21 Films to See This Weekend: ‘Rocky Horror’ + More Great Films at NYFF

Sundays may be a “wan, stuff shadow of a robust Saturday” or a day of “forced leisure for folks who have no aptitude for leisure,” but a weekend is still a weekend. The pleasure of a Friday night, the knowing the burdens of work week have a brief respite carry themselves into the following two days of leisure, and what better way to indulge in that leisure than heading to the cinema.

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***FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10***

HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR, Alain Resnais
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

This modernist masterwork began as a documentary commission from Daiei Studios, secured for Alain Resnais by producer Anatole Dauman. Resnais decided that the bombing of Hiroshima and its impact needed fiction, brought Marguerite Duras onto the project, and worked with her to create a story—of a French film actress (Amour Oscar-nominated Emmanuelle Riva) who goes to Hiroshima to make a film and has an affair with a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada)—that would exist “in two tenses… the present and the past coexist.” Few films have had such a lasting, wide-ranging impact.Hiroshima, mon amour is a devastating experience on every level: visually, sonically, emotionally, intellectually. Thanks to a new 4K restoration, it can now be seen and heard, once again, in its full glory. Restoration by Argos Films, Fondation Groupama Gan, Fondation Technicolor, and Cineteca Bologna, with support from the CNC. A Rialto Pictures release.

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CITIZENFOUR, Laura Poitras
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

In January 2013, filmmaker Laura Poitras was in the process of constructing a film about abuses of national security in post-9/11 America when she started receiving encrypted e-mails from someone identifying himself as “citizen four,” who was ready to blow the whistle on the massive covert surveillance programs run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. In June 2013, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The film that resulted from this series of tense encounters is absolutely sui generis in the history of cinema:  a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute before our eyes. Poitras is a great and brave filmmaker, but she is also a masterful storyteller: she compresses the many days of questioning, waiting, confirming, watching the world’s reaction and agonizing over the next move, into both a great character study of Snowden and a narrative that will leave you on the edge of your seat as it inexorably moves toward its conclusion. CITIZENFOUR is a major work on multiple levels, and a deeply unsettling experience.

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THE FOREST, Arnaud Desplechin
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

The name of Alexander Ostrovsky may not be as well known in the west as Anton Chekhov’s, but he was far more prolific a playwright, and many of his works are the backbone of his country’s theatrical tradition. The Comédie Française incorporated The Forest, his 1871 comic drama (we would now call it Chekhovian, but Ostrovsky died when Chekhov was just getting started) about the familial intrigues between a scheming middle-aged woman, her marriageable niece, and an itinerant nephew who returns from self-imposed family exile, into its repertoire in 2003. Arnaud Desplechin’s version, created for Arte’s “Theatre” series, prunes the production down to a trim 82 minutes. The Forest is both a vibrantly spontaneous and brutally funny family drama, and a glorious tribute to acting and theater—in other words, an Arnaud Desplechin film. With Michel Vuillermoz and Denis Podalydès as the nephew and his friend, Adeline D’Hermy as the niece, and Martine Chevallier in a stunning performance as the sublimely selfish aunt Raissa.

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LISTEN UP, PHILIP, Alex Ross Perry
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Alex Ross Perry’s third feature heralds the arrival of a bold new voice in American movies. Even more than in his critically laudedThe Color Wheel, Perry draws on literary models (mainly Philip Roth and William Gaddis) to achieve a brazen mixture of bitter humor and unexpected pathos. In this sly, very funny portrait of artistic egomania, Jason Schwartzman stars as Philip Lewis Friedman, a precocious literary star anticipating the publication of his second novel. Philip is a caustic narcissist, but the film, shot with tremendous agility on Super-16mm by Sean Price Williams, leaves his orbit frequently, lingering on the perspectives of his long-suffering photographer girlfriend, Ashley, (Elisabeth Moss) and his hero, the Roth-like literary lion Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), who himself considers Philip a major talent. A film about callow ambition, Listen Up Philip is itself remarkably poised, a knowing, rueful account of how pain and insecurity transfigure themselves as anger but also as art. A Tribeca Film release.

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FOXCATCHER, Bennett Miller
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Bennett Miller’s quietly intense and meticulously crafted new film deals with the tragic story of billionaire John E. du Pont and the brothers and championship wrestlers Dave and Mark Schultz recruited by du Pont to create a national wrestling team on his family’s sprawling property in Pennsylvania. Miller builds his film detail by detail, and he takes us deep into the rarefied world of the delusional du Pont, a particularly exotic specimen of ensconced all-American old money and privilege. Miller’s film is a powerfully physical experience, and the simmering conflicts between his characters are expressed in their stances, their stillnesses, their physiques, and, most of all, their moves in the wrestling arena. At the core is a trio of perfectly meshed and absolutely stunning performances from Mark Ruffalo as Dave, Channing Tatum as Mark, and an almost unrecognizable Steve Carell as the fatally dissociated du Pont. Foxcatcher offers us a vivid portrait of a side of American life that has never been touched in movies. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

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GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE, Hou Hsiao-hsien
Museum of the Moving Image

Hou’s first film with a contemporary setting since Daughter of the Nile (1987) is a portrait of the lives of small-time hoods rendered in rhythm-of-life anecdotal detail. Gao is the ringleader of a circle of layabouts including his faithful sidekick, Flathead, and their girlfriends, Pretzel and Ling. He is also the originator of petty crime schemes like selling hogs to the government, which promise to get the gang nowhere fast. Susan Sontag ranked Goodbye South, Goodbye among her favorite films of all time, and Kent Jones asked in Film Comment “Is there another film since Warhol with a better sense of just hanging out?”

