Today we announced the 26 films that will comprise the Main Slate official selection of the 53rd New York Film Festival (NYFF, September 25 – October 11). Tickets go on sale to the general public on Sunday, September 13.
New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair, Kent Jones said: “I could talk about the geographical range of the films in the selection, the mix of artistic sensibilities from Hou Hsiao-hsien to Steven Spielberg to Chantal Akerman, the astonishments of Miguel Gomes’s three-part Arabian Nights or Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s heartbreaking Journey to the Shore or Michael Almereyda’s surprising Experimenter, the points in common among the various titles, but the only thing that really matters is how uniformly beautiful and vital each of these movies are. If I were 17 again and I looked at this lineup from far away, I’d be figuring out where I was going to stay in New York for two weeks this autumn.”
The 2015 Main Slate will host four World Premieres: Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance in the Cold War story of the 1962 exchange of a U-2 pilot for a Soviet agent; Laura Israel’s Don’t Blink – Robert Frank, a documentary portrait of the great photographer and filmmaker; as well as the previously announced Opening Night selection The Walk and Closing Night selection Miles Ahead.
Award-winning films from Cannes will be presented to New York audiences for the first time, including Best Director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin; Todd Haynes’s Carol, starring Best Actress winner Rooney Mara; Stéphane Brizé’s The Measure of a Man, starring Best Actor winner Vincent Lindon; Jury Prize winner The Lobster; Un Certain Regard Best Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Journey to the Shore; and Un Certain Talent Prize winner Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure.
Other notables among the many filmmakers returning to NYFF with new works include Michael Moore with Where To Invade Next, which takes a hard and surprising look at the state of our nation from a fresh perspective; NYFF mainstay Hong Sangsoo, who will present his latest masterwork, Right Now, Wrong Then, about the relationship between a middle-aged art-film director and a fledgling artist; and French director Arnaud Desplechin, who is back with the funny and heartrending story of young love My Golden Days, starring Mathieu Amalric and newcomers Quentin Dolmaire and Lou Roy-Lecollinet.
Two filmmakers in this year’s lineup make their directorial debuts: Don Cheadle with Miles Ahead, a remarkable portrait of the artist Miles Davis (played by Cheadle) during his crazy days in New York in the late-70s, and Thomas Bidegain with Les Cowboys, a film reminiscent of John Ford’s The Searchers, in which a father searches for his missing daughter across a two-decade timespan—pre- to post-9/11—from Europe to Afghanistan and back.
Several titles also add a comedic layer to this year’s lineup, including Rebecca Miller’s Maggie’s Plan, a New York romantic comedy starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, and Maya Rudolph; the moving and hilarious Mia Madre from Nanni Moretti, starring John Turturro; Michel Gondry’s Microbe & Gasoline, a new handmade-SFX comedy that follows two adolescent misfits who build a house on wheels and travel across France; and Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Treasure, a modern-day fable in which two men look for buried treasure in their backyard.
Additional NYFF special events, documentary sections, and filmmaker conversations and panels, as well as NYFF’s Projections and the full Convergence programs, will be announced in subsequent days and weeks.
The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Programming; Marian Masone, FSLC Senior Programming Advisor; Gavin Smith, Editor-in-Chief, Film Comment; and Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor, Film Comment and Sight & Sound.
Tickets for the 53rd New York Film Festival will go on sale to Film Society patrons at the end of August, ahead of the General Public. Learn more about the patron program at filmlinc.org/patrons. Becoming a Film Society Member offers the exclusive member ticket discount to the New York Film Festival and Film Society programming year-round plus other great benefits. Current members at the Film Buff Level or above enjoy early ticket access to NYFF screenings and events ahead of the general public. Learn more at filmlinc.org/membership.
For even more access, VIP Passes and Subscription Packages give buyers one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival’s biggest events including Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing Nights. VIP passes also provide access to many exciting events including the invitation-only Opening Night party, “ An Evening With…” Dinner, Filmmaker Brunch, and VIP Lounge. Benefits vary based on the pass or package type purchased. A limited number of VIP Passes and Subscription Packages are still available. For information about purchasing Subscription Packages and VIP Passes, go to filmlinc.org/NYFF.
