New York Film Festival includes some of the season’s most buzzworthy films, like ‘Bridge of Spies’ and ‘Carol’

The New York Film Festival’s higher-profile entries are some of this fall’s most buzzed-about titles and possible award winners. One of the most heavily anticipated films at this year’s fest — which opens Friday and runs through Oct. 11 — is “Steve Jobs,” about the late Apple founder and technological visionary. Directed by Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours”) with a script by Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network,” TV’s “The West Wing”), the film upgrades the notion of a traditional bio-pic, taking instead three moments in Jobs’ life and dramatizing them. Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave”) plays Jobs, with Seth Rogen as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels co-star. Steven Spielberg’s last film, “Lincoln,” had a sneak screening at the NYFF three years ago, but the only secret about the fest premiere of his latest, “Bridge of Spies,” is the subject: The negotiations that took place between the CIA and the Soviet Union to secure the release of an American pilot whose U2 bomber was shot down behind the Iron Curtain in 1960. Tom Hanks, in his fourth collaboration with Spielberg, plays the lead American negotiator. “Carol,” another drama set in the 1950s, is set closer to home. Set in New York, the film stars Cate Blanchett as a soon-to-be-divorced Manhattan socialite who falls in love with a mousy department store employee (Rooney Mara). The pair’s affair is discreet but passionate, yet director Todd Haynes — whose “Far From Heaven” (2002) dealt with similar sexual and social mores in the Eisenhower era — chooses to not present the film, based on a book by Patricia Highsmith, in melodramatic tones. It is instead filmed on 16-millimeter, letting the movie’s emotions, not its visuals, be Continue Reading

New York Film Festival is seeking to broaden its appeal with familiar faces

The New York Film Festival’s focus is expanding this year, appealing more to those looking for more familiar faces and high-profile films. Starting its 52nd showcase on Friday, the fest has always been an important venue for independent films. But despite its name, this prestigious — some might say exclusive — event has often represented a very small segment of the city: cinephiles most interested in foreign films, avant-garde innovations, and other esoterica. As valuable as that is, it’s nice to have other options for fans. The wider appeal may reflect a recent change in leadership. Longtime program director Richard Peña stepped down in 2012 (Kent Jones, a former programmer at Lincoln Center’s Film Society, took over), and last year’s lineup also suggested a new inclusivity. There are still plenty of promising rarities on the schedule, as there should be. But this year’s crowd-pleasing tone will be set at the start, with Friday’s opening night premiere of “Gone Girl.” As every book club member knows, David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller stars Ben Affleck as a husband who falls under suspicion when his wife (Rosamund Pike) disappears. Affleck may get more attention, but Pike’s position is more interesting: after years of alternating between studio projects (“Die Another Day”) and smaller films in her native England (“An Education”), “Gone Girl” could be her chance to gain a permanent foothold among American audiences. In fact, this NYFF offers many potentially career-changing turns. Festivals give us the rare opportunity to get in on the ground floor, to embrace movies and performances before everyone else discovers them. So yes, you’ll want to see Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, and Owen Wilson donning groovy period gear for “Inherent Vice,” in Continue Reading

