With the 35 titles that the Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced today, the 51st New York Film Festival‘s Main Slate will be its biggest yet. With descriptions from the festival and occasional additional notes…
Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar. “A tense, gripping, ticking clock thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories, from Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now).” Reviews from Cannes.
agnès b’s My Name Is Hmmm… “In this deeply personal, incandescent first feature from designer agnès B, a young girl holding her family together and bearing the weight of sexual abuse runs away from home and enjoys a carefree idyll with a kindly Scottish trucker.”
Catherine Breillat’s Abuse of Weakness. “Breillat’s haunting film about her 2004 stroke and subsequent self-destructive relationship with star swindler Christophe Rocancourt, starring Isabelle Huppert.”
Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson’s American Promise. “Two Brooklyn filmmakers follow their son Idris and his friend Suen from their enrollment in the Dalton School as children through their high school graduations in this devastating, years-in-the-making documentary that takes a hard look at race and class in America.”
J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost. “Robert Redford as you’ve never seen him before, gives a near-wordless all-action performance as a lone sailor trying to keep his yacht afloat after a collision with a discarded shipping container in the middle of the Indian Ocean.” Reviews from Cannes.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis. This “picaresque, panoramic and wryly funny story of a singer/songwriter is set in the New York folk scene of the early 60s and features a terrific array of larger-than-life characters and a glorious score of folk standards.” Reviews from Cannes.
Richard Curtis’s About Time. “Curtis adds a touch of time-travel to this hilarious romantic comedy, a perfect vehicle for the comic talents of Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams, Lindsay Duncan, and emerging star Domhnall Gleeson.”
Claire Denis’s Bastards. “Denis’s jagged, daringly fragmented and deeply unsettling film inspired by recent French sex ring scandals is the rarest of cinematic narratives—a contemporary film noir, perfect in substance as well as style.” Reviews from Cannes.
Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian. “In Arnaud Desplechin’s intelligent and moving depiction of a successful ‘Talking Cure,’ the encounters between patient (Benicio del Toro) and therapist (Mathieu Amalric) are electric with discovery.” Reviews from Cannes.
Lav Diaz‘s North, The End of History. “Diaz’s twelfth feature—at four-plus hours, one of his shortest—is a careful rethinking of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, with a tortured anti-hero who is a haunting embodiment of the dead ends of ideology.” Reviews from Cannes.
Ralph Fiennes’s The Invisible Woman. “Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in this adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s revelatory 1992 biography, which brought the upright Victorian author’s secret 13-year affair with a young actress to light.”
James Franco’s Child of God. “Franco’s uncompromising excursion into American Gothic, adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s 1973 novel, about an unstable sociopath in early 60s rural Tennessee who descends into an animal-like state—not for the faint-hearted.”
Philippe Garrel’s Jealousy. “Another intimate, handcrafted work of poetic autobiographical cinema from French director Philippe Garrel, in which his son Louis and Anna Mouglalis star as actors and lovers trying to reconcile their professional and personal lives.”
James Gray’s The Immigrant. “In James Gray’s richly detailed period tragedy, set in a dusty, sepia-toned 1920s Manhattan, a young Polish immigrant (Marion Cotillard) is caught in a dangerous battle of wills with a shady burlesque manager (Joaquin Phoenix).” Reviews from Cannes.
Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips. “Greengrass has crafted an edge-of-your-seat thriller based on the true story of the seizure of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship in 2009 by four Somali pirates, with remarkable performances from Tom Hanks and four first-time actors, Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdirahman and Mahet M. Ali.”
Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake. “Guiraudie’s lethally precise, sexually explicit film, which unfolds entirely in the vicinity of a gay cruising ground, is both a no-holds-barred depiction of a hedonistic subculture and a perverse and unnerving tale of amour fou.” Reviews from Cannes.
Agnieszka Holland’s Burning Bush. “A passionately brilliant Czech mini-series from Agnieska Holland about the events that followed student Jan Palach’s public self-immolation in protest against the Soviet invasion after Prague Spring.”
Hong Sang-soo‘s Nobody’s Daughter Haewon. “A young student at loose ends after her mother moves to America tries to define herself one encounter and experience at a time, in reality and in dreams, in another deceptively simple chamber-piece.” Reviews from Berlin.
Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. “Jarmusch’s wry, tender and moving take on the vampire genre features Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as a centuries-old couple who watch time go by from separate continents as they reflect on the ever-changing world around them.” Reviews from Cannes.
Jia Zhangke‘s A Touch of Sin. “Jia Zhangke’s bloody, bitter new film builds a portrait of modern-day China in the midst of rapid and convulsive change through four overlapping stories of marginalized and oppressed citizens pushed to murderous rage.” Reviews from Cannes.
Spike Jonze’s Her. “In Spike Jonze’s magical, melancholy comedy of the near future, lonely Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his new all-purpose operating system (the voice of Scarlett Johansson), leading to romantic and existential complications.”
Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Color. “The sensation of this year’s Cannes Film Festival is an intimate – and sexually explicit – epic of emotional transformation, featuring two astonishing performances from Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux.” Reviews from Cannes.
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son. “Hirokazu Kore-eda’s sensitive drama takes a close look at two families’ radically different approaches to the horribly painful realization that the sons they have raised as their own were switched at birth.” Reviews from Cannes.
Claude Lanzmann’s The Last of the Unjust. “This moral and cinematic tour de force from the creator of Shoah will cause you to reconsider your understanding of Adolph Eichmann and of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Theresienstadt and the film’s central figure.” Reviews from Cannes.
Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria. “A wise, funny, liberating movie from Chile, about a middle-aged woman who finds romance but whose new partner finds it painfully difficult to abandon his old habits.”
Declan Lowney’s Alan Partridge. “In the long-awaited big-screen debut of Steve Coogan’s singular comic creation, the vain and obliviously tactless Alan Partridge must serve as an intermediary when North Norfolk Digital is seized at gunpoint by a down-sized DJ.”
Roger Michell’s Le Week-End. “A magically buoyant, bittersweet comedy drama about a middle-aged and middle class English couple who go to Paris for a weekend holiday, starring two of Britain’s national treasures, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan.”
Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises. “The great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s new film is based on the life of Jiro Hirokoshi, the man who designed the Zero fighter. An elliptical historical narrative, The Wind Rises is also a visionary cinematic poem about the fragility of humanity.” Reviews from Japan.
Jehane Noujaim’s The Square. “Noujaim’s tense, vivid verité portrait of events as they unfolded in Tahrir Square through Arab Spring and beyond, in a newly revised, up-to-the-minute version.”
Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture. “Panh’s brave new film revisits his memories of four years spent under the Khmer Rouge and the destruction of his family and his culture; without a single memento left behind, he creates his ‘missing images’ with narration and painstakingly executed dioramas.” Reviews from Cannes.
Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. “This masterful film from Alexander Payne, about a quiet old man (Bruce Dern) whose mild-mannered son (Will Forte) agrees to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to claim a non-existent prize, shades from the comic to multiple hues of melancholy and regret.” Reviews from Cannes.
Corneliu Porumboiu’s When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism. “A rigorously structured and fascinatingly oblique new film from Corneliu Porumboiu that examines the life of a film director during the moments on a shoot when the camera isn’t rolling.” Reviews from Locarno.
Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. “Stiller stars in and directs this sweet, globe-trotting (but New York-based) comic fable about an up-to-the-minute everyman, co-starring Kristen Wiig as the woman of his dreams, Sean Penn as a legendary photographer and Shirley MacLaine as Walter’s mother.”
Tsai Ming-liang’s Stray Dogs. “Tsai Ming-liang’s fable of a homeless family living the cruelest of existences on the ragged edges of the modern world is bracingly pure in its anger and its compassion, and as visually powerful as it is emotionally overwhelming.”
Frederick Wiseman’s At Berkeley. “Another masterfully constructed documentary from Frederick Wiseman, examining the University of California, Berkeley from multiple angles—the administrators, the students, the surrounding community—to arrive at a portrait that is as rich in detail as it is epic in scope.”
Update, 8/20: The FSLC’s Brian Brooks talks with the NYFF’s Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair, Kent Jones: “Yeah, there are 12 titles from Cannes. The reason is simple: that’s the film festival that everyone is aiming for.”