The New YorkFilm Festival has always played host to a multitude of perspectives, from its globe-spanning Main Slate, to its experimental Projections programme, to the more recent, virtual reality-centric Convergence. The 57th iteration of city’s premiere film event unfolded across two weeks at Lincoln Center, with this year’s proceedings dedicated to the late Agnès Varda, an NYFF mainstay her final film, Varda by Agnès, was also featured.
The crown jewel of the fest was undoubtedly its Opening Night selection, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. The ludicrously expensive Netflix production was so in-demand that even its press screening had to be moved from the usual location — the 268-seat Wer Reade Theatre — to Lincoln Center’s prestigious, 1086-capacity Alice Tully Hall. Netflix also held the New York premiere for Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story this year’s Centerpiece film and Warner Bros.’ Joker even made its final festival stop after Venice and TIFF. However, lesser-known, unconventional works also found their way into the spotlight, like Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra’s sexually-charged Libertéand Minh Quý Truong’s experimental Vietnamese sci-fi doc The Treehouse.
As usual, the programmers — among them, retiring festival director Kent Jones — scoured every corner of the globe for unique points of view, and the results were astounding. Here are five films from around the world that exemplify the best of NYFF 2019.
1. Atlantics dir. Mati Diop
Country: Belgium, France, Senegal
As the niece of legendary Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty Touki Bouki, Mati Diop has quite the legacy to shoulder, but she’s also blazing her own path as the first Black woman to have a film play in competition at Cannes. Atlantique, or Atlantics, would eventually take home the Grand Prix, and it’s also Senegal’s entry for the 2020 Oscars.
The film is an oblique ghost story about a doomed romance in Dakar — between Souleiman Ibrahima Traoré, an exploited construction worker, and Ada Mama Sané, a young girl set to be married off to a rich businessman. Souleiman and his coworkers set off to Spain by raft in search of a better life. When they disappear without a trace, their presence begins to be felt in mysterious ways, by the women they leave behind and by the corrupt boss who still owes them their living wage.
Watching Atlantics feels like floating on water. It veers between ferocious anger and soulful calm, and the way Mati Diop and cinematographer Claire MathonPortrait of a Lady on Fire shoot the ocean — with light shimmering off its uneasy surface — unlocks the entire film. It’s furious, loving, and dreamlike, all at once.
2. Beanpole dir: Kantemir Balagov
François Truffaut is often misquoted as saying, “There’s no such thing as an anti-war film.” Contextually, he talks about how depictions of violence can be ambiguous, and says that “to show something is to ennoble it.” If he were still around, he’d have been delighted by Kantemir Balagov’s stunningly designed Beanpole, a film that manages to be anti-war through and through by refusing to depict war itself, focusing instead on the ripple effects of its devastation as it permeates society and molds people into their worst possible selves.
Set in post-war Leningrad in 1945, the film tells of two women in love — towering-yet-demure nurse Ilya Viktoria Miroshnichenko and feisty returned soldier Masha Vasilisa Perelygina — and the havoc wreaked on them by the recent conflict. Beanpole is by no means your average queer text; mid-twentieth century society is a hurdle, certainly, but the lingering horrors of war prevent Ilya and Masha from being together more than anything else. Masha, whose wounds have left her unable to bear children, wants a child by any means necessary, even if it means forcing Ilya to have one for her. Ilya, who’s taken to helping people after the devastation, suffers from a post-traumatic condition that causes her brain to lock down and her to body seize up, even in moments that might lead to her inadvertently hurting others.
Both women are frozen by war, physically, emotionally, and financially. Even the film’s most tender moments, as Ilya and Masha try to pick up the pieces of their lives, feel trapped within the confines of violent forces much larger than themselves — forces they may have no choice to succumb to, in body and in soul.
