How does one of the world’s most dominant religions attempt to reconcile its longstanding troubles when a new film continues to shed light on them? It’s no secret that the Catholic Church has had more than its share of criticisms, from its controversial stances on homosexuality and divorce to its treatment of women. Arguably, the Church’s most pressing concern continues to be its response to the highly publicized sex abuse scandal, initially brought to light by The Boston Globe in January 2002. This journalistic investigation is the subject of Spotlight(2015), the new film from Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor) about the Pulitzer Prize-winning team of journalists that exposed the scandal and the Church’s controversial response. So how will the film impact public perceptions of the Church? In short, it probably won’t.
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 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.)
Breathe deep. Following lackluster box office numbers of late, 2015 is aiming to usher in a wealth of cinematic riches with an onslaught of proven tentpoles. Such films scheduled with 2015 release dates includeFurious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Pitch Perfect 2, Jurassic World,Ted 2, Spectre (“Bond 24”), <exhale> The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, and Mission: Impossible 5 <exhale>. But in case that’s not enough to quench your appetite, there’s Peanuts coming in November. That doesn’t hit your sweet spot? Fifty Shades of Grey bows in February.
Each of Limité’s Film writers presents 10 of her or his most-anticipated films of 2015. Check out their picks, then tell us what you’re looking forward to seeing in the new year.
All synopses are courtesy of IMDb.com, unless otherwise noted. As films are in various stages of production, information is subject to change, including release dates.
If you’re anything like me, you make a point to watch as many “Oscar films” as possible before the February ceremony. To help me with this, I assemble a checklist of sorts every fall, ordering each film by release date. To that end, listed below are some of this year’s biggest prospects that are either currently in theatres or set to be released in the upcoming weeks. In the event that I’ve seen one of the films listed, I included my rating out of 10.
Life in New York City can be hard, especially for young artists on the verge of self-discovery. But with an abounding energy and “magical atmosphere,” as described by French-born filmmakers Ruben Amar and Lola Bessis, it’s, perhaps, the ideal setting for an individual to come of age. Amar’s and Bessis’s feature debut, Swim Little Fish Swim, captures the difficult reality often faced by idealistic artists—striking a balance between an uncompromised art and the economics necessary to survive in an increasingly expensive city.
In Swim Little Fish Swim, the multi-hyphenate filmmakers (Amar and Bessis both wrote, directed, and produced the film; Bessis also stars) tell the story of musician Leeward (Dustin Guy Defa) and his more practical wife, a nurse named Mary (Brooke Bloom). The couple struggles in raising a young child in an unforgiving city, let alone hosting young French artist Lilas (Bessis), who has problems of her own.
Although Amar and Bessis have collaborated on several short films in the past, Swim Little Fish Swim represents new territory for the duo. Coming off a successful festival fun (including a win for Best Film at Gen Art Film Festival and a nomination for the Grand Jury Award at SXSW), the feature opened in New York City’s Cinema Village on September 19, with a limited rollout to follow (including Los Angeles and Chicago on September 26 and Seattle on October 24). I recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview via e-mail with Amar and Bessis, who provided joint responses to questions regarding the film, their collaboration, and their impressions of New York City.
I recently curated and edited Limité‘s 2014 Fall Film Guide. Get a taste below, then click here for the full guide.
Fall is nearly upon us, so we’re turning our sights towards some of the season’s hottest releases—from what are sure to be big budget crowd pleasers (the latest in the Hunger Games and Hobbit franchises), art house favorites (Whiplash, Mr. Turner), and sure-fire Oscar bait (Birdman, Foxcatcher). Mark your calendars for these fall flicks.
Exotic locations. Defined characters. Sharp wit. It’s what you come to expect from the venerable, and oh so prolific Woody Allen. And it’s what you’ll come to find in his latest offering, Magic in the Moonlight. In short, if you hate Woody Allen, you’ll hate this film. But on the other hand, if you love this cinematic mastermind, you’ll be as enamored and enchanted by Magic as this reviewer was.
It seems appropriate to honor Nelson Mandela with this trailer for the newly released Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The fictionalized account of Mr. Mandela’s life, starring Idris Elba, opened in limited release on November 29, just six days before the world leader passed away.