This year’s New York Film Festival — the 55th edition of the lauded Gotham-set fest — is still a few months out, but they’ve already picked at least one starry premiere: Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying,” which will open NYFF on September 28.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced today that the road trip drama will serve as the Opening Night selection of the 55th New York Film Festival (taking place September 28 – October 15) and will have its World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Thursday, September 28. The film will open theatrically on November 17 from Amazon Studios.
Linklater’s film is being billed as something of a “spiritual sequel” to Hal Ashby’s 1973 film “The Last Detail,” which starred Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, and Otis Young in an adaptation of Darryl Ponsican’s novel of the same name. That film followed two members of the Navy showing a third a good time while escorting him to prison for petty crime. Poniscan also wrote “Last Flag Flying,” which was published in 2005 and picks up with the characters of “The Last Detail” decades after the first story took place.
Although Linklater initially wanted to reunite Ashby’s starry trio for his feature, the filmmaker ultimately recast the outing (Young, it must be noted, passed away in 2001). Steve Carell will take on the role originally played by Quaid, with Bryan Cranston in the Nicholson role and Fishburne picking up for Young.
In their official announcement, the FSLC shared that “Linklater’s lyrical road movie, [is] as funny as it is heartbreaking” as it follows “three aging Vietnam-era Navy vets — soft-spoken Doc (Steve Carell), unhinged and unfiltered Sal (Bryan Cranston), and quietly measured Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) — [who] reunite to perform a sacred task: the proper burial of Doc’s only child, who has been killed in the early days of the Iraqi Invasion. As this trio of old friends makes its way up the Eastern seaboard, Linklater gives us a rich rendering of friendship, a grand mosaic of common life in the USA during the Bush era, and a striking meditation on the passage of time and the nature of truth.”
Of the pick, New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said, “’Last Flag Flying’ is many things at once — infectiously funny, quietly shattering, celebratory, mournful, meditative, intimate, expansive, vastly entertaining, and all-American in the very best sense. But to isolate its individual qualities is to set aside the most important and precious fact about this movie: that it all flows like a river. That’s only possible with remarkable artists like Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne, and Bryan Cranston, and a master like Richard Linklater behind the camera.”
Linklater added, “It’s always special to be at the New York Film Festival, but to be premiering our movie on opening night, when you look at the half century of films that have occupied that slot, is a wonderful honor.” The selection puts him in the company of other recent Opening Night picks like Ava DuVernay’s “13TH,” David Fincher’s “Gone Girl,” Paul Greengrass’ “Captain Phillips,” and Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.”
Tickets for the 55th New York Film Festival will go on sale September 10.