Arguably Almodóvar’s most tender work, Dolor y Gloriais part autobiography, part confession, and wholly reflective of the ways in which we remember and like to be remembered. Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, an idiosyncratic arthouse director who feels like a stand-in for Almodóvar. He has Almodóvar’s unkempt white hair and stubble, he dresses in floral shirts, and he even lives in an apartment that feels like a re-creation of Almodóvar’s. After a long-standing disagreement with actor Alberto Crespo Asier Etxeandia over their film Sabor — from several decades ago — Mallo begins to re-evaluate not only his views on Crespo’s performance, but on how he’s lived his life, and all the people who have come and gone from it.
The film follows a semi-retired Mallo in his fifties as he begins self-medicating his physical and emotional pain, but it occasionally flashes back to rosy memories of Mallo’s childhood, involving his mother Penélope Cruz, his early trysts with writing, and even his sexual awakening upon first seeing the male form in all its glory. As Mallo thinks back and reaches into his past, it fills within him a new desire to write, and in the process, to unearth the deepest, most vulnerable parts of himself — parts he had hidden away. Fittingly, Mallo’s artistic resurgence draws a former lover Leonardo Sbaraglia out of the woodwork; warmth practically envelopes the screen as the two reminisce, and reflect on what could have been.
The actor Crespo is representative, perhaps, of Carmen Mura, with whom the director had a falling out, though people are bound to mythologize the film as being about the long gap between his collaborations with Banderas; wouldn’t that be poetic? How Pain and Glory will be remembered is out of Almodóvar’s hands — something the director seems to articulate with Mallo’s feelings on Sabor. While Mallo once hated the anguish Crespo brought to the film, he now sees his performance through different, more experienced eyes. With Pain and Glory, Almodóvar captures the intimate feeling of having your wounds and memories repaired by time.
4. Parasite dir: Bong Joon-ho
Country: South Korea
Monster movie, murder movie, train movie, pig movie — whatever Bong Joon-ho makes, he imbues with an undercurrent of class angst, while his focus remains on the movement of people. He studies individual mannerisms, and the disorderly chaos of groups in motion; there’s really no one better at it. With Parasite, he combines these two cinematic passions, making blatantly physical the ideas of class disparity while getting right in between the uncomfortable, subtle ways — nods, glances, turned up noses — in which social hierarchy manifests, placing invisible walls between people.
A word of advice: skip to the next entry if you haven’t seen the film. Parasite is a hard one to spoil, but it’s also best experienced without foreknowledge. Its delights stem from its on-the-nose audacity, as a dirt-poor, basement-dwelling family of four, the Kims — college student Ki-woo Choi Woo-shik, his unemployed artist sister Ki-jung Park So-dam, his former athlete mother Chung-sook Jang Hye-jin, and his former chauffeur father Ki-taek Song Kang-ho — slowly infiltrate a wehy household by conning their way into jobs. The Park family, who own the lavish mansion, have westernized names the Kims follow suit when choosing their pseudonyms and remain blissfully unaware, for the most part, that they’re being had. The Kims’ methods range from underhanded convincing the rich mother that her son needs “art therapy” to downright cruel framing the current driver as a pervert, and getting the current housemaid fired by triggering her peach allergy, but the slick, sly precision of each plan makes it feel like an elaborate heist. That is, until the emotional core of the film comes into focus — a twist too good to spoil here — resulting in the Kims needing to double-down on their deceitful efforts.
In order to keep their jobs, the Kims end up having to be crueler than anticipated to those as vulnerable as themselves — a byproduct of any capitalist rat-race. Bong captures spaces, both rich and poor, and the way characters interact with them, with precision — the same precision with which he films intimate, thoughtful moments. The Parks, 1%-ers though they may be, aren’t knowing villains in any genre sense of the word. Rather, their obliviousness to the plight of those around them is both the mechanism by which the Kims take advantage of them, and the very force keeping them atop the social hierarchy and the Kims near the bottom. As much as the Kims might impersonate, infiltrate, and occasional revel, the Parks’ minor, thoughtless slights hurt much more than any physical violence in the film. Song Kang-ho, for instance, brings a specific kind of pain to Kim Ki-taek, a man who, despite essentially being a criminal mastermind, has his dignity slowly chipped away by the callous rigidities of rich behaviour. Parasite is a study of socio-economics, sure, but more than anything, it’s a deliciously twisted thriller-comedy akin to a home invasion flick, filled to the brim with meaning and dripping with directorial mastery.
