GONE WEST: TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas of sorts in the Rockies, where the 43rd annual Telluride Film Festival is a cinematic gift waiting to be opened.
Telluride is where I've spent many of the past two dozen Labor Day weekends, on vacation but not entirely. I'll bring back the awards season buzz traditionally kicking in there, comments from artists discussing their films and thoughts on whatever films I get to see.
The slate of films and celebrities attending isn't announced until a day before the festival opens. That keeps away those pesky paparazzi and gossip outlets, since Telluride, a former mining town in southwest Colorado, is so remote.
Without those annoyances, visiting artists are much more at ease, casually strolling, shopping, dining, discussing their movies in open-air panels. I've even seen Sean Penn smile there, which says something.
Seven of the past eight Academy Award winners for best picture were showcased at Telluride.
The guessing game of who and which films will be at Telluride begins after the Venice and Toronto festivals announce their lineups of world, U.S. and Canadian premieres.
Two major Toronto selections were deemed Canadian premieres, so they're likely bound for Telluride first, possibly with their stars. Those are La La Land, a musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and Bleed for This, a true-life boxing drama starring Lecanto High graduate Miles Teller. The Venice selection Arrival, starring Amy Adams, also appears in line for Telluride.
Follow @StevePersall or visit tampabay.com/movies for updates.
INDIE FLICKS: EQUITY
Acting life after Breaking Bad is going well for Anna Gunn, with a key role in the upcoming Sully and her shrewd portrayal of a she-wolf of Wall Street in Equity (R).
Gunn brings Skyler White steeliness to the role of Naomi Bishop, a senior investment banker on the rebound from a failed bid to underwrite a lucrative IPO. Another deal is in the works, with a software developer whose social media privacy program is going public. Naomi's ambition and caution give Gunn ample shades of don't-mess-with-me to play.
What lifts Equity above ordinary corporate melodrama is its staunchly feminine perspective, and not only in its lead character. Naomi is circled by strong, possibly corruptible women: her quietly disgruntled vice president Erin (Sarah Megan Thomas) and her college friend Samantha (Alysia Reiner), now a cagey Justice Department investigator.
Behind the camera, Equity is equally represented by director Meera Menon and screenwriter Amy Fox (with Thomas and Reiner as story creators and producers).
Equity even has an homme fatale, Naomi's hedge fund broker boyfriend (James Purefoy), on the lookout for an IPO offering to flop. Fox's screenplay makes the process and its corruption clearer than any lesson in The Big Short, with double crosses cutting deeper. B
OPENING FRIDAY: THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
Hollywood shies away from major releases on Labor Day weekend, figuring moviegoers are cramming in one more vacation at summer's end. A pair of niche movies are taking their chances.
The Light Between Oceans (PG-13) stars Michael Fassbender and Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander as a lighthouse keeper and his wife who are unable to conceive a child. Then an infant girl alone in a rowboat washes ashore. The couple takes her in, raising the child as their own. Everything's rosy until the biological mother (Oscar winner Rachel Weisz) shows up.
It's directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines), adapting M.L. Stedman's novel.
A review will be published at tampabay.com/movies.
ALSO OPENING: MORGAN
Meanwhile, Morgan (R) is this week's obligatory sci-fi/fantasy/horror offering, starring Kate Mara's Victoria Beckham pout as a consultant deciding if a beautiful, artificially intelligent being (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a risky investment. Well, of course it is! Didn't anyone see Ex Machina?
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 Hell and High Water: Gritty, modern-day western starring Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine.
2 Southside With You: Barack and Michelle Obama's first date might even charm Republicans.
3 War Dogs: Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as stoned arms dealers.
4 Don't Breathe: A home invasion goes horribly wrong for the invaders.
5 Equity: Anna Gunn breaks bad as a Wall Street banker on the edge.
(Dates subject to change)
Sept. 9: Sully; When the Bough Breaks; The Disappointments Room; The Wild Life
Sept. 16: Bridget Jones's Baby; Snowden; Blair Witch
Sept. 23: The Magnificent Seven; Queen of Katwe; Storks; The Dressmaker; The Hollars
Sept. 30: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children; Deepwater Horizon; Masterminds
Oct. 7: The Birth of a Nation; The Girl on the Train
Oct. 14: The Accountant; Denial
Oct. 21: A Monster Calls
Oct. 28: Inferno