My Telluride Film Festival 2014

Telluride:  A Beautiful Spot for a Film Festival

Telluride: A Beautiful Spot for a Film Festival

I’m exhausted today. It’s Friday and the end of a busy week, so I have good reason. I think most of my fatigue, however, is emotional. I’m coming off of the Telluride Film Festival (TFF) and I feel like every fiber of my being absorbed the many intense emotions I experienced while watching movies that dealt with everything from a mother’s bizarre relationship with her deeply troubled son (“Mommy“) to a journalist’s capture and brutal confinement in Iran (Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater”) to the devastating effects of the housing bust in America (“99 Homes“).

But a film is worth nothing unless it deeply moves you, right? And moved you will always be at the Telluride Film Festival, many times over in fact.

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Making Memories at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

Inside the Musical Instrument Museum

Inside the Musical Instrument Museum

It has been almost a week that I returned from a wonderful nine-day trip with my mother to the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Carefree, Arizona area. We visited many fine establishments, so expect to see posts on this glorious, sun-drenched part of the United States in the upcoming months.

We shared such a special mother/daughter time that I’ve, of course, been missing her. Thankfully I have many photos, mementos and music to remind me of the times we had together. Yes, some fabulous music that I discovered has taken me right back there with mom.

Are you familiar with French gypsy music? I’m talking about swinging gypsy jazz, moody boleros and tangos à la Django Reinhart. It’s the music of Paris from 1910 through the mid 1920s. You hear it and you imagine a smoky nightclub scene in the City of Light as you tap your foot and swing to the zippy beat. We heard this music performed by Zazu, a local French orchestra of Phoenix, during the Bastille Day celebration concert at the Musical Instrument Museum. Quelle découverte! Experiencing this music and this stunning museum was one of the highlights of our trip.

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A Patchwork Quilt of Memories from Annapolis

The Perfect Launching Area for Kayaking at Meadow Gardens B & B

The Perfect Launching Area for Kayaking at Meadow Gardens B & B

An Heirloom in the Making

An Heirloom in the Making

Hot weather, boating, men and women in uniform, our nation’s capital, Americana, quilts, the sound of the water, seafood, red, white and blue, family and friends gathering, centuries worth of history—-these thoughts and more flood my mind during this sunny holiday period. I won’t be celebrating July 4th much this year, since I’ve decided to take advantage of the quiet time and catch up at my desk. But I am very much in the Fourth of July spirit and am nurturing memories of these bright, summertime moments even more.

Country Breakfast

Country Breakfast

Some of the best were experienced about the same time last year in Annapolis, Maryland. I visited this charming Mid-Atlantic town with my boyfriend and his family after his brother’s wedding in Virginia. Annapolis smacks of the sea and we enjoyed many aspects of it from savoring fresh seafood, to taking a sail on the Chesapeake Bay, to peering out into one of the many water inlets that typify this long-established seaport, home to the United States Naval Academy since 1845. We stayed in a charming bed and breakfast, one of countless in Annapolis that define the character of this old, historic town as much as their brick buildings and cobbled streets.

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Two Brief Stays in Santa Fe

The Cathedral Basiica of St. Francis of Assis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

My boyfriend, Steve, and I have managed to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico—an almost six-hour drive from Telluride, Colorado—twice within the past year and a half and we’re already plotting our next trip. (That one will surely include exploring the ski mountain.) Each trip was short—only two nights a piece—and we didn’t even step foot in one of Santa Fe’s amazing museums, but still, we felt far from cheated. For us, it has been enough to just chill and breathe in the heartwarming, southwestern ambiance for which this town is known. Just like going to Paris and whiling away time in a corner café instead of scouring the Louvre, in Santa Fe during both stays we just strolled around and admired the beauty of this magnificent city, the oldest incorporated state capital within the United States.

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For Off-Season and Year-Round Enchantment: Taos, New Mexico

Contemplating Nature's Beauty at Hacienda del Sol in Taos

Contemplating Nature’s Beauty at Hacienda del Sol in Taos, New Mexico

Ahhh-hhh, off-season. Anyone that has lived in a resort town knows the true meaning of off-season. Whether it occurs in the winter or summer, spring or fall, this lull in peak travel times provides a much-needed respite from the busy-ness of high season. In Telluride, Colorado it means tons of available parking spaces, no lines at the Post Office or grocery store and a certain quietude akin to a ghost town, something that delights some and bores the heck out of others.

