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The Playlist

Interview: Writer/Director Ben Lewin Talks Uncovering The Amazing True Story Of 'The Sessions' And Casting John Hawkes

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 22, 2012 12:03 PM
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Sundance likes nothing more than an overnight success. Countless directors have, over the thirty-odd years of the festival, gone from total unknowns to the hot new thing, and they're usually some fresh-faced whippersapper, relatively speaking. This year's festival had one of those, in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" director Benh Zeitlin, but it also had, in the shape of "The Sessions" helmer Ben Lewin, a rather more atypical overnight success, as Lewin is a 65-year-old filmmaker with credits stretching back nearly four decades.

NYFF: Miguel Gomes On 'Tabu' And The Pleasures And Phantoms Of Cinema

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 17, 2012 8:01 PM
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Behold the courage of Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes: hoping to do a film in the vein of “Meet Me In St. Louis,” he and and a crew traveled to the small Arganil Municipality in the country to begin work on a movie featuring a small family band -- that is until the movie’s investor died before signing the dotted line. Instead of calling it a day, Gomes pressed on and made "Our Beloved Month of August," a doc/fiction hybrid that captured the essence of the lively environment while commenting on the fragility and banality of a film production. It’s a special, beautiful beast of a movie that unfortunately didn’t see much of a release. Luckily, Gomes has quickly followed up with the brilliant “Tabu.”

Interview: John Scheinfeld Talks Harry Nilsson, VOD, Jeff Bridges, And New Music Documentaries

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 17, 2012 7:05 PM
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Documentary fanatics should hopefully already be familiar with SundanceNOW’s terrific DOC CLUB program (for the uninitiated, it’s a carefully curated VOD/streaming program by doc connoisseur Thom Powers of Toronto International Film Festival, DOC NYC, Miami Film Festival and others). October is “Music Month" on SundanceNOW and one of the documentaries prominently featured is John Scheinfeld’s excellent tribute to Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter/still-underrated musician Harry Nilsson titled “Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?” An informative tribute to a talent that tried like hell to stay out of the spotlight, the filmmaker’s effort is an enjoyable one and is near-guaranteed to propel you towards Nilsson’s discography.

Exclusive: Matthias Schoenaerts Spills On Guillaume Canet's 'Blood Ties,' Says 'Robocop' Talk Was Blown "Out Of Proportion"

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 17, 2012 3:00 PM
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One of the big breakout performers of 2012 is looking likely to be the first major Belgian movie star since Audrey Hepburn (yep, she was born in Belgium) -- Matthias Schoenaerts. The 34-year-old has been acting for nearly two decades, but finally exploded in 2012 thanks to acclaimed back-to-back performances in the Oscar-nominated "Bullhead" and opposite Marion Cotillard in Jacques Audiard's celebrated Cannes drama "Rust & Bone."

NYFF: 'Barbara' Director Christian Petzold Talks The Influence Of 'Klute' & Reveals What He Plans To Do Next

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 15, 2012 10:04 AM
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When the wall came down, German filmmakers found themselves ushered into two clusters: those that concentrated on the country’s fascist past and the others that shined light on anything else. The latter clique was hailed as pushing the medium forward; they often dabbled in social-realism with little dialogue and snail-like pacing -- and though their box office receipts were low in comparison to their brother faction, they seduced international audiences and held their ground at many of the world’s foremost film festivals. As the first and second generation of directors emerging after the split, the media dubbed their movement the “Berlin School” (a moniker they’re not thrilled over) and the team pressed on making films, a trio of them even coming together to shoot a “Red Riding”-esque trilogy in “Dreileben.”

NYFF: Director Peter Strickland Talks 'Berberian Sound Studio,' Toby Jones & The Forced Digital Revolution

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 13, 2012 1:03 PM
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Aspiring filmmakers should take note of British helmer Peter Strickland -- with few shorts under his belt and a small wad of cash (about £25,000 which was spent mostly on film stock), the director headed to Hungary and shot an atmospheric, deeply nuanced movie and spent the next two years tweaking the edit and soundsphere. “Katalin Varga” was born, and though its distribution left something to be desired, the movie itself was one of the most impressive feature debuts in a long time -- cheaply shot on celluloid and highly masterful, absent were the hiccups or generous shots of people-talking-in-apartments that are contained in most first feature attempts.

Interview: 'Wake In Fright' Director Ted Kotcheff Talks Martin Scorsese, His Lost Film, And What A Canadian Was Doing Directing An Australian Classic

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 13, 2012 12:02 PM
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It’s strange to think that one of the year’s very best films was actually released in 1971. “Wake in Fright,” a gonzo descent into madness set against the bleak backdrop of the Australian outback, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971 and, after a brief theatrical run, was more or less lost to the sands of time. Thankfully, a worldwide search turned up the original negatives and in 2009 it was screened at Cannes again, this time in a painstakingly restored version. That restoration is now making its way across the country, courtesy of Drafthouse Films, premiering in Los Angeles today and expanding to 35 major markets before being released on a new high-def Blu-ray in January.

Matthew Lillard Reveals How Drake Doremus & 'Amores Perros' Inspired 'Fat Kid Rules The World' And The 10 Year Journey To Make The Film

  • By Benjamin Wright
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  • October 13, 2012 9:49 AM
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It’s not often you hear about an actor taking a successful turn to the director’s chair, but when you do, it’s one that counts. Ben Affleck certainly has proved himself three times now with the acclaimed pairing of “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” and this weekend's "Argo" proved he could step outside of the grimy streets of Boston and apply his directorial sensibilities to a story larger in scope. On the flipside of that coin, actor Matthew Lillard (“Scream,” “The Descendants,” “Scooby-Doo”) has his directorial debut continuing to roll out this weekend as well, and while it may not have the Oscar buzz or big stars attached to it as “Argo” does, it’s proven to be a success in its own right.

NYFF: Cristian Mungiu Disappointed With Church Reaction To 'Beyond The Hills,' Talks The Lack Of Romanian Cinema Culture

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 12, 2012 3:04 PM
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Cristian’s Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills” took two substantial awards at its Cannes premiere -- Best Screenplay and Best Actress -- but this writer still can’t help but think word has been unfairly quiet about the rather phenomenal film after the Croisette cleared. Employing a much more refined aesthetic previously used in “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days,” the filmmaker’s newest tackles rigid faith, emotional/spiritual turmoil, and grave indifference. Up at an Orthodox Church in rural Romania, Voichita (Cosmina Straten) meets with estranged best friend Alina (Cristina Flutur) and allows her to temporarily stay at the convent before leaving for Germany. Both former orphans (with a deeper relationship hinted at), the newcomer disapproves of Voichita’s religious calling and believes that she will join her in the move -- but when that doesn’t happen, both go to disastrous lengths to set the other on what they think is the right path.

NYFF: How David Fincher's 'Zodiac,' 'Koyaanisqatsi,' Mr. Plinkett & More Inspired 'Room 237'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 12, 2012 10:13 AM
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“The Shining” has burrowed its way into the heads of filmgoers for years now, becoming a perennial pick as one of the greatest horror films of all-time. But there’s always been something more than sinister and unique lying underneath the surface of “The Shining” in it’s paradoxes, contradictions, and flat-out mysteries. The new documentary “Room 237,” which recently showed at the New York Film Festival, casts a light on some of these theories, but the focus isn’t on what “The Shining” is about (which could be American Indians, the moon landing, or sexual abuse), but rather what it means to become obsessed by a film, vexed and perplexed by the meanings between the lines, the truth, or the lies, that manifest when we begin to consume a film far beyond what’s comfortable.

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