I love the smell of napalm in the morning

There are two types of Telluride attendees (actually, there are probably 247, but I’ll focus on just two): The kind that care deeply about seeing movies and the kind that care a lot about seeing movies.

We care deeply, which is why we are willing to wake up bright and early after ending a movie at 1:00 am, to get a good spot in the Q (again, not the queue, but actually the Sesame Street version–The Letter Q). Call it a touch of the Jewish anxiety or call it wanting to have a bench under my ass; either way, I’ll take an early morning for some certainty, any day.

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This morning was our first late night/early morning combo this year. The first year it was a 5:30 am wake up call to see George Clooney in The Descendants (I was a little sad knowing he was sleeping in the same hotel, just floors above us, likely for hours after the time we were in line). But totally worth it to see Dr. Doug Ross in the flesh.

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I digress.

So this morning, it was rise around 7:00 am after returning at 1:30 am from the three-hour French lesbian drama (because that is how the world has decided to qualify it), Blue is the Warmest Color (Nothing to say here about the controversy from Cannes about the sex scenes in that movie, but let’s just say we were all young once. Let me also say that watching it behind two legit cowboys who were definitely not Brokeback Mountaineers was reason enough for me to stick with it).

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Suffice it to say, we were tired when we made the two-gondola, walk-to the-edge-of- town journey. It was worth it though, because we were 5th and 6th in line to see director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, a movie I predict will nab Best Picture. Our decision to attend this particular showing was calculated because we wanted to attend with Brad Pitt. As part of the festival secrets, you never really know when the big names will come and go, so when you know they’ve arrived, you try to see them as quickly as possible, before their private jet scoots off the cliff, I mean runway, at the Telluride Airport.

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Our suspicions were confirmed when we rode the gondola with four of Pitt’s People. Their conversation was filled with all sorts of information we feel they should have been less loose lipped with, but we were happy to hear that Brad would be at the morning’s showing because he was scheduled to leave before evening.

Score.

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Mornings in Telluride are typically gorgeous. Dewy, sunny and fresh. You can’t help but feel the paper thin air as you breathe in, but a good regimen of fierce hydration and alcohol avoidance is a perfect antidote for the altitude. I mean it when I say that the festival is not just mentally stimulating, it can also be physically exhausting if you don’t play it right. Just this afternoon, we overheard multiple descriptions of some film goers stuck in bed with altitude sickness.

Prepare, people, prepare.

We don’t mind sitting on a bench or on the ground for two hours in line because it brings us the sense of peace that we can choose our seats in the theater (first three rows for movies with Q & A’s and on an aisle toward the door for movies sans Q & A) and gives us time to read, email, Tweet, eat and connect with our fellow film lovers.

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Sure, we don’t see all the movies we set out to see, but no one does. That’s part of the festival’s charm. And there’s something wondrous about making a last-minute decision that was perhaps your fourth option when you originally drew out your day’s game plan a la Friday Night Lights’ Coach Taylor.

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For instance, this afternoon we headed back to Mountain Village for a late lunch that turned into a ‘line lunch’ at the Chuck Jones Theater, while waiting to see The Past, a gripping (pun!) tale by Asghar Farhadi, who also directed A Separation. We’ve seen a handful of great ‘unplanned’ movies that we’ve seen on a whim, outside of any strategy we dreamed up the night before.

I think it’s common to do Telluride the way we each do our lives. Mine is very planned and calculated, until a shiny object comes along and then still, I’ll weigh the options and proceed with caution. Others would rather just go with the flow and despite being turned away from movies because of capacity, there is always something else around the corner.

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That’s one of the wondrous things about this place–around each corner there is another great view, tasty restaurant, talented film maker and another wooden slab of bench on which to place my ass and enjoy another gorgeous Telluride morning.

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