Céline Sciamma’s follow up to GirlhoodBande de filles from 2014 — it’s a crime she doesn’t get to direct more often, by the way, though she did co-write My Life as a Courgette — Portrait of a Lady on Fire Portrait de la jeune fille en feu is a tremendously moving experience, and one that bides its time by design. Noémie Merlant plays Marianne, a portrait painter who feels plucked out of the present; her hair, her mannerisms and so forth make her feel like an outsider to the film’s eighteenth century setting. Marriane is hired to secretly paint a pre-wedding portrait of Héloïse Adèle Haenel, who doesn’t want to be married and, like her sister, may even kill herself if she’s forced to.
Marianne accompanies the reclusive Héloïse on long, contemplative walks in attempts to observe her more closely. Romance eventually blossoms between them once Marianne’s secret is out, but the path the film takes is intentionally askew. Portrait of a Lady on Fireis, at least at first, about the unknowability of a person. Marianne, who inherited her talents from her well-renowned father, paints within the constraints of a visual art form developed by men and developed, in some ways, to contain and control women. So, her initial portrait only captures Héloïse’s somberness, that too at a distance. As the two get more involved, Marianne is plagued by visions of Héloïse departing to get married; her brush strokes grow more passionate, and her painting more detailed. Adèle Haenel is only 30, but the film makes her seem gracefully aged; the lines around her eyes become sentences with which she tells her story — a story Marianne begins to reflect in her painting, as if in search of who Héloïse truly is.
A lean-forward experience that demands patience and investment, Portrait of a Lady on Fireplays, at first, like a song with missed notes — until eventually, it discovers and carefully re-assembles them, revealing, in its final scene, the music of the soul.
Edward Norton’s adaptation of Jonathan Lethem‘s novel took over twenty years to bring to the screen. But while delays like this are traditionally to a film’s detriment, it actually works in favor of Motherless Brooklyn. The distance allowed by this time in development leads to a movie that is likely significantly more mature and thematically rich than what Norton would have made in 1999.
As I suspected and Norton confirmed in the film’s press conference at NYFF, the initial draw he felt to the material had to do with the actorly challenge of portraying a private investigator with Tourette’s syndrome. The role of Lionel Essrog represents the kind of bauble designed to appeal to an actor’s vanity, a character racked with internal conflict that manifests in a physical way. If the film existed as little more than an apparatus to prop up this showy performance, it would have clouded out the real metaphorical value of Lionel as he slowly pulls back the veil on corruption in 1950s New York City.
As it plays now, Norton’s performance represents one of the least interesting parts of Motherless Brooklyn. It’s a bit of a nerve-wracking high-wire act watching an able-bodied actor attempt to replicate a disability – it only requires one mistake to push a film into the territory of Simple Jack, the parodic failed Oscar bait title from Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. Judging by some crowd reactions at my screening, some seemed to feel the film goes there. If anything, Norton plays Lionel a bit like The Narrator at the end of Fight Club, a bit jittery and disoriented by an unknown force wreaking havoc inside his mind.
Norton the actor proves less of an attraction in Motherless Brooklyn than Norton the director and writer. A counterintuitive takeaway, I must admit – although I do adore his directorial debut, Keeping the Faith, and stop to watch it every time it’s playing on cable. His film makes for a somber, plaintive, and clever twist on the film noir. Taking significant liberties with Lethem’s novel, beginning with changing the setting to mid-century America, Norton frames Lionel’s gumshoe exploits within a wistfulness for a city – and country – lost.
