Have you had your fill of sharks, monsters, explosions, and stunts? Then get ready for lyricism, subtitles, quiet profundity, and lots of artsy-fartsy flourishes. Time to wean yourself off of the big, dumb, and fun, and get a handle on the movies that are lighting up the prestigious foreign film festival circuit. Why? Because to everything on earth, there is a season.
This week, we’re taking a look at some of the most exciting offerings at this year’s New York Film Festival. Many have already made a big splash at Cannes or TIFF, some, like the new Coen Brothers episodic offering, don’t yet have trailers, and some, like Wildlife, If Beale Street Could Talk, and The Favourite, have already been through the ol’ trailer park. But these four titles in particular from the NYFF’s main slate are making us stand up and take note:
Oh hello, Steven Yeun! From AMC’s The Walking Dead to Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, we like this guy’s energy, and he’s taking it in a different direction here, complete with a very scary little laugh. If the trailer doesn’t quite add up, there’s a good reason for that: Burning is based on the work of celebrated Japanese surrealist author Haruki Murakami. Yum, we love a little magical realism in our psychological thrillers! Director Lee Chang-dong is hailed as a hero of the Korean New Wave and was actually his country’s minister of culture at one point in time. Due to political machinations outside of his control, this is his first feature in eight years. You won’t want to miss it.
Paweł Pawlikowski, whose luminous Ida won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2013, is back in black (and white), and wow is it gorgeous. His lens is still on his childhood home of Poland, and this time, he’s epically chronicling a star-crossed, Iron Curtain-era romance. The trailer invokes both Casablanca and Bresson and promises to deliver a date night worthy of impressing that cultured cutie you’ve been eyeing. Pair with espresso and witty café banter.
Hotel by the River
An aging poet, convinced of his impending death, summons his estranged sons to his side. A young woman, betrayed by her lover, calls for her friend. They all converge at this hotel on the shore, and then, there is a heavy snowstorm. Yeah, we weren’t kidding when we said the blockbuster season was DONE. Get into the quiet poetry of Fandor favorite Hong Sang-soo, whose bread and butter is the stuff of every day, given a loving frame.
Ray & Liz
Already drawing comparisons to the work of Andrea Arnold for its exquisite compositions and perfectly calibrated emotionality, Ray & Liz is the debut feature from Turner Prize-winning photographer Richard Billingham. It’s a look back at the artist’s childhood — his alcoholic father and his combative mother — that is bluntly bleak and beautiful in equal measure: Things (and children) lean (and sometimes fall) out of windows, dogs urinate indoors, and a kettle whistles incessantly, with tensions that rise to meet its wail. Rich 16mm celluloid enhances both the loving nostalgia and the banal domestic horror of it all.