NYFF 2013: Five Must-See Films at the New York Film Festival
The 51st New York Film Festival begins on September 27th, and we’re excited to be right in the middle of the action! This festival is known for its quality independent features, but also serves as a platform for the launch of big-buzz studio movies that are sure to generate Oscar talk as well. In years past, the NYFF has premiered films such as The Social Network, Hugo, Lincoln, and Life of Pi, which combine the expansive budget and resources of a big studio picture with the sensibility and artistic merit usually found in a smaller release.We take a look at a few movies that we are excited to cover at NYFF 2013; these are the ones you’ve just got to see.
Starring acclaimed actors Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, the film adaptation of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is based on James Thurber’s 1939 short story of the same name. This film tells the story of Walter Mitty (Stiller), a mild-mannered photo editor at Life Magazine who lives out his heroic fantasies within his vivid imagination. When Walter loses an image entrusted to him by a famous photographer (Penn), he must embark on a real-world adventure to recover it, and finds a bit of his lost self along the way. Stiller not only plays the title character, but adapted and directs this piece as well, promising to bring a light comedic touch to this whimsical and enchanting story.
One of my favourite British actors, Steve Coogan, is at the helm of the film Alan Partridge, the big-screen debut of his own comic sensation of the same name. Fans of BBC series such as “The Day Today,” “Midmorning Matters,” and “Knowing Me Knowing You” are already familiar with the character of Alan (Coogan), and have eagerly been anticipating the translation of his characteristic dry humour into movie form since 1994. Now, the cynical and blundering Alan is forced to act as an intermediary between the staff of a radio station and the DJ who has taken them hostage. A wonderfully witty British comedy is sure to be the result.
Nebraska tells the story of Woody (Bruce Dern), an elderly man who has decided to walk to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he believes he has won a million dollar award. His kind son Dave (Will Forte) agrees to drive his aging father, and the result promises a new spin on the often-seen road-trip movie. Shot entirely in black-and-white, this is a complex film that appears to be very funny and simultaneously very moving. Nebraska promises to provide viewers with a plethora of emotional reactions, as is the goal of all great film: to make one feel.
Joaquin Phoenix is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after actors of our time; pair him with legendary director Spike Jonze, and a masterpiece is sure to be the result. Phoenix stars as Theodore, a socially awkward man who forms an unconventional friendship with the voice of his personalized computer operating system, Samantha (voice of Scarlett Johansson). Director Jonze creates a futuristic world dominated by technology that is uncomfortably close to our own, while actor Phoenix presents a sweet and sad individual who appears to be pining so desperately for love that he turns to the impossible. Her promises to generate cultural questions about our encroaching future amidst its emotion and heartbreak, and this closing night World premier is not to be missed.
Stray Dogs comes to the New York Film Festival all the way from Taiwan, and relays the story of several impoverished individuals living in this area. An unnamed father (Lee Kang-sheng) attempts to earn a living for his family while his children (Lu Yi-ching and Li Yi-cheng) amuse themselves at a local supermarket, befriending a woman who works there (Chen Shiang-chyi). It will be exciting to watch these two rising young actors as they perform their difficult roles in this raw film, as delicate nuance will be necessary to convey their emotions honestly. Director Tsai Ming-liang is known for his artistic cinematography, and if all combine successfully, the result will be a profound and tremendously important film that will relay a tragic way of life and have the potential to promote much-needed change.