As film festivals continue to spring up all over the globe, furiously brainstorming new ways to draw celebrities into their fold, there’s something to be said for the New York Film Festival’s steadfast resistance to glitz. It is in many ways the purist’s film festival, drawing audiences more likely to salivate over the new offering by Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien than any of the Academy Award fodder that will jam the arthouses over the next couple of months. Now approaching its 43rd year, its reach is more global than ever, with an unprecedented three films from South Korea on tap as well as offerings from Denmark, Palestine, Japan, Romania, and France, among others.
Although the festival’s program does not appear to have any breakout hits in the vein of last year’s closing night film, Sideways, it kicks off on a high-profile note with Good Night, and Good Luck, George Clooney’s sophomore feature which recounts the public face-off between Senator Joseph McCarthy and CBS newscaster Edward R. Murrow. Given the nation’s current political climate, it seems likely to inspire debate.
The rest of the programming, save for Sundance favorite The Squid and the Whale and writer biopic Capote, verges refreshingly off the beaten path, featuring challenging works from the likes of Michael Haneke, Hong Sang-soo, Philippe Garrel, Lars von Trier, Park Chanwook, Michael Winterbottom, and Aleksandr Sokurov. The centerpiece film is Breakfast on Pluto, directed by Neil Jordan, and closing the festival will be Haneke’s Cache, which has already proved divisive amongst critics. As always, many of the offerings are plucked from the Cannes line-up, and a number will be making their U.S. debuts.
One of the festival’s highlights, however, is a film that has been around for 20 years but remains underappreciated, Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger. Starring Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider, the movie has acquired a reputation as one of the director’s masterpieces, but has languished in a shoddy VHS format that does no credit to its stunning cinematography.
Those hoping to rediscover other gems from the past would be advised to check out The Beauty of the Everyday: Japan’s Shochiku Company at 110, a vast retrospective running as a festival sidebar. Featuring works by Yasujiro Ozu, Kenzo Mizoguchi, Nagisa Oshima, and Yoji Yamada, among many others, the sidebar is fashioned as a tribute to Shochiku, the groundbreaking film company that nursed their talent over the years.
Over the next couple of weeks, please check back for regular reviews of each festival film. The 43rd New York Film Festival will run from September 23 to October 9, 2005.
Introduction by Beth Gilligan
|The Death of Mr. Lazarescu||21 September|
|Good Night, and Good Luck||24 September|
|The Squid and the Whale||03 October|
|I Am||08 October|
|Avenge But One of My Two Eyes||11 October|
|Something Like Happiness||12 October|
|Through the Forest||14 October|
|Breakfast on Pluto||15 October|
|The Passenger||17 October|
|Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story||20 October|
|Paradise Now||21 October|
|Who’s Camus Anyway?||23 October|
|The Sun||26 October|
|Regular Lovers||27 October|
|Sympathy for Lady Vengeance||31 October|