Before we return to my regular dribble of mp3 downloads, here are my highly opinionated takes on the best films I saw at the 32nd annual Telluride Film Festival. Try and guess how many times I had to utilize Spell Check and raid a Thesaurus:
Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), director Victor Erice's beautifully shot poetic meditation of remote landscapes, haunting dreams and the dangers of Spain's encroaching dictatorship.
The Passenger (1975), a stark masterpiece from Michelangelo Antonioni, starring Jack Nicholson as a man assuming the identity of another, with every long take creating large spaces of disconnect.
Army Of Shadows (1969), a passionate, personal film by Jean-Pierre Melville about the early days of the French Resistance in WWII, this tense noir explores many of the themes in his other works: betrayal, honor and shocking brutality.
The Child (2005), a simple yet moving story of immaturity, greed and salvation--a second Cannes Palme d'Or winner for the Belgium-born director siblings Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.
Wanda (1971), written and directed by (and starring) the late Barbara Loden, this sadly overlooked drama is an almost cinema-verite study of a woman under the influence of everything but her own freedom.
Johanna (2004), a modern retelling of Joan of Arc reimagined as a harrowing Hungarian opera (directed by Kornel Mundruczo, with music by Zsofia Taller).
Paradise Now (2004), a controversial political polemic, written and directed by Hany Abu-Assad, which follows a Palestinian suicide bombing from its fateful beginnings to its tragic ends.
Iron Island (2005), a terse allegorical tale by Iranian writer/director Mohammed Rasoulof.
Brokeback Mountain (2005), a love story which veers somewhat from its source (the original Annie Proulx short story describes the main characters as paunchy and unattractive--director Ang Lee instead casts them as slim muscular hotties), yet whose lesson of unrequited love still packs enormous power.
Sisters In Law (2005), a new documentary from directors Kim Longinotto & Florence Ayisi, investigates domestic abuse in Cameroon, West Africa, finding tragedy and triumph among a group of brave African women.