By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire September 30, 2011 at 12:54PM
Get a head start on the 49th New York Film Festival (it kicks off today) by checking out reviews of some of the big films playing at the event and interviews with some of this year's talent.
Below is a list of prior articles we've published about films that are appearing at the NYFF. Click on the film's title for the full piece.
The 49th New York Film Festival runs through October 16. Go here for the complete lineup.
Israeli writer-director Joseph Cedar’s last feature, the Oscar-nominated “Beaufort,” was a tense war movie about the 2000 South Lebanon conflict. His latest effort, “Footnote,” involves a much more personal war, in which the opposing sides are a father and his grown son.
"Goodbye First Love"
Unfortunately, since Hansen-Love never stays far from observing her delicate heroine, “Goodbye First Love” lacks a dramatic edge to keep up with its profound characterizations.
With its bouncy soundtrack, deadpan humor and good-natured disposition, Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki’s “Le Havre” is an endearing affair.
"Martha Marcy May Marlene"
Appearing fragile and terrified from her first scene until her last, Elizabeth Olsen brings an alarming quality to writer-director Sean Durkin’s quietly unsettling “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”
The basic premise of “Melancholia” bears a marked similarity to “Another Earth,” the Sundance hit about a duplicate planet appearing next to our own. However, while that movie exudes an optimistic vibe about the prospects of discovering new life, the giant rock in “Melancholia” never takes on an identity except as an object of otherworldly beauty and insurmountable doom.
"Once Upon a Time in Anatolia"
A slow-burn study of investigatory obsession and police bureaucracy, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s mesmerizing “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” plays like “Zodiac” meets “Police, Adjective.”
Everyone seems lost in Nadav Lapid’s “Policeman” (“Ha-shoter”), an unsettling story of brawny Israeli anti-terrorist officers and the equally clueless activists they’re eventually tasked with hunting down.
While “Hunger” contained an extensive monologue explaining the character’s behavior, “Shame” leaves much of Brandon open for interpretation. As a result, Fassbender’s revealing and compelling performance doesn’t just dominate “Shame;” he defines it.
The real star of the show is director of photography Guillaume Shiffman. If “The Artist” gains any commercial traction, Shiffman ought to get the most of its success. Shooting in a 1.33 ratio and imitating the complex grey scales of innumerable silent traditions—from German Expressionism to the shadowy American noir look that came out of it—Shiffman provides the foundation for the movie’s appeal.
"The Loneliest Planet"
In “Day Night Day Night,” Julia Loktev told the quietly experimental tale of a young would-be suicide bomber nervously wandering through the crowd of Times Square, impressing some critics if not much of an audience beyond that. Her long-awaited follow-up, “The Loneliest Planet,” deals with noticeably broader terrain and even includes a mid-size star (Gael Garcia Bernal).
"The Kid With a Bike"
Acting, like in all Dardenne films, can’t be faulted, and De France occasionally even sounds refreshingly Belgian (in French films she usually has a flat, non-regional French accent). However, her character’s consistently sunny, Mother Teresa-like disposition might be a tad much for lovers of bleaker fare.
A speedy depiction of university politics and the spirited radicalism associated with them, “The Student” (“El estudiante”) announces 31-year-old Argentinean filmmaker Santiago Mitre as a South American Aaron Sorkin.
"This is Not a Film"
Jafar Panahi has taken risky circumstances and turned them into art. “This is Not a Film” delivers a sharp, measured critique of the conditions that now find him on his way to jail.
Family dramas based around the recent or impending death of a relative tend to aim for easy sentimentality or wallow in grief. Alexander Payne courts these dangers many times in “The Descendants,” but manages to avoid the trappings of formula.
"The Skin I Live In"
Based on Thierry Jonque’s novel “Tarantula,” Pedro Almodóvar’s “The Skin I Live In” is a medical revenge thriller about genre identity. It’s also a meandering, tonally confused work.
NYFF ‘11 | Abel Ferrara Contemplates Sobriety and End of the World in “4:44”
“It’s a one-set film and you’re going to live and die in the place you are,” says Abel Ferrera about his latest film, “4:44 Last Day on Earth.”
FUTURES | “The Loneliest Planet” Co-Star Hani Furstenberg Moves Beyond the Israeli Stage
I felt very home with Gael, acting-wise, right away. It was very easy for us to play off each other. The improvisation depended on a lot of aspects of the scene. There were many that were carefully blocked out for the camera work, and then there were other scenes that were more loose.
LOCARNO INTERVIEW | Director Julia Loktev: “I’m interested in good people doing bad things.”
Three years after Julia Loktev’s minimalist suicide bomber story “Day Night Day Night” hit theaters, the director has returned with a new film that contains a similarly restrained style but deals with entirely separate issues.
FUTURES | “Martha Marcy May Marlene” Actress Elizabeth Olsen
You know, when you go to NYU and you’re a theater student, you have conservatory and you have academics. So already you’re a balancing an intense and crazy schedule with academic classes. So you kind of already figure out how to multi-task. The only thing that sucks is that NYU isn’t allowing me to work while being in school so I have to actually take time off when I want to work. That’s what’s frustrating. I wish there was a way to work it out, but there isn’t.
FUTURES | “Miss Bala”‘s Young Unknown Stephanie Sigman
She doesn’t have much of a choice. I think what I like most about the movie, is that it doesn’t pass a direct judgment - not about good or bad guys… It focuses on the situation. It [describes] what is happening.
INTERVIEW | “Melancholia” Star Kirsten Dunst: “Thank you, Penelope Cruz, for not doing this.”
We caught up with the actress in Toronto, here for the the North American premiere sans von Trier (he doesn’t fly). Bubbly and refreshingly candid, Dunst opened up about working with von Trier, whether she plans to reteam with him and the advice she sought prior to taking on this role.
INTERVIEW | Lars von Trier: “I will never do a press conference again.”
It was believed in the old days that melancholic persons can do more than ordinary people. The film is based on psychologists’ findings that in a crisis like the one in the film, a melancholic person would act in a more practical manner, because they’ve been there before. I have some relatives who have experienced melancholia in their lives, and they said the film hit them as correct.
Lars von Trier on ‘Melancholia’: “Maybe it’s crap”
“It was a big pleasure to do the film,” added von Trier. “All this darkness stuff we put in, we got carried away. Everything got over romantic, but it was nice to do. When I saw the stills from it, I kind of rejected it a bit. So, I’m not really sure…”
INTERVIEW | “Shame” Director Steve McQueen: “We have to keep cinema alive.”
Following Venice with stops in Telluride and Toronto, the film rode a wave of buzz to become one of the fall festival circuit’s most notable acquisitions as Fox Searchlight picked it up in something of a surprise move given its certain-to-get-an-NC-17 content. McQueen discussed Searchlight’s plans for the film - and many other things - when he sat down with indieWIRE in Toronto earlier this week.
Pedro Almodóvar: “Thrillers fit in with my life at present”
Almodóvar suggests that might be intentional. “I wanted [these characters] to have a different set of morals,” he said. “They’re cold and lack feeling.”