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SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER, Joseph L. Mankiewicz
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Mankiewicz was known for making dialogue-centric films, but this adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s play might be his most hyper-verbal. Elizabeth Taylor is Catherine, the traumatized niece of deranged Southern matriarch Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn), who is desperate to eradicate the memory of her son’s horrifying death the summer before; Montgomery Clift is the brain surgeon called in to lobotomize Catherine, the one who remembers. The atmosphere is extreme Southern Gothic and the tone is deeply unhinged: the wildly conflicting emotional energies of Clift, Hepburn, Taylor, Williams, and Mankiewicz collide and sometimes explode, making for an extremely unorthodox and uniquely unsettling movie experience. Clift had difficulty keeping himself together throughout the shoot, Hepburn publicly spat in her director’s face, and Williams claimed to hate it. On the other hand, thanks to the lurid subject matter and an advertising campaign featuring Taylor in a bathing suit, Suddenly, Last Summer was one of Mankiewicz’s biggest hits.

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IRIS, Albert Maysles
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

The great documentarian Albert Maysles recently celebrated his 87th birthday, but he and his ever flexible and responsive camera eye are still as fresh as a daisy. His latest film is about fashion- and interior-design maven Iris Apfel, who is herself just south of 94, as she celebrates the late wave of popularity she enjoyed on the heels the Met’s 2006 exhibition of her collection of often affordably priced fashion accessories. Maysles, who pops up from time to time as a cheerful on-camera presence, follows Iris as she makes selections for the touring exhibition, advises young women on their fashion choices, and bargains with store owners, usually in the company of her husband of 66 years, Carl, who recently turned 100. Iris’s resilience is a wonder to behold, never more so than when she dismisses the idea of being “pretty”—for her, the only thing that matters is style.

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A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, Joseph L. Mankiewicz
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Mankiewicz considered this adaptation of John Klempner’s 1946 novel to be his first film as a full-fledged creator. “I read it and knew I had looked upon the Promised Land,” he said of Vera Caspary’s treatment, in which five wives had been cut down to four (Fox chief Darryl Zanuck brought it down to three by excising a wife that was to have been played by Anne Baxter). The final result is a bittersweet yet sparkling masterpiece, an intricately structured comic melodrama with a satirical eye on suburban striving. Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern, and Linda Darnell play the three wives who receive a letter from their mutual enemy Addie Ross (an unseen Celeste Holm) informing them that she will run away with one of their husbands. Constructed as a series of consecutive flashbacks from the POVs of each woman, the film quietly builds as it goes before soaring into the stratosphere with supermarket mogul Paul Douglas’s courtship of hard-nosed Darnell.

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***SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11***

MOVIE NIGHT WITH BAZ LUHRMANN: THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, Jim Sherman
IFC Center

“Why did the fans turn late-nite screenings of this cult favourite into an elaborate ritual of dressing-up, singing along, throwing rice and waving cigarette lighters? Well, for one thing, the material inspires affection, given its knowing pastiche of everything from Universal horrors to ’50s grade-Z sci-fi, and a shamelessly hedonistic, fiercely independent sensibility that must have seemed a welcome relief from the mainstream bombast of other ’70s musicals (not exactly Jesus Christ Superstar, is it?)… Fresh-faced Sarandon and Bostwick are the all-American honeymooners who wind up in the tender care of Tim Curry’s camper-than-thou Transylvanian transvestite, O’Brien’s hunchback butler and sundry kinky cronies. A string of hummable songs gives it momentum, Gray’s admirably straight-faced narrator holds it together, and a run on black lingerie takes care of almost everything else.” – Time Out (London)

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DUST IN THE WIND, Hou Hsiao-hsien
Museum of the Moving Image

Wan and Huen, teen lovers, are separated when the young man,Wan, leaves their mining village to seek work in Taipei. Huen follows him, but the big city exercises a toxic influence on them and their fellow provincial migrants, who are doing odd jobs just to scrape by. The couple’s bond will be sorely tested when he Wan is called up for compulsory military service. One of Hou’s most penetrating looks at the rural/urban dichotomy which is key to his delineation of the Taiwanese experience. Preceded by La Belle Epoque (2011, 6 mins.) Hou’s contribution to the 2011 anthology film 10 + 10.

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LIFE OF RILEY, Alain Resnais
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Adapted from Alan Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking, Life of Riley, the final work by Alain Resnais, is the story of three couples in the English countryside who learn that their close mutual friend is terminally ill. Yet the story is only half the movie, a giddily unsettling meditation on mortality and the strange sensation of simply being alive and going on, feeling by feeling, action by action. The swift, fleeting encounters between various combinations of characters (played by Resnais regulars André Dussollier and Sabine Azéma—the director’s wife—along with Michel Vuillermoz, Hippolyte Girardot, Sandrine Kiberlain, and Caroline Silhol) take place on extremely stylized sets, and they are punctuated with close-ups set against comic-strip grids, and broken up by images of the real English countryside. Funny but haunting,Life of Riley is a moving, graceful, and surprisingly affirmative farewell to life from a truly great artist. A Kino Lorber release.

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BIRDMAN, Alejandro G. Iñárritu
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

In Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s big, bold, and beautifully brash new movie, one-time action hero Riggan Thomson (a jaw-dropping Michael Keaton), in an effort to be taken seriously as an artist, is staging his own adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. As Thomson tries to get his perilous undertaking in shape for the opening, he must contend with a scene-hogging narcissist (Edward Norton), a vulnerable actress (Naomi Watts), and an unhinged girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough) for co-stars; a resentful daughter (Emma Stone); a manager who’s about to come undone (Zach Galifianikis)… and his ego, the inner demon of the superhero that made him famous, Birdman. Iñárritu’s camera magically prowls, careens, and soars in and around the theater, yet remains alive to the most precious subtleties and surprises between his formidable actors. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is an extravagant dream of a movie, alternately hilarious and terrifying, powered by a deep love of acting, theater, and Broadway—a real New York experience. A Fox Searchlight Pictures and Regency Enterprises release.

