NY Film Festival 2002

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ted Todorov, Aug 27, 2002.

  1. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    The line-up for this year's NY Film Festival has been announced (I sent in my ticket order form over the weekend).
    I don't think there is an online link to the schedule yet, I'll post it when it appears in electronic form.
    Opening night: About Schmidt (Payne)
    Centerpiece: Punch Drunk Love (P.T. Anderson)
    Closing Night: Talk To Her (Almodovar)
    Highlight of the whole festival: Laissez-passer (B. Tavernier)
    Ted
     
  2. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Ted, when is the festival being held this year?

    ~Edwin
     
  3. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    OK, the complete schedule is out -- it opens on Sept. 27th and runs for 17 days total. I might as well just post the whole shebang from filmlinc.com:

    Alexander Payne's ABOUT SCHMIDT will open the 40th New York Film Festival on September 27th, 2002.

    ABOUT SCHMIDT, the newest work by Alexander Payne, is the Opening Night film of the 40th New York Film Festival. The film, from a screenplay by Payne and collaborator Jim Taylor, is being released nationwide by New Line Cinema and will open commercially on December 25.

    TALK TO HER, Pedro Almodóvar's newest film since the Academy Award winning All About My Mother, will be the Closing Night film of 40th New York Film Festival. TALK TO HER will open in New York on November 22, 2002, followed by a national release through Sony Pictures Classics.

    Tickets to this year's festival will be available from the Alice Tully Hall box office starting September 8, 2002. Unless otherwise noted, all films will be shown at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.

    2002 Festival Films (complete illustrated program notes will be posted here in early September):

    Opening Night
    ABOUT SCHMIDT, Alexander Payne, USA, 125 min, 2002. New Line Cinema.
    Alice Tully and Avery Fisher Halls.
    Centerpiece
    PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, Paul Thomas Anderson, USA, 95 min, 2002. Columbia Pictures.
    Closing Night
    TALK TO HER, Pedro Almodóvar, Spain, 112 min, 2002. Sony Pictures Classics. Avery Fisher Hall.
    AUTO FOCUS, Paul Schrader, USA, 104 min, 2002. Sony Pictures Classics.
    BLIND SPOT: HITLER'S SECRETARY, André Heller and Othmar Schmiderer, Austria, 90 min, 2002. Sony Pictures Classics.
    BLOODY SUNDAY, Paul Greengrass, United Kingdom/Ireland, 110 min, 2002. Paramount Classics.
    CHIHWASEON, Im Kwon-Taek, South Korea, 117 min, 2002.
    DIVINE INTERVENTION, Elia Suleiman, France/Palestine, 92 min, 2002. Avatar Films.
    FRIDAY NIGHT, Claire Denis, France, 86 min, 2002.
    LOVE AND DIANE, Jennifer Dworkin, USA, 155 min, 2002.
    THE MAGDALENE SISTERS, Peter Mullan, Scotland/Ireland, 119 min, 2002.
    THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST, Aki Kaurismäki, Finland, 97 min, 2002. Sony Pictures Classics.
    MONDAY MORNING, Otar Iosseliani, France/Italy, 122 min, 2002.
    MY MOTHER’S SMILE, Marco Bellocchio, Italy, 103 min, 2002.
    RUSSIAN ARK, Aleksandr Sokurov, Russia/Germany, 96 min, 2002. Wellspring Films.
    SAFE CONDUCT, Bertrand Tavernier, France, 170 min, 2002. Empire Films.
    THE SON, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France, 103 min, 2002, New Yorker Films.
    SPRINGTIME IN A SMALL TOWN, Tian Zhuangzhuang, China, 116 min, 2002.
    TEN, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran/France, 94 min, 2002.
    TO BE AND TO HAVE, Nicolas Philibert, France, 105 min, 2002. New Yorker Films.
    TURNING GATE, Hong Sang-soo, South Korea, 115 min, 2002.
    THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE, Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal/France, 133 min, 2002.
    UNKNOWN PLEASURES, Jia Zhang-Ke, China/Japan, 113 min, 2002.
    WAITING FOR HAPPINESS, Abderrahmane Sissako, Mauritania/France, 95 min, 2002. New Yorker Films.
    Special Events
    COME DRINK WITH ME, King Hu, Hong Kong, 95 min, 1965. Walter Reade Theater.
    FAUST, F.W. Murnau, Germany, 116 min, 1926. Live musical accompaniment; world premiere of new score. Walter Reade Theater.
    TRUE LIVING COLOR: RACE, FILM, AND TELEVISION IN AMERICA TODAY AND TOMORROW. An HBO FILMS Public Forum. A panel discussion featuring prominent filmmakers and cultural critics. Alice Tully Hall.
    THE ACTOR AS ACTIVIST: CELEBRATING SHABANA AZMI, a 14-film tribute to the acclaimed Indian actress. Walter Reade Theater.
    VIEWS FROM THE AVANT-GARDE. Eight programs of works by various filmmakers. Complete illustrated program notes to come. Walter Reade Theater.

