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New York Film Festival 2011

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New York Film Festival 2011 Empty New York Film Festival 2011

Post by Admin on Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:51 pm

Will World End Before or After Festival Does?
Cinema Guild

Firat Tanis as a murder suspect in "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia," Nuri Bilge Ceylan's film with supernatural touches.
Published: October 4, 2011

The opportunity to see two intimidating landmarks — “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” and “The Turin Horse” — is reason enough for any filmgoer with more than a passing interest in the evolution of world cinema to be grateful for the platform of the New York Film Festival. Because the chances that either movie will soon be coming to a theater near you, as they say, are next to nil, the best time to see them may be at Alice Tully Hall in the coming week.
New York Film Festival on ArtsBeat

Features on the movies in the festival, interviews with stars and filmmakers, and updates from New York Times writers and film critics.

Michael Fassbender as Jung, and Keira Knightley as his patient and lover in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method."

The Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s stately, absorbing 157-minute police procedural, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,” has only one festival screening, on Saturday. The great Hungarian director Bela Tarr’s “Turin Horse,” a 146-minute sigh of cosmic futility that he has said will be his final film, is being shown on Sunday. To say that “The Turin Horse,” the more difficult of the two, has no interest in ingratiating itself with audiences is putting it mildly. Once seen, however, it is not easily forgotten.

The other main-slate selections in the festival’s second week may be a little lighter, but that certainly doesn’t mean sunny. Two of the most highly anticipated both star the German-born Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who plays a sex addict in Steve McQueen’s “Shame” and Carl Jung, opposite Viggo Mortensen’s Sigmund Freud, in David Cronenberg’s “Dangerous Method.” Another award-seeking performance is Michelle Williams’s Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn,” the festival’s official centerpiece, which I was unable to see before press time because the finishing touches were still being applied.

“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” begins with the haunting image of a three-car caravan, viewed from afar, as it winds its way through the Turkish countryside in the dead of night. The weary travelers include policemen, a prosecutor, a doctor, grave diggers and a confessed murder suspect taking the search party to his victim’s burial site, which he has difficulty finding.

The main characters — a whimsical prosecutor (Taner Birsel), a misanthropic police chief (Yilmaz Erdogan) and the doctor (Muhammet Uzuner) — each occupy a different moral universe, with the doctor, a Chekhovian figure, the story’s moral fulcrum. Flecked with magical realist touches and a sense of the supernatural, the film takes no shortcuts as its characters discharge their laborious and depressing duties. The autopsy of the corpse concludes the film’s sorrowful, unblinking dissection of the human condition. This third film by Mr. Ceylan to be showcased at the festival, following “Distant” in 2002 and “Climates,” in 2006, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” is, in a word, great.

“The Turin Horse” — directed by Mr. Tarr with his longtime collaborator, Agnes Hranitzky — takes its place along with Abel Ferrara’s “4:44 Last Day on Earth” and Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” (which was shown in the first week) as one of several festival movies to imagine the end of the world. In its preface, a facetious narrator tells of Nietzsche’s traumatized reaction to a carriage driver’s assault on a horse. The film, he says, shows what became of the horse.

In the bleak Hungarian plains, that carriage driver, a man of around 60 (Janos Derzsi), and his daughter (Erika Bok) go through their Spartan daily routine, as a gale howls outside their hovel. Their only food consists of boiled potatoes, peeled and eaten by hand and supplemented by palinka, a fruit brandy. As the daughter slavishly serves her father, who has only one functioning arm, the world slowly runs out of life over six days. The horse refuses to eat or drink, the well runs dry, and the light dims. Underscoring the utter gloom is a groaning minimalist soundtrack by Mihaly Vig.

By contrast, Mr. Ferrara’s sci-fi apocalypse is turbulent but shallow. The precise moment the ozone layer disappears has been calculated, and as the heavens spin with weird, misty lights, the Lower East Side neighborhood in which “Last Day on Earth” is filmed prepares for the end. The central couple (Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh) are tiresomely embattled lovers who in between fighting and clinging to each other, contact family members via Skype. The homemade montage sequences are packed with Mr. Ferrara’s usual religious imagery.

