As the 53rd New York Film Festival wrapped with Closing Night selection Miles Ahead, a bio-drama on “social music” (don’t call it jazz) legend Miles Davis, starring and helmed by Don Cheadle in his directorial debut, it’s time to look back on some of the Festival’s best offerings.
BRIDGE OF SPIES
In Steven Spielberg’s Cold War-era drama, Tom Hanks plays a Brooklyn insurance lawyer who must broker a sensitive prisoner exchange with the USSR. Once again, Spielberg proves he’s at the top of his craft. Hanks turns in a solid performance, but it’s supporting player Mark Rylance who steals his scenes as a Soviet spy with his too-cool-it’s-unnerving performance.
The 23rd edition of the Hamptons International Film Festival launched its five-day run last Thursday with Opening Night selection Truth, the true newsroom drama starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford. With a healthy selection of world premieres and Oscar hopefuls (including nine foreign language submissions), the festival is primed to bring some of the world’s best cinema to Long Island. Here’s a small sampling of what’s on the slate.
The Cold War sets the stage for Steven Spielberg’s 29th feature, Bridge of Spies, which had its world premiere Sunday night at the 53rd New York Film Festival. Based on a true story, Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, a Brooklyn insurance lawyer asked to defend Rudolf Abel (played eerily cool by Broadway veteran Mark Rylance), a Soviet spy in a trial that’s more for show than jurisprudence. Hesitantly taking on this role, the one-time criminal attorney Donovan is an Atticus Finch-like model for law as a guiding principle, despite the urgings from his colleagues—including the judge—to not put in full effort in his defense. Abel is a Soviet spy after all. His guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion, but it’s important that the US demonstrate a “fair” trial. Donovan will have none of it. He’s a good lawyer, and he will conduct himself as such, despite the threats set against him and his family.
It’s a good time to be a movie fan in New York. Two of the country’s preeminent film festivals—New York Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival—are upon us. The 53rd edition of the New York Film Festival (NYFF) kicks off tonight, September 25, and runs through October 11 at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. The 23rd edition of Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) is next in line with a program running from October 8–12 in Long Island. (I’ve proudly served on the screening committee of HIFF for the past five years.) Given their fall festival dates, both have historically made good on delivering some of that year’s top Oscar contenders, and this year will likely be no different. Here are each festival’s Opening Night, Centerpiece, and Closing Night films. Check out each festival’s website for its full slate of programming. (All film synopses below are courtesy of their respective festivals’ websites.)
In honor of Pope Francis’s visit to New York City, check out Going My Way, the 1944 Leo McCarey-directed classic about another religious figure in New York who decides to do things, well, a little differently. The trailer below was released following the film’s seven Oscar wins (not sure why the trailer says eight), including Best Picture, Best Actor (Bing Crosby), Best Director, and Best Writing (Original Story and Screenplay). The film spawned a sequel, 1945’s The Bells of St. Mary’s (nominated for eight Oscars in its own right, with one win for Sound Recording), starring Ingrid Bergman and Crosby reprising his role as Father Chuck O’Malley.
Nearly three years ago, I was offered the opportunity to interview Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes about his new film, Tabu. As a Portuguese film buff and sometimes filmmaker, myself, I leaped at the chance. Now, Gomes has been making waves with his new three-part film, Arabian Nights, ever since its world premiere this past May at the Cannes Film Festival. The 381-minute epic will bow to US audiences beginning September 30 at the New York Film Festival. But before that happens, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on my interview with him from December 2012.
Julianne Moore’s performance in Still Alice earned her an Oscar, but that wasn’t the only movie she starred in last year that got critics talking. Her “other” movie, Maps to the Stars, earned her the Best Actress award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nomination for her lead performance in the comedy/musical category (she was double nominated in both leading categories and won in the drama race for Alice). Maps to the Stars is currently on Cinemax.
Synopsis (courtesy of IMDb):
A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another, and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.
Director:David Cronenberg Screenwriter:Bruce Wagner Cast: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, John Cusack Distributor: Focus World Runtime: 111 min.
It’s no secret that Alfred Hitchcock is my favorite filmmaker. I’ve even emblazoned a 20-panel art installation of the Master of Suspense on my living room wall. So on this, his 116th birthday, I’m turning my focus to the eight Hitchcock films that have found a place on my 170 list. Check out these memorable shots from just some of the master filmmaker’s essential films, featuring Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Teresa Wright, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, James Stewart, Kim Novak, Janet Leigh, and Tippi Hedren.
Ahead of its World Premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September, new images from Trumbo have been released. Following a new course of direction, Jay Roach (Austin Powers and Meet the Parents films) directs this dramatic biopic of blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston in the title role. (Roach will also direct Cranston in another biopic, All the Way, in which the Breaking Bad star will reprise his Tony-winning role of US President Lyndon B. Johnson.)
Crew defections, brutal cold, a global search for snow and even a naked actor dragged on the ground — ‘Birdman’ director Alejandro G. Inarritu responds to critics of his ambitious methods: “When you see the film, you will see the scale of it. And you will say, ‘Wow.'”
A version of this story first appeared in the July 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Veteran crewmembers who have toiled on director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant say the director’s follow-up to Birdman could turn out to be epic and Oscar-worthy. Some also say that making the film has been by far the worst experience of their careers — “a living hell,” as one bluntly puts it.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as early 19th century explorer Hugh Glass, Revenant went into production in September and was supposed to wrap in March. But cameras still will be rolling into August as the budget has climbed well past $95 million, with insiders predicting it will reach or exceed $135 million. Crewmembers say they have seen huge turnover, including many who were fired and others who quit. They say the behind-the-scenes drama led Inarritu to bar producer Jim Skotchdopole, who worked with him on Birdman, from the set.