Films & Descriptions
The Walk (Opening Night – World Premiere, previously announced)
Robert Zemeckis, USA, 2015, 3-D DCP, 100m
Robert Zemeckis’s magical and enthralling new film, the story of Philippe Petit (winningly played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his walk between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, plays like a heist movie in the grand tradition of Rififi and Bob le flambeur. Zemeckis takes us through every detail—the stakeouts, the acquisition of equipment, the elaborate planning and rehearsing that it took to get Petit, his crew of raucous cohorts, and hundreds of pounds of rigging to the top of what was then the world’s tallest building. When Petit steps out on his wire, The Walk, a technical marvel and perfect 3-D re-creation of Lower Manhattan in the 1970s, shifts into another heart-stopping gear, and Zemeckis and his hero transport us into pure sublimity. With Ben Kingsley as Petit’s mentor. A Sony Pictures release.
Steve Jobs (Centerpiece, previously announced)
Danny Boyle, USA, 2015, DCP, TBC
Anyone going to this provocative and wildly entertaining film expecting a straight biopic of Steve Jobs is in for a shock. Working from Walter Isaacson’s biography, writer Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Charlie Wilson’s War) and director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) joined forces to create this dynamically character-driven portrait of the brilliant man at the epicenter of the digital revolution, weaving the multiple threads of their protagonist’s life into three daringly extended backstage scenes, as he prepares to launch the first Macintosh, the NeXT work station and the iMac. We get a dazzlingly executed cross-hatched portrait of a complex and contradictory man, set against the changing fortunes and circumstances of the home-computer industry and the ascendancy of branding, of products, and of oneself. The stellar cast includes Michael Fassbender in the title role, Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, Jeff Daniels as John Sculley, Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan and Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld. A Universal Pictures release.
Miles Ahead (Closing Night – World Premiere, previously announced)
Don Cheadle, USA, 2015, DCP, 100m
Miles Davis was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. And how do you make a movie about him? You get to know the man inside and out and then you reveal him in full, which is exactly what Don Cheadle does as a director, a writer, and an actor with this remarkable portrait of Davis, refracted through his crazy days in the late-70s. Holed up in his Manhattan apartment, wracked with pain from a variety of ailments and sweating for the next check from his record company, dodging sycophants and industry executives, he is haunted by memories of old glories and humiliations and of his years with his great love Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Every second of Cheadle’s cinematic mosaic is passionately engaged with its subject: this is, truly, one of the finest films ever made about the life of an artist. With Ewan McGregor as Dave Brill, the “reporter” who cons his way into Miles’ apartment. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One (U.S. Premiere)
Miguel Gomes, Portugal/France/Germany/Switzerland, 2015, DCP, 125m
Portuguese with English subtitles
An up-to-the minute rethinking of what it means to make a political film today, Miguel Gomes’s shape-shifting paean to the art of storytelling strives for what its opening titles call “a fictional form from facts.” Working for a full year with a team of journalists who sent dispatches from all over the country during Portugal’s recent plunge into austerity, Gomes (Tabu, NYFF50) turns actual events into the stuff of fable, and channels it all through the mellifluous voice of Scheherazade (Crista Alfaiate), the mythic queen of the classic folktale. Volume 1 alone tries on more narrative devices than most filmmakers attempt in a lifetime, mingling documentary material about unemployment and local elections with visions of exploding whales and talking cockerels. It is hard to imagine a more generous or radical approach to these troubled times, one that honors its fantasy life as fully as its hard realities. A Kino Lorber release.
Arabian Nights: Volume 2, The Desolate One (U.S. Premiere)
Miguel Gomes, Portugal/France/Germany/Switzerland, 2015, DCP, 131m
Portuguese with English subtitles
In keeping with its subtitle, the middle section of Miguel Gomes’s monumental yet light-footed magnum opus shifts into a more subdued and melancholic register. But within each of these three tales, framed as the wild imaginings of the Arabian queen Scheherazade and adapted from recent real-life events in Portugal, there are surprises and digressions aplenty. In the first, a deadpan neo-Western of sorts, an escaped murderer becomes a local hero for dodging the authorities. The second deals with the theft of 13 cows, as told through a Brechtian open-air courtroom drama in which the testimonies become increasingly absurd. Finally, a Maltese poodle shuttles between various owners in a tear-jerking collective portrait of a tower block’s morose residents. Attesting to the power of fiction to generate its own reality, the film treats its fantasy dimension as a license for directness, a path to a more meaningful truth. A Kino Lorber release.
