NYFF Daily Reviews: Robert Zemeckis's Flight

Categories: NYFF

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Denzel Washington in Flight
Today we wind down our weeks of New York Film Festival coverage with Nick PInkerton's look at Robert Zemeckis's return to live-action movies: Flight.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Screened Sunday, Oct. 14th

More than a few viewers who saw this year's New York Film Festival opener Life of Pi were put in mind of Robert Zemeckis' 2000 Cast Away--another sort of Robinson Crusoe story featuring a protagonist stranded with only a non-sentient, proper-named companion for company: Bengal tiger "Richard Parker" in Ang Lee's film, a volleyball named "Wilson" in Zemeckis's. There is a sort of symmetry, then, in the NYFF having had Zemeckis's first live-action outing in a dozen years as its closing night film.

At the press conference after the Walter Reade screening, scriptwriter John Gatins stated that he had begun the script that would become Flight in 1999, though of course it is impossible to watch his film without thinking of the Hudson River landing of Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger in 2009. (It also suggests that Gatins, screenwriter of Real Steel and Coach Carter, wrote this before he had coarsened his talents.) Gatins added that Flight was "Born out of my two greatest fears--drinking myself to death and dying in a plane crash," from whence comes the character of alcoholic commercial airline pilot Captain William "Whip" Whitaker.

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NYFF: Pablo Larrain's No and the Marketing of Freedom

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Today the tireless Nick Pinkerton is back with a look at the fascinating -- and hard-to-Google -- No.

Directed by Pablo Larrain
Screens Friday, Oct. 12th at 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 13th at 3:00 p.m.

Against Argo's opening weekend, the NYFF has (one imagines, unconsciously) counter-programmed another film with the art of writing political fiction as its subject. Pablo Larrain's No begins during the build-up to the Chile's 1988 plebiscite, a nationwide referendum in which a vote was held to determine if President Augusto Pinochet would return to office for another eight years, having held onto power since his 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende. The vote was to be cast on a simple ballot: "Yes" for the return of Pinochet, "No" for something else.

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NYFF Daily Reviews: Sally Potter's Ginger & Rosa

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Here's Nick Pinkerton on Sally Potter's Ginger & Rosa.

Ginger & Rosa
Written and directed by Sally Potter
Screens Tuesday, October 9th at 6:15 p.m. and Wednesday, October 10th at 9:00 p.m.

Blame it on Boomers reaching the age of nostalgia if you will, but this installment of the NYFF is well-stocked with reminiscences of life before, during, and after the cultural revolution. Last week brought the superlative '71-set Something in the Air, the eerily Dorian Gray-ish 57-year-old Olivier Assayas's recollection of his career as a lycée revolutionary, and 67-year-old David Chase's Not Fade Away, set in the '60s suburban New Jersey of his youth, where every garage came with its own band. To this list we can now add Sally Potter's Ginger & Rosa.

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NYFF Daily Reviews: Tabu Is a Best of Fest Contender

Categories: NYFF


Today our Nick Pinkerton goes long on the remarkable Tabu.

Directed by Miguel Gomes
Screens Sunday, October 14

This has been an unusually exciting New York Film Festival, but even still, the programming tends to accommodate itself to recognizable categories, like faces in someone else's yearbook. Even as the works themselves hopefully render such limiting descriptions insufficient, we can still identify The Indisputable One, The Swinging For the Fences One, The Well-Meaning But Boring One, The Not-Very-Nice But Boring One, The Return to Form, The Falling Off, The Costume Prestige Piece, and so on.

Tabu, the third feature film from Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, goes down as a None of the Above movie, a What Was That? Movie--and also a Best of Fest. Shot in black-and-white at Academy ratio (the 1.33:1 of pre-Widescreen, pre-television movies, little utilized in theatrical releases today), Tabu is self-identified with the cinematic past, though as contemporary as any such emotionally-direct work must be.

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NYFF Daily Reviews: Holy Motors

Categories: NYFF

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Indomina Releasing
Today, our Nick Schager takes on the tumultuous dreamscape that is Holy Motors.