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HBO Directors Dialogue: Laura Poitras
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Laura Poitras is one of the bravest figures in documentary filmmaking. Her 2006 My Country, My Country and its 2010 follow-up The Oath—respectively, about life in Iraq during the U.S. occupation and the criss-crossing paths of two Yemeni brothers-in-law who had worked at different intervals for Osama bin Laden—garnered great acclaim and numerous accolades for Poitras, but they also led to years of intense scrutiny and harassment whenever she crossed the U.S. border. The final film in the trilogy, CITIZENFOUR, about Poitras’s encounter with Edward Snowden along with reporter Glenn Greenwald, is perhaps even more explosive—a true-life espionage story unfolding in real time. We’re proud to have this remarkable artist joining us for a Directors Dialogue.

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MIDNIGHT, Mitchell Leisen
IFC Center

“An enchanting comedy which starts with Claudette Colbert, as an American chorine on the make, stranded in Paris in a gold lamé evening gown (what else?). She is befriended on the one hand by a poor taxi-driver who is really a Russian count (Don Ameche), and on the other by a wealthy socialite (John Barrymore) who ‘introduces’ her to society so that she can oblige by luring a gigolo away from his wife. Uncanny coincidental parallels with The Rules of the Gameabound, and although the film echoes Renoir’s bark more than his bite, it has a superbly malicious script by Brackett and Wilder, gorgeous sets and camerawork, and a matchless cast. All in all, probably Leisen’s best film. ” – Time Out (London)

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LOST HORIZON, Frank Capra
Film Forum

Everyman’s search for Shangri-La, as diplomat Ronald Colman and his oddly-assorted party, air-napped in the Himalayas, stumble on a lost city deep in a mountain valley. A radical change of pace for Capra – with four times the budget of his studio’s previous record – adapted by Robert Riskin from James Hilton’s pseudo-mystical best seller. This new 4K restoration, including a newly-recovered scene missing for over 75 years, is the most complete version since its original release

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***SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12***

NYMPHOMANIAC: DIRECTOR’S CUT, Lars von Trier
IFC Center

NYMPHOMANIAC: VOLUME I is the story of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who is discovered badly beaten in an alley by an older bachelor, Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), who takes her into his home. As he tends to her wounds, she recounts the erotic story of her adolescence and young-adulthood (portrayed in flashback by newcomer Stacy Martin). VOLUME I also stars Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Sophie Kennedy Clark and Connie Nielsen.
NYMPHOMANIAC: VOLUME II picks up with the story of Joe’s adulthood, where her journey of self-discovery leads to darker complications. The film stars Jamie Bell, Willem Dafoe, Mia Goth and Jean-Marc Barr in addition to Gainsbourg, Skarsgård, Martin, LaBeouf and Udo Kier.

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CITY OF SADNESS, Hou Hsiao-hsien
Museum of the Moving Image

“[Hou’s] most ambitious, and most noteworthy, film.” (Olivier Assayas). Winner of the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, A City of Sadness announced Hou’s arrival as a world-class filmmaker and foremost recorder of his nation’s troubled past. This intimate epic chronicles the tragedies that befall the three Lin brothers—a gangster, a translator for the Japanese administration, and a photographer—and those around them during a chaotic period in Taiwan’s national history, between the end of Japanese Imperial rule (1945) and the secession from Mainland China and creation of martial law (1949-1987). The film was groundbreaking in its depiction of the “February 28 Incident” of 1947, when thousands of native Taiwanese were killed in protests against the Nationalist government.

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MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, Frank Capra
Film Forum

Gary Cooper’s “pixillated” Vermonter Longfellow Deeds inherits $20 million from an uncle he’s never known – and then he’s whisked from Mandrake Falls to Park Avenue before he knows what hit him, as cynical newspaper gal Jean Arthur tags him the “Cinderella Man.”

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ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, Andrew Dominik
Nitehawk Cinema

Based on the novel by Ron Hansen, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford delves into the private lives of America’s most notorious outlaw and his unlikely assassin to offer a new perspective on a legend and address the question of what really may have transpired in the months before that infamous shooting. As the charismatic and unpredictable Jesse James plans his next great robbery (in 1881 at the age of 34), he wages war on his enemies, who are trying to collect the reward money – and the glory – riding on his capture. But the greatest threat to his life may ultimately come from those he trusts the most. In his Academy Award nominated role, Casey Affleck plays the 19 year old Robert Ford who goes from idolizing James to harboring the ultimate resentment.

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AMERICAN MADNESS, Frank Capra
Film Forum

Bank president Walter Huston insists on lending on “character” collateral, despite an almost-cheating wife, embezzling cashier, and spectacular bank run. Told with machine-gun dialogue and pin-point editing, this is “one of the most beautifully assembled, lighted and photographed pictures of the 30s… the main décor of a vast bank interior composes an incredible Deco Temple of Babylon” (Elliot Stein).

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Miles Teller: Cinema’s Next Great Bad Ass?

“No, fuck no,” says Miles Teller when I ask if he grew up listening to jazz, as we sit down to chat about his new role in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. But for the 27-year-old actor, who grew up playing music, he may not have always been a fan of the particular genre, but loved his role as an aspiring jazz musician in the film, which premiered at the New York Film Festival and rolls into theaters this week. And when it comes to Teller’s boyish Hollywood charm and charisma, there’s more than meets the eye. Lurking beneath his “exterior of sports and stuff” lies versatile actor waiting to get his hands dirty.

