Our 10 Favorite Films of This Year’s NYFF

For the last two weeks, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has been hosting to this year’s New York Film Festival—and it has been an absolute pleasure to attend. In our upcoming interview with director Claire Denis—whose new filmBastards premiered last week—she spoke about the festival, saying, “It’s a place where you have time to think about the film you just finished. You’re not under the pressure of publicity or competition. It’s an open space with people I like and people I like to meet, and so it makes me a better filmmaker.”

And for their 51st annual festival, NYFF unveiled some of the most acclaimed features of the coming few months and 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—from Spike Jonze’s Her and Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive to Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin and  Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son—NYFF also is currently also hosting an expansive Jean-Luc Godard retrospective. So after the past few weeks of watching wonderful films from the Walter Reade theater, here are our ten favorite of this year’s NYFF (that we were able to catch), in no particular order.

Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch’s absolutely delicious and cool baby cool tale of bloodsucking, undead love. A playful and nocturnal examination of modernity’s foibles through the RayBan covered eyes of those who’ve lived through its beauty and its horror. Scored to perfection and directed with the touch of a man who knows how to make a story feel like a jazz riff, the film is as if the Nick Cave scene in Wings of Desire made friend’s with Mick Jagger in Performance to create your new favorite onscreen romance from Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston.

The Immigrant
James Gray’s very own McCabe & Mrs. Miller that begins with familiarity but 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, the film has a painful allure that proves a wonderful showcase for its cast.

Her
Spike Jonze’s strange and frightening portrait of modern love that shows the dichotomy and tension between the comforting affection of fantastical, easy love over the struggles of real human connection. While at times sharply funny, beautifully moving, and very smart, the film felt like it could never fully commit to its own ethos, leaving the most profound moments unrealized or turned into comedy. But all the while, it was a brilliantly acted case study of emotion and visually a pleasure to take in without ever really cutting the skin.

A Touch of Sin
Jia Zhangke’s forceful tetraptych drama that explodes with violence yet allows its own moments for reflection. A portrait of modern China that explores the fine line between man and beast and the pleasure and satisfaction that can be derived from that brutality.

12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen’s fearless and unflinching masterpiece whose absolute brutality is matched by its adamant exposure to what makes us human and the evils we’re capable of. The film truly showcases the work of a man who harbors an uncompromising vision and an incredible ability to pull performances from the marrow of his actors.

Stray Dogs
Tsai Ming-liang’s bleak urban endurance test whose silence allowed for reflection but conjured up only slight emotion in the absence of movement. The removed spacial silence eminded me of Stephen Shore’s Oregon billboard, except it’s raining and devoured by someone’s incisors.

Like Father, Like Son
Hirokazu Koreeda’s emotional drama that forces us to question our own internal set of values and those that have given us life. It’s a delicate tickling of most potent emotional keys that asks a question almost too painful to consider answering and examines it with genuinely heartbreaking honesty.

Bastards
Claire Denis’ haunting family portrait that lives in the darkness that rises from the aftermath of death. An oddly sensuous nightmare voyage through an unforgiving world that lurks in shadows and painful lies. Exposes a kind of evil culled from the stories that we read and see everyday which have become second nature to us, their dastardliness barely leaving a mark on our skin.

Captain Phillips
Paul Greengrass’ thrillingly tense drama that captures you with a forceful hand and refuses to let go until its highly emotional end. Void of spectacle and infused with a kind of genuine force rarely seen in docudramas, the film possesses the cinematic excitement of the best hostage thrillers but strips the genre of its pretense.

Manakahmana
Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s entrancing and beautiful ethnographic documentary taking place high above the mountains of Nepal. As the Holy Motors of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, perhaps a packed theater is too limited for such a film, as it deserves to be free of confines. A meditative and exploratory journey that perhaps should be projected in a large space that allows for its audience to enter the film in a more unconventional way.

