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NYFF 2016: 9 New Films From Cinema’s Brightest Auteurs And Beloved Masters

Check out some of NYFF's new offerings from cinema's greatest master and auteurs -- new, emerging and beloved.

The New York Film Festival kicks off this week, sending us straight into the second half of a very busy fall festival season. In preparation for the festival, we’re rolling out a series of previews to point you in the direction of all the movies you have to see (or at least, all the movies you have to start anticipating right now). Today, some new offerings from cinema’s greatest master and auteurs — new, emerging and beloved.

“Manchester By The Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan

"Manchester By The Sea"

“Manchester By The Sea”

Over the course of just three feature films, multi-hyphenate Kenneth Lonergan has proven himself to be one of America’s most exciting rising auteurs. Uniquely capable of capturing great emotion without even a hint of melodrama or a single false note, his long-awaited follow-up to the grievously mistreated “Margaret” — perhaps this decade’s cinematic endeavor most deserving of critical reappraisal after critical reappraisal — again returns him to the world of regular people pushed to relatable breaking points. As ever, Longeran’s mastery behind the camera extends to his actors’ performances, and “Manchester By the Sea” features some of the finest work ever completed by Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck, actors who rarely give less than excellent turns to begin with. A buzzy Oscar front-runner since it debuted at Sundance in January, the film is worth of all sorts of praise — but mostly, it’s Longeran who shines as bright as ever. -KE

“Certain Women,” Kelly Reichardt

"Certain Women"

“Certain Women”

IFC Films

Kelly Reichardt makes “relationship movies” like few other filmmakers do these days, and she’s adept at placing her interest in the way people (or, in some cases, people and pets) communicate with each other in a vast array of country-bound circumstances, from the hidden lives of impoverished modern Americans to the wrenching struggles of striving pioneer Americans to the schemes of misguided American youth. Reichardt’s ability to cut to the heart of what makes people tick has only increased as she’s beefed up her resume, and her latest — a triptych about three very different, yet equally as intimate relationships in windswept Montana — is perhaps the current best sum total of her work. -KE

“Fire at Sea,” Gianfranco Rosi

Fire at Sea

“Fire at Sea”

Kino Lorber

Awards don’t make you a master, but when a documentary filmmaker snags prizes like the Golden Bear (Berlin) and Golden Lion (Venice) from fiction filmmakers, it’s time to start paying attention. Those in the nonfiction world have been making the argument that Gianfranco Rosi is one our greatest working filmmakers and with “Fire at Sea,” given a rare NYFF main slate for a doc, it might be the film in which others in the U.S. start giving him his due as well. -CO

“Julieta,” Pedro Almodovar

"Julieta"

“Julieta”

An adaptation of three short stories by Alice Munro, Pedro Almodóvar’s “Julieta” is also based on real people and circumstances from the writer and director’s own life and again returns him to the kind of world he’s so adept at dramatizing: The one of women. The drama is largely about mourning, but not always over dead people. The film’s titular character, played by Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte in two different time periods, hasn’t seen her 30-year-old daughter since her disappearance 12 years ago. Spain recently selected “Julieta” as its 2017 Oscar entry, the sixth time that Almodóvar has represented his country at the Academy Awards. He hasn’t won the Best Foreign Language Oscar since his 1999 film “All About My Mother.” -GW

“Paterson,” Jim Jarmusch

"Paterson"

“Paterson”

Amazon/Bleecker Street

Jim Jarmusch’s lyrical drama has been attracting universal acclaim since its premiere in May at the Cannes Film Festival, with many critics hailing it as his best feature ever. That’s saying something. The story of a New Jersey bus driver and poet played by Adam Driver is remarkably simple and methodical, but the film’s intimacy can be moving. As is often the case with Jarmusch’s movies, the writer and director finds beauty in the smallest of details, creating a film whose events unfold like lines in a poem. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn called it Jarmusch’s most personal film yet, good enough for the film to earn an A rating. The Cannes crowdpleaser and Toronto Film Festival entry is Amazon Studios’ second ever original movie. -GW

“Personal Shopper,” Olivier Assayas

"Personal Shopper"

“Personal Shopper”