New York Craic Fest is a parade of true and modern Celtic spirit

It's March and and so it’s time to get our Irish down. With intelligence, drama, humor, talent and culture that marks the Celts as a proud, creative tribe. No silly emblems of bowlegged leprechauns with their dukes up, the Jim Crow insignia of St. Patrick’s Day in America. No green plastic derbies made in China. No projectile-barfing contests on the LIRR home to the burbs from the parade. The best way to kick off every March is with a visit to the annual New York Craic Fest, a festival of film and music that presents a taste of the best of modern Ireland. “This is our 15th year,” says festival director Terrence Mulligan, an Irish-American from Brooklyn. “And we kick off on Wednesday night, March 6, with a film called ‘Broken,’ starring Ireland’s own Cillian Murphy and written by an Irishman named Mark O’Rowe who wrote ‘Intermission’ and ‘Perrier’s Bounty.’ ” “Broken” is a comedic coming-of-age tale also starring Tim Roth that premiered in last year’s Cannes Film Festival. “Each night for $20 you see the film at 7:30 p.m. at the Tribeca Film Center at 54 Varick St.,” says Mulligan. “Followed by an afterparty in the Varick Room where there’s an open bar from 9-11 p.m. offered by sponsors Heineken and Tulamore Dew Irish Whiskey. Hard deal to beat in Manhattan.” ’Tis, indeed. And it’s always a civilized atmosphere where New York Irishers and all others are welcome to come mingle and talk movies with other cinema lovers. “On Thursday, March 7, we have a great documentary called ‘Men at Lunch,’” says Mulligan. “It explores the iconic photo ‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’ of a gang of 11 ironworkers eating lunch sitting on a steel beam 800 feet above the RCA Building — now the GE Building — in Manhattan, taken on Sept. 29, 1932.” The renowned Continue Reading

12 days of Tribeca: The best of the downtown New York film fest

There are so many different elements to this year’s Tribeca Film Festival that you could easily focus on a new one each day. Whether you’re seeking a celeb sighting or want to catch an outdoor screening, here are our suggestions for sampling the best of the typically sprawling fest: DAY ONE (4/17): Opening Night DAY TWO (4/18): Star Spotting DAY THREE (4/19): The Drive-In DAY FOUR (4/20): Local Tales DAY FIVE (4/21): ESPN Sports Fest DAY SIX (4/22): Tribeca Talks DAY SEVEN (4/23): Biographies DAY EIGHT (4/24): Midnight Movies DAY NINE (4/25): Foreign Films DAY TEN (4/26): Short Films DAY ELEVEN (4/27): Family Festival DAY TWELVE (4/28): Award Winners [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

New York International Latino Film Festival celebrates Latino culture, showcases diverse films

The big-time, high-end New York Film Festival kicks off at the end of next month, but until then the city has a few other great collections of flickering images to send the summer out. Here are three to put into your calendar: The New York International Latino Film Festival opened its 12th year this week with an animated film, "Chico and Rita," for the first time in the festival's history, and will present films from 15 countries. NYILFF founder and executive director Calixto Chinchilla created the fest in 1999 as a forum for films by Latinos and works dealing with Latino culture. "When we started, there wasn't anything specifically [spotlighting] Latino filmmakers," says Chinchilla. "So we said, 'How can we acknowledge what's come before us but also create something different?'" Thursday's highlights include "Ashes," about a New York man struggling to make a better life for himself and his mentally ill brother, and the documentary "Rubble Kings," a look at city gangs in the 1960s and '70s. Friday's slate includes the world premiere of the drama "Carmen G," and Sunday sees "The Lost City," actor Andy Garcia's celebration of Cuban culture. Monday's finale is a free showing of "To Be Heard" in St. Nicholas Park. The New York City International Film Festival kicks off its second year Thursday night with over 300 shorts and features from 48 countries. Founded by artist Roberto Rizzo, the fest boasts a screen set in the middle of Times Square. Rizzo is also a filmmaker, and the festival includes a film-distribution market at the midtown Millennium hotel. "From being on the other side, I understand the frustration with getting things seen," says Rizzo. Thursday night's black-tie opening gala is at the Hudson Theatre, 145 W. 44th St., and is followed by an 8 p.m. screening of "The Last Gamble." Other films include the documentary "Finding Francis," "The Wedding Party" and a selection of horror shorts (on Sunday). Beginning Sept. 1, the first New York Continue Reading

48th New York Film Festival: ‘Social Network’ and ‘Hereafter’ lead high profile fare in 2010