The inevitable point of comparison for the film is Chinatown. Both stories follow private eyes whose investigations turn from a casual incursion into a complete unraveling of endemic corruption. To state the obvious, Motherless Brooklyn is not quite at the level of the seminal classic that Roman Polanski made in 1974. Lionel’s discursive journey from sniffing out the circumstances surrounding his boss’s death into the dark heart of the local politics of segregation and stratification, while fascinating, simply cannot compare to Robert Towne’s airtight Chinatown script. Norton is never short on ideas and intrigue, but his adaptation tends to lumber along in fits and starts rather than building consistent momentum.
But perhaps more than resembling the form of Chinatown, Motherless Brooklyn matches the spirit of the classic. Both films debuted into a nation gripped with the fervor of impending impeachment and, by glancing backwards into American history, reflect back their disillusionment. Yet while Chinatown maintains a consistently nihilistic tone as encapsulated by the iconic final line, Motherless Brooklyn refuses such sweeping pessimism. “Hopeful” does not quite capture Norton’s sensibility, but the events of the plot push Lionel towards the character Laura Rose Gugu Mbatha-Raw, an invention of the film. She’s definitely underdeveloped relative to other figures in the story, a limitation of Norton as a screenwriter, because Laura’s worth to the story comes less from who she is and more from what she represents.
Laura presents a stark contrast to the moral rot Lionel encounters at every turn, and her grace provides a reason to persevere when tempted to give up on an entire corrupt system. Of course, he loses faith in elected officials after witnessing the depths of their depravity in selling out New York City to the highest bidder. In a manner telling of their power, Lionel also begins to doubt the goodness of the average citizen by extension. If they can buy off the rich and write off the poor so easily, the success of their schemes to change the very composition of New York by manipulating real estate proves how little agency people have.
It’s here where the meta-casting of Alec Baldwin as the film’s villain, Moses Randolph, proves such a stroke of genius. It’s more than guilt by association through the actor, who beams into households throughout the year as a prominent parody of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live – Baldwin delivers multiple shudder-inducing lines that recall infamous episodes in recent history like the Access Hollywood tape. With Baldwin as conduit, Norton connects the imperfect past of Motherless Brooklyn to our fractured present day. Baldwin plays both the symptom of the current American malaise as Trump while also portraying the root causes of our fraught moment here – racial animus, abuse of power, naked corruption, and undue influence of business.
However clumsily Norton arrives at his conclusion, Motherless Brooklyn effectively locates several American pathologies. Democracy can easily become a toothless concept in a society that does not view its exercise as an active process. Wealthy urbanites can easily overlook, if not tolerate entirely, the unjust treatment of their neighbors so long as they feel the government will marshal resources to benefit people like them. Rather than shrug in the face of these tough truths, Norton pushes ahead and tries to do something difficult: resist, sacrifice, honor shared values, and avoid cynicism.
Indican Pictures has picked up director Haynze Whitmore's horror film, Crepitus, for domestic theatrical, digital, and DVD distribution. Starring Eve Mauro and horror vet Bill Moseley, the film follows seventeen-year-old Elizabeth and her younger sister Sam who are thrust into terrifying circumstances when they are forced to move into their deceased Grandfather's house. Frightened beyond belief, they learn horrible things about their family history. Never mind the ghosts in the house, there is something far worse that takes an interest in them ... a cannibalistic clown named Crepitus Moseley. Chalet Lizette Brannan, Caitlin Williams, and Lance Paul co-star. Indican will release Crepitus theatrically on ten screens in major markets on November 1, followed by DigitalHD and DVD release on December 13. Eddie and Sarah Renner penned the screenplay which was produced by Nick Ford, Johnny Macabre, Paul of Ginger Knight Entertainment, Eddie Renner, and Haynze Whitmore. The deal was negotiated by Adam Whitton of Cyfuno Ventures with Ginger Knight Entertainment.
