
"The Bikeriders is set within a testosterone-fueled counterculture where brute stupidity frequently prevails, and many viewers will find its violence and code-of-honor brotherhood distancing, or at least familiar movie territory," writes Sherri Linden for The Hollywood Reporter.
"But what resonates beyond the brawls and blood is a profound affection for the people onscreen — those grace notes provided by a fine cast, with Jodie Comer and Tom Hardy stirring undercurrents that are particularly affecting precisely because they’re never explicitly examined or explained."
The Bikeriders is set for release on 1st December.
The Holdovers marks a return to form for writer-director Alexander Payne
Master of the misanthropic, Alexander Payne's singularly acerbic worldview has graced a string of acclaimed movies including Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Descendants and Nebraska. Following this near-unbroken string of critical hits, several of which amassed Oscar wins, Payne seemed to go off the boil with his over-egged sci-fi analogy Downsizing, starring Matt Damon.
The consensus states that Payne has returned to small-scale form with his latest movie The Holdovers, which reunites him with the star of Sideways, Paul Giamatti. The latter is on reliably hangdog form as a much-despised college teacher who is compelled to shepherd the students left behind on campus during the Christmas break. He then reluctantly starts to bond with the rebellious outcast Angus, played by Dominic Sessa.
Critics agree that, in keeping with Payne's best work, The Holdovers masks genuine emotional sincerity behind a mask of blackly comic fractiousness. Variety critic Peter Debruge describes the movie as a "lost '70s classic", elaborating: "Peer beyond the perfectly satisfying Christmas-movie surface, and The Holdovers is a film about class and race, grief and resentment, opportunity and entitlement. It’s that rare exception to the oft-heard complaint that “they don’t make ’em like they used to.”
The Holdovers is released in the UK on January 19th, 2024.
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