In neither “Shame” nor “A Dangerous Method” is the planet imperiled, but these films are hardly cheery. The performances by Mr. Fassbender in both convey a concentrated intensity that has already earned him comparisons to Daniel Day-Lewis.

For “Shame,” he teamed up again with the director of “Hunger,” the harrowing 2008 film about the prison hunger strike led by the Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands. Here, Mr. Fassbender’s character, Brandon, is a knotted-up Midtown Manhattanite who spends his office hours devouring pornography on the Internet and his free time in compulsive sexual pursuit. Staying with him is his emotionally unstable sister (an unrecognizable and very good Carey Mulligan), an aspiring nightclub singer who sings the slowest version of “New York, New York” you’ve ever heard.

Unsexy, despite scenes of strenuous copulation and nudity, “Shame” is a clinical portrait of a man in excruciating psychic pain for reasons that are never explored. Brandon’s every orgasm feels like an anguished death spasm. The film’s vision of Manhattan’s erotic ethos recalls Steven Soderbergh’s chilly portrait of a high-end prostitute, “The Girlfriend Experience.” You might even call “Shame” anti-sexual.

Thematically, “Shame” recalls earlier movies by Mr. Cronenberg, whose 1996 “Crash” imagined a cultish subculture of wounded car accident victims turned on by danger and mutilation. The horror-movie-like fascination with the visceral that colors many of Mr. Cronenberg’s movies is toned down in “A Dangerous Method,” a sleek, beautifully written and acted drama about the fractured mentor-protégé relationship of Freud and Jung.

Adapted by Christopher Hampton from his stage play “The Talking Cure,” which was based on John Kerr’s book, “A Most Dangerous Method,” it is a talky movie that largely transcends its stage origins because the moral and ethical disagreements between the two are so clearly laid out. And Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Sabina Spielrein, a kinky, initially demented patient who becomes Jung’s mistress and, later, a psychoanalyst, gives the movie a searing emotional spark.

This week’s roster also includes “The Kid With a Bike,” the latest neo-realist film by the Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, whose work has been winning major prizes at the Cannes Film Festival for well over a decade. If “The Kid With a Bike” is a little softer than the typical Dardenne brothers film, any sweetness and light is just a glimmer of hope in the chaotic existence of the central character, the 11-year-old Cyril (the remarkable Thomas Doret), a rampaging child abandoned by his father and placed in a children’s home.

When a kind and caring hairdresser he meets agrees to be his part-time guardian, Cyril has a slim chance of landing safely off the streets. The movie’s jumpy, agitated style perfectly reflects his desperate hyperactivity.

In “Sleeping Sickness,” which won Ulrich Köhler a best director award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, a German doctor (Pierre Bokma) who has spent 20 years fighting an epidemic of sleeping sickness in Cameroon is visited by a young black, gay, French-born doctor (Jean-Christophe Folly) with Congolese parents who feels even more alien to the culture than the white doctor whose program he has been sent to evaluate. Provocative as it is, with evocations of “Heart of Darkness,” the movie, which is pessimistic about the ability of Western do-gooders to help Africans, feels frustratingly incomplete.

The Argentine filmmaker Santiago Mitre’s “Student,” set at the University of Buenos Aires, is the most hermetic of the week’s main slate. Entering what the movie portrays as a hotbed of ’60s-style political activism, Roque (Esteban Lamothe), a young man from the provinces, falls in love with a radical teacher. When he becomes a charismatic student leader, torn between various factions that callously manipulate him, his idealism crumbles.

The issues being debated in “The Student” don’t resonate beyond Argentina, or even the university. Even so, “The Student” conveys a variation of the same message that dominates the New York Film Festival with its high-minded austerity. Forget Hollywood escapism for a minute and visit the real world.

The New York Film Festival continues through Oct. 16 at various locations; (212) 875-5600,

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New York Film Festival 2011 Empty Re: New York Film Festival 2011

Post by Admin on Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:47 pm

Scenes: I Stood Where Carey Mulligan Sang
DateTuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:12PM

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a private party for Fox Searchlight's Shame after its New York Film Festival premiere held at the Top of the Standard. That's the bar atop the glassy luxury hotel that hovers in the sky over the immensely popular High Line (an elevated walkway over the meatpacking district). You read that the Top of the Standard (also known as the Boom Boom Room) is impossible to get into if you're not among the über famous or wealthy. I just walked up and said "Michael Fassbender's Party" and the doors parted. Amazing what a name can do.