The African American Film Critics Association AAFCA has re-teamed with Turner Classic Movies TCM for a special celebration of Motown films. The event, titled AAFCA Presents: Motown Productions, will take place on Oct 22 and will feature screenings and discussions surrounding Motown classic films The Last Dragon, Lady Sings The Blues, and Mahogony. Last year, AAFCA and TCM partnered on The Black Experience on Film, a month of programming of films that put diversity and inclusion in cinema at the forefront. Furthermore, AAFCA has unveiled the guest for season two of The AAFCA Podcast, which will include Harriet producer Debra Martin Chase, and Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter as well as Hannah Beachler, an Oscar winner for production design.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger is set to be honored with a Career Achievement in Directing award at the 22nd Arpa International Film Festival, which has moved to the American Legion Post 43 Theater after spending 14 years at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Berlinger joins this year's honorees which includes Oscar nominees Sally Kirkland, who will pick up the Icon award, and Eric Roberts, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement award. In addition, the fest will present the Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award to directors Mimi Malayan and Arthur Muradyan for their film The Stateless Diplomat, a story of Diana Agabeg Apcar, a 19th century Armenian writer living in Japan, becoming the de facto ambassador of a lost nation, the First Republic of Armenia. The festival, which runs from November 8 — 10, will open with Souheil Ben-Barka's Moroccoian film Sand and Fire, based on the true story of Domingo Badia alias Ali Beyel Abassi and his illicit love affair with the Prime Minister of England, William Pitt's, niece, Lady Hester Stanhope, between the years 1802-1818 which ends in tragedy.
When Manhattan’s Paris Theatre closed its doors in August, it was a huge loss for the New York movie-going community. The beloved theater was the last prestige single-screen movie house in the city. But while we may not always have Paris, Netflix ensures that we’ll have it for at least a couple more weeks this November. Netflix is setting a Marriage Story theatrical release in New York at the Paris Theatre starting November 6, for a limited run. But while there is no word on whether Netflix intends to keep the theater open, could this mark a future investment for the streaming giant?
Netflix announced that it is setting the theatrical engagements for Noah Baumbach‘s divorce drama Marriage Story in Los Angeles and New York starting November 6, 2019 with additional releases in the U.S. and internationally set to begin November 15. The film is set to play at The Landmark and The Vista in LA, and the IFC Film Center, Landmark 57th West, and Nitehawk Prospect Park in New York. But most significantly is the fourth New York venue for Marriage Story: the recently-shuttered Paris Theatre.
Netflix is re-opening the doors of New York’s last single-screen theater, which closed this past summer. While Netflix would not comment beyond confirming that Marriage Story would play at the theater for a limited run, it could be an indication that Netflix is looking into the brick-and-mortar business. The streaming giant has had its run-ins with film festivals and big theater chains, which have taken issue with the company’s disruption of the movie industry. But Netflix has set its eyes on those distinguished Academy Awards, partnering up with esteemed auteurs like Martin Scorsese and Alfonso Cuaron and launching costly awards campaigns to win that coveted Best Picture Oscar. That means Netflix has had to play ball by releasing some of those films in theaters, which they’ve had trouble doing outside of renting an entire movie house. But could Netflix be looking into buying its own movie theaters, as reports suggested as far back as last year? Perhaps the Paris Theatre could be a test run of that.
The Paris Theatre shuttered in August when the City Cinemas lease with real estate magnate Robert Solow expired, according to Deadline. The outlet reported that Netflix was one of the companies bidding for that lease from the Solow family, but the theater was closed before a deal could be made. However, with the news that Netflix is temporarily re-opening the theater for the Marriage Story theatrical release, perhaps it could turn into something more permanent.
It would certainly be a win-win for Netflix: the streaming giant would have a theater where it could premiere its Oscar contenders for its two-week qualifying awards run without having to wrangle with movie chains, and a New York movie landmark could be saved. The service is reportedly making a deal to do the same with the venerated Egyptian Theatre in L.A., which would give Netflix two theaters in prime locations for awards season. Maybe we’ll always have Paris Theatre after all.