Since his breakout performance opposite Nicole Kidman in John Cameron Mitchell’s heartbreaking Rabbit Hole, Teller has managed to navigate between huge studio films like Divergent and the upcoming Fantastic Four to Sundance hits that have won him acclaim, both with last year’s The Spectacular Now and this year’s Whiplash.

 “I feel like this movie puts me in a different conversation with people.” 

After moving from Rabbit Hole to coming-of-age comedy and now roles that showcase a more mature side of the actor, Teller is ready to separate himself from adolescent roles and take on films with a bit more grit. Based on the real life experiences of Chazelle’s early years in the competitive world of jazz, Teller plays Andrew, an aspiring jazz drummer intent on becoming a legend. When he’s plucked from his small ensemble to join the big leagues, led by drill sergeant conductor J.K. Simmons, his personal life begins to unravel as he’ll stop at nothing to achieve his goal and please the ruthless depends of his leader. Literally pouring his blood, sweat, and tears into his drumming, Teller takes on the role with impressive dedication, portraying an unlikeable but recognizable character fighting to make his life with something. 

So last week during NYFF, I sat down with him to talk about his own background in music, his relationship to Hollywood, and the musical theater kid lying underneath his tough exterior.

Watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think that you couldn’t have been faking a lot of that drumming. So how much musical training did you have prior?

I had musical training most of my whole life. I started with piano when I was six, picked up saxophone in middle school and high school bands, and then I picked up a guitar because my mom played guitar. So I started that when I was thirteen and then I asked for a drum set when I was 15. I just wanted to be a rock drummer, so I asked for a drum set and then started playing in bands and stuff.

Did you listen to jazz?

No, fuck no. For this movie I did, but no, I had no real interest in jazz per say. But I was very aware of who Buddy Rich was; anybody who knows music or gets behind a drum kit should know who Buddy Rich is. 

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And when you think of jazz, you don’t usually think about the physicality of it.

Yeah, it’s very physical. Your instrument is really an extension of your arms and your legs. When you’re playing it’s very rhythmic and a lot of movement there.

Was getting to do two things you love—acting and drumming—something that attracted you to the film?

Absolutely, yeah.

How did you meet Damien and become involved?

I was filming up in Chicago and I got this script and my agent told me that the director really liked me for the role but I had to decide very soon. Even though I was his choice and he was offering it to me, they were going to move on quickly. So then I read it and was like, oh man this is an incredible opportunity for a young actor, this is really a tremendous script. I asked when it would start and they said it starts shooting in six weeks and you’ll start practicing drums and taking jazz lessons as soon as you can. So I got to LA, and I might have met Damien for the first time when he dropped the drum set off at my house. He brought over his drum set, and that was about it. They sent me his short film of Whiplash but I didn’t watch it because I didn’t want to see anybody else playing the part.

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When you’re seeking out roles is a new challenge or learning something an aspect of a role that you look for?

Yeah, for sure. Acting is a big enough challenge as it is, but sometimes it affords you an opportunity to learn a new skill. I love music and drums were always the instrument that came most naturally to me. So to be able to find a movie where I was able to play the drums was great. Most of the time as a drummer people are telling you to be quiet, because you’re not playing notes, you’re just playing the beat, and if you’re playing yourself it’s obviously not as cool as playing with other people. So to be able to do a movie where two days was just of me playing a drum solo, and for a lot of it Damien would just be like, “Play a drum solo!”

With a really fast shoot like this, did that help to really immerse you in this world?

Yeah, it just added to the craziness of it. All that stuff in the practice room where I get pissed off and punch through a snare drum, we filmed all of that stuff in one day. So I’d be playing as fast as I could and sweating, and then take that shirt off and put on another shirt and do another sequence of me playing very frenetically. I don’t think this movie would have been as good if we shot it over three months, because I do think there’s something about limitations being your friend a lot of the time because you do have to push yourself.

I probably didn’t want to see myself cry in a movie but that ended up happening.

Where did this movie factor into what you’d been working on—were you looking to take on something more dramatic and intense?

Eventually, but the time I was just kind of burnt out. I had done five movies in about a year and was ready to take a break because I hadn’t really taken a break for like two years. I wanted to do something dramatic and intense. I probably didn’t want to see myself cry in a movie but that ended up happening. But yeah, I wanted to do something a little more gritty.

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It hasn’t been that long since your first film role in Rabbit Hole but you’ve had a pretty whirlwind few years. How has that been for you and are you trying to take advantage of it as much as you can?

I’m not an anxious person, I really don’t get anxiety, but my mom says when I was growing up and we’d go to an amusement park or something like that, I’d just be like, this is so cool, what’s next? Always just looking at what’s next. So I can be in the moment and really enjoy and understand where I’m at, but it just takes a while I think for your career to catch up to things you want to do. It takes a year to shoot a film and then a year for it to come out and then people have to see you in that light. Then you get offered something different based on them seeing that movie, because for a lot of stuff, people don’t have much imagination.

You have to convince them for it. And now I feel like this movie puts me in a different conversation with people. When I started out in Rabbit Hole my agent had to really convince people that I could do comedy, because they were like, “The kid from Rabbit Hole? What are you talking about?” I want to show that I’m very versatile because I have a lot of different interests, and I think that’s kind of the spice of life.

Was it a fun experience working with a director you’re age?

It’s great, it’s awesome. I love the fact that I’m beginning to work with directors who are kind of like my peers and my colleagues.  For a long time I felt like a kid and the director’s like my dad’s age, and you just feel that gap.

I want to separate myself from these younger, more adolescent characters and play stuff that’s closer to my own age and shit, and badass stuff.

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I imagine you need a good level of trust and intimacy in order to get a good performance.

