Cate Blanchett
Paul Wellman

I guess the big news today from the Fest was the cancellation of the writer’s panel due to the flu – or what one very highly-placed SBIFF official called “the writer’s flu” – which said official wouldn’t elaborate on, still strongly implying that screenwriters are either wussy beyond belief, or involved in something which is completely unelaborateable. Roger Durling told me that another blog in town called the cancellation the first big screw-up in Durling’s five-year tenure. Maybe we’ll never know exactly what writer’s flu is, but, it’s hardly Durling’s catastrophe. After all, it was just a cancelled panel.

Where were all the hip Santa Barbarans at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning? Nope, not at the Farmer’s Market. Hundreds of you were packed into the Metro 3 to see Austria’s offering to this year’s Academy (and a picture that’s strongly handicapped to win), Best Foreign Film nominee, The Counterfeiters. Though clearly a crowd-pleaser, the film – rich in horrible WWII ironies – still seemed a little rough around the edges, and was nowhere near as good as the impeccably detailed and moving Other People’s Lives from last year. It’s worth seeing if you missed it, though.

Todd Haynes
Paul Wellman

The other early crowd favorite, Beautiful Bitch, turned away nearly 100 people at 4 p.m. today. But, for my money, it was also a great idea that was just less than perfectly realized.

To complete my curmudgeonly Saturday report, let me just add that while Cate Blanchett was elegant, intelligent, and incisively frank, her interlocutor – the ultimate “nice guy walking” film compendium, Leonard Maltin – definitely led her through some fairly prosaic paces. He did bring up the brilliant doubling role Blanchett performed in Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes, but he didn’t really coax enough juice out of her brazen turn as Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ magnificent contraption, I’m Not There. However, to be fair, Haynes made up for it in his award presentation (Yes, he was there.), referring to the ray of soul that Blanchett emanated and the “visceral mark she left on our minds.” Now that’s either a mixed metaphor or a neat trick, something like building a fire on Main Street and shooting it full of holes.


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