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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thoughts on NYFF51

It was quite an amazing experience covering the 51st New York Film Festival.  I saw 17 movies, and out of those 17, I liked 15.  I saw the following: American Promise, Le Week-End, The Missing Picture, About Time, Captain Phillips, The Wind Rises, Inside Llewyn Davis, Stranger by the Lake, Omar, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Gloria, 12 Years a Slave, Abuse of Weakness, Tim's Vermeer, The Immigrant, Only Lovers Left Alive, and Her.  With the exception of the two I didn't enjoy, I will try to post reviews of everything I have yet to review within the next week.

The opening night film, Captain Phillips, closing night film, Her, and James Gray's The Immigrant were standouts.  Captain Phillips currently stands as my favorite film of the year.  It is a powerful, suspense-filled, fact-based thriller with a career-best performance from Tom Hanks.  I haven't been that drained all year after watching a movie.  Her is a wonderful film that features the most honest and (ironically) beautifully human romance of the year.  Joaquin Phoenix is touching and Jonze's direction has never been stronger.  The Immigrant is an immersive and passionate film that provides a view of 1920s New York City.

Penn and Teller's documentary Tim's Vermeer was one of the crazier films featured - and was also one of the most entertaining.  In a festival full of depressathons, Tim's Vermeer was a welcome sight (I'll have a review up soon).

Catherine Breillat's Abuse of Weakness was a wonder, mostly because of Isabelle Huppert's brilliant performance as a woman recovering from a stroke.

The two films with the most original screenplays were Jim Jarmusch's humane vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive, starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, and Spike Jonze's Her.  I have never seen anything like either one of those films and was consistently in awe of their clever, detailed stories.

The most sadly overlooked movies at the NYFF were Roger Michell's Le Week-End and Sebastian Lélio's Gloria.  Le Week-End stars Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan and is a moving and honest look at marriage in the latter years.  Gloria is a gem that grew on me quite a bit after it was over and features a mesmerizing central performance by Paulina García.  Rarely do movies have female protagonists over 50 as strong as the character of Gloria.

The 51st New York Film Festival was a festival full of diversity and wonder.  I'm always excited to see what gems I'll uncover while covering a film festival and this NYFF was full of them.  The good news about the films featured this year is that most have distribution and will either be hitting theaters later this year or early next year.  Below are links to all of my NYFF reviews.  There are still a few more to come.

Le Week-End (review)
About Time (review)
Captain Phillips (review)
Inside Llewyn Davis (review)
Stranger by the Lake (review)
Gloria (review)
Abuse of Weakness (review)
The Immigrant (review)
Only Lovers Left Alive (review)
Her (review)

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