52nd New York Film Festival Lines up Top Directors and Innovative Films for Opening, Closing, and Centerpiece Nights
By: Ellis Nassour
The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 52nd New York Film Festival, September 26 – October 12, promises to be one of the most exciting and innovative in years. The announcement of the star attractions has caused huge buzz. The 17-day event, one of the world’s most prestigious, showcases the best of international cinema, presenting revivals, retrospectives, celebrity appearances, and special programming events at the Society’s Lincoln Center theatres.
David Fincher’s Gone Girl [20th Century Fox/New Regency], based on Gillian Flynn’s global best seller with the screenplay by Ms. Flynn, starring Oscar winner Ben Affleck and Tony winner Neil Patrick Harris will have its world premiere Opening Night at Alice Tully Hall. Tyler Perry and Rosamund Pike co-star. The book is an intensely compressed portrait of a recession-era marriage contained within a devastating depiction of celebrity and media culture that’s constantly shifting gears. Gone Girl marks Fincher’s return to the NYFF for the first time since The Social Network, the 2010 Opening Night selection. It’s due in theatres October 3.
NYFF director and selection committee chair, Kent Jones says, "Gone Girl is so many things at once: sharp as a razor about many aspects of American life that have been untouched by movies, very tough, very funny, brilliantly acted, and 100% entertaining. It’s a riveting wild ride from start to finish – in short, a great American movie based on a literary phenomenon, directed by one of our best filmmakers."
Affleck is Nick Dunne, whose wife Amy (Pike) goes missing on their fifth anniversary. Harris is Amy’s old boyfriend Desi; Tony-nominee Carrie Coon (Honey in the recent Steppenwolf/Pam MacKinnon acclaimed revival of Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) is Nick’s sister Margo; Kim Dickens (Treme, Friday Night Lights) is Detective Rhonda Boney, and producer/director/actor Tyler Perry is Nick’s superstar lawyer Tanner Bolt.
Jones boasts, "It’s at once a grand panoramic vision of Middle America, a uniquely disturbing exploration of the fault lines in a marriage, and a comedy that starts pitch black and only gets blacker. Gone Girl is a great work of popular art by a great artist."
Selected for the equally prestigious Closing Night is Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance [Fox Searchlight/ Regency], a much buzzed-about black comedy which marks the director’s third time at the Festival [Perros (2000); 21 Grams (2003)]. Starring are Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, and Andrea Riseborough. The film opens theatrically October 17.
"Birdman‘s a knockout," informs Jones. "It’s consistently surprising and inventive, alternately hilarious and terrifying – going in one direction, then shifts gears into the totally unexpected. It’s powered by a deep love of acting and theater. Keaton is astonishing. Here, he gets the role he deserves, and makes the most of it.
Keaton’s character, in an effort to be taken seriously as an artist, stages his adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, while coping with resentful daughter Stone; scene-hogging narcissist (Norton), vulnerable actress (Watts), unhinged girlfriend (Riseborough), manager who’s about to come undone (Galifianikis), and the inner demon of the superhero that made him famous, Birdman.
The Festival’s Centerpiece will be the world premiere of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice [Warner Bros.], based on Thomas Pynchon’s novel. Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon and Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, and newcomer Katherine Waterston star. This marks Anderson’s third Festival film, preceded by Boogie Nights (1997) and Punch-Drunk Love (2002). It opens theatrically beginning December 12.
"Every Anderson movie is an event, an experience," notes Jones. "You feel like you’ve been somewhere, and come back with your mind altered. Inherent Vice is a journey through the past, bringing the texture of early 70s Southern California counterculture back to life. It’s wildly funny, deeply soulful, richly detailed, and altogether stunning."
The 52nd NYFF also marks the return to newly-renovated/reopened Tavern on the Green, a longtime destination for the Fest’s Opening Night gala.
NYFF previously announced there’ll be a retrospective salute to eight-time Oscar nominated and four-time Oscar winning producer/director/writer Joseph L. Mankiewicz (A Letter to Three Wives, All About Eve, The Barefoot Contessa, and co-writer/director of the screen adaptation of Guys and Dolls and Cleopatra), as well as a premiere screening of the restored Alain Resnais French New Wave classic Hiroshima Mon Amour, and a revival screening of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America.
Tickets for the 52nd NYFF go on sale to the general public at noon on Sunday, September 7. Becoming a Film Society member before July 31 provides pre-sale access for single tickets to screenings and events. A number of subscription, all-inclusive, and VIP Pass subscriptions are on sale through July 31. Visit www.filmlinc.com/NYFF. For information on joining FSLC, go to www.filmlinc.com/membership.