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HAMMOND: Controversial ‘Shame’ Arrives, Stirring Telluride Talk And Scaring Distribs; David Cronenberg’s ‘A Dangerous Method’

Pete Hammond

On the heels of their world premieres at the Venice Film Festival, David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and Steve McQueen’s Shame had their North American premieres at Telluride on Sunday. Both films star Michael Fassbender, and in the controversial latter film, he really reveals all as does co-star Carey Mulligan. The sexually provocative scenes were enough to guarantee an NC-17 rating, which made at least three potential distributors who saw it here skittish. One told me that without the 55-plus crowd this art picture will die and the potential NC-17 will drive them away. But McQueen isn’t editing it even if distribs suggest cuts. (For instance, Mulligan who plays a night club singer does a rendition of New York, New York that lasted longer than the Spanish Civil War.) Despite the film’s attributes, Shame will be a very tough sell even with sex scenes as marketing bait. McQueen was still in Venice and couldn’t make it to the Rockies. But he sent a video introduction. Reaction among the packed audiences for the first two showings of Shame today were mixed. Some hated it and some appreciated it, but no seemed to be doing cartwheels except critics in Venice.

One thing is clear, however: Fassbender is a definite star, not only in McQueen’s film but also in A Dangerous Method, playing Swiss doctor Carl Jung opposite his intellectual equal, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). He keeps his … Read More »

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HAMMOND: Jennifer Garner’s Telluride Debut Smooth As ‘Butter’; Clooney Watch

Pete Hammond

I ran into Jennifer Garner Saturday afternoon at the candy counter of Telluride’s tiny Nugget Theatre and told her I was looking forward to seeing the new film she produced and stars in, Butter, which was having an official sneak preview at the festival later that night. “Thanks, but I hate it when people tell me that. It makes me too nervous,”  she said. She shouldn’t have worried. The edgy smart comedy played liked gangbusters at its first packed screening at the Galaxy Theatre. There were big laughs for the small-town butter-carving satire, which might get a year-end release from The Weinstein Company to qualify for awards, especially for the Golden Globes and its comedy category. Garner nails the Michele Bachmann-like character in a way that’s smooth-as-buttah. The film itself is reminiscent of Michael Ritchie’s Smile and Alexander Payne’s Election, with both comparisons meant to be a compliment. In fact, shortly afterward, Payne told me he is anxious to see the film himself. Before it rolled, director Jim Field Smith told the crowd what pressure he was under to finish the film in time for next week’s Toronto Film Festival — and then was told it would be needed even earlier for Telluride. “Come on, you can do it,”  Harvey Weinstein told him. Then there were the unexpected earthquakes, hurricanes, and a scary landing at the Tellruride airport that all contributed to his feeling he wasn’t going to make the deadline, but he did. “This is the first audience anywhere to see the film, so we could just die,” Garner added before forgetting to introduce co-star Ty Burrell (Modern Family). Read More »

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HAMMOND: Telluride Heats Up With Premieres From George Clooney, Glenn Close; Rumors Of Johnny Depp Sightings

Pete Hammond

It was George Clooney 24/7 as the 38th Annual Telluride Film Festival kicked into high gear Friday. Clooney might as well have been running for mayor, if the reaction to his appearance at the Partrons Brunch in the morning was any indication. He was taking photos with anyone who asked and talking up a storm with any festival-goer who ventured near. I asked him about Deadline Film Editor Mike Fleming’s exclusive report that he was dropping out of the planned Warner Bros film Man From U.N.C.L.E., directed by his former partner Steven Soderbergh. Clooney indicated he would love to do it “but I realize I’m 50 now and am going for neck and shoulder surgery soon and just can’t do it physically,” he told me with a sigh. He also said he is skeptical about Soderbergh’s retirement pronouncements and hopes Contagion (Sept. 9) is a big commercial hit for him.

There were also continuing rumors that Johnny Depp was in town. Which must mean that Sunday’s scheduled unannounced sneak would be his long-gestating The Rum Diary. I couldn’t find anyone willing to confirm it, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Always a guessing game to see what festival co-directors Tom Luddy, Gary Meyer and Julie Huntsinger have in store at Telluride each year.

The festival already announced a premiere of The Descendants as well as a tribute program to Clooney. There is also buzz that … Read More »

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