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Weekend Reel Reads: Selections from the New York Film Festival Critics Academy

Photo of Steve Greene By Steve Greene | Criticwire October 14, 2012 at 2:26PM

Our eight academy members have produced some incredibly insightful work over the past two weeks. Some of the best of their writing is gathered here for your educational perusal.
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As the New York Film Festival reaches its conclusion, we present a special version of Weekend Reel Reads featuring work from the octet of cinephiles that made up this class of our Critics Academy. The reviews and pieces listed below appeared on both Criticwire and the Film Society of Lincoln Center blog. (Previous work from the individual writers can also be found here and here.)

Forrest Cardamenis:

Riding the Waves of Change: Christian Mungiu may not be the first or even the best filmmaker from the Romanian New Wave, but his recent "Beyond the Hills" adeptly encapsulate everything that the movement is trying to capture.

Love and Death in the Films of Michael Haneke: The signature visual touches of the Austrian master isn't the only parallel between his films; "Amour" is logical extension of the two characters who have been at the heart of all his original screenplays.

Alec Kubas-Meyer:

"Little Shop" Director's Cut Lets You Suddenly See More: The decidedly more cheery ending delivered by Frank Oz to theaters a quarter century ago is just one element of the film excised or changed to bring a more fulfilling story to the screen.

Caitlin Hughes:

Changing Times and Rolling Stones: "Charlie is My Darling" presents a crucial point in the career of the Rolling Stones, but when considered with "Gimme Shelter," it's a sobering reminder of how much a group (and a group of people) can transform over four short years.

Different Girls, Different Hair: "Frances Ha" and "Ginger and Rosa" present different complications to the idea that interpersonal relationships can, or should, endure for an indeterminate time.

Dancing in the Rain: Nicole Kidman's Femme Fatales: Separated by nearly two decades, the actress' roles in "To Die For" and "The Paperboy" seem drastically different at first glance, but actually occupy varying shades of the same character type.

Peter Labuza:

The Legacy of Raul Ruiz: As "Lines of Wellington" exists mainly as a film by the late Chilean director in conception only, Ruiz' swan song "Night Across the Street" captures everything that made his films simultaneously enjoyable, accessible and challenging.

"Heaven's Gate" and Film Maudit Culture: With changing dynamics of film-lovers' reactions to troubled film productions, the time may be ripe for a reevaluation of Michael Cimino's misunderstood classic.

Intruding on the History of Iranian Cinema: When confined spaces and the disruption of safe refuges become predominant themes in a piece of work, a corresponding visceral reaction seems only fitting.

Blair McClendon:

When a Lens is a Mirror: The festival's Cinema Reflected sidebar offers an intriguing place where documentary films, through their focus on filmmakers as subjects, are afforded the traditional attributes usually only bestowed upon "narrative" films.

The Extravagant Shadows: An examination of the avant-garde section of the festival and its importance to an eventual, broader audience.

Please Turn On Your Cell Phone: The Dark Side of Smartphones in New York Film Festival Movies: The sinister, rebellious nature of technological advancement doesn't have to wait for tales of the future. It's happening in modern-day narratives.

Small (Cinema)Scope: The Widescreen Imagery in 'Beyond the Hills': Through the use of a very deliberate symbol amidst dense, patient takes, Christian Mungiu forces the audience to contemplate what is being utilized (and the details offscreen). 

Max Nelson:

Youth and the Beast: Max's viewings of "Holy Motors" and "Something in the Air" prompted this personal meditation on the ramifications of absorbing a film about youth under festival conditions, no less.

The Belly of the Beast: Whether travelling onboard a fishing boat or through a government checkpoint, there's a certain level of profundity that comes from complete immersion in an environment, presented without motive.

Window Shopping Through Kiarostami and Dorsky: Whether through self-imposed cultural limitations or physical observational distance, both filmmakers embody the nature of an outsider, an observer inherently removed from the story.

Corey O'Connoll:

The American Dream Gone South: Even though the phrase has somewhat of a nebulous meaning, "Here and There" offers a portrait of shifting conceptions of what "the American dream" might mean for Mexican immigrants.

Love, Loss and Time Travel: Noémie Lvovsky’s "Camille Rewinds" uses "Peggy Sue Got Married" as a template for telling a story about experiencing love in different times, all without feeling like a direct remake.

An Inconceivable 'Princess Bride' Reunion at New York Film Festival: In a dream come true for a large number of cinephiles, cast and crew members from the beloved Rob Reiner film reunited for a special Q&A.

Fariha Roísín:

Love, War and Cinema: Another pair of filmmaker-centric docs ("Liv and Ingmar" and "The War of Volcanoes") attempt to infuse well-known public lives of industry titans with a humanizing touch.

When Living Means Leaving: Rather than resort to an easy portrayal of oppressed women, "Araf" and "Barbara" transcend the expected by adding the compelling layer of fierce loyalty to their respective, problematic societies.

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For complete list of Criticwire posts featuring work from the Academy members past and present, click here.

This article is related to: Reel Reads, Critics Academy


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