We’d already been told about the 52nd NY Film Festival highlights — David Fincher‘s Gone Girl to open, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Inherent Vice for the centerpiece and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Birdman to close. I knew that many if not most of the remaining selections would be…what is the phrase?…”tastefully curated” given the ivory-tower likings of the selection committee. And yet a portion of the 52nd NYFF slate seems a little…what, livelier? A little raunchier and more rabbit-holey? In years past the mission had been to show aesthetically correct “spinach” movies apart from the headliners and the odd perversities (like this year’s decision to screen David Cronenberg‘s Maps to the Stars, which I saw and quite admired in Cannes).
The basic brand hasn’t changed, of course. People still buy NYFF tickets so they can partake in or at least listen to that rarified 65th Street conversation. They want their nourishment fix from the “right” kind of filmmakers, which in many instances means watching films that have recently played in Cannes…you know what I mean. There are only so many slices in a pie in any given film year. I’m a fool for the NYFF myself. I’ve been attending since ’77. I love hanging outside Alice Tully Hall at dusk before a hot-ticket screening and chatting with the know-it-alls.
Before this morning’s announcement the only “could it possibly happen?” questions were (a) would David Ayer‘s Fury, recently spun by N.Y. Times reporter Michael Cieply as a possible Best Picture contender and now opening in mid-October (or just after the NYFF concludes), snag a last-minute slot, and (b) would Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi‘s The 50-Year Argument, a 97-minute doc about the N.Y. Review of Books, get some kind of peek-out screening prior to the 9.29 HBO debut?
The answer to both, for now, is apparently nix. The NYFF guys wanted to see Fury, I’m told, but it wasn’t ready in time. (Apparently Cieply was only shown portions of Ayer’s film.) Given the close relationship between Scorsese and NYFF director Kent Jones (they made the brilliant Letter to Elia together) I’d be surprised if it isn’t given some kind of surprise slot but…well, maybe not.
I’ll only be attending the festival for about eight days (9.25 to 10.3 or something like that) but if I was there the whole time and hadn’t covered Toronto I’d definitely want to see Bennett Miller‘s Foxcatcher (a top-tier, true-crime gloomhead flick about a couple of very creepy real-life guys), Oren Moverman‘s Time Out of Mind (Richard Gere as a suczzy, homeless, trash-sifting bum), Yann Demange‘s ’71 (first-rate thriller set in ’70s Belfast with a little touch of Odd Man Out, screened last February in Berlin), Nick Broomfield‘s Tales of the Grim Sleeper (real-life South Central serial murder case), Abel Ferrara‘s Pasolini (killed by a chickenhawk), Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash (everyone’s favorite at last January’s Sundance Film Festival), Abderrahmane Sissako‘s Timbuktu and Bertrand Bonello‘s Saint Laurent.
The rest of the choices represent my idea of spinach movies. You may have an entirely different view and that’s fine. Peruse at will and go to town, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.