Left to right: Tilda Swinton as Eve and Tom Hiddleston as Adam
Photo by Gordon A. Timpen, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
NYFF51 Omissions, Surprises, Commentary
An unusual, provocative, diverse main slate for NYFF51
by Joshua Handler
The main slate lineup also features films by acclaimed filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch (ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE), Hayao Miyazaki (THE WIND RISES), J.C. Chandor (ALL IS LOST), and Claire Denis (BASTARDS), among others.
Sony Pictures/Sony Classics have a few films (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE), as does Sundance Selects (BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON). Otherwise, many distributors have only one film and many films have no distributor (I expect this to change after the festival). There is a notable amount of films from large studios - 5.
This year, a few films have a disclaimer informing people about the sexually explicit nature of the film like BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (it caused waves at Cannes for its explicit 10 minute-long lesbian sex scene) and Cannes prize-winner STRANGER BY THE LAKE by Alain Guiraudie. Word is, Denis' BASTARDS is also quite explicit. It is interesting to see NYFF take on some more daring films. If the explicit content enhances the films instead of detracting by being included for shock value, this could be an especially provocative festival.
The festival's previously-announced opening night film - Paul Greengrass' CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, centerpiece film - Ben Stiller's THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, and closing night film - Spike Jonze's HER, are notably higher-profile than last year's films in the same categories. LIFE OF PI was huge, but THE PAPERBOY and FLIGHT were not as anticipated as this year's centerpiece and closing night films, respectively. It will be interesting to see what NYFF picks for their numerous sidebar sections this year. Also, watch out for their secret screening, a world premiere of an "unfinished" film. 2011 brought the premiere of HUGO, and last year brought LINCOLN. Both films were leading Oscar contenders in their respective years. If NYFF decides to bring in something a bit more daring, I believe they will choose Scorsese's THE WOLF OF WALL STREET or David O. Russell's AMERICAN HUSTLE. It would make sense for THE WOLF OF WALL STREET to premiere since it is a distinctly New York film directed by the city's greatest living director who has already premiered a film at the secret screening.
This year is also notable for the extraordinary running times of some of its films. BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR runs 179 minutes, Claude Lanzmann's THE LAST OF THE UNJUST runs 218 minutes, Agnieszka Holland's BURNING BUSH runs 234 minutes, Frederick Wiseman's AT BERKELEY runs 244 minutes, and Lav Diaz's NORTH, THE END OF HISTORY runs the longest at 250 minutes.
I personally am most excited to see INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, HER, NEBRASKA, ALL IS LOST, ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, BASTARDS, AMERICAN PROMISE and THE IMMIGRANT, all of which I will do my best to provide reviews for.
If the films in this year's main slate are even half as good as they look, this should be a rewarding, provocative, and memorable film-going experience for film lovers across the city.
Now that you've heard my thoughts, what do you all think? Please share in the comments section!