Your 2019 Aspen Filmfest Cheat Sheet
IF YOU GO …
What: Aspen Filmfest
Where: Wheeler Opera House; Isis Theatre; Crystal Theatre
When: Monday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 29
How much: $25-30 per film ($20-25 for Aspen Film members); Passes $150 and up
Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office; aspenshowtix.com
Summer’s over, which for moviegoers means the superheroes and franchise fare are taking a back seat to the good stuff for awhile. The 40th annual Aspen Filmfest is a crash course in the best of what’s to come.
With 23 movies in seven days, and screenings at three theaters in Aspen and Carbondale, the 2019 edition of the Roaring Fork Valley’s biggest film event includes early looks at the most talked-about and most acclaimed movies of prestige movie season.
Day and night throughout the festival, local audiences will be among the first to see the movies that’ll have critics and audiences buzzing through Oscar night. Here’s a run-down of what to watch for:
The year’s most anticipated director-driven fare fills the primetime slots at the Wheeler Opera House, including the most acclaimed film of the festival season so far: Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite,” which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and has been hailed as the Korean filmmaker’s masterpiece (Tuesday, Sept. 24, 7:45 p.m.).
Additional auteur fare includes the singular Terrence Malick’s war drama “A Hidden Life” (Monday, Sept. 23, 7 p.m.), Taika Watiti’s anti-hate satire “Jojo Rabbit” (Wednesday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m.) which won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival — a bellwether for Best Picture nominations — and Stephen Soderberg’s Panama Papers docudrama “The Laundromat” (Saturday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m.)
Yes, the Academy Awards race is already well underway. And, yes, Aspen Filmfest includes performances primed to define the 2019 campaign. Among the lead actors to keep an eye on: Renee Zellweger, already dubbed a Best Actress frontrunner, in her comeback turn as Judy Garland in “Judy” (Tuesday, Sept. 24); Adam Driver as torture investigator in “The Report” (Friday, Sept. 27, 5 p.m.); Kristin Stewart as Jean-Luc Godard muse Jean Seberg in “Seberg” (Friday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m.); Shia LaBeouf in the role he wrote for himself in “Honey Boy” (Saturday, Sept. 28, 4:30 p.m.) and Thomasin McKenzie in “Jojo Rabbit.”
On the supporting front, buzz from the early festival season says to watch for scene-stealers Annette Benning as Sen. Diane Feinstein in “The Report,” Scarlett Johansson and Waititi himself — as Hitler — in “Jojo Rabbit,” as well as Gary Oldman and a resurgent Antonio Banderas in “The Laundromat.”
Comedian Darrell Hammond opens up about his mental health struggles in the documentary “Cracked Up” (Thursday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m.). Aspen Film is using the film to open a conversation about the local mental health crisis, with a panel featuring director Michelle Esrick and the Aspen Hope Center’s Michelle Muething.
Other hot documentaries in the lineup include the magic mushroom study “Fantastic Fungi” (see related story), the Frank Lowry profile “What Will Become of Us” (Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2 p.m.), the dance doc “Moving Stories” (Wednesday, Sept. 25, noon); and the behind-the-scenes tale of MASS MoCA “Museum Town” (Thursday, Sept. 26, 2:30 p.m.).
And photography enthusiasts are due for a mind-blowing double-feature on Saturday, Sept. 28, with “The Times of Bill Cunningham” (noon) and “Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall” (2 p.m.)
It’s a movie and a movement. The unconventional documentary “WeRiseUp: The Future of Humanity” will have its world premiere at Filmfest (Friday, Sept. 27, noon). The film promises to be an artful mission statement for the WeRiseUp organization, which is calling for a new way of defining success and prosperity. It will be followed by a filmmaker Q&A and will be complemented by a panel discussion (Saturday, Sept. 28, 10:30 a.m.) with WeRiseUp creators Kate Maloney, Michael Shaun Conaway, Alex Melnyk and DJ Spooky.
Honoring a Legend
Filmmaker Bob Rafelson’s iconoclastic vision shaped the New Hollywood movement with “Easy Rider” and “Five Easy Pieces,” and gave actors like Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern career-making roles. Rafelson, who has lived full time in Aspen since 1970, will accept Aspen Film’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Cinematic Arts and will be the subject of a tribute (Wednesday, Sept. 25, 5 p.m.). The festival will also screen his overlooked gem “Mountains of the Moon” (Sunday, Sept. 29, 2 p.m.).