    Short Films A selection of short films will be paired with the Festival’s feature films, screening directly before the features.

    Selection Committee
    Selections for the 40th New York Film Festival were made by
    Richard Peña, Chairman of the Committee and Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center;
    John Anderson, chief film critic, Newsday;
    Manohla Dargis, film critic, Los Angeles Times;
    Kent Jones, Associate Programmer, The Film Society of Lincoln Center; and
    Dave Kehr, film columnist, The New York Times.
     
  4. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    For the complete film descriptions, plus stills from the films, click here.
    Tickets are now on sale to the general public, at the Alice Tully Hall box office at Lincoln Center.
    Ted
     
  5. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    Also of note is the Shabana Azmi retrospective this year, where they will be showing some seminal films by Mrinal Sen (Kandahar) and Shyam Benegal (Ankur), and also one by Aparna Sen that I haven't seen. The list is at this adjoining NYFF page. I'll be on vacation during that time, so I'll be catching a bunch of the early afternoon shows as well. [​IMG]
     
  6. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    Here is a response that I had written for a specific inquiry on The Son, but since it was all NYFF based screenings, I thought that I should post it here too:
    The Dardenne brothers' The Son was on tap first, and they were also on hand to introduce the film and host a Q&A afterward. Like La Promesse, the film is again a very socially relevant film about redemption, although this time, played with a kind of mystery. All we see is a seemingly normal, but emotionally closed Olivier starting to "stalk" a boy who is trying to enroll in a vocational school as part of a juvenile delinquent rehabilitation program. Although I still think that La Promesse is their best film, this is certainly very high caliber filmmaking, along par with Rosetta. The handheld camera was especially pervasive in this film, and I must admit, I was not feeling too well for the rest of the evening. [​IMG]
    Aleksandr Sokurov's Russian Ark was next, and it is quite a spellbinding, visually brilliant film, as Sokurov transports us through episodes of Russian history through the confines of The Hermitage Museum in one long unbroken shot (in the same exeperimental vein as Hitchcock's Rope) that seems to underscore the sense of history's transience, but also the nation's legacy and evolution. What is visibly absent though, is the sense of spirituality and metaphysical concern that had attracted me to his earlier works.
    Im Kwon Taek's Chihwaseon is another painterly, highly formalized, and exquisitely composed film based on the life of a famed 18th century Korean painter. Like Kenji Mizoguchi's Utamaro and His Five Women and Jacques Becker's Montparnasse 19, the film deals with the essence of creation and artistic integrity. A very exquisitely realized film, even more beautiful and accessible than Chunhyang.
     
  7. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    After swapping my tickets to Sunday's showing of Abbas Kiarostami's Ten to the Tuesday show, my only tickets on Sunday were for The Magdalene Sisters which is quite representative of the British social realist films of the past 20-30 years - bleak, atmospheric, interminably depressing, grimy. I must admit that while some of the more recent films are incredibly well done (Gary Oldman's Nil by Mouth or Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher, for instance), I found that this particular realist treatment tended to be quite overdone in its attempts to provoke that it almost arcs to the point of caricature.
    Recommended for those who like the films of Ken Loach or the British genre in general. Although it is a well done film, it just wasn't my taste. For me, in terms of social realism, the Dardenne brothers' The Son is an infinitely more compelling and rewarding film (and ironically, captures the emotional truth without the benefit of being based on a true story).
    Tonight: Je Zhang Ke's Unknown Pleasures (director of Platform).
     
