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 »

Oh Mercy Review

Middle-aged police chief Daoud (Roschdy Zem) operates in the crime-ridden city of Roubaix. Stray kittens seem to know him well, since he always has a dish of milk for them. He takes this compassion into his police field of work. A younger officer (Antoine Reinartz), less versed in Daoud’s patience, joins in. Their unit conducts cases: a family quarrel, a runaway, arson, a rape case. Deep into the film, they discover the corpse of a strangled octogenarian and take a pair of destitute women into questioning.

Lifting from a real murder case in director Arnaud Desplechin’s hometown of Roubaix, Oh Mercy is a crime film with dreary atmosphere that isn’t about solving a murder mystery as it is painting a portrait of the wearisome haziness of a crime. Never does the film indulge in the voyeurism of its key crime scene, observing how truths (or relative shapes of the truth) are delayed by the psyche and how the crimes affect the investigators.

Read More »