I’ve heard from many a festival-goer that it’s possible to work through the entire New York Film Festival lineup – or at least its premier section, the Main Slate – given how the event spreads out manageably over the course of seventeen days all at Lincoln Center. But with schedule conflicts or lack of interest in certain titles, it’s a feat seldom seen or accomplished. Or, maybe given how gluttonous I feel after having done this myself, people choose not to brag about it if they do manage to pull it off.
While battling fatigue as well as exhaustion, plus countless instances of doubting if this was something I actually wanted to do, I managed to see all 29 films programmed in this year’s NYFF Main Slate. If you’re the ranking type, I did just that over on Letterboxd. I learned plenty about myself and some masochistic moviegoing habits after subjecting myself to this marathon of viewing contemporary cinema, but that’s a subject for another piece. It’s impossible to watch this incredible selection of films from across the globe and not have some larger takeaways about trends, patterns and parallels. Here are ten lessons from surveying the Main Slate in its entirety.
1. Language Fails
Across a number of films at NYFF, characters must turn to non-traditional forms of communication when societal forces render them unable to use spoken or written language. I won’t reveal the purpose of characters using Morse code in Parasite, as that does enter spoiler territory. Yet this binary method of communication, simple to transmit yet cumbersome to decode, proves an effective means for Bong Joon-ho to convey the status of those forgotten or hidden from the Korean upper class. Director Céline Sciamma, too, shows how the two female lovers in Portrait of a Lady on Fire must find ways to communicate their passion for each other in a society that does not allow them to express it openly.
But the most obvious example of this occurs in Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Whistlers, in which a police officer learns a secret whistling language to evade surveillance as he tries to acquire a mobster’s hidden bounty. Is all this inability to count on traditional forms of language a reflection of our post-truth moment? An indication that our current communication styles cannot adequately convey all the meaning we need? Is this reason to panic or hope? More on this in an interview I recorded with Porumboiu at the festival, which will drop in February 2020…
2. Ex-Pats, Immigrants, and Tourists Provide Fascinating Societal Portraits
There was no performance at NYFF quite like Tom Mercier making his debut, no less in Synonyms as former Israeli soldier Yoav, who has expatriated and is trying to deprogram himself in France. He quickly finds his adopted country has issues of its own, a revelation made possible due in large part to how detached from his own body Mercier feels. Synonyms feels almost like a movie where an alien drops in to visit France, akin to Under the Skin. It’s riveting, and just one of many films in the Main Slate that used outsiders’ perspective to give audiences a fascinating glimpse into a society’s inner workings.
Or, in the case of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s To the Ends of the Earth, centering on a Japanese news anchor on assignment in far-off Uzbekistan, an outsider protagonist gets in touch with her inner self in strange surroundings. Elsewhere, Mati Diop’s Atlantics and Bertrand Bonello’s Zombi Child both conjure up the supernatural in order to highlight the persistent legacies of capitalist and colonialist exploitation, respectively. Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow, meanwhile, frames much of its view of early America through the viewpoint of Chinese immigrant King Lu Orion Lee and thus exposes many early biases being built into the country’s business framework.
3. Liberal Societies Are, Per Usual, Not Living Up to Their Values
Everywhere you looked at NYFF, there was a liberal democracy falling down on the job. Perhaps it was Belgium, where the Dardennes’ Young Ahmed showed how extremist religion could still corrupt youth in a tolerant society. Or maybe it was Zombi Child, in which the legacy of French colonialism as practiced in Haiti comes home to roost – only to find many of the same attitudes still in place. In Brazilian film Bacurau, directors Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles imagine a post-Bolsonaro country that might not be as far off as people think: attempting to quash the resistance of small-town rural dwellers by bringing in foreign mercenaries to literally wipe them off the map.
Two other films tweaked existing literary works to shine a light on their county’s shortcomings. Pietro Marcello’s adaptation of Martin Eden moves the action of Jack London’s novel to Italy, where the titular character rails against established capitalistic corruption. And back in the United States, Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn also twists a novel’s setting to find new life, but in time rather than place. In 1950s New York City, he finds an appropriate backdrop to show how democracies sell out to the highest bidder and hoodwink the public into cheering on their corruption.
