The 60th New York Film Festival – The Brooklyn Rail

Who’s Afraid of Nicole Kidman? Maybe your retinas are burning from the lights bouncing off this sparkly jumpsuit. A stylus barely splashes in the puddle, and a shiver runs through your body as you anticipate the opening of Kidman’s canned monologue, “We Come to This Place for the Magic” – a pre-movie ad in warm fuzzy garments of orchestrated sheepskin serving seat filler at one of the thousand or so AMC theaters near you. Fortunately, the Lincoln Center screenings for the 60th New York Film Festival (NYFF) were not accompanied by such introductions. That’s not to say I didn’t have my own sparkly costume moment (albeit in combat boots) as I approached Lincoln Center’s multi-block arts complex, climbing the steep stairway to a balcony. overlooking the landscaping and architecture that come together in the form of a Cubist masterpiece, then settling into a seat in the Walter Reade Theater amid the anticipatory murmurs of the crowd. Don’t get me wrong: I’m here to write this because I’ve spent my whole life buying the very magic of movies that I’m kinda sick of AMC selling me. What else do we go to the cinema for?

On the momentous occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of a legendary festival, it’s hard not to reflect on history. At the dawn of cinema, when the public sat down for the Lumière brothers Arrival of a train in La Ciotat, legend has it that people panicked and rushed to leave the theater at the sight of a train hurtling towards the camera. In 1896, the new technology might have looked like sorcery, but at the exact moment the locomotive rushed towards the screen, it was probably mostly scary. On the other hand, this story may not be true at all, which film scholar Martin Loiperdinger calls “The founding myth of cinema.” Whether it’s to feel fear or to expose yourself to something new or to become a part of a bigger story, movies have the ability to challenge the boundaries of our worlds. This experience is not always magical. Nor should it be.

by Kelly Reichardt To show up (2022) is an insistence not– magic movie. And yet, it haunted me for days after seeing it. To show up follows Lizzy (Michelle Williams), a sculptor who prepares for an upcoming gallery exhibition while dealing with family tensions, balancing a day job and her artistic career, mediating an ongoing fight with her friend/landlord and treating an injured bird. This quiet day-in-the-life film captures an insular world whose pains, passions and stitches of humor are familiar to anyone in the arts, even if it’s not your art or business. an exact experience of the world of art. While Michelle Williams delivers a thoroughly immersed and compelling performance, the Oscar should really go to Ricky the cat (which may or may not have something to do with the injured bird that distracts Lizzy from her art).

Reichardt’s attention to the artistic process and his focus on the work give To show up some serious ASMR vibes. The opening credits roll to lingering shots of Lizzy’s paintings that mesmerize. At other times, the film is so observational, even separated from its characters, that it feels more like a prayer to the little moments that inspire our art. We don’t see Lizzy and her friend searching for their convalescent bird near the end, we just see shots of upward gazes devoid of people or subjects.

Art and artistic creation are both sources of humor (the intense focus that artists give to works that sometimes seem silly or incomprehensible) and of reverence (everyone is faithful to their own artistic vocation). During Lizzy’s exhibition, the camera focuses on the painfully emotional faces of her sculptures. Previously, when removing the sculptures from the kiln, one came out partially burnt, and the film gives us room to deeply feel this little tragedy.

So much could have happened or fallen apart in this movie, but it didn’t. In a way, it’s more fair to the story than any complex plot maneuvering could have been. Reichardt revels in the careful crafting of relationships: competitive jealousy among friends, a mentally ill brother Lizzy needs as much as he seems to need her. Nothing is going to change these characters or their lives. This commitment to the reality of the conflicts we all face and never resolve on a daily basis might be heartbreakingly sad, but subtle, deadpan humor forms a gentle satire in To show up that reminds us to pause and soak up those little moments and details.

Now take the next left between Artistic Realism Street and Historical Drama Lane. At a NYFF press conference for Until (2022), producer Whoopi Goldberg said a lot of people are “afraid of this movie,” but maybe that’s exactly why you should go see it. Directed by Chinonye Chukwu and starring Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till-Mobley, this film follows the true story of Emmett Till’s lynching in 1955 and his mother’s grief and eventual role in rights activism. civics. Echoing the issues of current racial violence, this film is frightening and acts as a call to fight for justice.

