Rejoice! The 50th edition of the New York Film Festival (Sept. 28-Oct. 14) has arrived. The main slate of films is just as diverse as always, including a panorama of world art cinema and a smattering of studio-funded Oscar bait, but the selection is changing in two major ways. It’s a lot bigger, growing to 33 films from last year’s 27, and it will be presented not just at the divine Alice Tully Hall (1941 Broadway at 65th Street), but also around the corner at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s three theaters (Walter Reade up the stairs on 165 W. 65th St., and the Francesca Beale and Howard Gilman theaters at 144 W. 65th). This is great news for students: Tickets for films on the FSLC screens are $4 cheaper. Here are some highlights from this year’s festival.
A female doctor finds herself tending to the locals in a small town outside of Berlin, but feels oddly alienated by and suspicious of those around her. The plot, when combined with beautiful images of the town’s pastoral landscape, makes “Barbara” appear to be just another standard contemporary European art film. Over time, though, details like Barbara’s secret meetings with her lover in the woods reveal the film’s complexity in its depiction of East Germany. Directed by Christian Petzold, one of the leading talents in the so-called “Berlin School,” “Barbara” is elegant, subtle, and very intelligent, much like its star, Nina Hoss.
Tickets available for Mon, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. and Sat, Oct. 6 at 12:15 p.m., both at Alice Tully Hall; Petzold in person on Oct. 6.
Probably the NYFF film with the most obvious appeal to Columbia students, the latest from Noah Baumbach is a black-and-white celebration of being young (specifically in one’s twenties, fresh out of a liberal arts college) in New York City. It’s co-written by Greta Gerwig, BC ’06, who also plays the titular character with her typical verve and intelligence. Unsurprisingly, the film calls to mind Lena Dunham’s show “Girls,” with which it shares the excellent actor Adam Driver, but it has much more in common with the French New Wave. The warmth, cuteness, and vivacity that pervade nearly all the interpersonal relationships in the film are very Truffautian.
Sun, Sep. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Alice Tully Hall, Thu, Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. at Alice Tully Hall, and Wed, Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. at Francesca Beale Theater; standby tickets only for all shows; Baumbach and Gerwig in person.
Leos Carax (né Alexandre Dupont) is one of French cinema’s supreme enfants terribles. So it comes as no surprise that his first feature film in 13 years explodes with gloriously nutty performances, images, and situations. Denis Lavant plays a man who sits in the backseat of a limo all day, driving around Paris with a makeup artist who prepares him for his appointments. Each one requires him to play wildly different roles, from a motion-capture performer to a rabid beast who hobbles through the catacombs in search of a woman. During the scene, he goes above-ground to snag a model named Kay M, played by none other than Eva Mendes. Later in the film, in a more sedated state, he stumbles upon Eva Grace, played by Kylie Minogue. Because... why not? Thu, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. at Alice Tully Hall, standby tickets only; opens in theaters Oct. 17.
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!
The newest film from 90-year-old French master Alain Resnais (“Last Year at Marienbad”) begins with a series of actors being informed that a theater director they collaborated with has died. “Is this Michel Piccoli?” “Mathieu Amalric?” The list of iconic French actors playing themselves goes on. They all converge to mourn the director’s death while sitting in the deceased man’s living room. But in a twist, the room becomes a theater itself, as the actors begin to perform the play in which he directed them—the same play that happens to be playing on a TV screen in front of them. An adaptation of two plays by Jean Anouilh, the film assumes prior knowledge of the story of Eurydice and Orpheus, but even the uninitiated will enjoy watching the all-star cast bring it to life.
Tickets still available for Tue, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. at Alice Tully Hall; standby tickets only for Wed, Oct. 3 at 6:30 p.m. and Tue Oct. 9 at 3:45 p.m., both at Francesca Beale Theater.