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Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Look Back At The New York Film Festival

It's been two weeks since the New York Film Festival wrapped, nearly 4 weeks since Hollywood has imploded following the news of Harvey Weinstein's dirty behavior, and there is a lot to talk about. So I am going to get right into and highlight what I saw at the festival, and how the Weinstein case tainted certain films.

Director: Sean Baker
Writers: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Valeria Cotto
Quick Review: I would say I am surprised that this film has garnered so much praise from my fellow critics, but actually I'm not. Hollywood pundits may scoff at films that portray the experiences of disadvantaged people of color in film, but they will never, ever turn down a film about the white poverty experience. While it is solidly acted and does have its moments, there seems too much distance between the storyteller (Baker) and the story to truly connect with it. It seems more casually curious and at times even exploitative in its attempt to center the narrative of a poor, marginalized single mother and her precocious young daughter. This effort is at least an improvement from Baker's last film, Tangerine (which I despised), but he still leaves much to be desired. I just left the theater feeling very unaffected, and that shouldn't be the case--not for a story like this.

Director: Nancy Buirski
Writer: Nancy Buirski
Cast: Tommy Bernardi, Robert Corbitt, Alma Daniels
Quick Review: Not a perfect film by any means, but in the wake of Hollywood's implosion post-Weinstein, the film holds a significant relevance. Read my full review here via Hello Beautiful.

Director: Dee Rees
Writers: Virgil Williams, Dee Rees
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke
Quick Review: Dee Rees deserves all the praise she's (hopefully) going to get with this epic drama that contextualizes war and race between a white family and a black family. Read my full review here via Hello Beautiful.

Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Cast: Jim Belushi, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake
Quick Review: First of all, Justin Timberlake isn't that good of an actor to be leading a Woody Allen movie. Second, Allen's personal is...problematic, to say the least (and the fact that this concluding film in the festival premiered at the height of the Weinstein case was not lost on any of us). Third, there are few filmmakers (outside of Pedro Almodovar, who rarely gets his due) who can portray a woman spiraling out of control better than Allen--without parodying her. Of course, much of that credit is due to Kate Winslet's performance as a 1950s wife and mother suffering equally from boredom and feeling unloved. But as great an actress as Winslet is, I couldn't help but wonder what an actress like Julianne Moore would have brought to the role. I know she's played a lot of women on the verge of breakdowns in the past, but infusing that with Allen comedy (because really, that's a genre in and of itself) could have been interesting. The film is fine, romantically lit and beautifully shot (like many Allen films), but isn't nearly effective as, say, Allen's last great film--Blue Jasmine.

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: James Ivory
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlberg
Quick Review: A lot of folks are raving about Armie Hammer as the dashing American who comes and sweeps a boy (Chalamet) off his feet in his Italian home, but I say meh to that. Hammer is a dashing guy. He just shows up on screen and charms your underwear right off. But beyond charm, his performance is quite thin to me. Chalamet, however, is mesmerizing in the film. He carries the weight of the emotional layers so beautifully and effortlessly. But my, Stuhlberg nearly broke me. He plays an art scholar and Chalamet's dad in the film, and is for the most part just there to guide Hammer's visiting scholarship, but he delivers a monologue at the end of the film that just stops your heart.


Brittani Burnham said...

I'm really looking forward to Mudbound that's probably my #1 on this list.

I want to see Call Me By Your Name too, but I'm having a hard time picturing Armie as a 24 year old. I know I said the same thing about not buying him in his 40's in Nocturnal Animals too, but I'm afraid I won't be able to focus on the romance in the film because I'll be focused on how much that guy should not be hitting on a teenager.

Unknown said...

I loved Call Me By Your Name. I think Chalamet is the obvious stand-out but I think what Hammer does is pretty great. His character is pretty sparsely defined but he has all the humour and charisma he needs for the first part and I thought he was perfectly vulnerable and warm in the second half. This was BY FAR the most wonderful film I saw at TIFF.

Mudbound was actually very mixed for me. The first half was borderline not good at all, the second half was great

Unknown said...

I think I can appreciate what you're saying about Oliver in CMBYN, but if you've read the book I'm wondering if you'd agree that Hammer brings more to the character than the enigma of the novel.

Anonymous said...

BTW, did you that Timothée Chalamet is Jewish? His mother, who is American, is Jewish (and his father could be Jewish, too, for all I know).

I mention this because the mainstream media is pathologically obsessed with exactly only one half of his background, French, and categorically refuses to mention his other half, Jewish. Even though his character in this movie isn't French - he's Jewish, and spends half the movie wearing a Star of David.

So if not now, when?

Candice Frederick said...

@Anonymous no, i didn't know that...

Quotes Mama said...

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is the unique :D

Anonymous said...

In the years since this film came out, I'm curious about the fact that no one, so far as I've seen, seems to have any problem with this portrayal of an adult man seducing a 17-year-old boy.

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