When it comes to a new film from Olivier Assayas, the only guarantee is that you’re not going to be able to take your eyes off of it. One of the world’s most reinvigorating and restlessly creative filmmakers, Assayas is still impossible to pin down in his third decade as a director, his intellectual pursuits as fluid as his famously unplanned camerawork. Recent projects have seen him pinball from a gently devastating family drama, to a five-hour crime epic, and then to an autobiographical of youth in revolt. Since then, things have only become more unpredictable. Sensing that “Twilight” alum Kristen Stewart is “The best actress of her generation,” Assayas has dedicated the current chapter of his career to proving it — between 2014’s “Clouds of Sils Maria” and this year’s “Personal Shopper,” which is making its U.S. premiere at NYFF, he’s made it extremely difficult to argue with his intuition. A modern-day ghost story that casts Stewart as a Parisian fashion assistant who’s grieving the loss of her twin brother, the film leverages its quietly heartbreaking lead performance into a bold and compelling look at the dynamic between memory and technology (you may have heard about the already notorious 20-minute scene in which Stewart exchanges texts with the dead). It will haunt you for days. -DE

“Toni Erdmann,” Maren Ade

"Toni Erdmann"

“Toni Erdmann”

Is she a master after only three feature films? Going into Cannes, “Toni Erdmann” was one of the most highly anticipated films and it more than delivered. Ade not only has three good-to-great films under her belt, she has demonstrated a masterful tonal balance as she seamlessly moves between her character’s’ repressed emotions and unspoken pain to some of the most hysterical set pieces in recent cinema. There’s not a hint of forced preciousness or quirkiness, this is a writer/director completely in control of the medium and her specific voice. In other words, she is now one of the filmmakers we’ll be highly anticipating returning to the main slate at Cannes and NYFF for years to come. -CO

“I, Daniel Blake,” Ken Loach

I, Daniel Blake

“I, Daniel Blake”

Sundance Selects

No filmmaker has been more consistent for so long than British stalwart Ken Loach, who has churned out socially-conscious dramas for half a century. From his 1969 classic “Kes” through this year’s Palme d’Or-winning “I, Daniel Blake,” Loach has demonstrated a sharp eye for the travails of the working class. Sometimes, that sympathetic approach manifests in the form of disarming comedy (the soccer crowdpleaser “Looking for Eric,” the quasi-heist movie “The Angels’ Share”); elsewhere, Loach’s work takes a turn into gripping thriller territory (“It’s a Free World…”, “Route Irish”). He has also done his part to position these struggles in a broader historical context, most recently in 2014’s “Jimmy’s Hall” (about Irish activist Jimmy Gralton) and the Irish wartime drama “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” for which Loach first won the Palme d’Or a decade ago. With “I, Daniel Blake,” Loach combines many of the tones found throughout his previous work for the bittersweet tale of an aging carpenter (gently portrayed by Dave Johns) who gets injured and battles to receive the governmental support he deserves. In the process, he forms a platonic relationship with Katie (Halye Squires), a single mother similarly struggling to get by. Touching and sad when it’s not simply adorable, “I, Daniel Blake” combines Loach’s usual activist perspective with a memorable character who embodies the attitudes that has coursed through the director’s filmography for decades. -EK

“The Unknown Girl,” Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne

"The Unknown Girl"

“The Unknown Girl”

Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are the greatest living champions of cinematic realism. Their movies are known for precise handheld camerawork that drives near-documentary portraits of modern lives. This tendency has made films such as “L’Enfant” and “Two Days, One Night” continuously engaging from start to finish. The Dardennes peer into everyday realities and unearth tense, real-time scenarios filled with memorable characters and suspenseful moments steeped in their personal conflicts. While “The Unknown Girl” isn’t their most surprising work, it nevertheless provides further demonstration of their skill. The story of a cold-blooded doctor (Adele Haenel) drawn to solving the mysterious death of a prostitute she fails to allow into her clinic late one night, the movie goes from measured character study to tense potboiler over the course of two engaging hours. Nobody can deny the Dardennes are masterful storytellers at once attuned to national issues and capable of digging beneath the surface to unearth the human dramas that so often go ignored. -EK

The festival runs September 30 – October 16.

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