Yeah, me and Damien would have sex everyday after working. I’m just kidding. No, but it’s good if you’re the same age as somebody and you’ve grown up in the same era because you’re going to have more in common than somebody who is a lot older than you.

Speaking of which, how was working with JK?

JK’s great. We work the same way, where we can be very serious in a scene and then as soon as you yell cut we can make jokes, and he’s not in character the whole time. I’m not in character the whole time, that would be a very uncomfortable place to be if he was trying to boss me around and shit all the time.

Were you a fan of his?

They say him in Oz is supposed to be really good. I’ve never even seen Juno, but I know him from those commercials. 

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Do you find you have to step it up when you’re acting opposite someone like that?

You can do all the preparation in the world but at the end of the day you have react to what that person is giving you, you have to be in that world. JK and I, both our characters both had really clear intentions, and that’s a credit to Damien’s script. He wrote very fleshed out characters that we could both run with and get excited by.

You’ve done a good mix of big Hollywood films and smaller indies. Do you like to have that balance or is there something you prefer?

I don’t have this anti-studio mentality. I’ve had a lot of freedom working in the studio system. I very rarely have worked on something where I’ve felt like the character is not in my control, like where I felt the studio was making me make the character the most appealing—appealing to grandparents and teenagers and young kids because that’s what a lot of studio movies have to do, they want to appeal to everybody because that’s how you make money. So I’ve not had a bad experience with studios, but since they’re not really making these more interesting character-driven dramatic artistic pieces, that’s where you do go independently because you feel like it’s you and small crew and you get to go to all of these remote locations. 

Do you feel like you’re more a part of it and a collaborator rather than just an actor?

Yeah, you feel more a part of it, and less like you just press a button and out comes a movie kind of thing. You just feel like you’re there for every beat of the story.

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What kind of films are you into watching for pleasure?

I really don’t watch a lot of films. I’ll watch something if it’s a director I want to work with, like Derek Cianfrance. I really like the stuff that he does. I want to do different stuff, like I’m doing a boxing movie in November and that’s absolutely something I want to do. What young guy doesn’t want to do a boxing movie? Especially this one where it’s a true story about a young guy, who in the middle of his career got in a car accident and broke two vertebrae in his neck and they said he’d never box again or walk again and then he comes back a year later and wins the title. It’s this incredible story and Martin Scorsese is producing it. That is the ideal project for me right now because I want to separate myself from these younger, more adolescent characters and play stuff that’s closer to my own age and shit, and badass stuff.

And you’re doing a musical with Damien next…

Yes! Because underneath all this exterior of sports and whatever stuff, there’s a kid who loves musical theater. I do like to sing and I like dancing. Back in the day there was Frank Sinatara and Marlon Brando and then they were doing Guys and Dolls..Gene Kelly, that’s cool, classic cool, and I think if you do it right it’s something it’s something that people will really respond to. It’s been out of cinema for a while, but when it comes along and it’s like a Chicago or a Moulin Rouge, people really dig it.

Get a Closer Look at ‘Inherent Vice,’ ‘Gone Girl,’ and More in the Trailer for the 52nd #NYFF

The New York Film Festival is but weeks away and we could not be more excited for this year’s lineup. Alongside heavy-hitters like Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language, David Cronenberg’s Map to the Stars, and Bennet Miller’s Foxcatcher, there’s also a slew of stunning and incredible new films from Olivier Assayas, Mia Hansen-Løve, Alain Resnais, Mike Leigh and so many more. “We have a great line-up this year filled with soaring cinematic visions, concentrated meditations and wild inventions, journeys through the past and vivid slices of the here and now,” said Kent Jones. “Godard in 3D and Alain Resnais’s first and last features, three mind-blowing gala films from Fincher, PT Anderson and Iñárritu … and a Joseph L. Mankiewicz retrospective..what more could you ask for?” So to get you even more excited, EW has premiered a trailer for the 52nd annual festival, which begins September 26th and runs until October 12. Enjoy for yourself below.

 

‘Captain Phillips,’ ‘Wadjda,’ ‘A Touch of Sin:’ Windows to a Globalized World

Captain Phillips
Paul Greengrass has carved out a niche for himself as a director of smart, political, white-knuckle action movies—combining the immediacy of documentary film-making with the scale and expert manipulation of the best studio thrillers. Most famous for the second and third Bourne movies, whose shaky-cam style has now become the (poorly-imitated) template for a decade of Hollywood action films, it’s the projects he made in between, specifically Bloody Sunday and United 93, that are the real thematic precursors to his latest offering: meticulously researched re-creations of explosive international incidents, that function as both edge-of-your-seat thrill rides and complex commentaries on the seemingly unsolvable ideological conflicts of our modern age.

What’s remarkable about Captain Phillips is how powerfully it reverberates beyond the confines of its tight, streamlined plot: the real-life hijacking of a US cargo ship by Somali pirates, and the subsequent kidnapping of its Captain. By showing the circumstances of the pirates’ lives—where working for the local warlord seems the only alternative to fishing the empty seas—and treating them as flesh and blood characters instead of traditional African villains (see Black Hawk Down, which treated the Somalis as faceless black zombies to be gunned down without consequence)—Captain Phillips somehow manages to make its incredibly tense story feel like the small ripple of a much larger economic problem. By the time the US Navy shows up with all its might, we get a shocking sense of what the unlimited power of the American Empire must look like to the poorer nations of the world, and the incredible, unforgiving disparity between them. By no means justifying the pirates’ actions, we get a clear sense of the desperation that drives them, and in Barkad Abdi’s electrifying performance as their leader Musa, a worthy counterpart to Tom Hank’s most un-showy, embodied role in years.