4. The Working Class is Restless and Not Going to Take It Anymore
We’ve come a long way since “inequality” was a flashy buzz word used by President Obama in 2013 when he called it the defining challenge of our time. It’s now a part of the everyday discussion of economics, and much of the Main Slate reflected the anger this awareness of inequality has sparked. Bacurau, Parasite, and Atlantics each crystallized the frustration felt by a class of people who has been overlooked, ignored, and exploited. In all three films, the tension spills over into startling and sometimes cathartic violence, suggesting business as usual will no longer cut it. If nothing else, it’s instructive to observe how conflicts that appeared to be merely simmering a few years ago have now reached a full boil.
5. Genre Gets a Warm Embrace
While NYFF did relegate the Golden Lion-winning Joker to a “special screening,” plenty of other films with heavy genre elements received the warm embrace of a Main Slate spot. It’s tough to call any of the films pure “genre films” because each filmmaker took some kind of unique angle on established conventions. Be it Martin Scorsese injecting somber, reflective mortality into the gangster film with The Irishman or Filho/Dornelles supercharging the Western in Bacurau by contemporizing the invasion of a small town by outsiders, directors consciously toyed with existing filmic iconography in riveting fashion. Other great examples in the Main Slate included Corneliu Porumboiu’s droll take on the spy thriller with The Whistlers and Edward Norton’s politically urgent noir update in Motherless Brooklyn. Elsewhere, Mati Diop deploys ghosts in Atlantics and Bertrand Bonello raises zombies in Zombi Child.
I’m not exactly holding my breath for NYFF to start programming midnight-style pulpy genre films. However, this year’s Main Slate crop proves they might not have to do that in order to pack a similar sensation into their lineup. Global filmmakers are grappling with the legacy of the many images and storylines that precede their work, which represents cause for excitement and intrigue.
Continue Reading 10 Lessons Learned From NYFF 2019 >>
Netflix has announced six initial theaters in New York and Los Angeles that will show Noah Baumbach’s acclaimed “Marriage Story,” which opens November 6 before moving into more locations November 15. That’s a month ahead of its streaming debut on December 6 worldwide.
Among the November 6 locations is the venerable single-screen Paris, a Manhattan institution for seven decades that recently closed with an expected transition into retail or similar use. Sources also say that Netflix is in negotiations to become a long-term tenant at the Paris, which would give it a home base for New York screenings of its most venerable projects. Similarly, Netflix remains in negotiations to acquire the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles.
For now, Netflix’s choice to utilize the Paris is a creative solution that helps address its lack access to mainstream theaters while also working with a brand that long served as a first-rate show palace: It only showed upscale, specialized films aimed at Manhattan’s upper middle class.
It’s unclear who will operate the theater in terms of staffing and oversight for the “Marriage Story” booking; it was most recently operated by City Cinemas, whose other locations include the downtown Angelika.
The Paris Theatre, New York City
On November 6, “Marriage Story” also will play in New York at the Landmark 57th West, the IFC Center, and the Nitehawk Prospect Park in Brooklyn. In Los Angeles, it will open at The Landmark and the Vista. Additional theaters will open November 15 across the country and around the world.
Exhibition access remains a major challenge for Netflix, but with “Marriage Story” at The Paris joining “The Irishman” at Belasco Theatre in the Broadway district as well as the Egyptian, the streamer appears to be working to make up the difference with prestige locations. With the country’s largest chains refusing to book Netflix titles because they don’t conform to exhibitors’ minimum theatrical windows, moviegoers nationwide may have a difficult time finding locations to see these films. In the meantime, Netflix is ensuring these get prime placement on both coasts.
Apart from the Belasco and the Egyptian, “The Irishman” opens November 1 in New York at the IFC Center and the Landmark 57th West, and in Los Angeles also at the Village in Westwood the single-screen theater featured in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, all per theater websites, before expanding. It debuts on Netflix November 27. For
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