Arabian Nights: Volume 3, The Enchanted One (U.S. Premiere)
Miguel Gomes, Portugal/France/Germany/Switzerland, 2015, DCP, 125m
Portuguese with English subtitles
Miguel Gomes’s sui generis epic concludes with arguably its most eccentric—and most enthralling—installment. Scheherazade escapes the king for an interlude of freedom in Old Baghdad, envisioned here as a sunny Mediterranean archipelago complete with hippies and break-dancers. After her eventual return to her palatial confines comes the most lovingly protracted of all the stories in Arabian Nights, a documentary chronicle of Lisbon-area bird trappers preparing their prized finches for birdsong competitions. Right to the end, Gomes’s film balances the leisurely art of the tall tale with a sense of deadline urgency—a reminder that for Scheherazade, and perhaps for us all, stories can be a matter of life and death. A Kino Lorber release. U.S. Premiere
The Assassin (U.S. Premiere)
Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan/China/Hong Kong, 2015, DCP, 105m
Mandarin with English subtitles
A wuxia like no other, The Assassin is set in the waning years of the Tang Dynasty when provincial rulers are challenging the power of royal court. Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi), who was exiled as a child so that her betrothed could make a more politically advantageous match, has been trained as an assassin for hire. Her mission is to destroy her former fiancé (Chang Chen). But worry not about the plot, which is as old as the jagged mountains and deep forests that bear witness to the cycles of power and as elusive as the mists that surround them. Hou’s art is in the telling. The film is immersive and ephemeral, sensuous and spare, and as gloriously beautiful in its candle-lit sumptuous red and gold decor as Hou’s 1998 masterpiece, Flowers of Shanghai. As for the fight scenes, they’re over almost before you realize they’ve happened, but they will stay in your mind’s eye forever. A Well Go USA release.
Bridge of Spies (World Premiere)
Steven Spielberg, USA, 2015, DCP, 135m
The “bridge of spies” of the title refers to Glienicke Bridge, which crosses what was once the borderline between the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR. In the time from the building of the Berlin Wall to its destruction in 1989, there were three prisoner exchanges between East and West. The first and most famous spy swap occurred on February 10, 1962, when Soviet agent Rudolph Abel was traded for American pilot Francis Gary Powers, captured by the Soviets when his U-2 reconnaissance plane was shot down over Sverdlovsk. The exchange was negotiated by Abel’s lawyer, James B. Donovan, who also arranged for the simultaneous release of American student Frederic Pryor at Checkpoint Charlie. Working from a script by Matt Charman and Joel and Ethan Coen, Steven Spielberg has brought every strange turn in this complex Cold War story to vividly tactile life. With a brilliant cast, headed by Tom Hanks as Donovan and Mark Rylance as Abel—two men who strike up an improbable friendship based on a shared belief in public service. A Touchstone Pictures release.
John Crowley, UK/Ireland/Canada, 2015, 35mm, 112m
In the middle of the last century, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) takes the boat from Ireland to America in search of a better life. She endures the loneliness of the exile, boarding with an insular and catty collection of Irish girls in Brooklyn. Gradually, her American dream materializes: she studies bookkeeping and meets a handsome, sweet Italian boy (Emory Cohen). But then bad news brings her back home, where she finds a good job and another handsome boy (Domhnall Gleeson), this time from a prosperous family. On which side of the Atlantic does Eilis’s future live, and with whom? Director John Crowley (Boy A) and writer Nick Hornby haven’t just fashioned a great adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s novel, but a beautiful movie, a sensitively textured re-creation of the look and emotional climate of mid-century America and Ireland, with Ronan, as quietly and vibrantly alive as a silent-screen heroine, at its heart. A Fox Searchlight Pictures release.