 

From Spike Jonze to Claire Denis, 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 Claire Denis, Roman Polanski, David Lynch, or the latest NYFF premieres from Jim Jarmusch, Spike Jonze, and the Coen Brothers, 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

The Last Picture Show
Bottle Rocket
Escape From Tomorrow
Design Is One: The Vignellis
Blue Caprice
Dracula 3D
I Used to Be Darker
Frances Ha
Alien (1979)
Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird
Mulholland Drive
Muscle Shoals
A Touch of Sin
Una Noche
Wicker Man: The Final Cut

Film Forum

Un Chambre En Ville
Let the Fire Burn
Russian Ark
Model Shop
The Pied Piper
Donkey Skin
Shall We Dance

MoMA

An Evening With Bruce Dern:
Smile Arabian Nights
I Am Suzanne!
Whistle Down the Wind
Requiem NN
Nightmare Alley
Kundun
Hangover Square
Goha
The Aviator
10 Rillngton Place
Hugo

Landmark Sunshine

A.C.O.D.
The Summit
We Are What We Are
In a World…
Short Term 12
Army of Darkness

Film Linc

Blue is the Warmest Color
Afternoon of a Faun: Le Clercq
NYFF Live: David V. Picker
Inside Llewyn Davis
Sam in the Snow
Weekend
Hail Mary
Her
Nebraska
On Cinema: James Gray
Only Lovers Left Alive
Protecting Arizona
The Senate Speaks
Bastards

Museum of the Moving Image

Beau Travail
His Girl Friday
Red River
Ball of Fire
Sergeant York
A Song is Born

BAM

Trouble Every Day
Enough Said
Gravity 3D

Nitehawk

House of the Devil
Vampire Lovers
Don Jon
Machete Kills
We Are What We Are
Devil and Daniel Johnston
Rosemary’s Baby

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.

Your Alternate Essential List of Best Films to Watch This Fall

Waking up to sheets damped by thousands of droplets of sweat as a fan hums off in the distance, and waking up to the sound of wind rustling through leaves on the sidewalk as you shiver to pull yourself under the covers, are two entirely different sensations that leave two vastly distinct impacts on our psyche throughout the day. From the moment you awake, there’s a change that lingers through and penetrates our waking hours as the seasons rotate, and when it comes to fall—the best season by far—it’s a very welcome change of pace. We’re now able to rid ourselves of the anxious and torrid thrill of summer and return to our more hermetic selves, enjoying the richer tastes of the chillier months. Our lives become a little more insular, we may grow a little melancholy but it’s certainly the most beautiful time of the year and for all the nostalgic feelings that sweep in, basking in them is more of a pleasure than a burden.  

And as we don our knee-highs, sweaters, and boots and change our playlists to the darker and heavier notes, our cinematic preferences alter as well. But what makes a film distinctly a “fall film” has little do with the time in which its set but about a tone and texture of the film, a certain emotional through line that’s tethered to a certain seasonal state of being. And although a generous number of fantastic films are set to premiere this autumn—from McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street to Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color and Spike Jonze’s Her—if you’re looking for something timeless, something that feels distinctly in tune with the season—I’ve got you covered.  

Just as and 3 Women and Dog Day Afternoon were certainly summer films, I’ve put together a list of films that possess something that mirrors that seasonal affect of fall—from the smirkingly violent to the tragically romantic and the existentially wandering to the psychologically possessed. So here’s your alternate list of fall movies to watch over the next few months. Enjoy.  

Interiors


Funny Games

Buffalo ’66

Until the End of the World

Magnolia

Amour

Lost in Translation

Dogville

Hunger

An Autumn Afternoon

La Haine

Taste of Cherry

The Double Life of Veronique

Pina


Adaptation

The Ice Storm

Lost Highway

Three Colors Red

Husbands and Wives

Kicking and Screaming

Antichrist

Days of Heaven

Good Will Hunting

Fire Walk With Me

35 Shots of Rum

House of the Devil


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Carnival of Souls


Holy Motors

 

 

Sans Soleil

 

 

Performance

Listen to Karen O’s Song Written for Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’

Aside from Aphex Twin’s “Avril 14th” the enticing trailer for Spike Jonze’s Her featured a delicate track from Yeah Yeah Yeah’s front woman Karen O. And with the film premiering at the New York Film Festival next month and rolling into theaters just before the New Year, we can now listen to O’s track in its entirety. Titled “The Moon Song," it was written for the film and in Her, the song is sung by leads Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. And only adding to the excitement for the feature, Arcade Fire have are at the helm for the rest of the music. 

