We woke up at our friend Karen’s house this morning and were greeted by the high desert views of Southwestern Colorado. After a 1/2 mile walk to the nearest neighbor (who happens to own a farm, a bakery, a farm stand, a gift shop and coffee joint), we embarked on the 2.5 hour trip to Telluride.
By now we know to get excited when we pass the Double RL Ranch (thousands upon thousands of acres that shield Ralph Lauren from the light of day) and the ‘fancy’ Conoco station on the edge of town. Both are like walking into the front door and foyer of this not-so-sleepy mountain town.
This year, our third, we are back in Mountain Village, a town that sits another 1000+ feet above the already staggeringly high altitude town of Telluride. We stayed here three years ago when Meg surprised me with a trip to this place–the festival–that always seems to feel just like home.
The evening ended with me having the same thoughts I always have at the end of the first day of the festival–if this was the only day I spent here, it would be just perfect.
Watching Tim’s Vermeer was both a delight and an honor. A movie produced and narrated by Penn Jillette and directed by Teller (he has legally changed his name), it’s a story that could go off the rails (why should I give a shit about some rich white dude who has too much time on his hands), but stays firmly on track.
From the moment it begins, you’re laughing, you’re rooting, you’re wondering, ‘will he do it?’ And ‘it’ captivated me for the full length of the film. Like most documentaries, it often doesn’t matter what it’s about because it’s never really about that anyway.
When Teller introduced the film he said, “I”m Teller and this is my partner, Penn Jillette. I don’t get to say that very often.” Insert audience laughter. He went on to say, “This film hasn’t been seen by an audience outside of Penn’s living room until now, so everyone who sees it tomorrow is just a punter.”
The angst and anticipation that you could see rise in his chest as he took his seat (right behind us!) is exactly what Telluride is about at its core. Artists making art (for years and years and years and years–truly) and then sharing it for THE FIRST TIME.
Our second movie tonight was Nebraska, directed by Alexander Payne. His first film that he didn’t write despite the irony that it takes place in his home state of you guessed it. It was a quiet, loving, beautifully told story that never managed to stumble on one single cliche. Bruce Dern effortlessly and gorgeously captivated me during the entire movie and I know that the movie will continue to rattle around inside me for months to come. I believe its Payne’s best since Election and it has easily secured an Oscar nomination for Bruce Dern.
Both movies we saw today were about choosing a direction and never letting go until you get there. You know, even if it makes no sense, takes you down an unexpected path or makes you look crazy. At some point there’s no turning back, despite the fact that logically, it may be the best decision. And both films resonated deeply with me, as I think more and more about age (I am beforty, after all) and I consider what looking backward will feel like as looking forward occupies less time as I age.
With all the hullabaloo at festivals like this, it is easy to get swept up in the star gazing and strategizing, but all it takes is for the lights to go down and the screen to light up to remind me why for four and one half days, there is no place like Telluride.