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Entries in NYFF (199)

Thursday
Oct102019

NYFF Review: Marriage Story

by Murtada Elfadl

What happens to the love once a marriage ends? In his latest film Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach charts the dissolution of a marriage from the time it starts to falter to the breaking point when the couple in question Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver) are actively wishing death upon each other. The title is a clever play on divorce as we are supposed to find out what they once loved about each other by the end.

The film builds the memory of intimacy in throwaway moments....

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Tuesday
Oct082019

NYFF: "The Booksellers"

by Jason Adams

Once upon a time in a land only as far away as blasted impossible time travel forces it to be there were blocks upon blocks of bookshops in New York City -- old dusty cavernous things, with stalactites and stalagmites of leather bound little readers piled up and down from the floors and ceilings. You'd need a miner's cap to traverse the places to dig up all of the glittering gold preciousness held within, but buried treasures abounded. Once upon a time, anyway.

D. W. Young's captivating new nerd-out of a documentary The Booksellers excavates that magical place, those treasured memories...

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Thursday
Oct032019

NYFF Review: Pain and Glory

by Murtada Elfadl

Salvador Mallo, the director and lead character in Pain and Glory, tells one of his actors that holding back tears in emotional scenes instead of crying makes actors better. Yet Pedro Almodóvar, who wrote and directed and based this film partially on his life, does not. He goes deep, he explores honestly and elicits a deeply emotional and cathartic reaction. 

In this thesis on his life and his work, he finds the generous space to include many of his collaborators in front and behind the camera. On screen we have Antonio Banderas as Mallo, Cecilia Roth, from All About My Mother (1999), appears as an actress from Mallo’s past who’s eager to work with him again. And most poignantly Peneope Cruz, his muse of many years and movies, plays a version of his mother...

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Wednesday
Oct022019

NYFF: "Sibyl"

by Jason Adams

Living in a big city is a great incentive to get lost in other people's stories. Just walk outside and you can see people falling in love, people falling out of love -- I once saw a couple have an insanely over-the-top meltdown banshee screaming in the middle of Sixth Avenue in the pouring rain as taxi cabs honked to pass. It's a wonderful way to distract you from yourself -- turn on the public television right at the stoop or in the subway station. And it's why lots of writers move to cities -- all that inspiration smashing you in the elbow. 

I can only imagine then what kind of a double draw, a draw squared, it would turn out to be if you were openly invited right into those people's personal dramas. What if you were both a writer and a psychotherapist, desperately trying to keep your own demons at bay at the same time?

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Tuesday
Oct012019

NYFF: Aquarius team wows again with "Bacurau"

by Jason Adams

You think you know somebody. You think you've got it all figured out. You think you sit down to a movie at the New York Film Festival you're gonna see something respectable -- something serious and challenging. But hyper-violent revenge westerns? Those are for Toronto. 

Well Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles' film Bacurau already played Toronto, and now it is playing NYFF, and it somehow splits the difference -- it's somehow an ass-blistering revenge fable with exploding heads, while also being a deadly serious story of an indigenous community terrorized by big business interests. It is, quite simply, the sort of movie we'll look back on from the future -- assuming there is a future -- and say, "Yup, that got it just right..."

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Monday
Sep302019

NYFF: Albert Serra's idea of "Liberté"

by Jason Adams

What better way to make a movie about sadomasochism than to inflict that relationship on the viewer? That seems to have been the grain of an idea that ignited Albert Serra to make Liberté, at least -- a fascinating nightmare slog that actively pokes you in the eye while also lulling you to sleep. I say all this with a sort of admiration! Perhaps I was brainwashed a bit by the time it was through but I certainly haven't been able to stop thinking about Liberté since I fell under its awful spell days ago, and that's got to count for something.

Somewhere in a patchy nighttime forest in 18th Century France an assemblage of powder-puffs, mostly men but with a couple of corseted ladies who keep caged up in their litter boxes -- the proper word is really "palanquin" but "litter box" will totally make sense once you've seen/suffered the movie -- have gathered to cavort. And cavort they shall, in the slowest of motions...

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