Ultimately, by choosing to end with the trauma of the aftermath rather than the uplift of victory, Hanks and Greengrass undo the myth of the indomitable American hero, leaving us with something far more human, moving, and troubling—our utter inability to stop the violent tide of an unequal, globalized world, no matter how large our military might be.

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A Touch of Sin
Jia Zhangke’s seventh feature is the first to blend action-genre dynamics into his slow moving, critically adored meditations on life in modern China, with powerfully thrilling results. Taking four stories from the headlines, each detailing a character’s eventual spiral into violence, A Touch of Sin creates a multi-layered look at the cracking seams of China’s rush to capitalism, as greed, corruption and exploitation become the new normal. A disgruntled mine worker in a northern village, a wandering sociopath with a gun, a female receptionist in a sauna-cum-brothel, and a dead-end-job roaming youth—the four protagonists are only barely linked, their stories allowed to play out in their entirety, but what becomes fascinating is how the structure of each informs the other, so that by the second and third we know with absolute certainty that things will end in someone’s blood.
As with Paul Greengrass, Zhangke real interest lies in real-world, authentic, socio-political consequence, cleverly using genre tropes to hook the audience while he slips his larger message in. Beautifully filmed, compelling (though the first and third stories are definitely the most successful), and inevitably bleak, it’s amazing that this is the first film of this director’s to be actually financed by the Chinese government, given it’s devastatingly pessimistic look at the spiritual and moral corrosion of a rapidly expanding super-power, and all those left behind in its wake.

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Wadjda
Haifaa Al-Mansour’s debut feature is impossible to separate from the fascinating circumstances of its making: a film about the repression of women’s voices in Saudi culture, made by a woman from within that very culture. And yet, thankfully, the film itself is a small gem of clever screenwriting and compassionate, well observed detail.

No doubt influenced by the neo-realist classic The Bicycle Thief, which similarly used a deceptively simple story of a child, a parent, and a bicycle to document the social mores and tensions of its setting —Wadjda essentially tells the story of a spunky 13-year-old girl’s quest to procure a bicycle, in a country where bike-riding —like almost every other activity—is seen as exclusively for men. While to a western viewer, witnessing the repressive force of the entrenched patriarchal system is both shocking and infuriating, Al-Mansour never preaches or rails against her country, but simply shows, through a child’s eyes, the small realities of her world, and the ways that all those within it—especially the women, interestingly—perpetuate its values.

Humane, funny, and never obvious, the film has a light, poetic touch, and a major trump card in its lead actress, who gives a thoroughly charming, complex performance as a young girl trying to reconcile the incoming media messages from Western culture with the constraints of her own society. And while it ends on a sweet, hopeful note, the film earns its optimism through the triumph of its very own existence: a Saudi woman asserting her creative voice despite the odds, and forging the way for others to do the same.

 

Get a Closer Look at Claire Denis’ Thrilling ‘Bastards’

In our upcoming interview with brilliant French director Claire Denis, she explains that she is, “not a teacher or a priest that wants to show the darkness of the world, the inferno and flames of the inferno.” However, with her latest penetrating feature Bastards, Denis explores a kind of darkness that lurks close to the surface of everyday life, culled from the  stories that read and see everyday that have become second nature to us, their painfulness barely leaving a mark on our skin. When Denis spoke at Lincoln Center last Saturday as part of NYFF, she explained that the fragmented nature of her work stems from how she, herself, feels fragmented—"I’ve never felt like just one person.”

And with Bastards, we see a jagged and powerful film inspired by everything from Kurosawa to William Faulkner’s Sanctuary and recent French sex ring scandals involving men of wealth and power. Bastards follows:

"Vincent Lindon (Denis’s Friday Night) stars as Marco, a sea captain gone AWOL to avenge his brother-in-law’s suicide and to rescue his estranged sister and his teenaged niece (Lola Créton, Goodbye First Love); Chiara Mastroianni (A Christmas Tale) is Lindon’s married lover, who has sold her soul in exchange for the security of her young son; and the remarkable Michel Subor is her husband – a sleazy financier who is the very embodiment of an evil beyond comprehension. Denis takes the viewer into the very heart of darkness in her most unsettling film yet, an unforgettable and thrilling commentary on late capitalism."

And now, the first U.S. trailer for the film has been released via Apple, in which we get a direct sense of its style and haunting quality that begins from the very opening and never loses its grip. Scored by Denis close collaborators, Tindersticks, their electro-remove only heighten the chill lurking behind Denis’ powerful images. Enjoy the trailer HERE.  

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James Gray and Joaquin Phoenix Discuss ‘The Immigrant’ at NYFF

Like his very own McCabe & Mrs. Miller, James Gray’s new film, the 1920s-set The Immigrant screened at NYFF on Friday morning, giving us, what some have called, the prologue to his oeuvre of dramas. Culled from historical reference points, as well as his family’s own autobiographical past, Gray’s films follows Marion Cotillard as a Polish immigrant who, after arriving on Ellis Island becomes separated from her sickly sister, and is taken into custody by an odd man (played by Joaquin Phoenix) who offers her a place to stay in exchange for work.

From there the film divulges into a trying look at the lengths one goes to for survival, the madness of love, and forgiveness as a means of salvation. Shot with a Vilmos Zsigmond-esque glow, Gray’s film offers a wonderful showcase for the dramatic talents of its stars. And post-screening on Friday morning, Gray and Phoenix took to the stage at Lincoln Center for a Q&A. Naturally, Phoenix was cagey and strange, while Gray was as hilariously charming as ever. The film will have its theatrical opening later in the year, but in the meantime, check out the video of the press conference below.

