The 55th New York Film Festival kicks off tonight with the world premiere of Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying. Our first reviews of the festival will be going live later today, and we’ll have a review of Last Flag Flying tomorrow morning. Alec Kubas-Meyer and I will be there taking in many of the films.
To kick off NYFF 2017, we wanted to offer a preview of movies we can’t wait to see for a variety of reasons. We’ll have reviews of many of these films and more in the coming weeks.
For tickets to the New York Film Festival and more information, visit filmlinc.org/nyff2017.
Before We Vanish (散歩する侵略者, Sanpo suru shinryakusha)
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Kiyoshi Kurosawa can make one heck of an indiosyncratic genre film, and I’ve always been meaning to make a deeper dive into the artsy J-horror director’s filmography. With Before We Vanish, Kurosawa provides his take on the alien invasion and body snatcher film. Rather than just taking over the Earth, first the aliens want to take human ideas. There’s a whole set of philosophical questions about language and values that could be explored through this conceit.
Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
Director: Sara Driver
I always like portraits of the New York City in the past. Back in the 1970s, this place must have seemed part carnival and part war zone. That was the world that Jean-Michel Basquiat grew up in, and the one that informed his art. Boom for Real looks at the life of Basquait before he became famous, and likely the early hip hop/proto-punk scene that gave rise to his work. I wonder how this would play in a double-feature with Tamara Davis’ The Radiant Child.
Call Me by Your Name
Director: Luca Guadagnino
I’ve enjoyed many of the Luca Guadagnino films I’ve seen so far–his work and visual style is strong enough to make me curious about his remake of Suspiria. With Call Me by Your Name, Guadagnino provides a coming-of-age story about a young gay man’s first love, and likely his first heartbreak–you usually can’t come of age without having both. Armie Hammer is supposed to deliver an excellent and unexpected performance, and the film’s star Timothée Chalamet has been praised as well.
The Florida Project
Director: Sean Baker
Sean Baker’s Tangerine is probably most renown for being shot entirely on iPhones, though beyond the gimmick, it’s the characters are what make the film watchable. The Florida Project has Baker tackle issues of poverty in America, but it seems like it’s filtered through the eyes of children living in a motel room. While that possible child-POV may seem like it softens the blow of such dire circumstances, it might actual heighten them. It’s been getting good reviews at other festivals so far, and I’m game for some Willem Dafoe.
Director: Brett Morgen
Jane Goodall has always fascinated me even when I was a kid. As a child, I always wondered what it would be like to live among chimps, not knowing the potential dangers of thinking of the bigger scientific and philosophical concerns. As an adult, I wonder what it is about chimp and primate behavior that can help us understand the ineffable mysteries of human life. I’m going into this one blind, so I have no idea how Brett Morgen will present or approach this portrait of one of the most important scientists living today.
Director: Greta Gerwig
Frances Ha marked an interesting turning point in writer/director Noah Baunbach’s career and proved a breakout role for star Greta Gerwig. Lady Bird looks like it could be a thematic prequel to Frances Ha, and joyous in the same “figuring life out” sort of way. The film follows an analog for a young Greta Gerwig as she grows up in the suburbs of Sacramento, CA wanting more out of life. This is Gerwig’s first time flying solo as a director, and given the reviews out of the Toronto International Film Festival, I hope it lives up to the hype.
Last Flag Flying
Director: Richard Linklater
A sequel to Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail, Last Flag Flying doesn’t seem like the usual Richard Linklater film. It looks like less of his peripatetic fare and more like a somber, prestige road picture about aging veterans dealing with current and impending death. And even then, thinking of Last Flag Flying in those terms, the film is still a movie about two of Linklater’s hobby horses: relationships and time. By default I still expect a lot from the movie because of the three leads, and acknowledge that if a movie is going to take me by surprise, it might be this one.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Director: Noah Baumbach
Casting Adam Sandler as the lead in Noah Baumbach’s latest urbane comedy seems like a stunt. Ditto the fact the film is being released on Netflix (maybe Sandler helped hook that up; ditto co-star Grace Van Patten). Yet Sandler is also a fascinating part of this ensemble cast, that also features Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson. The story centers on the damaged children of an emotionally distant father. Picture The Royal Tenenbaums but more like a 1980’s Woody Allen movie than a colorful diorama.
