NYFF52: “The Sheer Breadth of Cinema”

NYFF 2014 4up©robinhollandThe 52nd New York Film Festival, opening tomorrow and running thorough October 12, has a glorious main slate of 30 features.  Kent Jones, the Festival’s Director and Selection Committee Chair expressed his amazement at the vast range of cinematic achievement represented by the films, “We have great big films alongside films made on the most intimate scale, personal epics and intricately constructed chamber pieces, films of great serenity and films that leave you dazed, first films and last films, all equally vivid, alive, and essential.”

Opening night, David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” (starring  Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry) is a world premiere, as is the Centerpiece selection, “Inherent Vice,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (with a cast that includes Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon and Benicio Del Toro).

Several films, New York premieres, arrive with glittering laurels from other festivals, including: Jean-Luc Godard’s dazzling 3-D “Goodbye to Language” (Prix du Jury at Cannes), featuring his beloved dog Roxy, some menacing  poison ivy, warring couples and shots of a large-screen TV (non-3D, of course, and because of that, a very funny sight gag); David Cronenberg’s Hollywood nightmare, “Maps to the Stars,” for which Julianne Moore was named Best Actress at Cannes; and “Mr. Turner,” directed by Mike Leigh and starring Timothy Spall (Best Actor in Cannes) as the painter J.M.W. Turner.

Many NYFF alumni are returning with new films: the incomparable Manoel de Oliveira (106 this December), with “The Old Man of Belem,” a short; Alain Resnais’ riveting and visually experimental final feature, “Life of Riley,” adapted from Alan Ayckbourn’s play, “Relatively Speaking;” Abel Ferrara’s portrait of “Pasolini,” starring a very well-cast Willem Dafoe; Mia Hansen-Løve offers another story of longing, “Eden,” which follows a famous garage DJ in Paris for 20 years; Olivier Assayas with “Clouds of Sils Maria,” “a close meditation on the passage of time,” featuring Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz; and “Two Days, One Night,” a very moving story of financial desperation, compassion and ethical choices, directed by Jean Pierre & Luc Dardenne with Marion Cotillard playing a factory worker faced with the loss of her job.

Another team of filmmaking brothers, Josh and Benny Safdie, are making their NYFF debut this year with “Heaven Knows What,” a film about Harley (Arielle Holmes) and Ilya (Caleb Landry Jones), mad love and heroin.  Shot cinema-verité style and based on Holmes’ life, the film is totally immersive, no easy feat–junkies, by definition, with their lives of repetition, are boring.

NYFF 2014 6up©robinhollandUpper panel, clockwise from top left: Mia Hansen-Løve, Manoel de Oliveira, Josh & Benny Safdie, Julianne Moore.  All images © Robin Holland.

Lower panel, clockwise from top left: Willem Dafoe, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Mike Leigh, Gaspard Ulliel, David Cronenberg, Olivier Assayas.  All images © Robin Holland.

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