NYC Critics Salivating at This Year’s New York Film Festival Lineup

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08/17/2010 1:34 PM |

Edgar Ramirez as Carlos the Jackal says: Drop the pastry.
  • Edgar Ramirez as Carlos the Jackal says: Drop the pastry.

The complete New York Film Festival lineup was announced yesterday, with few surprises—despite J. Hoberman being replaced on the selection committee by the far more mainstream tastes of ex-Variety scribe Todd McCarthy, the lineup seems, sight unseen, to strike a decent, familiar balance of general-interest tentpoles (opening night is David Fincer’s previously announced The Social Network; closing night is Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter), fest-circuit esoterica, and most-favored auteurs (from FSLC faves Hong Sang-soo and Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Manoel de Oliveira to international cinema notables Godard, Kiarostami, Leigh to new favorites like Kelly Reichardt, Lee Chang-dong, Pablo Larrain, etc). See the Notebook for a complete rundown featuring generous links to previous coverage of each title.

There are, however, a couple of titles I’d like to propose as of exceptional interest.

The film I’m most excited to see at this year’s NYFF is Carlos, Olivier Assayas’s 319-minute anti-epic centered around 70s post-leftist terrorist Carlos the Jackal. (Basically, it’ll be five-plus hours of fluid filmmaking in the service of all the wikipedia articles I bookmarked after watching Terror’s Advocate.) Carlos was made as a three-part film for French TV, and screens with intermissions.

The other film I’d like to draw your attention to is Mysteries of Lisbon, an adaptation of a 19th-century novel directed by the prolific avant-garde-tinged philosopher-poet auteur Raul Ruiz (the international cinephile community is perpetually a sucker for epic, esoteric adaptations of classic Portuguese literature, true fact). This film is 272 minutes long, and so will presumably screen with at least one intermission.

Now. The last time the New York Film Festival featured anything this long was 2008, when they showed Steven Soderbergh’s wildly disappointing Che. I attended that press screening: it was held at the Ziegfield, and went lasted most of the day. There was a break for lunch. The lunch was provided for us, by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

The New York Film Festival, I should back up to note for those of you who are not film critics, features, at its morning press screenings, a quite full array of breakfast foods: danishes and other sweet pastries; several different varieties of bagels and muffins (always halved, presumably so that they’ll go farther but in practice it’s so you don’t have to decide between a corn and raisin bran) with cream cheese, butter, jelly; juices; and several urns of coffee perpetually being refilled by the harried staff of the Walter Reade Theater. Since moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn several years ago, I now arrive at NYFF press screenings with 10 rather than say 20 minutes to spare; though many of my colleagues are still milling about by the buffet at this time, I have to say it’s been a couple of years since I’ve arrived in time to catch a blueberry muffin before they all disappear down the gullet of press screening lifers. The crumbs they must have to sweep up while we’re inside watching the movie, sated and well-pleased…

The Ziegfield, you’ll note, is a rather immense theater; Che being one of the more notable NYFF titles of that year, it was almost entirely filled with press. I recall, at the break between the two films, gathering with the rest of my tribe around a table, extending perhaps the length of an entire lobby, piled high with catered cold salads (pasta, potato, fruit); soups; diagonally bisected sandwiches, their skewers invariably plucked out so that critics could remove the top slice of bread to more accurately ascertain the type of cold cut(s) within; stainless-steel covered dishes containing lasagna, filets of salmon… Very little of which was left by the time I followed my more aggressive senior critics to the head of the line.

So. Carlos, with two intermissions. Mysteries of Lisbon, with at least one. I highly recommend applying for NYFF press accreditation, if only to see till-pampered members of a dying profession scrambling madly to stuff extra portions into their bags for later.

(I won’t even contemplate how much emptier the theater will be for the second half of Mysteries of Lisbon.)

3 Comment

  • I like their carrot cake and pom izzie w/ ice, really good concession stand there at Lincoln Center. Rich Pena is the man… Btw- were you guys there for Mark’s intro to Suburbia? One word: EPIC.

  • I had quite a bit more prepared, actually, but I’m working out a theory about how the length at which one permits oneself to talk uninterrupted should be roughly proportionate to the size of the audience one is addressing, and the crowd on Saturday was closer to “blind date” than “State of the Union”.