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Wrap Up: 45th New York Film Festival

Kicking off with the visually impressive, yet admittedly tepid The Darjeeling Limited, audiences would probably do better to download the precursor gem Hotel Chevalier.

No one can say the NYFF was boring this year. From Nicole Kidman’s paparazzi extravaganza, to Brian de Palma’s press conference altercation (click here to watch), a good time was had by all. But it was the impressive selection of films that really made this year special. 

Kicking off with the visually impressive, yet admittedly tepid The Darjeeling Limited, audiences would probably do better to download the precursor gem Hotel Chevalier. But it was still a lot of fun getting to hang out with Wes Anderson (read interview here) , Jason Schwartzman (read interview here) et al.  Sure they’re spoiled, bourgeois white males, but at least they’re not pretending to be something else, unlike so many other independent filmmakers today. 

The new cut of Blade Runner looked fantastic, especially on an HD projector. Although no extreme edits were made, Sir Ridley Scott cranked up the visuals, the soundtrack and the violence. Don’t look out for a new ending or anything like that, but as someone who was born the year Blade Runner was released, it was a treat to see it in the theaters. 

Be on the lookout for The Orphanage, Spain’s Academy Award nomination, being released this winter.  I never jumped out of my seat in a movie like that before, and I see many a horror film. It was haunting, beautiful and downright frightful. 

Two films I really had to think about were Catherine Breillat’s The Last Mistress (read interview here) and Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding. I didn’t know what to think of those films immediately after seeing them. But after thinking about them (and actually seeing them both again) I realized that I liked both of those films very much (even though audiences were not as forgiving as I). 

Todd Hayne’s Bob Dylan remix, I’m Not There was the surprise of the festival for me. I can’t claim to know much about Bob Dylan’s life or music, but was impressed by Haynes’ visually dazzling take on celebrity. The film references everything from Peckinpah to Fellini. Definitely a film worth checking out and Cate Blanchett is once again, astounding.

The festival’s centerpiece No Country for Old Men is the second cinematic adaptation of my favorite author, Cormac McCarthy, however, it’s the first film to do the author any justice.  I had a few issues here and there, but overall, I think it’s a serious Oscar contender, especially for Javier Bardem.  

I also got a chance to see Anton Corbijn's Control (read interview here) while covering the festival and unlike Bob Dylan, I am very familiar with the Manchester music scene. I liked the film, although feel like the intention of demystifying the Ian Curtis legend was not fully achieved. 

The closing film, Persepolis is another small masterpiece and it’s not just because I’m a sucker for animation. It’s rare to see a film that’s both technically innovative and moving. 

The two films I missed at the festival were Paranoid Park and Redacted.  I’m sorry I did as I heard, through word of mouth, that they were both frustrating and fascinating.  Not to mention I really would have liked to be there for Brian de Palma’s press conference, which involved an altercation between de Palma and Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles.

I’d like to close talking about my favorite film of the festival, Silent Light.  Carlos Reygadas has made some of the most exciting films over the past five years and guess what?  He managed to do it without adhering to gimmickry, or attaching himself to a particular style or film movement.  His films are the purest representations of life I’ve seen since John Cassavetes. Silent Light is a treasure and although it probably won’t get the Academy Award it deserves, it’s the most beautiful film I’ve seen this year.  

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