  8. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Opening night film About Schmidt is a worthy successor to Alexander Payne's two previous, excellent efforts Citizen Ruth & Election. Granted it is less subversive and more conventional than those two films, but no less successful for it.
    About Schmidt deals with a just retired actuary's (Warren Schmidt, played perfectly by Jack Nicholson) sudden search for a purpose in life and some sort of a legacy. About Schmidt conveys this desire with such force that I found myself thinking about my life during and after the film in terms that I wasn't accustomed to.
    Payne's sharp sense of humor comes through throughout the film, aided both by the sharp screenplay and uniformly superb performance from cast member major & minor. Dermont Mulroney, as Schmidt's son in law to be, absolutely embodies the part of a perpetually scheming loser who is a waterbed salesman.
    Few films deal with old age on any other level than as light comedy (Grumpy Old Men) or sentimental, feel good cotton candy (Driving Miss Daisy). About Schmidt is just about the first Hollywood film of recent years, to treat it in a real non-condescending fashion and in the process speaks directly to people of any age willing to reflect on their lives and still manages to be a very funny film.
    Opens commercially in December. Recommended.
    Saw Russian Ark and Unknown Pleasures -- I'll let Pascal's words speak for Russian Ark and will probably only write about films that he doesn't cover or that I disagree with him about.
    Next up: Chihwaseon
    Ted
     
  9. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Directors (and often other members of the cast an crew) come to the NY Film Festival to present their films and participate in audience Q&As. However Ten director Abbas Kiarostami was denied an U.S. visa and won't be coming.
    For more on the story, read this excellent article.
    Ted
     
  10. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    Jia Zhangke's Unknown Pleasures is a challenging film in the sense that there is a pervasive sense of aimlessness and inertia among the protagonists in the film. The film illustrates the social polarization of Chinese society by capturing the daily lives of underprivileged people amidst images of China's push for globalization (newscasts of the IMF meeting, the construction of an interstate highway, Beijing's selection as the 2008 Olympics site). There are some equally sad and funny episodes like the father finding a one dollar bill and the boys rejoicing that they're rich that really underscores their social disparity. If you're a fan of Hou Hsiao Hsien's languid, contemporary films of rootlessness and alienation like Goodbye South Goodbye, Dust in the Wind, and Millennium Mambo, this is a must-see.
    Next up: Abbas Kiarostami's Ten
    Ted, did you get tickets to Manoel de Oliveira's The Uncertainty Principle? They were sold out by the time I got to the box office. [​IMG]
     
  11. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    Ten is a captivating, humorous, and understated film by Abbas Kiarostami that follows a series of (ten) conversations by a divorced woman taxi driver as she navigates the streets of Tehran: her precocious son who feels suffocated by his parents' competition for his allegiance and affection; her sister who dotes on her husband; a religious older woman; a beautiful young woman who prays for a successful resolution to her stalled long-term relationship; an anonymous prostitute searching for a high traffic street in which to conduct business. Less narrative driven than Through the Olive Trees and more episodic than the encounters in A Taste of Cherry, Ten is an insightful, universal window into the everyday complexities of contemporary existence. With respect to his body of work, I still consider Through the Olive Trees and Close-up to be his best films, and I would rank Ten alongside A Taste of Cherry or The Wind Will Carry Us (more polished than Where is the Friend's Home? and And Life Goes On...).
    Next up: Aki Kaurismäki's The Man Without a Past (Thursday night)
     