Although focused on the consequences of a specific event in Grandma’s life, Until largely falls into the biopic genre, which when done artfully can be an epic adventure in character study, but can often fall flat. The pitfalls of the biopic are numerous: too educational, characters who feel sanitized in order to teach a history lesson or support a cause. Whereas Until does not always escape these gender issues, he seems aware of it and certain choices in the film make it a particularly interesting example of the biopic.

Chukwu remains hyper-focused on Grandma and her emotional development, and she avoids showing unnecessary violence on black bodies. We never see Emmett’s murder. By showing no violence, the story unfolds on Grandma’s terms: we see Emmett’s body when Grandma wants the audience to see Emmett’s body. And during the trial, when Grandma recounts how she recognized Emmett’s mutilated body, the camera never leaves her face for the duration of a powerful and impassioned monologue from Deadwyler.

While the way the script and the camera allow Granny to tell this story to the agency, the slow opening disrupts the momentum of the film and its main focus. The focus on Emmett’s sweetness, loving mother-son relationship, and family’s stately social status feels overly sentimental in a way that undermines Grandma’s agency by portraying a controlled picture of her life when the The film’s inherent tragedy is enough to speak for itself. . On the other hand, the bright colors, indulgent fifties costumes, and vibrant decor are also reminiscent of melodramas of the decade, a genre that might seem superficial on the surface but often served as a tool for critiquing social ills.

And now we’ll veer to Comedy Cul-de-Sac where the harsh reality of Ruben Östlund’s social critique in triangle of sadness (2022) makes it an absurd satire that manages to avoid the absurd. An ensemble cast, the tale primarily follows Carl (Harris Dickinson), a model hopelessly in love with Yaya (Charlbi Dean Kriek), a self-proclaimed “manipulative” person and also a model. The two attend exclusive fashion shows, dine at opulent restaurants, and experience the perks of Yaya’s influencer lifestyle, like a free luxury cruise on a yacht captained by alcoholic and self-proclaimed failed socialist Woody Harrelson. On the yacht, we meet a ragtag one-percent international crew and witness the various ways they torture each other and staff as they indulge in the ultimate in luxury. That is until the yacht is attacked by pirates while Harrelson embraces leftist ideology over loudspeaker. Stranded on an island, the few remaining survivors, including Carl and Yaya, recreate a society under a new order that privileges those who work over those who don’t.

The film could essentially be summed up as a scene in which a helicopter throws a small floating suitcase of supplies into the sea near the yacht. Fished out of the water and brought back to the kitchen, we learn that the suitcase contains a few jars of Nutella.

Amusing and full of biting observations, the film manages to be over the top (a lady insisting that the whole crew stop working and go swimming because guests and staff are all equal, or the stormy scene during which the whole yacht becomes a vomitorium and culminates in an erupting chocolate fountain situation in one of the restrooms). At the same time, the humor is subtle and never strays too far from what must be some people’s posh reality. Anyone who’s ever worked in the service industry knows these personalities and knows that their outlandish demands aren’t far from the truth.

triangle of sadness is ultimately a distant story, avoiding too much investment or sympathy for any of the characters or their values. While it has its humorous moments, this distance leaves us with the uncanny feeling that we’re laughing haughtily at others or actually laughing at ourselves. Its slow pace disrupts the comedic timing, and I’m not convinced the film lives up to the intricacy of social criticism suggested by its premise. Ending with a rock of a question mark, it never quite answers any of the questions it asks and doesn’t solve any of the problems it gloried in for its two-and-a-half-hour battery life.

Each of the endings of these films eludes expectations. It’s not clear where To show up unfolds throughout the film, and the ending seems either resigned or accepting of his character’s circumstances. Chukwu explained that she was thinking about Until as a love story and wanted to end the film with love – not the approach usually taken with this type of film. Whereas Until rightfully leaves us with the feeling that this film has no conclusion because there is still a lot of work to do, To show up and triangle of sadness forces us to recognize all that is insoluble in our lives. Above all, these films ask us to observe, to think, to meditate. So, this Friday night, leave the magic at home and go see a movie that makes you a little uncomfortable.

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