The directors in this lineup are a notable bunch, including Catherine Breillat, J.C. Chandor, Joel & Ethan Coen, Richard Curtis, Claire Denis, Arnaud Desplechin, Ralph Fiennes, James Franco, James Gray, Jim Jarmusch, Claude Lanzmann, Alexander Payne, Hong Sang-soo, Frederick Wiseman and Jia Zhangke.
NYFF’s Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair, Kent Jones said: “Cinema is a vast terrain with a complex ecology, encompassing a mindbending array of species and habitats – there are multiple approaches to the question ‘What is a movie,’ from the industrial to the hand-made, from the carefully written to the poetically assembled. I love the level of diversity in the main slate selections, which includes documentaries, biographies, comedies, adventures, epics, chamber pieces, elegies, explorations and affirmations. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.”
American and British comedies are strong in this year’s lineup, including Richard Curtis’s “About Time,” a romantic comedy about a family whose men have the ability to time travel, starring Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams, and Declan Lowney’s “Alan Partridge,” a popular television character in England created by Steve Coogan, which will be on the big screen for the first time.
I’m very excited about Roger Michell’s “Le Week-End,” featuring Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as a couple visiting Paris with hopes of rekindling their relationship; Michell directed two of my all time favorite films, “The Mother” starring Anne Reid and Daniel Craig, and “Venus,” which earned Peter O’Toole his last Oscar nomination. He also directed the popular Hugh Grant-Julia Roberts comedy “Notting Hill” in 1999.
Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” about “a father and son (Bruce Dern and Will Forte) on a road trip to pick up a million dollar prize that may or may not await them” is already receiving Oscar buzz, especially for Dern’s performance. Payne received an Oscar in 2011 for best screenplay for “The Descendants,” which also brought him nominations for best directing and best motion picture.
Another movie getting lots of buzz is the melancholic “Inside Llewyn Davis,” directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, about a 1960’s folkie (Oscar Isaac) who never made it to the big time. The film also stars Adam Driver and Justin Timberlake, and received rave reviews at Cannes, where critics singled out Isaac’s performance and the film’s music. Check out the trailer for “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
To coincide with the festival screening, there will be a one-night-only concert at Town Hall on Sept. 29 presented by Joel and Ethan Coen and T Bone Burnett entitled, “Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis.’”
Previously announced were the centerpiece and closing night selections of Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and Spike Jonze’s “Her.” Opening night is the hot ticket of “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass.
Last year the festival had an impressive lineup of documentaries, and this year promises to be just as fascinating.
From the NYFF release: “Documentary filmmaking legends Claude Lanzmann and Frederick Wiseman each make their third appearances in NYFF’s main slate. Lanzmann returns with “The Last of the Unjust,” a portrait of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Theresienstadt, once despised by many of its surviving inhabitants. Wiseman turns his camera toward the University of California, Berkeley, with his latest film, “At Berkeley.”
Rose Kuo, Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, said, “The Film Society’s commitment to presenting the significant films of the year each fall at the New York Film Festival continues with our latest edition. This year we welcome a record number of over a dozen returning veterans along with a number of new voices. It has been an interesting year for cinema with spirited discussions already underway about some of the films in our curated main slate selections. I’m sure that New York audiences will be excited, maybe sometimes even provoked, but hopefully also inspired by this year’s new work.”
The 51st New York Film Festival Main-Slate
Opening Night Gala Selection
Director: Paul Greengrass
Centerpiece Gala Selection
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
Director: Ben Stiller
Closing Night Gala Selection
Director: Spike Jonze
51st NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
ABOUT TIME (2013) 123min
Director: Richard Curtis
Richard 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. A Universal Pictures release.
ABUSE OF WEAKNESS (Abus de Faiblesse) (2013) 105min
Director: Catherine Breillat
Catherine Breillat’s haunting film about her 2004 stroke and subsequent self-destructive relationship with star swindler Christophe Rocancourt, starring Isabelle Huppert.
ALAN PARTRIDGE (2013) 90min
Director: Declan Lowney
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.
ALL IS LOST (2013) 107min
Director: J.C. Chandor
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. A Roadside Attractions release.
AMERICAN PROMISE (2013) 135min
Directors: Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson
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.
AT BERKELEY (2013) 244min
Director: Frederick Wiseman
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.
BASTARDS (Les Salauds) (2013) 100min
Director: Claire Denis
Claire 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.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (La Vie d’Adèle) (2013) 179min
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
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. A Sundance Selects release.
Please be advised that this film has scenes of a sexually explicit nature.
BURNING BUSH (Hořicí Keř) (2013) 234min
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Country: Czech Republic
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.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013) 143min
Director: Paul Greengrass
Paul 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. A Sony Pictures release.
CHILD OF GOD (2013) 104min
Director: James Franco
James 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.
GLORIA (2013) 110min
Director: Sebastián Lelio
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.
Director: Spike Jonze
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. A Warner Bros. Pictures release.
THE IMMIGRANT (2013) 120min
Director: James Gray
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). A Radius-TWC release.
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2013) 105min
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Joel and Ethan Coen’s 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. A CBS Films release.
THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (2013) 111min
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Ralph 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. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.
JEALOUSY (La Jalousie) (2013) 77min
Director: Philippe Garrel
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.
JIMMY P: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN (2013) 114min
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
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.
THE LAST OF THE UNJUST (Le Dernier des injustes) (2013) 218min
Director: Claude Lanzmann
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.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (Soshite Chichi ni Naru) (2013) 120min
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
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. A Sundance Selects release.
THE MISSING PICTURE (L’image manquante) (2013) 92min
Director: Rithy Panh
Filmmaker Rithy 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. A Strand release.
MY NAME IS HMMM… (Je m’appelle Hmmm…) (2013) 121min
Director: agnès B
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.
NEBRASKA (2013) 115min
Director: Alexander Payne
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. A Paramount Pictures release.
NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON (Nugu-ui ttal-do anin Haewon) (2013) 90min
Director: Hong Sang-soo
Country: South Korea
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 from South Korean master Hong Sang-soo.
NORTH, THE END OF HISTORY (Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan) (2013) 250min
Director: Lav Diaz
Filipino director Lav 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.
OMAR (2013) 96min
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Country: Palestinian Territories
A tense, gripping, ticking clock thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories, from Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now).
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2013) 123min
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Jim 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. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (2013)
Director: Ben Stiller
Ben 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. A Twentieth Century Fox release.
THE SQUARE (2013) 104min
Director: Jehane Noujaim
Jehane 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.
STRANGER BY THE LAKE (L’Inconnu du lac) (2013) 97min
Director: Alain Guiraudie
Alain 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. A Strand release.
Please be advised that this film has scenes of a sexually explicit nature.
STRAY DOGS (Jiao You) (2013) 138min
Director: Tsai Ming-liang
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.
A TOUCH OF SIN (Tian Zhu Ding) (2013) 133min
Director: Jia Zhangke
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. A Kino Lorber release.
LE WEEK-END (2013) 93min
Director: Roger Michell
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. A Music Box Films release.
WHEN EVENING FALLS ON BUCHAREST OR METABOLISM (2013) 89min
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
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.
THE WIND RISES (Kaze Tachinu) (2013) 126min
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
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.