It's the rare weekend that doesn't feature a film fest, but the most prestigious in our town is still Lincoln Center's long-running New York Film Festival. Some complain that the NYFF is actually a little too focused on prestige, leaning as heavily as it does on foreign films and obscure offerings. But this year there seems to be a renewed effort toward broadening the program, which can only widen the event's appeal. (In other words, order your tickets as soon as you finish reading this article.)Friday's opening film is David Fincher's much anticipated biopic "The Social Network," about controversial Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his hard-living business partner, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). The closing night picture, "Hereafter," is equally high-profile, given that it was directed by Clint Eastwood, written by Oscar-nominated Peter Morgan ("The Queen") and features Matt Damon as a man with unwanted supernatural abilities.Of course, there's plenty to see in between those big bookends. Helen Mirren and - intriguingly enough - Russell Brand co-star in Julie Taymor's adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Mike Leigh's "Another Year" has been earning raves for its empathic look at an extended British clan. And with Michelle Williams in the lead, Kelly Reichardt's Western, "Meek's Cutoff," will be among the most sought-after tickets at the festival.As always, those who favor imports will find an ample  supply of subtitles. Top picks include Abbas Kiarostami's "Certified Copy," with Juliette Binoche as a mysterious free spirit. "Carlos," from Olivier Assayas ("Summer Hours"), comes with excellent advance word, thanks to the central turn from Edgar Ramirez as Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal. And to mark his 80th birthday, Jean-Luc Godard presents "Film Socialisme," a poetic meditation on politics, art and cinema.Die-hard locals may prefer "LennonNYC," which traces John Lennon's creative and personal milestones while living in Continue Reading

The Big Picture: Check out the New Directors/New Films fest

For any local movie lover, the annual New Directors/New Films program should rank at the very top of the city's cinematic celebrations. Though more modest in scope than New York's high-profile film festivals, it's also more manageable, with plenty of opportunity for discovery. Last year's lineup introduced audiences to the Oscar-nominated "Frozen River," while past years have brought attention to little-known filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Spike Lee. So who should you look out for this time around? Both Ondi Timoner's "We Live in Public," about Internet maverick Josh Harris, and "The Cove," an exposé of Japan's dolphin industry from Louie Psihoyos, have already earned awards at Sundance. "Treeless Mountain," So Yong Kim's Korean heartbreaker about two little girls who take care of each other, has been collecting well-deserved accolades at festivals around the world. And Sophie Barthes' experimental comedy "Cold Souls" is attracting comparisons to "Being John Malkovich," though here it's Paul Giamatti who plays a surreal version of himself. "Treeless Mountain" will arrive at arthouses in April, making ND/NF your best shot at a sneak preview. Also scheduled to appear in theaters soon are "Every Little Step," which chronicles the Broadway revival of "A Chorus Line," and "$9.99," the animated tale of a slacker who wants to share the meaning of life with his uninterested neighbors. This year's schedule includes a few successes from years past, including "Big Night," "Half Nelson," and — in case you missed it the first time — "Frozen River." But one of the nicest things about an event like ND/NF is the opportunity to make your own finds. And if you're looking for something that's still flying under the radar, there are several promising options. We'd recommend Enrique Rivero's subtle "Parque Vía," about an old man about to lose his home, and Laurel Nakadate's "Stay the Same Never Change," in which several disconnected souls struggle to survive Continue Reading

Fall films, fairs and festivals in the New York City area

It's the feel-good season - and the proof is in the crisp cool air as well as the trees, where garden-variety green leaves are slipping into showoffy shades of red, orange and yellow. The fall changeover puts you in such a cheerful mood it's no wonder festivals abound in autumn, celebrating everything from mollusks, movies and man's best friend to jokers and jack-o-lanterns. Here are 10 of fall's best fests. New York Film Festival Now through Oct. 12. Lincoln Center's 46th annual movie fest - one of the fall's most prestigious events - will screen more than two dozen works, including Clint Eastwood's "The Changeling," with Angelina Jolie as a single mother in 1928 L.A., and Brooklyn-born director Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler," starring Mickey Rourke as a down-on-his-luck athlete. Also unspooling are Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky" and Steven Soderbergh's biopic "Che."   Medieval Festival Jesters and jousters and knights, oh my! Fort Tryon Park in the Cloisters transforms into a Middle Ages market town from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28. The roster of events includes medieval music and roaming minstrels, dance performances and magic shows. The afternoon is concluded with a joust between knights on horseback.   Woodstock Film Festival Oct. 1-5. Now in its ninth year, this upstate indie-film fest boasts screenings, concerts and panel discussions in Woodstock and the neighboring towns of Rhinebeck and Rosendale. On deck this year, "Throw Down Your Heart," about musician Bela Fleck's trip through Africa to discover the roots of the banjo, and renowned cinematographer Haskell Wexler ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf") gets the first WFF lifetime achievement award.    Warwick Applefest Oct 5. Johnny Appleseed would love this fest at least a bushel and a peck. The town of Warwick, an hour north of Manhattan in leafy Hudson Continue Reading