  12. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    No NYFF main program films on Wednedsay evening for me, so instead, I went to screenings from the companion series The Actor as Activist: Celebrating Shabana Azmi
    Preceding Khandahar was a short documentary entitled Shabana! Actor, Activist, Woman by Dev Benegal that seeks to capture the essence of the charming and luminous Shabana Azmi's complex persona: actress, celebrity, wife, mother, Muslim, social activist. Favorite moments from the documentary: Ms. Azmi hosting a group of evicted slum dwellers into her own home as she compassionately listens to their plight and stages a protest; Ms. Azmi stepping back to make tea in the kitchen of an affordable housing apartment, as she encourages the owner of the apartment to take center stage to explain the details of the housing program. What a gracious, intelligent, compassionate, and beautiful human being.
    Shyam Benegal's Ankur is a highly engaging and insightful portrait of the hypocrisy, inherent contradiction, and residual legacy of rigid class structure in contemporary India as a seemingly socially progressive and "enlightened" college graduate from an aristocratic zamindar family inherits his father's abandoned farm. Arranged to marry a young woman from a privileged family who cannot join him until she becomes of age, the owner begins to seduce a beautiful, low caste married housekeeper (Shabana Azmi), a selfish act that leads to irrevocable consequences. The harrowing and sublime final scene exquisitely captures the beauty and cruelty of human existence. A brilliant example of India's parallel cinema.
    Mrinal Sen's Khandahar is an absorbing, intelligently constructed film that centers on a blind, invalid, elderly woman (Gita Sen) of aristocratic descent who is cared for by her devoted, unmarried daughter, Jamini (Shabana Azmi) in the ruins of a feudal-era zamindari (the landowner's estate). On a Christmas holiday weekend, Jamini's cousin Dipu (Pankaj Kapoor) convinces his friends Subhash (Naseeruddin Shah) and Anil (Annu Kapoor) to take a break from their jobs in the city to visit his ancestral home in the remote countryside. Upon hearing that Dipu has returned, the mother becomes convinced that he has returned with Jamini's prearranged suitor in order to finalize their long-awaited marriage. Sen's visual aesthetic and incorporation of landscape as a metaphor for spiritual (and economic) desolation is especially stunning and provides tremendous depth to the film's themes of duty, obsolescence, and fading tradition. Very highly recommended - a masterpiece!
     
  13. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    The Man Without a Past is another understated, idiosyncratic, and hilarious offering from Aki Kaurismäki. A man (Markku Peltola) suffers amnesia after being violently attacked while napping on a park bench. A poor, kindhearted family nurses him back to health and introduces him to the social services of the Salvation Army, and to the shy and compassionate Irma (Kati Outinen). However, as the nameless man attempts to rebuild his life, he finds that knowledge of his identity is the key to reentering society. Kaurismäki's usually excessively vibrant colors seem to be a bit more muted in this film, although he retains his penchant for borrowed, incongruous American pop culture and melancholic folk ballads. The film does not have the dark undercurrent of loneliness and alienation of The Match Factory Girl, but instead, like Drifting Clouds, focuses on the tenderness, affection, and humanity of all the socially marginalized characters. A highly accomplished and sensitively realized film.
    Next up: Tian Zhuangzhuang's Springtime in a Small Town
     
  14. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Paul Greengrass' Bloody Sunday is a highly effective docudrama about the massacre in Derry, Northern Ireland of civil rights marchers at the hands of British troops. I don't want to get into the details of the conflict in Northern Ireland or the particular incident that the film depicts, but I do want to talk about in cinematic terms.
    This film contains some of the most effective hand-held camera work since Godard's Breathless. The intent is to make you feel as though you are watching documentary footage of the actual events. It succeeds almost totally. The sense of reality is incredible -- you just never think you are watching a movie. This is aided immeasurably by the riveting performance of Jimmy Nesbitt as Ivan Cooper, the Protestant MP who lead the ill fated march. He is hardly alone: the acting is uniformly superb, and invisible, you can't help but feel you are watching real people.
    The most obvious antecedent to Bloody Sunday is Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers and Greengrass' film doesn't quite match the overwhelming power of Pontecorvo's. Bloody Sunday is at a disadvantage though of dealing with just one day as opposed to the more epic sweep of The Battle of Algiers which synthesizes the entire French Algerian war and also has the advantage of having been made many years earlier. The mere fact though that one can readily compare the two is a HUGE credit to Bloody Sunday.
    Ted
     
  15. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    I want to second Pascal's praise for Chihwaseon and The Man Without a Past. Both are truly wonderful films.
    Aki Kaurismäki's humanity and understated humor make The Man Without a Past an absolute joy. For a very well written review, click here.
    I also want to single out two shorts: Rebecca Hobbs's Tick from New Zealand, which touched on what a life is worth and Julian M. Kheel's Exceed a merciless spoof (or was that documentary footage) on the making of a commercial.
    Ted
     
