Though I did get to attend the TCM Classic Film Festival earlier this year (which was an amazing experience, and well worth your time), the New York Film Festival, in its 52nd year this time around, will be the first time I will have attended a festival as press. So, I’m very giddy about it. I’m excited to hobnob with other writers, get up at unfathomable times to catch screenings of films in languages I don’t often hear, and write like the wind. So, without further ado, here are my top five anticipated films of NYFF.
- NYFF ’14: Kyle’s 5 Most Anticipated Films // Sound on Sight
6:27 am • 16 September 2014 • 3 notes
He’s not allowed to play violent videogames,” my mother told them, my high school aged babysitters, as she left for work. The sound of an electro-revamping of John Barry’s James Bond theme managed to drown out the sound of the engine of my mother’s car before it had completely faded, or even left the driveway. And so, at the ripe age of seven, I became enamored of the James Bond I came to learn throughGoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64. And I’d make my way through the other Bond video games and, at some point later that year, I’d watch my first James Bond movie. And I would gobble up the franchise (up to Die Another Day, at least), and nothing, not even the original Ian Fleming novels would be able to quench my thirst for the man with the license to kill. (Fun fact: My useless talent is that I can name all the Bond films in backwards chronological order in under 30 seconds.) Before long, I would introduce myself to car salesman as “the biggest James Bond fan in the tri-state area), despite living in Connecticut. And then something changed…
I was, like every other James Bond purist, up in arms about the casting of a blonde and blue-eyed actor to play James Bond. But seeing Daniel Craig walk out of the sea in those powder blue shirts made me realize two things: 1) I was totally into dudes and 2) the rest of the James Bond franchise was kind of terrible. (Just kidding with that first part; that wouldn’t happen to me for another ten years.) And I blame Goldfinger.
- The Spy Who Came Out of the Gold: Why I Hate Goldfinger // The Black Maria
3:00 pm • 15 September 2014 • 4 notes
Full disclosure: I’m not completely well acquainted with the work of Kanye West, save for half a dozen songs and his very public persona. His egoism almost seems to speak for itself, but there a moments where even I, as someone who rarely listens to rap, understand that there’s more to him than meets the Tweet.
Perhaps part of West’s appeal is his ability to play off of himself intentionally. He has a good sense of humor, and there appears to be a self-awareness in his work, especially in his presentation of his public persona. Kanye West is, to my meager understanding, just as calculated of an artist as Lady Gaga or anyone else.
Spike Jonze, who was first a maestro of the music video before he moved into film, just might be the best person to continue to help hone West’s vaguely Joaquin Phoenix-à-la-I’m Still Here personality. Both Jonze’s cinematic and music video work often focuses on the surreal, environments that exist with a level of meta-awareness. From his Happy Days inspired Weezer video for “Buddy Holly” to the layered world of Being John Malkovich, from the sly smirk of Chris Walken dancing in Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” to the literarily surreal Adaptation., Jonze knows how to wink at the audience, but for a reason. In the aforementioned pieces, he’s able to explore (in various amounts of constraint), the power of nostalgia, the Freudian fallacies of desire, and the pain of sensitivity.
- Once Upon a Time for Kanye West: Spike Jonze and Kanye West’s “We Were Once a Fairytale” // Sound on Sight
2:32 pm • 7 September 2014 • 4 notes
It’s rarely a good idea to walk into a film with preconceived notions, but it’s rarely something a person can help unless they’re able to go completely blind. But, unless you’re at a festival, it’s hard to do that these days given the advertising saturation film culture. Even if you’re not intentionally surrounding yourself with it, chances are, it’ll still be in the background. So, that being said, I walked into If I Stay, a YA weepy movie based on a YA weepy novel by Gayle Forman, with average to low expectations. I thought, At worst, it’ll be forgettable. And somehow, I was so, so wrong.
- Is That a Question?: If I Stay // The Movie Scene
2:28 pm • 7 September 2014 • 6 notes
In Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz, Roy Scheider plays a man of brilliance on the stage and of the screen, so acute in their ability to push boundaries and use the past to inform and give insight into the present. Bob Fosse was, in essence, that man. The film’s more fantastical numbers are best remembered as tools in accentuating All That Jazz’s self-vilifying elements, the use of Peter Allen’s “Everything Old is New Again” appeals to the ego and genius of the man in front of the camera, an avatar for the one in back of the camera.