CANADIAN POP. The Toronto Film Fest’s preview of Oscar attractions

By the end of last year's bountiful Toronto Film Festival, the 2005 Oscar race had come into focus. It was there we saw "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Walk the Line," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "A History of Violence," "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and "North Country," movies that would go on to account for three of the five Best Picture and 13 of the 20 acting nominations. The 2006 event, which concluded yesterday, didn't provide the same clarity. Some critically favored movies had debuted at earlier festivals, and the high-profile "A Good Year" and "All the King's Men" were considered disappointments. But there is good news to report. The bulk of this year's Oscar contenders are yet to be discovered. And among the 20-plus movies I saw at Toronto were a couple of near masterpieces, several solid dramas, one side-splitting comedy, and one jaw-dropping indie film where the actors perform some highly outré sex acts. That last one is John Cameron Mitchell's "Shortbus" (opening Oct. 4), which we'll get to later. Let's start with dignity. Well, not much dignity: Let's begin with "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," a quasi-"Candid Camera" pastiche starring British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (TV's Ali G) as a village hayseed sent to the U.S. on a discovery tour by his impoverished ex-Soviet country. Cohen, posing as a Kazakh TV personality, confounds various Americans with his ad-libbed broken English and unpolished manners, and does some stunts - including a naked wrestling scene with his obese traveling companion - that may disgust even those guys in "Jackass." "Borat" is a riot. Meanwhile, one of the biggest stars of the festival, George W. Bush, wasn't in attendance for "Death of a President," but had a helluva movie demise (his face is superimposed on an actor's body in an assassination scene). The mockumentary caused a stir pre-screening, but those in attendance considered it much ado about Continue Reading

Tribeca Film Festival kicks off with ‘Saturday Night Live’ documentary ‘Live From New York!’

As director Bao Nguyen introduced his documentary “Live From New York!” — the tale of “Saturday Night Live’s” long, strange trip that opened the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Wednesday night — he remembered an earlier moment for himself and the fest. “I was at the very first Tribeca, back in 2002, when I was a freshman at NYU,” Nguyen said from the stage at the Beacon Theatre. “To think that 13 years later I’d be up here with the opening night film is just incredible.” Equally incredible is the subject of his movie: How producer Lorne Michaels and a cast of seven unknowns turned what was termed “a cross between ‘60 Minutes’ and ‘Monty Python’” into a cultural touchstone. Archival footage, classic skits and behind-the-scenes footage from 1975 onward hit many of the high marks of “SNL.” The film is arranged in loose chronological order, addressing the show’s influence, its relationship to American culture, its aesthetic changes, controversies, political spoofs and adaptation to the Internet age. All of its eras are covered, from the great to the not-so-great. Julia Louis Drefuss calls her time, 1982-’85, the “anti-Golden Age.” Filled with current interviews with Michaels, celebrities, longtime crew members and various old and new cast, “Live” also examines the show’s own struggles with diversity and sexism. In its early days, Michaels recalls, he would have to beg the writers if they had anything for its sole black cast member, Garrett Morris; Tina Fey, Jane Curtain, Amy Poehler, Larraine Newman and others discuss the male-dominated point of view; Leslie Jones recalls reactions to her “SNL” debut last year. There’s also a recounting of the show’s crucial place in the city and country’s healing after Sept. 11, as frequent guest and host Paul Simon Continue Reading