Holy Motors
Directed by Léos Carax
Screens Thursday, October 11

Léos Carax detonates as many traditional notions of cinema as possible with Holy Motors, a fantastic - and sometimes phantasmagoric - saga through a cine-metaphoric dreamscape.

Opening with scratchy archival footage and a countershot of a rapt theater audience proves to be Carax's initial, but hardly final, nod to the fact that his first feature since 1999's Pola X is concerned with the relationship between art and spectator. That bond only grows in weirder, wilder ways after Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) walks through a secret door in his motel room (near an airport, a symbol of transition) and finds himself in a theater balcony in a haunting moment of filmic surrealism that recalls David Lynch's Mulholland Drive.

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NYFF: Fritz Lang's The Tiger of Eschnapur and Michael Haneke's Amour

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Today's NYFF report is a doubleheader from our Nick Pinkerton: a pair of long looks at the old and the new.

The Tiger of Eschnapur
Directed by Fritz Lang
Screened Tuesday, October 2nd

Still functioning today in the 17th arondissement, Paris' Cinéma MacMahon -- the subject of a seven-film sidebar tribute at the New York Film Festival -- made its name by screening the influx of until-recently-banned American films after the Liberation. Such programming attracted a passionate, partisan cine-club clientele whose ringleader, a young man named Pierre Rissient, articulated an idiosyncratic pantheon of Le carré d'as (The Four Aces)--Joseph Losey, Otto Preminger, Raoul Walsh, and Fritz Lang--whose photographs eventually graced the theater's lobby.

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NYFF: Something in the Air and the Poetry of Past Radicalism

Categories: NYFF

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Today from NYFF, Nick Pinkerton goes long with Oliver Assayas's

Something in the Air
Written and directed by Oliver Assayas
Screens Friday, October 12th at 6:30 p.m.

Writing about Jean Eustache's second feature, 1974's Mes petites amoureuses, Luc Moullet recollected a conversation with the director:

"Four years before he actually shot the film, he told me he wanted to reconstruct his childhood: every wall section, every tree, every electric pole. According to Eustache, this was the only way to precisely render childhood impressions on film."

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NYFF Daily Reviews: David Chase's Not Fade Away

Categories: NYFF

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Barry Wetcher
The boys of David Chase's Not Fade Away
Today, our Nick Schager rocks out with the Fest's centerpiece movie, David Chase's highly anticipated debut film Not Fade Away. It hits theaters this December.

Not Fade Away
Directed by David Chase
Screens Saturday, October 6

Rock-and-roll proves the coming-of-age crucible for a young teen in 1960s New Jersey in Not Fade Away, Sopranos creator David Chase's semi-autobiographical feature debut of shaggy hair, shagadelic beauties, and the joy and sorrow wrought from chasing, and failing to achieve, one's dreams.

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NYFF: The Paperboy and Our Children

Categories: NYFF

Millennium Entertainment

Today in NYFF reviews: Nick Schager on The Paperboy and Our Children.

The Paperboy
Directed by Lee Daniels

Crass southern-fried exploitation with laughable pretenses toward gravity, The Paperboy takes as its inspiration Pete Dexter's novel about a 1969 true-crime tale and drenches it in sweat, blood, spit and piss -- the last via the already notorious sight of Nicole Kidman saving Zac Efron from a potentially fatal jellyfish sting by peeing on his face.

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NYFF: Alan Berliner's Wrenching First Cousin, Once Removed

Categories: NYFF

Today's report from NYFF: Alan Scherstuhl wrestles with what is certain to be one of the Main Slate's most controversial film's, Alan Berliner's wrenching doc First Cousin Once Removed.

HBO Films

First Cousin Once Removed
Directed by Alan Berliner
Screens Tuesday, October 9, Thursday, October 11, and Friday, October 12

As upsetting a documentary as you're ever likely to see, Alan Berliner's portrait of the life of poet Edwin Honig after the onset of Alzheimer's is the rare film that truly warrants adjectives like "courageous" or "unflinching." It is these things, to a fault. So frank is its portrayal of Berliner's decline - the great poet wheezes and bird-songs in the rubble of his mind - and so scrupulously unsentimental is Berliner's approach, that the movie will for many audiences be simply too much.

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