From David Lynch to John Cassavetes, Here’s What You Should Be Seeing This Weekend in New York

Sundays may be a "wan, stuff shadow of a robust Saturday" or a day of "forced leisure for folks who have no aptitude for leisure," according to Tom Robbins, but a weekend is still a weekend. The pleasure of a Friday night, the knowing the burdens of work week have a brief respite carry themselves into the following two days of leisure, and what better way to indulge in that leisure than heading to the cinema.  

And this weekend, there are more than enough wonderful films showing around New York for you to disappear into. Whether it’s your favorite Cassavetes or Lynch, the best of NYFF, or some of the most stunning new releases, there’s surely something to satisfy every cinematic appetite. I’ve founded up the best of what’s playing around the city, so peruse our list, and enjoy.  

 

IFC Center

Mulholland Drive
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Blue Caprice
Frances Ha
Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D
Muscle Shoals
The Getaway
I Used to be Darker
A River Changes Course
A Touch of Sin
Una ncohe
Walter
The Big Lebowski

BAM

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
Enough Said
Gravity
Blue Jasmine
Opening Night
A Woman Under the Influence

Landmark Sunshine

A.C.O.D.
We Are What We Are
In a World…
Short Term 12
The Summit
Monty Python
The Room

Film Forum

The Young Girls of Rochefort
Newlyweeds
After Tiller
Let the Fire Burn
Une chambre en ville
Lola
West Side Story

Nitehawk

Deliverance
Don Jon 
In a World… 
Legend
Bloodsucking Freaks
Muscle Shoals
Brazil

Film Linc

Inside Llewyn Davis
Burning Bush 
The Wind Rises
American Promise  
NYFF Live: Claire Denis
L’Age D’Or
The Lusty Men
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
They Live By Night
About Time
Abuse of Weakness
Bastards
Gloria
Jimmy P.
Written on the Wind
The Immigrant

Museum of the Moving Image

All Cats Are Brilliant
Man’s Favorite Sport?
Tiger Shark
Today We Live
Hello Anatolia
One Step Ahead
The Tree and the Swing
Kiss the Children

MoMA

An Autumn Afternoon
The Dead Man and Being Happy
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
Casino
The Night in Varennes
Shutter Island
Hugo
The Name of the Rose

Get a Closer Look at Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Beautiful New Film ‘Like Father, Like Son’

Known for his profoundly touching and painfully beautiful dramas of the human spirit, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest feature has been garnering praise since premiering at Cannes this past May. Winning the Jury Prize as well as a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury, Like Father, Like Son is perhaps Kore-eda’s most personal film to date and plays out like a delicate tickling of the emotional keys that possesses an impossible question almost too painful to answer. 

Exploring what it means to truly be a father—whether parental figures are built or purely tied to blood—Like Father, Like Son examines what happens when two families learn that their six year old sons were switched at birth, thanks to a rare hospital incident. Faced with the question of returning the children they’ve spent the last six years raising and loving, to their blood relatives, Kore-eda juxtaposes the class and social structure of two families to further study what binds us to those we love and whether those bonds are stronger than blood. And as his films are wont to be, Like Father, Like Son is one of the most genuinely heartbreaking and well-crafted dramas in recent memory that asks us to question our own internal set of values and those that have given us life.

Yesterday, we learned that DreamWorks had acquired the rights to remake the film in the US and when we spoke to Kore-eda himself yesterday, he seemed pleased that Spielberg’s interest in the film, both enthusiastic for the American remake and the exposure it will grant to his film. And today, we have a new U.K. trailer for the feature, alongside a large batch of stills from the feature.  

Like Father, Like Son opens in the U.K. later this month and with all hope we’ll see a U.S. release date from Sundance Selects sometime in the near future. In the meantime, you can watch Kore-eda’s wonderful After Life on YouTube, as well as Nobody Knows and I Wish on Netflix streaming.  

             

What You Should Be Seeing at This Year’s New York Film Festival

With the forceful hand that took you captive and refused to let go, Paul Greengrass’s thrillingly tense Captain Phillips premiered on Friday, kicking off the 51st annual New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. And for the next two weeks, 2013’s film slate will continue to roll out some of the most acclaimed features of the year—from the best of international cinema to the features that have been on the tip of everyone’s tongue for months. Alongside their incredible line-up of new films— Spike Jonze’s Her and the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis to Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin and  Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son—NYFF will also be hosting an expansive Jean-Luc Godard retrospective, a series of beloved revivals from the likes of Leos Carax and Apichatpong Weerasetakhul, HBO Directors Dialogues, an in-depth look at the best of avant-garde cinema, various gala tributes, and much more.

After celebrating the festival’s opening night with a wonderful party at the Harvard Club on Friday, the events are now in full, glorious swing—and you’re going to want to see as much as you can. From their vast array of features, we’ve whittled down what we’re most anticipating from this year’s showcase; so peruse our list, check out the full slate, get your tickets fast, and enjoy.

Her, Spike Jonze 

Spike Jonze’s magical, melancholy comedy of the near future, lonely Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his new all-purpose operating system (the voice of Scarlett Johansson), leading to romantic and existential complications. 

Abuse of Weakness, Catherine Breillat

Catherine Breillat’s haunting film about her 2004 stroke and subsequent self-destructive relationship with star swindler Christophe Rocancourt, starring Isabelle Huppert.

Manakamana, Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez 

The new film from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, shot inside a cable car that carries pilgrims and tourists to and from a mountaintop temple in Nepal, is both literally and figuratively transporting. *The Holy Motors of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab* 

Bastards, Claire Denis 

Claire Denis’s jagged, daringly fragmented and deeply unsettling film inspired by recent French sex ring scandals is the rarest of cinematic narratives—a contemporary film noir, perfect in substance as well as style.

Blue Is the Warmest Color, Abdellatif Kechiche 

The sensation of this year’s Cannes Film Festival is an intimate – and sexually explicit – epic of emotional transformation, featuring two astonishing performances from Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. 

