When is it OK to relay the reax of trusty sources to a film if you actually haven't seen it yourself? That's the crux of a cyber-smackdown that erupted over the past few days after Jeff Wells of Hollywood-Elsewhere.com blabbed the views of some witnesses to the unspooling of a 20-minute preview of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" at the Telluride Film Festival. Anne Thompson of Variety.com tut-tutted Jeff's account by insisting that it "played well in the Opera House with the folks who actually saw it."
Meantime, in our podcast chat, Pete Hammond admits to siding with Anne Thompson. CLICK HERE to download the MP3 file and listen to our chat. (Note: You may need to hold down your computer's control key while clicking.)
Pete also shares that view in his "Notes on a Season" article for TheEnvelope.com: "Voracious movie bloggers, with a need to be first rather than right, took shots at the film over the weekend on the basis of the modest Telluride peek. They would be advised to hold their reviews a few months until the other 2 hours and 25 minutes can be seen." READ MORE
Well, that caused Kris Tapley over at InContention.com to pop off in the headline, "Pete Hammond can’t resist sticking it to the blog-o-sphere." In the article, Kris obviously sides with Wells as he harrumphs, "I can’t help but be irritated at the gall of Pete Hammond . . . . The buzz is the buzz, and if a couple of guys didn’t dig it, they’re opinion is valid."
"I talked to (director) David Fincher and asked him why he cut the (preview) the way he did," Pete says. "What he did was he created these little scenes, then cut them off right in the middle. Well, you can't judge a movie when you've got each scene cutting off like that. He's giving you a taste, a tease of the film. I think these voracious bloggers need to slow down, calm down, don't poison the word yet.
What side of this hubbub do you take? (I'm staying out of it.)
What other big news was there at the Telluride Film Festival?
Echoing what Pete says in his "Notes on a Season" column (click here to read), he adds here in this podcast, "I think, without question, the big surprise of this festival is Danny Boyle's 'Slumdog Millionaire.' That's the one with potential. It took me by surprise! It's a nail-biting movie. It's very suspenseful. It's really funny. It's really dramatic. The buzz on the street was over the top, over the moon."
All across Telluride during the festival, there was also terrific buzz about another flick "when you spoke to people going up in the gondola or walking about town," Pete says. "They were talking about 'that French film' " — meaning "I've Loved You So Long."
"Kristin Scott Thomas is phenomenal," he says. "It's a slow, small movie, but it's an emotional grabber, and it's very suspenseful."
Another likely Oscar best-actress nominee was the talk of Telluride even though she couldn't be there in person because of a broken collar bone: Sally Hawkins of Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky." "There's unanimous praise for its lead star, who's just irresistible," Pete says. "The movie's Oscar potential is with her."
"Flash of Genius" generated awards buzz in the best-actor race, but Pete warns: "It's a studio-type movie, a standard Hollywood biopic. But Greg Kinnear's wonderful in it. It's the best performance he's ever given."
(Paramount, Fox Searchlight)