Todd Haynes, USA, 2015, DCP, 118m
Todd Haynes’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s debut novel stars Cate Blanchett as the titular Carol, a wealthy suburban wife and mother, and Rooney Mara as an aspiring photographer who meet by chance, fall in love almost at first sight, and defy the closet of the early 1950s to be together. Working with his longtime cinematographer Ed Lachman and shooting on the Super-16 film he favors for the way it echoes the movie history of 20th-century America, Haynes charts subtle shifts of power and desire in images that are alternately luminous and oppressive. Blanchett and Mara are both splendid; the erotic connection between their characters is palpable from beginning to end, as much in its repression as in eagerly claimed moments of expressive freedom. Originally published under a pseudonym, Carol is Highsmith’s most affirmative work; Haynes has more than done justice to the multilayered emotions evoked by the original. A Weinstein Company release.
Cemetery of Splendour (U.S. Premiere)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand/UK/France/Germany/Malaysia, 2015, DCP, 122m
Thai with English subtitles
The wondrous new film by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (whose last feature, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, was a Palme d’Or winner and a NYFF48 selection) is set in and around a hospital ward full of comatose soldiers. Attached to glowing dream machines, and tended to by a kindly volunteer (Jenjira Pongpas Widner) and a young clairvoyant (Jarinpattra Rueangram), the men are said to be waging war in their sleep on behalf of long-dead feuding kings, and their mysterious slumber provides the rich central metaphor: sleep as safe haven, as escape mechanism, as ignorance, as bliss. To slyer and sharper effect than ever, Apichatpong merges supernatural phenomena with Thailand’s historical phantoms and national traumas. Even more seamlessly than his previous films, this sun-dappled reverie induces a sensation of lucid dreaming, conjuring a haunted world where memory and myth intrude on physical space. A Strand Releasing release.
Les Cowboys (U.S. Premiere)
Thomas Bidegain, 2015, France, DCP, 114m
French and English with English subtitles
Country and Western enthusiast Alain (François Damiens) is enjoying an outdoor gathering of fellow devotees with his wife and teenage children when his daughter abruptly vanishes. Learning that she’s eloped with her Muslim boyfriend, he embarks on increasingly obsessive quest to track her down. As the years pass and the trail grows cold, Alain sacrifices everything, while drafting his son into his efforts. The echoes of The Searchers are unmistakable, but the story departs from John Ford’s film in unexpected ways, escaping its confining European milieu as the pursuit assumes near-epic proportions in post-9/11 Afghanistan. This muscular debut, worthy of director Thomas Bidegain’s screenwriting collaborations with Jacques Audiard, yields a sweeping vision of a world in which the codes of the Old West no longer seem to hold. A Cohen Media Group release.
Don’t Blink – Robert Frank (World Premiere)
Laura Israel, USA/Canada, 2015, DCP, 82m
The life and work of Robert Frank—as a photographer and a filmmaker—are so intertwined that they’re one in the same, and the vast amount of territory he’s covered, from The Americans in 1958 up to the present, is intimately registered in his now-formidable body of artistic gestures. From the early ’90s on, Frank has been making his films and videos with the brilliant editor Laura Israel, who has helped him to keep things homemade and preserve the illuminating spark of first contact between camera and people/places. Don’t Blink is Israel’s like-minded portrait of her friend and collaborator, a lively rummage sale of images and sounds and recollected passages and unfathomable losses and friendships that leaves us a fast and fleeting imprint of the life of the Swiss-born man who reinvented himself the American way, and is still standing on ground of his own making at the age of 90.
Michael Almereyda, USA, 2014, DCP, 94m
Michael Almereyda’s brilliant portrait of Stanley Milgram, the social scientist whose 1961, Yale-based “obedience study” reflected back on the Holocaust and anticipated Abu Ghraib and other atrocities carried out by ordinary people who were just following orders, places its subject in an appropriately experimental cinema framework. The proverbial elephant in the room materializes on screen; Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) sometimes addresses the camera directly as if to implicate us in his studies and the unpleasant truths they reveal. Remarkably, the film evokes great compassion for this uncompromising, difficult man, in part because we often see him through the eyes of his wife (Winona Ryder, in a wonderfully grounded performance), who fully believed in his work and its profoundly moral purpose. Almereyda creates the bohemian-tinged academic world of the 1960s through the 1980s with an economy that Stanley Kubrick might have envied. A Magnolia Pictures release.
