Telluride 50 Kicks Off with Rip-Roaring ‘Bikeriders’
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film Telluride 50 Kicks Off with Rip-Roaring ‘Bikeriders’

Telluride 50 Kicks Off with Rip-Roaring ‘Bikeriders’

Telluride 50 Kicks Off with Rip-Roaring ‘Bikeriders’

“It’s hard to get here,” said Telluride Executive Director Julie Huntsinger at the opening day press conference. “So we should really knock your socks off. The mayor wants to talk to us now, and I have nothing for you except stop the price gouging!”

After lengthy negotiations with the unions and hard-won interim waivers for some of the indie films showing this year, Telluride launched on August 31 with a festival brunch packed with filmmakers on a balmy mountaintop. There were fewer stars than usual, but there was plenty of talent on hand. Jon Batiste, freed from late night television, came to Telluride with his wife Suleika Jaouad, ahead of a performance in concert with Matt Heineman’s documentary “American Symphony,” which is seeking a distributor.

Sony Pictures Classics’ co-president Michael Barker was reunited with German actress Sandra Hüller (“Toni Erdmann”), who is here with two Cannes hits, “The Zone of Interest” (A24) and Palme d’Or winner “The Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon). Barker also introduced Leonie Benesch, the star of Ilker Çatak’s German Oscar entry “The Teacher’s Lounge,” which has been building buzz ever since its Berlin debut.

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Also on hand were German directors Werner Herzog, a Telluride regular who is not showing a film this year, and Wim Wenders, who will show two Cannes films as he receives the Silver Medallion: “Anselm,” in 3D, and “Perfect Days,” in Japanese, which is eligible to be the Japanese Oscar entry but is an unlikely selection from that country. Another regular, Alexander Payne, will show “The Holdovers” (Focus) starring Paul Giamatti. As usual he’d rather watch films than do interviews. Later in the week Yorgos Lanthimos arrives from Venice to accept his Silver Medallion tribute and show “Poor Things” (Searchlight). Ethan and Maya Hawke and Laura Linney are also in town for their Flannery O’Connor biopic “Wildcat,” which is seeking distribution. And so is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, promoting A24 film “Tuesday,” from first-time British director Daina O. Pusic.

“We like some of those exciting people,” said Huntsinger, “but it’s really the movies that matter most of all.”

Jon Batiste

The movie shown after the patron’s brunch, Jeff Nichols’ “BIkeriders” (Twentieth Century Studios, December 1), which was inspired by a 1960s book of photographs about a Chicago motorcycle club, did not have its stars on hand. Tom Hardy, Jodie Comer, and Austin Butler carry the three-hander, which is a sometimes romantic, often intense portrait of a subculture that changes and becomes more violent over time. Hardy is superb as the club boss who struggles to hold his unwieldy and rowdy members together. Comer is an outsider who falls for and marries a pugnacious, reckless biker (Butler). Their scenes are electric. The movie is neither conventionally structured nor narratively propulsive, but it has kinetic cinematic grace. Nichols’ “Loving” landed a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Ruth Negga in 2016. The actors branch will admire these performances.

And tonight will see the premieres of Emerald Fennell’s “Saltburn” and George C. Wolfe’s “Rustin.” Quite a beginning.

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