in nyc | nyff weekend

by eug
October 1, 2007 6:06 AM
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The 72 hour period that began Thursday night and continued through Saturday evening was jam packed with terrific new movies, festive parties, and a couple of tasty meals mostly connected with the New York Film Festival. Its taken me until today to really catch my breath and grab some much needed rest.

Thursday night, apparent NYFF reject "Lust, Caution" debuted in NYC with a gala premiere -- fest be damned. Ang Lee's latest is a long, but beautiful new film that spares no detail in depicting a torrid affair between a young woman and an older man amidst a backdrop of political intrigue in China during WWII. The film, clocking in at 2 hours and 40 minutes, was so captivating that I never thought to check my watch. Unfazed by the film's length, and perhaps lured by its NC-17 rating, audiences packed screenings of the movie this weeked, giving it a boffo box office debut at one theater, despite a dismissive NY Times review that had premiere attendees checking their blackberry's to read the rant.

On Friday, another new film damned with a negative take by one of my favorite movie critics, Manhola Dargis, "The Orphanage" ("El Orfanato") woke up NYFF press and industry screening attendees. Its a roller coaster ride that I really loved. What's so wrong about a well-crafted entertaining movie every now and again? After the screening I had a chance to sit with the film's writer Sergio Sanchez and its exceptional lead actress, Belen Rueda, along with Picturehouse president Bob Berney during a small lunch at Nick & Toni's. Berney is planning to follow a similar distribution pattern as last year's release of "Pan's Labyrinth" (directed by "Orphanage" exec. producer Guillermo Del Toro), but may take this film wider even faster than "Pan's."

On Friday night, it was "prom night" for New York's film community with the Tavern on the Green opening night NYFF bash (see recent iPOP pix) and the terrific recent tradition of an after-party downtown. This year's post NYFF bash at Village on W. 9th St. was bigger than ever, a crammed celebration that spilled out onto the sidewalk and ran until around 5 a.m...

Finally, Saturday gave me a chance to see Julian Schabel's Cannes winner, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" at the NYFF, in a screening at the fest's new temporary home at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater in the Time Warner Center. The theater boasts a massive screen, but the seats in the balcony are not ideal. After the strikingly visual and inventive new movie (which includes an amazing soundtrack), Schnabel held court at The Stone Rose restaurant. Once we sat down to eat our buffet supper, I chatted with a group of Miramax execs, including president Daniel Battsek. We all buzzed about recent movies and considered the early Oscar race. Members of the Miramax team even admitting their fondness for movies from some of their competitors... The company will be toasting their other big fall release with another Saturday celebration when the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men screens as a fest centerpiece later this week. Sorry I'll have to miss those festivities, but I am looking forward to an upcoming (non-fest) weekend in Palm Springs for a good friend's wedding...

Pictured: Wes Anderson at a recent NYFF press conference. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

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