  16. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    Tian Zhuangzhung's Springtime in a Small Town is a visually sublime and nostalgic film that is somewhat reminiscent of Satyajit Ray's exquisite Charulata in understatedly depicting the repercussions of emotional betrayal. The film takes place in the ruins of a large rural mansion in postwar China, as a physically fragile aristocrat (Wu Jun) is reunited with a childhood friend, a Shanghai doctor named Zhang Zhichen (Xin Bajqing), only to discover that Zhichen was his wife, Yu Wen's (Hu Jingfan) first love. Tian uses slow tracking, long shots, and evocative landscapes to create a timeless, romantic, and old-fashioned melodrama (in the best sense of the word). An exquisite, subtly sensual, and unexpectedly moving mature work from a very talented filmmaker - one of my favorites from the festival.
    Speaking of shorts, I also liked Dania Saragovia's Robb-Grillet based film, Jealousy, that preceded the film.
    I'm heading home tonight, so won't be catching any more films. Ted, please keep us posted. I'm especially intrigued by Love and Diane as well as Turning Gate, the new Claire Denis film Friday Night, and To Be and To Have.
     
  17. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Auto Focus -- Paul Schrader's Bob Crane biopic is good, though Schrader has a tendency towards having it both ways by presenting sleazy material and then moralizing on it (see also Hardcore, though I'll grant you that Auto Focus was a lot closer to reality) which I find off putting. The best thing about Auto Focus was Willem Defoe whose performance as Crane's buddy is completely, transcendently, superb.
    Ted
     
  18. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Seen last night:
    Divine Intervention a Palestinian film directed by and starring Elia Suleiman has been the biggest (pleasant) surprise of the festival so far. It is certainly the most cinematically daring, in successfully breaking so many conventions of modern cinema. It is also mordantly funny, absurd, touching, sad and angry.
    Divine Intervention dispenses with both plot and most dialog, indeed in many ways resembles a collection silent shorts of the Charlie Chaplin era. It certainly is rich in sound, and characters do speak, though mostly to themselves.
    Above all it is a portrait of three places and the people there: Nazareth, an Israeli checkpoint between Ramullah and Jerusalem, and Jerusalem. One expects an overtly political Palestinian to direct it's anger at the Israelis, but the entire first part of the film is a picture of Palestinians treating each other very badly, and while much bordered on the absurd and fantastical, the undercurrent of truth was unmistakable: to me many of the scenes seemed like documentary footage of life in Bulgaria...
    Divine Intervention does end up directing it's sharp eye and anger at the Israelis, but again, not in the fashion one would expect. It also manages to include an entirely wordless love story. My only criticism of the film is that it is just one tiny touch too heavy on the symbolism. A lot of it may not translate to someone completely unfamiliar with the region, or without a sense of the absurd.
    For a review click here.
    One note: it is sometimes hard to stay objective about a film on its own merits, when the Q & A session with the director (and stars, writer, etc. in some cases, though not this one) is so great, and you both find out so much more about the film itself and like the people who made it. This was certainly the case last night, as Elia Suleiman is someone you could happily talk to for hours.
    The short film in this program was Spike Lee's funny and anger inducing look at our last election, We Wuz Robbed.
    Ted
     
  19. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love -- what can I say -- except that I'm not too sure where the audience is, as I would think most people who love P.T. Anderson despise Adam Sandler and vice versa. Unlike what PTA did with Mark Wahlberg and Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights and Tom Cruise in Magnolia, turning them into actors of great subtlety and skill (or finding these heretofore hidden qualities inside them) Adam Sandler remains Adam Sandler, hate him or love him. I hate him. And Punch-Drunk Love expects the audience to believe that a perfectly sane, intelligent, attractive woman (Emily Watson) would fall in love with him. I certainly didn't, and judging from the Q & A, I wasn't the only one.
    Besides that one gigantic flaw, Punch-Drunk Love is every bit the bravura filmmaking of PTA's previous films, and is certainly worth seeing just for that reason. The acting besides Sandler is uniformly great, with yet another great bit from Philip Seymour Hoffman. PTA was very funny and informative during the Q & A as well as setting a Lincoln Center record for using the word "fuck".
    Ted
     
  20. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    Ted,
    thanks for sharing your impressions of Punch-Drunk Love. I'm anxious to see this on the 18th.
    I find it interesting that you were'nt impressed with Sandler's performance. I'm no fan of Sandler either, but was amazed when Ebert and Roeper were gushing at how wonderful Sandler was in PDL.
    The review can be heard here:
    http://tvplex.go.com/buenavista/eber...per/today.html
    In any case, I'm sure the film will be great as I love everything that PTA has done so far.
     

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