Most don’t mind this downturn of activity, since many take advantage of our seasonal slowdown (during the spring and fall) to go off and seek fun for themselves elsewhere. Since the mountain closed two weeks ago, we’re in the throws of off-season now, also referred to as shoulder season and in the case of the spring off-season, mud season.

Many people take off for exotic locales for as many as six weeks travel; others find their bliss within a two- to six-hour drive from our southwestern Colorado mountain town. Indeed, we’re located just a few hours away from some of the best recreation around in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, all sunny and warm destinations this time of year where spring arrives with the intensity of the desert sun.

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Telluride, Monument Valley and the Oscars

In Living Color:  Monument Valley

In Living Color: Monument Valley

How about those Oscars? Wasn’t it a great show? I was thrilled that I had seen most of the films nominated for an award here in our little mountain town of Telluride, Colorado way back in September. Yes, just as in recent years, many of the movies that gained high acclaim from the Academy of Motion Pictures were shown here in T-ride—either as premiers or sneak peeks—during the Telluride Film Festival (TFF) long before they were officially released. Telluride’s selection of films seems to be filled with Oscar contenders more so than the lineups presented at other renowned film festivals in New York, Venice and Toronto.

Much of the Oscar buzz takes place before and after this annual awards show. I was thrilled to tune into CBS Sunday Morning, one of my all-time favorite TV shows, to see Monument Valley:  Mother Nature’s scene stealing movie star, last Sunday. It was a wonderful segment that featured the extraordinary sense of place of this iconic site and the many Oscar-worthy movies filmed there including “The Searchers,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump” and many more. This majestic landscape has appeared in dozens of films as well as countless commercials. Almost a half a million visitors go to Monument Valley every year, largely because of the prominence it has enjoyed in the movies. Thanks to Harry Gouding and his wife, Leone (known as Mike), film director John Ford discovered Monument Valley and its perfect setting for great western movies and feature films. This was highlighted in the CBS piece although Goulding’s Lodge and its terrific Trading Post Museum, which also showcases the history of movie-making in the area, were scarcely mentioned.

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Passport to Paris at the Denver Art Museum

The Beach at Trouville by Claude Monet

The Beach at Trouville by Claude Monet

THIS JUST IN as of February 5:  The Nature as Muse:  Impressionist Landscapes from the Frederic C. Hamilton Collection of DAM has been extended through March 24.

Allez vite, vite, vite! Go fast! Only about ten days remain for you to see the magnificent Passport to Paris exhibition at the Denver Art Museum (DAM). I went earlier in the month and it felt like I was transported to Paree for an hour and a half of sheer delight. Truly my heart sang as I wended my way through the suite of three exhibitions that make up this show, a smartly-chosen trifecta that focuses on French art from the late 1600s to the early 1900s. From the grand works executed during the reign of Louis XIV through the more well known paintings of Poussin, Boucher, Pissarro, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh and other greats, here French culture and society are revealed to the visitor in one of the most effective manners I’ve ever seen. As you saunter through the galleries that make up this show, it’s easy to understand how Paris became the center of culture and the tastemaker for all of Europe.

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Post Telluride Film Festival Reflections

TFF Banner Over Main Street

TFF Banner Over Main Street

Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o from 12 Years a Slave in Telluride

Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years a Slave in Telluride

When was the last time you saw a double feature at the movies? Well, I went to one three nights in a row this past week and I’m still processing my emotions from what I took in. I watched films that inspired and moved me, entertained and informed, some of which have been billed as big contenders for this year’s Oscars. (See Can Telluride Continue to Steal Venice and Toronto’s Thunder? and In Toronto, the Oscar Smackdown Gets an Early Start) No, I don’t live in New York or L.A. This wonderful opportunity for film viewing was provided yet again here in Telluride, Colorado as part of the after-the-festival doings of the Telluride Film Festival. These three evenings of post festival movie watching have always been one of my favorite parts of this great festival and as time goes on and the festival rises in importance, I realize just how lucky I am to take in these films, some of which were shown as sneak peeks at this year’s 40th anniversary festival, scooping other world renowned festivals such as those of Venice, Toronto and New York. (Read Film Reviews from the Telluride Film Festival:  Alexander Payne and Many More Pleasures and for more of the lowdown.)

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