Gloria, Sebastián Lelio 

A wise, funny, liberating movie from Chile, about a middle-aged woman who finds romance but whose new partner finds it painfully difficult to abandon his old habits. 

The Immigrant, James Gray 

In James Gray’s richly detailed period tragedy, set in a dusty, sepia-toned 1920s Manhattan, a young Polish immigrant (Marion Cotillard) is caught in a dangerous battle of wills with a shady burlesque manager (Joaquin Phoenix).

Inside Llewyn Davis, Joel & Ethan Coen

Directors Joel and Ethan Coen, composer T-Bone Burnett, and stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Adam Driver, Alex Karpovsky, John Goodman, and more in person on September 28! Joel and Ethan Coen’s picaresque, panoramic and wryly funny story of a talented and terminally miserable folk musician is set in the New York film scene of the early 60s and features a terrific array of larger-than-life characters and a glorious score of folk standards. 

Like Father, Like Son, Hirokazu Kore-eda Hirokazu

Kore-eda’s sensitive drama takes a close look at two families’ radically different approaches to the horribly painful realization that the sons they have raised as their own were switched at birth.  

Boy Meets Girl, Leos Carax 

Leos Carax’s debut feature, a lush black-and-white fable of last-ditch romance drawn from a cinephilic grab bag of influences and allusions, instantly situated the young director as a modern-day heir to the great French Romantics. 

The Missing Picture, Rithy Panh 

Filmmaker Rithy Panh’s brave new film revisits his memories of four years spent under the Khmer Rouge and the destruction of his family and his culture; without a single memento left behind, he creates his "missing images" with narration and painstakingly executed dioramas. 

Nebraska, Alexander Payne

This masterful film from Alexander Payne, about a quiet old man (Bruce Dern) whose mild-mannered son (Will Forte) agrees to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to claim a non-existent prize, shades from the comic to multiple hues of melancholy and regret.

12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen

Tim’s Vermeer, Teller 

A bouncy, entertaining, real-life detective story about one man’s obsessive quest to re-paint Vermeer’s "The Music Lesson" according to David Hockney’s controversial theories. 

Un film comme les autres, Jean-Luc Godard

Two 54-minute segments, with identical successions of images but different soundtracks. Students from Nanterre (where May 68 more or less began) sit on the grass (shot from the neck down) and discuss where the movement will go next; two Renault workers discuss their own ideas of a revolutionary future—their images are intercut with black and white footage of May 68, their words mingle with Godard’s own rhetoric. When the film was shown at the 1968 New York Film Festival, Godard told the projectionist to flip a coin and decided on the spot which 16mm reel to begin with. According to D.A. Pennebaker, the American distributor, the audience “began to tear up their seats.”

Mysterious Object at Noon, Apichatpong Weerasetakhul

A camera crew travels the length of Thailand asking villagers to invent episodes in an ever-expanding story in the first feature from Apichatpong Weerasethakul: part road movie, part folk storytelling exercise, part surrealist party game.

Chris Marker – Description of a Struggle 

Screening with Redemption (Miguel Gomes, Portugal/France/Germany/Italy, 2013, 26m)

Nobody’s Daughter, Haewon Hong Sang-soo 

A young student at loose ends after her mother moves to America tries to define herself one encounter and experience at a time, in reality and in dreams, in another deceptively simple chamber-piece from South Korean master Hong Sang-soo.

Norte, The End of History, Lav Diaz 

Filipino director Lav Diaz’ twelfth feature – at four-plus hours, one of his shortest – is a careful rethinking of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, whose tortured anti-hero is a haunting embodiment of the dead ends of ideology. 

Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch 

Jim Jarmusch’s wry, tender and moving take on the vampire genre features Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as a centuries-old couple who watch time go by from multiple continents as they reflect on the ever-changing world around them.

Stray Dogs, Tsai Ming-liang 

Tsai Ming-liang’s fable of a homeless family living the cruelest of existences on the ragged edges of the modern world is bracingly pure in its anger and its compassion, and as visually powerful as it is emotionally overwhelming. 

La Chinoise, Jean-luc Godard 

A brightly colored, politically sharp, and quite poignant film. "Godard is the only contemporary director with the ability to express through graceful cinema what young people are feeling at this time in world history," wrote Andrew Sarris. 

Program 32: Max Ophuls

Sans Lendemain Sans Lendemain (Max Ophuls, France, 1939-40, 82m)

Mauvais Sang, Leos Carax 

Leos Carax’s swoon-inducing portrait of love among thieves offers an ecstatic depiction of what it feels like to be young, restless and madly in love.

A Touch of Sin, Jia Zhangke

Jia Zhangke’s bloody, bitter new film builds a portrait of modern-day China in the midst of rapid and convulsive change through four overlapping stories of marginalized and oppressed citizens pushed to murderous rage. 

They Live By Night, Nicholas Ray 

Nick Ray’s feature debut, adapted from Edward Anderson’s 1935 novel Thieves Like Us, is at once innovative, visually electrifying, behaviorally nuanced, and soulfully romantic. 

Comment ça va, Jean-Luc Godard

A lovely, muted film-video hybrid work, in which a need to inquire about the nature of audio-visual communication and to understand it on a personal level is split between multiple characters. Screening with shorts. 

Program 33: Stan Brakhage

Anticipation of the Night (Stan Brakhage, USA, 1958, 40m)

Window Water Baby Moving (Stan Brakhage, USA, 1959, 12m)

The Dead (Stan Brakhage, USA, 1960, 11m)

The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki 

The great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s new film is based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed the Zero fighter. An elliptical historical narrative, The Wind Rises is also a visionary cinematic poem about the fragility of humanity.