The New York Film Festival is back and our critics have favorites
The 59th New York Film Festival will have what was missing from the previous edition: people in the seats. To encourage viewers to return to its well-ventilated Lincoln Center theaters, the festival has implemented Covid-19 protocols, including mandatory masks and proof of vaccination. It has also brought together an international lineup of premieres and favorites from the festival circuit, showcasing the work of established and next-gen authors.
As always, there’s a solid selection of rediscoveries and covers as well, including a tribute to Amos Vogel, the festival’s co-founder, and restorations of Wendell B. Harris Jr.’s âChameleon Streetâ and âThe Roundâ. -Up âby Miklos Jancso. The Currents section continues the festival’s tradition of highlighting new works by experimental and avant-garde filmmakers.
It all starts Friday with Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and continues until October 10th. Many tickets are available; for more information on how, when and where, visit filmlinc.org. Here are some of our favorite picks:
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Blood and betrayal, toil and trouble – filmmakers from Akira Kurosawa to Roman Polanski have taken on “Macbeth”. In its stripped-down version, Joel Coen sets up his expressionist tent between cinema and theater, taking inspiration from Orson Welles, whose 1948 adaptation is one of his last Hollywood films. Is this a bad omen from Coen? (It’s the first movie he’s made without his brother, Ethan.) Regardless of the answer, the play is still the thing, much like a volcanic Denzel Washington, who fiercely embodies, as Welles puts it, “the decomposition of a tyrant “. MANOHLA DARGIS
Shooting: Denzel Washington is a good actor, with a particular flair for Shakespeare. Bruno Delbonnel’s black-and-white cinematography emphasizes the salt and pepper in Washington’s beard, and he plays Cawdor’s Thane as a tired and haunted old soldier, a tender soul steeped in cruelty and madness out of ambition – hers and Lady Macbeth’s. It would be Francoise McDormand, bringing a viper eloquence to this lean (less than two hours), petty and lyrical reading of the Scottish play. AO SCOTT
Few filmmakers rage with such naked emotion and formalistic conviction as Israeli director Nadav Lapid (“Synonyms”). Based on an incident involving a âLoyalty in Cultureâ bill, the story follows a filmmaker (Avshalom Pollak) who is about to show one of his films in a remote town. There he rages against the state, commune with his dying mother, and almost loses himself in an apoplectic fury that Lapid visualizes with lashing camera movements and prisoner-free intensity. DARGIS
‘Mal Luck Banging or Loony Porn’
The titular porn is a video of the marital relationship between Emi, a schoolteacher from Bucharest (Katia Pascariu), and her husband, and it kicks off Radu Jude’s fierce essay film with a scorching comedy shake. When the video ends up on the internet, Emi’s work is in jeopardy and Jude stages his masked, socially distanced “trial” like a third act circus of cultural-war belligerence. The film is packed with arguments about the state of modern civilization and gripping documentary footage of the Romanian capital as a city on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to a pandemic. SCOTT
‘Bergman Island’ and ‘The Souvenir Part II’
Two films about filmmakers navigating the sliding boundaries between life and art. In Mia Hansen-Love’s latest film, Chris and Tony (Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth) travel to Faro, the windswept Swedish island where Ingmar Bergman lived and worked. Chris’ unfinished script becomes a movie within the movie, also set on Faro and starring Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie. The result is less a tribute to Bergman than a witty and free meditation on some of his themes.
The movie inside Joanna Hogg’s sequel to âThe Souvenir,â her brilliant and heart-wrenching autobiographical feature of 2019, is âThe Souvenirâ itself. Once again, Honor Swinton Byrne plays Julie, a British film student in the 1980s shaken by the death of her heroin addict boyfriend. Their relationship becomes the subject of his thesis film, and âThe Souvenir Part IIâ becomes a collage of grief and creative ingenuity, wrapped around itself in a complex knot of memory, emotion and analytical detachment. SCOTT
Art and life blend beautifully in “Drive My Car”, one of Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s two main slate selections. (The other is âWheel of Fortune and Fantasy.â) A meditation on love, desire, work and sorrow, loosely adapted from a story by Haruki Murakami, centers on an actor-director , Kafuku (an exceptional Hidetoshi Nishijima). For three unhurried and fully immersive hours, Kafuku suffers deep loss and remains busy with his experimental theater productions. When he begins to work on a new production of “Uncle Vanya”, the border between life and play softens to a devastating effect, in a film which is itself a consideration of Chekhov’s lines. , ” What can we do ? We have to live our life. DARGIS
In 1961, a group of Milanese cavers traveled to southern Italy to map a cave deep in the bottom of an isolated mountain valley. Their expedition is the starting point of Michelangelo Frammartino’s new film, which is neither a documentary nor an adventure story, but rather a calm, intense, almost irresistibly beautiful meditation on life, death, human curiosity and the unfathomable power of nature. SCOTT
‘Prayers for the Stolen’
Director Tatiana Huezo opens her calm, elliptical drama with a delicate and shocking revelation at the same time. Ana, a doe-eyed 8-year-old girl, lives with her mother (Mayra Batalla) in a remote Mexican hamlet that is held hostage by corrupt government forces and cartels who regularly kidnap women. With crystal-clear beauty and outbursts of violence, Huezo creates a portrait of innocence and her loss, a portrait that becomes heartbreaking once Ana (Marya MemberÃ±o) is 13. The more she knows, the more you do too – and it’s brutal. DARGIS
“The worst person in the world”
When you first see the irresistible and impossible title character (Renate Reinsve, an emotionally rapidly changing artist) in Joachim Trier’s formally adventurous drama (or is it a comedy?), She’s all alone, smoking against a lovely cityscape. (Reinsve won Best Actress at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.) She’s soon gone and goes through life – and the feelings of others – rushing and stumbling, failing and succeeding. Happy, depressed, generous, cruel, brash and willful, she is a very specific human being who at times can remind you of the one in the mirror. DARGIS