The Forbidden Room
Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson, Canada, 2015, DCP, 120m
The four-man crew of a submarine are trapped underwater, running out of air. A classic scenario of claustrophobic suspense—at least until a hatch opens and out steps… a lumberjack? As this newcomer’s backstory unfolds (and unfolds and unfolds in over a dozen outlandish tales), Guy Maddin, cinema’s reigning master of feverish filmic fetishism, embarks on a phantasmagoric narrative adventure of stories within stories within dreams within flashbacks in a delirious globe-trotting mise en abyme the equals of any by the late Raúl Ruiz. Collaborating with poet John Ashbery and featuring sublime contributions from the likes of Jacques Nolot, Charlotte Rampling, Mathieu Amalric, legendary cult electro-pop duo Sparks, and not forgetting muses Louis Negin and Udo Kier, Maddin dives deeper than ever: only the lovechild of Josef von Sternberg and Jack Smith could be responsible for this insane magnum opus. A Kino Lorber release.
In the Shadow of Women / L’Ombre des femmes (U.S. Premiere)
Philippe Garrel, France, 2015, DCP, 73m
French with English subtitles
The new film by the great Philippe Garrel (previously seen at the NYFF with Regular Lovers in 2005 and Jealousy in 2013) is a close look at infidelity—not merely the fact of it, but the particular, divergent ways in which it’s experienced and understood by men and women. Stanislas Merhar and Clotilde Courau are Pierre and Manon, a married couple working in fragile harmony on Pierre’s documentary film projects, the latest of which is a portrait of a resistance fighter (Jean Pommier). When Pierre takes a lover (Lena Paugam), he feels entitled to do so, and he treats both wife and mistress with disengagement bordering on disdain; when Manon catches Pierre in the act, her immediate response is to find common ground with her husband. Garrel is an artist of intimacies and emotional ecologies, and with In the Shadow of Women he has added narrative intricacy and intrigue to his toolbox. The result is an exquisite jewel of a film. A Distrib Films release.
Journey to the Shore / Kishibe no tabi (U.S. Premiere)
Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan/France, 2015, DCP, 127m
Japanese with English subtitles
Based on Kazumi Yumoto’s 2010 novel, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest film begins with a young widow named Mizuki (Eri Fukatsu), who has been emotionally flattened and muted by the disappearance of her husband Yusuke (Tadanobu Asano). One day, from out of the blue or the black, Yusuke’s ghost drops in, more like an exhausted and unexpected guest than a wandering spirit. And then Journey to the Shore becomes a road movie: Mizuki and Yusuke pack their bags, leave Tokyo, and travel by train through parts of Japan that we rarely see in movies, acclimating themselves to their new circumstances and stopping for extended stays with friends and fellow pilgrims that Yusuke has met on his way through the afterworld, some living and some dead. The particular beauty of Journey to the Shore lies in its flowing sense of life as balance between work and love, existence and nonexistence, you and me.
Yorgos Lanthimos, France/Netherlands/Greece/UK, 2015, DCP, 118m
In the very near future, society demands that we live as couples. Single people are rounded up and sent to a seaside compound—part resort and part minimum-security prison—where they are given a finite number of days to find a match. If they don’t succeed, they will be “altered” and turned into an animal. The recently divorced David (Colin Farrell) arrives at The Hotel with his brother, now a dog; in the event of failure, David has chosen to become a lobster… because they live so long. When David falls in love, he’s up against a new set of rules established by another, rebellious order: for romantics, there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Welcome to the latest dark, dark comedy from Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), creator of absurdist societies not so very different from our own. With Léa Seydoux as the leader of the Loners, Rachel Weisz as David’s true love, John C. Reilly, and Ben Whishaw. An Alchemy release.
Maggie’s Plan (U.S. Premiere)
Rebecca Miller, USA, 2015, DCP, 92m
Rebecca Miller’s new film is as wise, funny, and suspenseful as a Jane Austen novel. Greta Gerwig shines brightly in the role of Maggie, a New School administrator on the verge of completing her life plan with a donor-fathered baby when she meets John (Ethan Hawke), a soulful but unfulfilled adjunct professor. John is unhappily married to a Columbia-tenured academic superstar wound tighter than a coiled spring (Julianne Moore). Maggie and the professor commiserate, share confidences, and fall in love. And where most contemporary romantic comedies end, Miller’s film is just getting started. In the tradition of Woody Allen and Paul Mazursky, Miller approaches the genre of the New York romantic comedy with relish and loving energy. With Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph as Maggie’s married-with-children friends, drawn to defensive sarcasm like moths to a flame, and Travis Fimmel as Maggie’s donor-in-waiting.