Not mine, his! Don't misunderstand. I always feel as if there's been some mistake when I enter these moneyed settings as I'm just a poor boy from Detroit who loves the movies too much. Not that I don't welcome such beautiful mistakes. I know virtually no one so am happy to run into a friend from Movie|Line while I'm there and we catch up a bit.

Mostly I'm there to soak up the buzzy atmosphere since the film, despite the very typical backlash which followed the early Venice "Masterpiece!" shouting, has been well received. That's particularly true of Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan's performances, which snap electrically back and forth between frighteningly numb fleshiness and raw exposed nerves. I spot Fassy almost immediately several people away talking to executive types. He's all slim and handsome in a gray (?) suit but he looks substantially more human in person, almost civilian like, were it not for that sleek beanpole refinement. Another partygoer echoes my thoughts "Before you got here he was just standing outside smoking... like he was anybody else!"

At one point John Cameron Mitchell is standing right behind me and though he's surrounded by friends and I have no idea what they're talking about I immediately presume (by which I mean pretend) that they're all discussing Shortbus (2006) since it's the last sexually explicit serious-minded English language movie I can think of before Shame. Elsewhere I see faces I can't quite place though I recognize them (character actors? industry players?) and one that I do, Brady Corbet. He's had such a steady career playing suspicious, damaged or dangerous types for everyone from von Trier to Araki through Michael Haneke and now Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene -reviewed) that at first I am wary of his total friendliness. Nevertheless I have to take advantage and we chat for awhile. How soon did he know Martha would be special? He indicates immediately but when pressed for something more definitive about life on a film set -- how soon do you get a sense for what the finished film will be? -- he hesitates before settling on "two weeks."

Nicole Beharie, on the other hand, who plays Fassy's would be girlfriend (and co-worker) in Shame didn't know what to expect at all. She had just seen her film for the first time that night. Turns out that she and Fassbender improvised a lot and since all three of her major scenes are actually single continuous shots (yay!), she had no idea which takes were chosen. I make a mental note to thank Steve McQueen for this as it is such an strangely rare treat to be able to watch two fine actors acting together rather than in their own disjointed closeups.

Carey Mulligan is absent. "She's in Australia filming Gatsby" I'm told by the vivacious publicist who makes my night when she points out that we are mere feet away from the spot where Carey Mulligan sang in the movie.

If u can make it there, u'll make it anywhere. come on come thru New York, New York ♫

If you haven't been following reviews, there's a key scene early in the movie where the Oscar-buzzing actress, playing Sissy the cabaret singer, does a rendition of "New York New York" that is both hauntingly real (her voice isn't perfect but emotive) and vaguely unreal (it's in the molasses phrasing and intense close-ups that aren't preferenced elsewhere in the film). The whole sequence might justifiably be read as a dream sequence, a psychic conversation, between sister Sissy and brother Brandon. The sequence has only two edits and thus three acts if you will, as it stares at Sissy then Brandon then Sissy again for wrap up.

Looking around I realize that The Standard is practically Shame Central... (though it'd surely be odd to advertise as such!) Two of its sex scenes were also quite obviously filmed there. It's the glass windows and the wrap around view that are dead giveaways.

Before leaving I chat briefly with Steve McQueen and narrowly resist the urge to bow down after years of worshipping his debut film Hunger though I can't help but praise him for his resistance to the boring unimaginative camera work that plagues even "master" directors when two characters converse. Rather than gushing any further, I thank him for not taking a million years off between film #1 and film #2 (a typically unfortunate habit of newbie directors). He's already working on film #3 he tells me called Twelve Years a Slave starring Chiwetel Ejiofor -- though what little he says about it he asks me not to print. Shame (no pun intended). His current pace is troubling him, he adds, because he also has his art career and his wife and kids who need more of his time.

I suppose we can allow him a break after film number three. As long as he keeps working...

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