Fewer trailers

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week we deal with the effects of war, get happy with Mike Birbiglia, work through the expectations of young adulthood, let dance set us free, and understand bipolar disorder through cinema. Read More »

5 Great Films From The New York Film Festival 2019

Best of NYFF 2019

The New York Film Festival has always played host to a multitude of perspectives, from its globe-spanning Main Slate, to its experimental Projections programme, to the more recent, virtual reality-centric Convergence. The 57th iteration of city’s premiere film event unfolded across two weeks at Lincoln Center, with this year’s proceedings dedicated to the late Agnès Varda, an NYFF mainstay (her final film, Varda by Agnès, was also featured). 

The crown jewel of the fest was undoubtedly its Opening Night selection, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. The ludicrously expensive Netflix production was so in-demand that even its press screening had to be moved from the usual location — the 268-seat Walter Reade Theatre — to Lincoln Center’s prestigious, 1086-capacity Alice Tully Hall. Netflix also held the New York premiere for Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story (this year’s Centerpiece film) and Warner Bros.’ Joker even made its final festival stop after Venice and TIFF. However, lesser-known, unconventional works also found their way into the spotlight, like Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra’s sexually-charged Liberté and Minh Quý Truong’s experimental Vietnamese sci-fi doc The Treehouse.

As usual, the programmers — among them, retiring festival director Kent Jones — scoured every corner of the globe for unique points of view, and the results were astounding. Here are five films from around the world that exemplify the best of NYFF 2019. Read More »

New York Film Festival Main Slate 2019

I’ve heard from many a festival-goer that it’s possible to work through the entire New York Film Festival lineup – or at least its premier section, the Main Slate – given how the event spreads out manageably over the course of seventeen days all at Lincoln Center. But with schedule conflicts or lack of interest in certain titles, it’s a feat seldom seen or accomplished. Or, maybe given how gluttonous I feel after having done this myself, people choose not to brag about it if they do manage to pull it off.

While battling fatigue as well as exhaustion, plus countless instances of doubting if this was something I actually wanted to do, I managed to see all 29 films programmed in this year’s NYFF Main Slate. (If you’re the ranking type, I did just that over on Letterboxd.) I learned plenty about myself and some masochistic moviegoing habits after subjecting myself to this marathon of viewing contemporary cinema, but that’s a subject for another piece. It’s impossible to watch this incredible selection of films from across the globe and not have some larger takeaways about trends, patterns and parallels. Here are ten lessons from surveying the Main Slate in its entirety. Read More »

New York Film Festival 2019

In my six years of attending the New York Film Festival, I’ve grown increasingly appreciative of the unique position its organizers have carved out in the fall festival landscape. Ideally timed between the premiere frenzy of late August/early September and the mad dash for awards of November and December, NYFF keeps its focus solely on the films and their creators. For 17 days, the newly-branded Film at Lincoln Center invites New Yorkers to partake in a manageable, curated slate of favorites from across the global festival circuit. The 2019 edition of NYFF casts a particularly wide net, too — apart from the festival’s three big Friday night galas, the Main Slate features only one English-language feature.

But if you’re not going to be in New York to see these films, why not use the time to catch up on the back catalogues of the directors in the NYFF selection? This year’s Main Slate features both emerging international voices and widely recognized masters alike, presenting a unique opportunity to broaden your cinematic horizons. Below are ten films playing at the festival (some of which I’ve been fortunate enough to see prior to NYFF’s official kickoff) and ten films you can watch to prepare yourself from the comfort of your own home. Read More »

Beanpole review

Kantemir Balagov’s bleak, brilliant Beanpole tells a very different story about the aftermath of the Second World War than what we’re used to seeing. Few countries were more violently affected than the Soviet Union, and this tale of the effect on the postbellum populace does justice to the scars left by the conflagration. The result is an emotionally shattering portrayal of two women and their struggles to adjust to their civilian lives. Read More »