The Measure of a Man / La Loi du marché (North American Premiere)
Stéphane Brizé, France, 2015, DCP, 93m
French with English subtitles
Vincent Lindon gives his finest performance to date as unemployed everyman Thierry, who must submit to a series of quietly humiliating ordeals in his search for work. Futile retraining courses that lead to dead ends, interviews via Skype, an interview-coaching workshop critique of his self-presentation by fellow jobseekers—all are mechanisms that seek to break him down and strip him of identity and self-respect in the name of reengineering of a workforce fit for an neoliberal technocratic system. Nothing if not determinist, Stéphane Brizé’s film dispassionately monitors the progress of its stoic protagonist until at last he lands a job on the front line in the surveillance and control of his fellow man—and finally faces one too many moral dilemmas. A powerful and deeply troubling vision of the realities of our new economic order. A Kino Lorber release.
Mia Madre (U.S. Premiere)
Nanni Moretti, Italy/France, 2015, DCP, 106m
Italian and English with English subtitles
Margherita (Margherita Buy) is a middle-aged filmmaker contending with shooting an international co-production with a mercurial American actor (John Turturro) and with the fact that her beloved mother (Giulia Lazzarini) is mortally ill. Underrated as an actor, director Nanni Moretti, offers a fascinating portrayal as Margherita’s brother, a quietly abrasive, intelligent man with a wonderfully tamped-down generosity and warmth. The construction of the film is as simple as it is beautiful: the chaos of the movie within the movie merges with the fear of disorder and feelings of pain and loss brought about by impending death. Mia Madre is a sharp and continually surprising work about the fragility of existence that is by turns moving, hilarious, and subtly disquieting. An Alchemy release.
Microbe & Gasoline / Microbe et Gasoil (U.S. Premiere)
Michel Gondry, France, 2015, 103m
French with English subtitles
The new handmade-SFX comedy from Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind) is set in an autobiographical key. Teenage misfits Microbe (Ange Dargent) and Gasoline (Théophile Baquet), one nicknamed for his size and the other for his love of all things mechanical and fuel-powered, become fast friends. Unloved in school and misunderstood at home—Microbe is overprotected, Gasoline is by turns ignored and abused—they decide to build a house on wheels (complete with a collapsible flower window box) and sputter, push, and coast their way to the camp where Gasoline went as a child, with a stop along the way to visit Microbe’s crush (Diane Besnier). Gondry’s visual imagination is prodigious, and so is his cultivation of spontaneously generated fun and off-angled lyricism, his absolute irreverence, and his emotional frankness. This is one of his freshest and loveliest films. With Audrey Tatou as Microbe’s mom.
Mountains May Depart (U.S. Premiere)
Jia Zhangke, China/France/Japan, 2015, DCP, 131m
The plot of Jia Zhangke’s new film is simplicity itself. Fenyang 1999, on the cusp of the capitalist explosion in China. Shen Tao (Zhao Tao) has two suitors—Zhang (Zhang Yi), an entrepreneur-to-be, and his best friend Liangzi (Liang Jin Dong), who makes his living in the local coal mine. Shen Tao decides, with a note of regret, to marry Zhang, a man with a future. Flash-forward 15 years: the couple’s son Dollar is paying a visit to his now-estranged mother, and everyone and everything seems to have grown more distant in time and space… and then further ahead in time, to even greater distances. Jia is modern cinema’s greatest poet of drift and the uncanny, slow-motion feeling of massive and inexorable change. Like his 2013 A Touch of Sin, Mountains May Depart is an epically scaled canvas. But where the former was angry and quietly terrifying, the latter is a heartbreaking prayer for the restoration of what has been lost in the name of progress. A Kino Lorber release.
