A glum, hallucinogenic Telluride Film Festival

Daniel Giménez Cacho walks in a barren desert in "Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths"
Daniel Giménez Cacho in “Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths.”
(Limbo Films, S. De R.L. de C.V./Netflix)

It’s 100 degrees outside (still!) and I’m reading our guide to keeping cool during this thing we call a “heat dome” and, curiously, I’m not seeing “drinking a hot cup of coffee” listed anywhere. But that’s where I’m at right now. I’m still a little wasted from a few days in the Colorado mountains attending the Telluride Film Festival, and I need the caffeine to power through this newsletter.

Plus, weather is just a state of mind. And right now, sipping this coffee (not pumpkin spice, God no!), I’m listening to the Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” and, in my thoughts, it’s all scarves and coats and falling snow. You with me? You can feel it, right? I see you ... you’re heading to the closet and grabbing that turtleneck high up on the shelf.

I’m Glenn Whipp, awards columnist for the Los Angeles Times and host of the Envelope’s Friday newsletter, which is back after a brief summer hiatus, ready to serenade you into autumn and beyond.

Telluride Film Festival a muted affair

Times film writer Josh Rottenberg was my roommate during this past week’s Telluride Film Festival. Is that why he’s in a glum mood? I hope not. I bought good craft beer for the fridge, washed my dishes and generally stayed in good spirits, save for that time when we saw a late-night screening of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s interminable “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths” and, on the walk back to our condo, I started hallucinating that Josh was Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and I had to kill him in order to repair injustice.


But other than that, we had fun, didn’t we, Josh?

Anyway, you can read Josh’s wrap of this year’s festival or just sink into this quote from “Armageddon Time” filmmaker James Gray (“The movie business is f—”) and move on to our next item of business.

A boy leans into his grandfather on a park bench.
Banks Repeta and Anthony Hopkins in James Gray’s “Armageddon Time,” which screened at the Telluride Film Festival.
(Cannes Film Festival)

Iñárritu answers his ‘Bardo’ critics

Josh also sat down with Iñárritu to talk to him about “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths.” I could shorten the film’s title to simply “Bardo” on second reference, but I feel like it’s necessary to always include it in full as it captures the spirit of this pretentious, monotonous epic, which concerns a documentary filmmaker caught between his Mexican roots and the fame he has found in the States, feeling broken and displaced.

Critics have not been kind to the three-hour film. The Times’ Justin Chang notes that the movie’s “cinematic dreamscape feels suitably oneiric (a word that pops up in the movie itself), if also more than a little onanistic,” adding that “it is very far from a masterpiece, but no one would deny that it’s Iñárritu’s mastur-piece.”

Iñárritu told Josh that he doesn’t read reviews, but he was definitely picking up on the negative vibes floating around. And he wasn’t having it.

“This [film] is not self-referential,” Iñárritu said. “This is not narcissistic. It’s not me. But I want somebody to explain why I don’t have the right to talk about something that is very important for me and for my family. If I maybe was from Denmark or if I was Swedish I would be a philosopher. But because I did it in a powerful way visually I am pretentious because I’m Mexican. If you’re a Mexican and you make a film like that, you’re a pretentious guy.


“I don’t know if [the critics] have read Jorge Luis Borges or [Julio] Cortázar or Juan Rulfo, but they should read where these things come from and our imaginary tradition of combined time and space in the literature of Latin America. This, for me, is the basis of the film. Why do I not have the right to work in that tradition in the way I like to do it?”

Tempted as I am to respond, perhaps, for the moment, I should heed the words (correctly?) attributed to Borges: “Don’t talk unless you can improve the silence.”

Plus the coffee’s getting cold ...

Alejandro G. Iñárritu's on a film festival step-and-repeat.
Filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s new movie, “Bardo,” screened at film festivals in Venice and Telluride.
(Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

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Timothée Chalamet’s sexy, eerie ‘Bones and All’

I kept busy at Telluride too, and I’ll share some of those stories in next week’s newsletter. One I’ll note now is a late-night screening of Luca Guadagnino’s “Bones and All,” a tender story of young love starring Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell as fine young cannibals trying to negotiate their natures and doing their best to ethically source their next meal.

“This doesn’t seem like a Telluride movie,” an older festival patron mused, debating whether to attend the 10 p.m. screening I caught. And on first glance, it doesn’t, which, in some ways, made “Bones and All” the perfect Telluride movie, a love story spiritually attuned to Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” and possessing an acute understanding of what people on society’s margins must do to survive.

It’s also a movie that opens with its protagonist, shy teenager Maren (Russell, who was a major find three years ago in the unsung gem “Waves”), going to a sleepover and, in the midst of some genial bonding over nail colors, chomping down and devouring a classmate’s finger to the nub.

So, yes, “Bones and All” will be a challenge to Oscar voters who prefer their cannibals to eat their victims’ livers with some fava beans and a nice Chianti offscreen. But Guadagnino has delivered a film that is, in many ways, just as sumptuous as his 2017 classic “Call Me by Your Name,” minus all the beautiful Italian countryside and the delicate James Ivory screenplay. (David Kajganich adapted “Bones and All” from Camille DeAngelis’ novel.)

Gluttons for good movies, though, will devour it.

Two young people sit in the back of a pickup truck.
Taylor Russell, left, as Maren and Timothée Chalamet as Lee in “Bones and All.”
(Yannis Drakoulidis / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

Oh, and the Emmys are Monday!

Television’s biggest night arrives Monday. No ... not the opening of “Monday Night Football.” It’s the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards! A chance to see your favorite stars, provided you have cable and can tune in to NBC or have access to a streaming platform that offers NBC or subscribe to Peacock and want to use the service to watch something other than “The Office” and “Law & Order: SVU.”

Owing to the splintered television landscape, recent Emmy ceremonies have been dominated by the handful of shows that voters zero in on and felt compelled to watch. Last year, it was “Ted Lasso,” “The Crown” and “Mare of Easttown” with a dash of “Hacks” (hurray for Jean Smart!) and “The Queen’s Gambit.” (Is Scott Frank still going on with that acceptance speech?) Plus Michaela Coel! And ... “Hamilton”??? Is it all coming back to you now? No? Keep reading and I’ll drop some more breadcrumbs.

That’s because this year’s Emmys could look a little like last year’s Emmys (how many prizes will “Ted Lasso” win?) or the 2020 Emmys (all hail “Succession”!) or the 2019 Emmys (Bill Hader!). Or maybe voters will forge a bold new path and reward some different faces and ... and ... and what am I talking about? This is the Emmys. I bet you could predict them about as accurately as I can. Want to find out? Read my forecast for this year’s ceremony.

A comic stands onstage with a microphone in a scene from "Hacks."
Jean Smart is favored to win another Emmy for “Hacks.”
(Anne Marie Fox/HBO Max)


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