Pedro Almodóvar, who will be honored in an exclusive evening entitled VIVA PEDRO!
Photo courtesy of The Film Society of Lincoln Center
The 42nd New York Film Festival
NEW YORK • Walter Reade Theater • Ongoing
|A selection of 25 features and 9 short films from around the world. In all, some 21 countries are represented in this year’s annual 17-day showcase of world cinema, from Sweden to Senegal, Egypt to Argentina, Israel to Thailand, Lebanon to Brazil. All the feature films in the Festival are U.S. premieres. At press time, among the stars expected to attend the Festival are Gael García Bernal, Ellen Barkin, Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Ivy Ling Bo, Virginia Madsen, Imelda Staunton, Sandra Oh, and Zhang Ziyi, as well as many of the directors whose films have been chosen. The Festival also presents several special events, including a tribute to Pedro Almodóvar and conversations with Agnès Jaoui and Mike Leigh.|
The Opening Night film is Agnès Jaoui’s LOOK AT ME. With her first film, the Oscar-nominated The Taste of Others, filmmaker-actress Jaoui and her writing partner-lead actor Jean-Pierre Bacri gave us a deliciously bittersweet ensemble comedy. Jaoui becomes a world-class director with this witty, visually accomplished comedy that was a triumph at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The script (Best Screenplay at Cannes) shows us a bunch of pushy, ruthless Parisians. The women are unhappy with their looks while the men are looking for something on the side. When not intent on seduction, these artistic careerists specialize in elegantly humiliating and one-upping each other. Bacri plays a novelist-turned-publisher, a tyrant of egotistical self-regard, who has little use for his homely daughter with an angelic voice; Jaoui is the daughter's celebrity-smitten singing coach. The surprise is how much tenderness Jaoui manages to elicit for her neurotic, self-absorbed characters. She demonstrates beautifully, as Jean Renoir put it, that "Everyone has his reasons."
The Festival Centerpiece is Pedro Almodóvar’s BAD EDUCATION. Only now, at the peak of his artistic powers and with two Oscars to his name, has Pedro Almodóvar felt ready to exorcise the demons of his troubled Catholic boyhood. The creator of Talk to Her and All About My Mother has designed a ravishing, labyrinthine narrative that centers on the reunion of two school friends, one a film director, the other an aspiring screenwriter (Y Tu Mamá También’s fast-rising star Gael García Bernal), who become intertwined in memories of Catholic education, multiple identities, sexual dualities, and, above all, a passion for film. Photographed by José Luis Alcaine, this complex film pays tribute to such familiar archetypes as the femme fatale and the enfant terrible.
Closing Night is Alexander Payne’s SIDEWAYS. From the glittering high school satire of Election to the poignant tale of a retired insurance executive in About Schmidt (NYFF Opening Night, 2002), director Alexander Payne (aided by co-writer Jim Taylor) has established himself as a comic chronicler of ordinary American lives. Here, Payne takes the oldest of Hollywood formulas— the buddy picture— and elevates it to an hilarious and insightful portrait of the seemingly clueless male psyche. Paul Giamatti plays the tormented Miles, a failed novelist and wine snob— he’ll kill you if you order merlot— who takes his vain, hedonistic actor friend (Thomas Haden Church in a breakthrough performance) on a tour of California’s wine country. Soon they’re awash in wine, whining, and amorous exploits with Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center Web Site
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