My Golden Days / Trois Souvenirs de ma jeunesse (North American Premiere)
Arnaud Desplechin, France, 2015, DCP, 123m
Arnaud Desplechin’s alternately hilarious and heartrending latest work is intimate yet expansive, a true autobiographical epic. Mathieu Amalric—Jean-Pierre Léaud to Desplechin’s François Truffaut—reprises the character of Paul Dédalus from the director’s groundbreaking My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument (NYFF, 1996), now looking back on the mystery of his own identity from the lofty vantage point of middle age. Desplechin visits three varied but interlocking episodes in his hero’s life, each more surprising and richly textured than the next, and at the core of his film is the romance between the adolescent Paul (Quentin Dolmaire) and Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet). Most directors trivialize young love by slotting it into a clichéd category, but here it is ennobled and alive in all of its heartbreak, terror, and beauty. Le Monde recently referred to Desplechin as “the most Shakespearean of filmmakers,” and boy, did they ever get that right. My Golden Days is a wonder to behold. A Magnolia Pictures release.
No Home Movie (U.S. Premiere)
Chantal Akerman, Belgium/France, 2015, DCP, 115m
French and English with English subtitles
At the center of Chantal Akerman’s enormous body of work is her mother, a Holocaust survivor who married and raised a family in Brussels. In recent years, the filmmaker has explicitly depicted, in videos, books, and installation works, her mother’s life and her own intense connection to her mother, and in turn her mother’s connection to her mother. No Home Movie is a portrait by Akerman, the daughter, of Akerman, the mother, in the last years of her life. It is an extremely intimate film but also one of great formal precision and beauty, one of the rare works of art that is both personal and universal, and as much a masterpiece as her 1975 career-defining Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.
Right Now, Wrong Then (U.S. Premiere)
Hong Sangsoo, South Korea, 2015, DCP, 121m
Ham Chunsu (Jung Jaeyoung) is an art-film director who has come to Suwon for a screening of one of his movies. He meets Yoon Heejung (Kim Minhee), a fledgling artist. She’s never seen any of his films but knows he’s famous; he’d like to see her paintings and then go for sushi and soju. Every word, every pause, every facial expression and every movement, is a negotiation between revelation and concealment: too far over the line for Chunsu and he’s suddenly a middle-aged man on the prowl who uses insights as tools of seduction; too far for Heejung and she’s suddenly acquiescing to a man who’s leaving the next day. So they walk the fine line all the way to a tough and mordantly funny end point, at which time… we begin again, but now with different emotional dynamics. Hong Sangsoo, represented many times in the NYFF, achieves a maximum of layered nuance with a minimum of people, places, and incidents. He is, truly, a master.
The Treasure / Comoara
Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania, 2015, DCP, 89m
Romanian with English subtitles
Costi (Cuzin Toma) leads a fairly quiet, unremarkable life with his wife and son. He’s a good provider, but he struggles to make ends meet. One evening there’s a knock at the door. It’s a stranger, a neighbor named Adrian (Adrian Purcarescu), with a business proposal: lend him some money to find a buried treasure in his grandparents’ backyard and they’ll split the proceeds. Is it a scam or a real treasure hunt? Corneliu Porumboiu’s (When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism, NYFF 2013) modern-day fable starts like an old Honeymooners episode with a get-rich-quick premise, gradually develops into a shaggy slapstick comedy, shifts gears into a hilariously dry delineation of the multiple layers of pure bureaucracy and paperwork drudgery, and ends in a new and altogether surprising key. Porumboiu is one of the subtlest artists in movies, and this is one of his wryest films, and his most magical.
Where To Invade Next (U.S. Premiere)
Michael Moore, USA, 2015, DCP, 110m
Where are we, as Americans? Where are we going as a country? And is it where we want to go, or where we think we have to go? Since Roger & Me in 1989, Michael Moore has been examining these questions and coming up with answers that are several worlds away from the ones we are used to seeing and hearing and reading in mainstream media, or from our elected officials. In his previous films, Moore has taken on one issue at a time, from the hemorrhaging of American jobs to the response to 9/11 to the precariousness of our healthcare system. In his new film, he shifts his focus to the whole shebang and ponders the current state of the nation from a very different perspective: that is, from the outside looking in. Where To Invade Next is provocative, very funny, and impassioned—just like all of Moore’s work. But it’s also pretty surprising.