Speaking about Her this summer, Jonze said, “It’s a movie set in the slight future of L.A. and Joaquin Phoenix’s character buys the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system… it basically turns into a human, this entity, this consciousness, on his computer,” but turns, “into something more romantic.”
 
Check out O’s song below, re-watch the trailer, and download the track via Soundcloud before it becomes only available to stream.
 

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You’re Going to Have to Wait a Little Longer to Fall in Love With Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’

Last week, we all got a first taste of Spike Jonze’s highly-anticipated new feature Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Telling the story of a lonesome writer who falls in love with a computer operating system, the film, which suggests to be more of a meditation on the insanity of love, also boasts a lovely cast of Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde. And with the first trailer, we were all thrilled to know that not only would it be the closing night film at this year’s New York Film Festival, but it would have its limited release premiere on November 20th. However, now it looks that you’re going to have to dial back that excitement just a tad, because Her won’t be hitting most cities until 2014

Moving the limited release back to December 18th, and closer to award season, will allow New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto to see the film before the holidays but it’s going to be a bit longer before it rolls out anywhere else in the country, with its wide release slated for January 10th. But although you’re going to have to hold out until the new year, with a film that really does look fantastic, perhaps you can consider this a nice treat for the post-holiday melancholy that eventually falls upon everyone. Until then, stay tuned as we’ll be keep a close eye on the film.
 

See Joaquin Phoenix in the First Trailer for Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’

Opening with Aphex Twin’s beautifully melancholy tune “Avril 14th,” Spike Jonze’s highly-anticipated new feature Her has finally arrived with a first trailer. With little known on the project—save it’s great ensemble featuring Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Chris Pratt—the film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a writer who falls in love with a computer operating system. But although that description may seem vague, the trailer suggest it’s much more of a meditation on the insanity of love overall and how deeply it effects our lives.

Speaking to the film this summer, Jonze said, “It’s a movie set in the slight future of L.A. and Joaquin Phoenix’s character buys the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system… it basically turns into a human, this entity, this consciousness, on his computer,” but turns, “into something more romantic.” Also to be noted, Arcade Fire—who have collaborated with Jonze in the past—have provided the score for Her. Get excited.

Check out the first trailer and poster for the film below.

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Go Behind the Scenes of ‘Lost in Translation’ With ‘Lost on Location’

Sofia Coppola, also known as “the reigning master of modern remove” has given us some of the most aesthetically pleasing and emotionally tickeling films of the last decade. But it was her second film, the perfectly soundtracked, wonderfully composed, and ineffably beautiful Lost in Translation that remains as perhaps her most beloved work. We’ve all seen the film one, two, or perhaps three hundred times but what’s more of a rare gem is her world behind the camera. And thanks to The Seventh Art, we’re reminded of a 30-minute behind the scenes documentary about the making of the feature titled Lost on Location:

Partially shot by director Spike Jonze (he and Coppola were married from 1999-2003), the documentary features cast/crew interactions, glimpses of Coppola’s directorial methods, various scenes from the movie in the process of shooting, and plenty of entertaining footage of the always great Bill Murray — including more than a few instances of his favorite phrase to recite in Japanese: “who do you think you’re talking to?”

It’s always a good time to dive into the early work of one cinema’s most relevant and revered directors. Enjoy.

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Photos via ATF

See a New Poster for ‘Spring Breakers’ and Check Out Annapurna Pictures’ Sizzle Reel

If you had any doubts about the nature of Harmony Korine’s upcoming warped coming-of-age on the beer-soaked and bikini-clad beaches of spring break tale, well this new poster for the film sets it all out for you. Spring Breaker’s juxtaposition between candy-coated neon bubbles of youth and playfulness matched with the drugs, sex, and most of all,  gun-toting of the film, is what really makes it something powerful, bizarre, and fascinating.

Out in New York and Los Angeles on March 15th, the film is being released by A24 and Annapurna Pictures , Megan Ellison’s production company that has lead some of the most exciting and noteworthy projects of the last year. And now, there’s an amazing sizzle reel showcasing their most beloved films thus far from The Master and Zero Dark Thirty to Spring Breakers. In the next year, she’ll be moving on to Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, PT Anderson’s Inherent Vice, Spike Jonzes’ Her, and finally, David O. Russell’s next project. Take a look at the reel below.

 

 

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