Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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Movie Planner: Steve Persall takes a break at Telluride Film Festival

A BREAK: TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL ROUNDUP

Here's a confession: I spent four days at the Telluride Film Festival and only watched one movie.

Feeling pretty good about that, too.

Someday I'll get psychoanalyzed to determine why I annually choose to spend precious vacation time in a setting that otherwise calls for work. Some kind of subconscious pushback to a job largely built upon other people deciding what I can do, and when.

These vacation times, it's personal. My time, my dime, my choice.

But that doesn't mean I'll totally resist the urge to stash material for later sharing.

My trusty audio recorder collected knowledge dropped by Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart (Sully), Bryan Cranston (Wakefield) and Lecanto High graduate Miles Teller (Bleed for This) during an open-air panel discussion on heroism in movies. Festival honoree Casey Affleck and writer-director Kenneth Lonergan discussed the cinematic concept of home, in conjunction with their well-received domestic drama Manchester by the Sea.

Another interesting panel was devoted to Moonlight, a drama set in Miami's Liberty City district, written and directed by Florida State University graduate Barry Jenkins. Moonlight can be easily pegged as an African-American Boyhood, tracing a maturation from child to man, though the character is played by three actors at different stages.

The cast includes Naomie Harris (Spectre) as the boy's crack addict mother, with Andre Holland (Selma) and recording artist Janelle Monáe, making her movie debut, as streetwise mentors. Moonlight appears poised for major awards consideration, a year after the #OscarsSoWhite movement called out the academy's lack of diverse thinking.

The lone movie I saw was Bleed for This (opening Nov. 23), with Teller crushing it as boxer Vinny Pazienza, who survived a head-on car accident and broken neck to become a champion in three weight classes. You will never look at a socket wrench the same way again.

Movies with the loudest awards buzz coming out of Telluride: Amy Adams' close encounter with aliens in Arrival (Nov. 11); Moonlight (Oct. 21, limited); Manchester by the Sea (Nov. 18, limited); and Damien Chazelle's musical La La Land (Dec. 16). The festival's awards season dark horse: Richard Gere's portrayal in Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, continuing his late-career bloom.

Seems like a good time to get back to work.

ALSO OPENING

Sequel ideas should carry expiration dates. This weekend, followups to movies from the turn of the century, including a milestone horror flick, hope viewers have long memories.

BRIDGET JONES'S BABY

Fifteen years have passed since Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) opened her diary to the world, and a dozen after The Edge of Reason seemed to tie up her fussy love life with a neat bow. Now we have Bridget Jones's Baby (R), which forgets the happy ending the previous movie left behind.

Bridget is preggers, as they say in England, but Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who proposed marriage to cheerfully end Chapter 2, may not be the father. At least Mark is alive, which he wasn't in Helen Fielding's third novel, with which this movie has little in common.

Dad could be Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey), an American in London who's sexier than his surname. Bridget must sort out the child's paternity while remaining true to herself.

But that isn't the scary movie.

BLAIR WITCH

A first viewing of 1999's The Blair Witch Project left me with an aching jaw from clenched teeth, so intense and then-unique was its terror. The movie's revolutionary found-footage conceit has since been done to death and dismemberment, while its online marketing scheme pioneered that practice.

After an underwhelming 2000 sequel, the bogus legend appeared to be played out. Then, at July's Comic Con in San Diego, director Adam Wingard surprised geeks by announcing his new movie — then titled The Woods — is actually another Blair Witch (R) sequel.

In this chapter, James (James McCune) discovers the pseudo-documentary footage shot in the original, recognizing his missing sister among the assumed victims of a supernatural entity. James and five friends trek into the Maryland woods to find her. It's safe bet they'll find something, and even safer to guess it won't be the sister.

Bridget Jones's Baby and Blair Witch were screened too late for Weekend. Reviews will be published at tampabay.com/movies.

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Hell or High Water: Gritty, modern-day western starring Jeff Bridges, above, and Chris Pine.

2 Snowden: Oliver Stone presents his most politically vital movie in decades. (Review, Page 18)

3 Southside With You: Barack and Michelle Obama's first date might even charm Republicans.

4 War Dogs: Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as stoned arms dealers.

5 Don't Breathe: A home invasion goes horribly wrong for the invaders.

UPCOMING RELEASES

(Dates subject to change)

Sept. 23: The Magnificent Seven; Storks; The Dressmaker; The Hollars

Sept. 30: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children; Deepwater Horizon; Queen of Katwe; Masterminds

Oct. 7: The Birth of a Nation; The Girl on the Train

Oct. 14: The Accountant; Denial

Oct. 21: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back; Keeping Up With the Joneses; Tyler Perry's Boo!

Oct. 28: Inferno

   
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