A Telluride without Festivals is hard to imagine. Each of us has a favorite that we look forward to all year. For me, a relative newbie to Telluride, it was the Film Festival. The cancellation notice on Wednesday left me bereft because I was due to come back to work at the Sheridan Opera House. I was looking forward to seeing my festival friends. Now that I live in New York, it was a big deal to get to come home to Telluride and reconnect. Instead, I’ll stream a few films from last year’s festival roster that are now available online. I’d recommend First Cow or The Assistant. You could embrace the spirit of Telluride Film Festival by watching the documentary celebrating French filmmaker, Agnes Varda. Varda by Agnès is a joyous film and we could use some joy right now!
There’s some good news for cinephiles looking to watch new films. A slew of new movies were released last week on a variety of streaming platforms. Having recently written about racism and LGBTQ films, it was nice to watch some Hollywood films. I choose The Old Guard to celebrate a woman director, Gina Prince-Bythewood and star, Charlize Theron and to get some action scenes. And for some comedy relief, a little Adam Samberg in Palm Springs.
While both films were nice distraction, what surprised me was their depiction of sex and relationships. It’s clear in the angst-filled comedy, Palm Springs, that the lead has been replaying his sad sack role for a long time. He’s slept with many of the wedding guests so I guess it’s not surprising that there’s a brief scene of him having sex with one of the male groomsmen. What’s unusual is the casual way it’s handled in the film. It’s just another one-night stand and no big deal. The joke in the sequence is not that he had sex with a man, but that he was willing to consider sleeping with the father of the bride.
Similarly, in The Old Guard, two of the male warriors have been partners throughout history. There’s a scene where a macho heavy tries to shame one of the men for kissing the other–he responds with a passionate speech about their deep abiding love. Instead of making the gay men suffer for their love, the next scene reveals that they’ve killed all of their heavily armed captors. This is not what one would expect in the middle of an action sequence or to be front and center in a mainstream Hollywood film. From casual depictions of sex between men to a big budget film with central gay characters, it seems there’s been a shift in how Americans are allowing and even embracing, a more inclusive view of sexuality depicted in films.
Drinks With Films Rating
The Old Guard: 3 out of 5 glasses of wine–vintage, eons ago. Not your standard Hollywood action film in that the leads are polyamorous and it’s directed by a woman. There are some inventive action sequences, an intriguing plot and an evil tech/pharma dude in a hoody. I’m not keen on violent films even if it’s women throwing the punches and this one also leaves the plot open for sequels. Charlize Theron owns the screen and newcomer Kiki Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk) brings a bright energy to the film.
Palm Springs: 2 ½ shots of bourbon from an open bar at a cheesy wedding. A great showcase for Andy Samberg; he’s perfect in the role as the sad sack willing to float along with his predicament. The standout in the film is it’s setting, the pools, seedy bar and desert that the young couple escape to and the fiery performance by Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother). She’s plays the sister of the bride as sarcastic, deeply troubled and determined to find a way out. You may watch the film for Samberg, but you’ll remember Milioti’s performance. Now I want a pizza slice pool lounge.