- Let’s Go Backwards When Forward Fails: Past Informs the Present in “Everything Old is New Again” from All That Jazz // Movie Mezzanine
10:55 am • 5 September 2014 • 9 notes
“I’d like to run the whole thing again!” says an anguished Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) in a haze, as he wanders around a hospital replaying scenes from the film he recently finished editing in his head. Here, not only in this scene but in this entire film, legendary director and choreographer Bob Fosse presents himself in all of his broken down, egotistical, manic glory. InAll That Jazz, Bob Fosse uses the meta-musical as critical self-examination, comic to the conclusion that being a visionary might kill you in the process. Joe Gideon is a renowned stage director and choreographer who’s trying to mount a Broadway musical by day, while editing his film about an iconoclastic comedian by night. He tries to hold himself together through a diet of sex, drugs, alcohol, and hallucinations–and he begins to question whether those things are the glue that that keeps him going, or merely another thing that’ll bring him to his downfall. It’s a morbid concept to think that Fosse’s conclusion to being a great artist, or at least as depicted in this film, is essentially to drive oneself to self-destruction. But, oh how it does play out on screen. The heavily autobiographical film takes place during the period of time when Fosse was creating and shaping his iconic musical Chicago and finishing up his film Lenny. All That Jazz is, in essence, Fosse’s Limelight– another film which, in a somewhat self-aggrandizing manner, depicts the Tortured Genius in all of their glory, only to continually see and display their suffering. It’s an interesting way to perpetuate these ideas that the Genius (whatever that means), is a fundamentally troubled person. Charlie Chaplin’s faded Limelight comedian resorts to alcoholism, and his life exists as a bum in a tenement. Gideon’s trajectory is superficially more successful, given that he is alive and well, but is burdened by the doubts of producers and those around him– not to mention the fact that the musical (which is over budget and over schedule) taps into facets of sexuality that are too hot to handle. His escape is through sex, drugs, and alcohol, as if amping up the vices in Chaplin’s Limelight by three.
- Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Manic Depressive: Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz // The Black Maria
10:53 am • 5 September 2014 • 14 notes
The world needs more Jayma Mays. Though her work as an actress maybe isn’t as defining as some other character actresses, she has thus far demonstrated a fair about a versatility. She’s done Glee and small roles in Epic Movie and Red Eye and a romantic lead in The Smurfs. But, alas, she is always underused. There’s a beguiling charm to Ms. Mays, from her warm smile to her charmingly chipper voice. It’s no different here in Last Weekend, written and directed by Tom Dolby (and co-directed by Tom Williams), where she is one in an ensemble of underwritten and overwrought characters brought together at a lake house for Labor Day Weekend where drama ensues.
- Review for Last Weekend // Under the Radar
12:46 am • 3 September 2014 • 31 notes
The Maid’s Room is by all means a predictable affair, wherein Drina (Paula Garcés) works for a wealthy family on Long Island and then is blackmailed by said family when the son refuses to turn himself in after a hit and run accident. When the film is busy being a coy, vaguely atmospheric mystery/thriller, probably closer in tone toDesperate Housewives or even its cousin series Devious Maids, it’s fairly engrossing. But when it tries to pull all the genre stops and become a capital “T” Thriller, it starts to feel silly, but not in the pleasant, non-self-serious way.
- Review for The Maid’s Room // Under the Radar
12:45 am • 3 September 2014 • 1 note
Moulin Rouge! is a mixed bag. It’s an idea that looks good on paper, but looks horrendous in execution. It’s a film where it should have the ability to make all the right emotional pivots, but succumbs to an ostentation that exists in its final product, making this a hallmark for director Baz Lurhmann’s career. I appreciate him, in an odd way, for injecting a very strange version of romance in his films, one that, in Moulin Rouge!, is wonderfully cynical and melancholy. In almost all of his work, his maximalism overshadows some of the most interesting aspects of the films (the sole exception beingStrictly Ballroom, his first feature): the post-modern comments on capitalism in William Shakespeare’s Romeo+ Juliet, the inherent frivolity of “freedom, beauty, truth, and love” inMoulin Rouge!, and the hollow decadence of the parties in The Great Gatsby. But everything wrong with him as a director can be distilled to one scene in the film: “El Tango de Roxanne”.
- Two Left Feet: How “El Tango de Roxanne” Represents Everything Wrong with Baz Lurhmann // Sound on Sight
1:16 am • 24 August 2014 • 11 notes
At the end of The F Word, Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) and Chantry (Zoe Kazan) get married. This isn’t surprising, but it is, for me, disappointing. What’s to be most valued in this film, written by Elan Mastai based on the play Cigars and Toothpaste by TJ Dawe and Michael Rinaldi and directed by Michel Dowse, is its brutal honesty about the complicated dynamics of two friends who may or may not be attracted to one another and the concessions they have to make in order to not upset that dynamic. It essentially plays out like When Harry Met Sally…, but less inclined to make one person a victim or a pathetic figure. It lays out its options openly and realistically, acknowledging that people sometimes have to do painful things in order to maintain a kind of balance.
- Concessions Stand: The F Word // The Movie Scene
12:01 am • 23 August 2014 • 8 notes