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NYFF: Daily Reviews

Daily updates from the Festival

What to see. Twenty-one of the Main Slate films already have distribution, and nine of these—The Artist, Carnage, A Dangerous Method, The Descendants, Le Havre, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Melancholia, Pina, and A Separation—are scheduled to open in New York before year’s end. (Shame is likely to join them, if only for an Oscar-qualifying run, and George Harrison: Living in the Material World will be telecast on HBO the day after its festival screening.) Here, then, in alphabetical order, are five to line up for. Two still lack passports as of this writing; the other three are gutsy festival films for which the cognoscenti (you know who you are) won’t want to wait.

The Loneliest Planet

Julia Loktev’s follow-up to her brilliant exercise in terror, Day Night Day Night, is an equally unsettling experiential experiment in directing the audience. Led by a native guide, a frisky pair of backpackers—sensationally embodied by Gael García Bernal and Israeli actress Hani Furstenberg—venture into the ruggedly beautiful Caucasian outback. It might also be the land of allegory. Like Day Night Day Night, which tracked 24 hours in the life of a would-be suicide bomber, The Loneliest Planet has a two-part structure, the hinge being an enigmatic threat and an all-too-human response. No distributor, showing October 1 and 4.

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

Turkey’s finest filmmaker, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has made his finest movie to date. Ceylan seems to have taken a long, profitable look at two recent Romanian movies—Aurora and Police, Adjective—before making this bravura meditation on the inscrutable cosmos. Runner-up to The Tree of Life at Cannes, Once Upon a Time’s bleakly comic, superbly crafted, highly rigorous epistemological treatment of a police investigation conducted in the dark emptiness of the Anatolian night confirms its maker’s international status. The movie runs 157 minutes and is showing but once, October 8.

Policeman

Nadav Lapid’s first feature, a multiple award winner at last July’s Jerusalem Film Festival, is an eccentric corollary in ultra-insularity to The Footnote (the most Jewish father-son drama since The Jazz Singer), presenting an Israel that is even more balkanized. Two violent, violently self-absorbed tribal groups—one a highly disciplined elite police unit, the other an anarchic band of left-wing Jewish terrorists—find each other at a billionaire’s wedding in contemporary Tel Aviv. It’s ultra-macho muscle Jews versus fanatical neo-narodniks. No distributor, showing October 15 and 16.

This Is Not A Film

Made under house arrest and smuggled out of Iran in a loaf of bread, banned filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s home-movie essay (put together with the help of Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and, in some sequences, a cell phone) is an act of political bravery as precisely tuned as it is affectingly modest. Prevented from making films, Panahi thinks them through. One screening, October 13.

The Turin Horse

Béla Tarr might have been musing over This Is Not a Film when he characterized his latest and, according to him, his last feature (co-credited to his longtime editor Ágnes Hranitzky) as “something more than a movie . . . or maybe less.” The Turin Horse devotes 146 minutes to a week’s worth of an elderly father and his grown daughter’s mind-numbing daily routine—a morning shot of pálinka, an evening potato—as an apocalyptic wind blows away the world outside their cabin. A death-haunted masterpiece of sensory underload, with a surging hypnotic score, The Turin Horse is Tarr’s most fully achieved, challenging movie since his 1994 epic, Sátántangó. One screening, October 9.

--J. Hoberman

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