This morning the 54th New York Film Festival (9.30 to 10.16) announced a special world premiere screening of Ang Lee‘s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (TriStar, 11.1) on Friday, 10.14. Not at Avery Fisher Hall, mind, but at the AMC Lincoln Square, where the film will be projected with portions shown at 120 frames-per-second. The tech aspect alone has me all hopped up.
As I understand it Billy Lynn Pic is more or less an Iraq War Catch 22 with a little Flags of Our Fathers thrown in. Essentially a piece about projected fantasy and nationalistic delusion vs. the reality of warfare. Don’t we already know about all this? That families and communities can’t hope to understand what it’s like to be “in the shit,” and that they often express respect and thankfulness with overblown patriotic pageants and whatnot? Didn’t Clint Eastwood cover this through and through ten years ago?
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk astonished me, and it moved me deeply in the grandest way,” said NYFF honcho Kent Jones in a release. “[It’s] a story of America in the years after the invasion of Iraq, and on the most intimate person-to-person wavelength. Ang Lee has always gone deep into the nuances of the emotions between his characters, and that’s exactly what drove him to push cinema technology to new levels. It’s all about the faces, the smallest emotional shifts. In every way, Billy Lynn is the work of a master.”
I’ve asked the TriStar guys if they intend to screen Billy Lynn simultaneously for Los Angeles based critics and columnists, or not. I sure would hate to shell out $1200 or more just to catch an award season film a bit early, but sometimes you have to do that. It would be quite the thing to see it there. I coughed up to see Saving Mr. Banks in London a couple of years ago — quite the eccentric move, looking back.
Billy Lynn costars Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel and Steve Martin. I’ll tell you right now I don’t like Alwyn — I don’t like those puffy eyes, that inexpressive face, that stunned expression.
Boilerplate: “Ben Fountain’s novel is the story of an Iraq war hero (Alwyn) who comes home with his fellow members of Bravo Company for a victory tour. This culminates in a halftime show at a Thanksgiving Day football game — a high-intensity media extravaganza summoning memories of the trauma of losing his beloved sergeant in a firefight. Lee’s brave, heartbreaking film goes right to the heart of a great division that haunts this country: between the ideal image of things as they should be and the ongoing reality of things as they are.