Mrs. Hyde (Madame Hyde)
Director: Serge Bozon
Isabella Huppert in an oblique retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
You had me at “hello”.
No Stone Unturned
Director: Alex Gibney
No Stone Unturned was supposed to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. The documentary was abruptly withdrawn just weeks before the festival over unspecified legal issues. With its world premiere rescheduled to NYFF this weekend, No Stone Unturned looks at the Loughinisland massacre, an Irish cold case that involved the murder of six men watching the World Cup at a pub in 1994. Five others were wounded. Justice still has not been served for the families of the victims. I’m curious about how painful and incendiary the finished movie will be.
The Other Side of Hope (Toivon tuolla puolen)
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
I’ve been meaning to do a proper binge of Aki Kaurismäki’s films for many years now but still haven’t gotten around to it. His work has shades of early Jim Jarmusch, trying to say a lot by just kind of lingering and saying very little and allowing meaning to accrue in the silences. Maybe The Other Side of Hope will be an excuse to make it happen. The film centers on a restaurateur who befriends refugees in Finland, a plot that pairs the film in my mind with Kaurismäki’s 2011 film Le Havre.
Director: Chloé Zhao
The Rider received acclaim at Sundance earlier this year, but I hadn’t really took notice of it until recently. Chloe Zhao shot the film with non-actors who live and work in the South Dakota as ranchers and in the rodeo scene. What interests me most about The Rider is its portrait of a fading way of life and how these modern-day cowboys try to make ends meet even though what they do–as dangerous and specialized as it is–garners little attention or respect. I’m also curious about how these families live and get by on a day-to-day basis.
Director: Ruben Östlund
Since I like going into most movies as blind as possible, all I know about Ruben Östlund’s The Square is this:
- It won The Palme d’Or at Cannes
- It’s about chaos in the high art world
- It’s from the same director as Force Majeure
In a few hours from now, I hope to know more.
Director: Joachim Trier
Thelma seemed right up my alley once I saw the trailer and read the description. A young woman goes away to college, falls in love with another young woman, and her desire awakens some strange, Carrie-like powers in her. The trope of the powerful girl becoming a woman has led to some excellent horror and fantasy in the past, so I’m wondering how Jaochim Trier will play with and present this genre convention in order to explore whatever’s on his mind.
The Venerable W.
Director: Barbet Schroeder
The current situation in Myanmar is terrible. The Rohingya Muslim minority in the country, persecuted for years, is now being murdered, tortured, and driven from their homes, creating a tragic refugee crisis. What’s surprising to many is that Myanmar is a majority Buddhist nation, and the violence is part of that country’s religious zeal. Barbet Schroeder’s documentary The Venerable W comes face to face with a Buddhist monk in Myanmar stoking a lot of this venous anti-Muslim sentiment. It’s a movie that I expect will shake, upset, and move me given the state of the world.
Director: Todd Haynes
In Wonderstruck, Todd Haynes reuinites with Julianne Moore, which means I am already on board. The film’s story takes place in 1927 and 1977, with perpendicular/parallel quests to find something that’s missing in two separate character’s lives. Beyond that I know nothing, but I hope to be surprised, and I suspect I will be.
Director: Lucretia Martel
It’s been 9 years since Lucretia Martel put out her last film, but she’s back with Zama. Rather than a contemporary exploration of women who bristle at expectations, roles, and norms, Zama is a period piece that seems like it can only be described as colonial horror. Visually it looks like a splendor to behold, and I wonder what sort of dread will seep through the images of natives fight back against their oppressors.