The New York Film Festival begins, with the best selection of films of the year
Lately, it's been difficult to find momentum in film. The Big Trio of Fall Film Festivals -Venice, Telluride, toronto- came and went without the usual expectation. With the actors on strike, the red carpets have been almost bare. It's almost as if, from the heady moments of “Barbenheimer”, the cinema would have been sleeping off the hangover.
When the opening of the 61st New York Film Festival, things may get lively again. There is movement in the work stoppage. The scriptwriters are about to ratify a new contract after almost five months of strike. Actors union SAG-AFTRA will resume negotiations with studios next week.
At the same time, the New York Film Festival will undoubtedly host the best selection of films this year. All the big festivals have had their highlights, but over the next two weeks they will be screening at the Lincoln Center many of the best films of the fall.
“The unstable state of the industry is an inevitable topic of conversation these days, but my hope is that our festival, as it has done throughout its 61-year history, serves as a reminder that the art of film is in robust health. ”commented Dennis Lim, artistic director of the festival, when revealing the programming.
Under heavy rain, the New York Film Festival was going to start on Friday with May Decemberof Todd Haynesa playful and nuanced comedy starring Natalie Portman in the role of an actress who prepares a docudrama spending time with a couple (Julianne Moore, Charles Melton) whose relationship years ago caused a scandal in the tabloid press. If Hollywood's awards season is off to a slow start, May December It's just one of the festival's shake-ups that seek to speed up the pace in New York.
They are also poor creaturesthe great success of Yorgos Lanthimos in Venice, with Emma Stone; “Priscilla", of Sofia Coppolastarring Cailee Spaeny in the role of Priscilla Presley; and Teacherof Bradley Cooperin which he plays Leonard Bernstein and which has already been much debated, will have an especially appropriate premiere in North America. The film will not be screened on the festival's main stage, the Alice Tully Hallbut across the street, in the new David Geffen Hall, home of the philharmonic that Bernstein once directed. But many of the festival's films are concerned with speed, perhaps none more so than the masterful Ferrariof Michael Mannwhich will close the festival.
Ferrari, which Neon releases in theaters December 25, stars Adam Driver as Italian automaker Enzo Ferrari. It is charged with a frightening intensity. We follow Ferrari for three months in 1957, when his company is under immense financial pressure as he prepares for the all-important Mille Miglia road race. There is a relentless drive to be fast, to win, mixed with the specter of death. Ferrarias well as some of Mann's best work (heat, The Insider), is obsessed with supreme dedication and the high price that must be paid for it.
Work and speed mean something radically different in Youth (Spring)from the Chinese director Wang Bing. The film is one of several long, monumental documentaries screening at the festival, along with Occupied Cityof Steve McQueenand Menus-Plaisirs Les Troisgrosof Frederic Wisemanall of them more than 200 minutes.
Youth (Spring) captures the lives of young migrant workers—most of them in their twenties—who work at a fast pace in textile factories on the outskirts of Shanghai. His speed and dexterity—his hands are a blur—are a necessity of his low-paying job. Wang, however, is more interested in the marginal but passionate personal lives of the workers, whose youth is spent among sewing machines and dirty bedrooms. In such a busy life, they have relationships, crushes and heartbreaks, all of which Wang (who spent about five years working on the film) deftly observes. It is a sweet and heartbreaking film.
The same could be said of the radiant We are all strangersof Andrew Haighthe high point of the fall film festival circuit, of the film year, and of Haighthe British filmmaker Weekend and 45 years.
Andrew Scott plays a middle-aged screenwriter, Adam, struggling with a script about his parents, who died when he was young. We are all strangers She is almost as cloistered in her almost empty apartment building as Youth It is in their bedrooms. Adam is the only occupant, except for another man, Harry (Paul Mescal), who shows up drunk at his door one night.
Visits and memories follow one another, transporting Adam to his youth. Haigh's film, which Searchlight Pictures will release in December, takes place in a metaphysical, dreamlike, melancholic daze. Through a series of intimate dialogues, the film, adapted from a 1987 novel by Taichi Yamada, ruminates on the estrangement of a generation of gay men and the healing refuges of both companionship and fiction.
We are all strangers is a film you'll probably hear a lot more about. Scott, the wonderful actor of Fleabag, delivers a performance so moving it's sure to join the Oscar race. But a film like this is almost done a disservice by including it in the awards fray. It is a painful and unbreakable beauty.
Part of the continuing pleasure of New York Film Festival is that it tends to focus attention directly on the movies. There are premieres and parties, but it is a festival with a little less talk and eyes on the movie screens.
That is why it is a particularly suitable place for films that, like We are all strangers, they almost exist in a realm outside of time. In a way, Lincoln Center is also that, a place where the “unstable” aspects of today's cinema are kept at bay, at least temporarily: the fight for distribution and audiences in an increasingly fractured media world.
The playwright's first film Annie Bakerwinner of the Pulitzer Prize, Janet Planet, couldn't be set more specifically. It is the summer of 1991, in rural western Massachusetts. There, Janet (Julianne Nicholson) and her 11-year-old daughter, Lacy (Zoe Ziegler), live among the trees.
Janet Planet It's about this mother-daughter relationship, which is maintained while the men drift in and out. But it is also about silence and inactivity, and is exquisitely synchronized with the rhythms and feelings of adolescence, or at least a pre-digital adolescence. No matter how precise it is Janet Planetit could well be another world.
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