The Playlist

NYFF '11 Review: George Clooney Grapples With Life, Death & Fatherhood In ‘The Descendants’

  • By The Playlist
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  • October 14, 2011 9:36 AM
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Marked by a strong, soulful performance by George Clooney, simple and economic direction, and a slow and patient gait, “The Descendants” finds filmmaker Alexander Payne working in the familiar, but not derivative, milieu of the adult drama. The film doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and while firmly within Payne’s wheelhouse, we can see the filmmaker inching towards pure drama without dramedy or resorting to the James L. Brooks method of punctuating pain with disarming laughter. That’s not to say “The Descendants” isn’t a dramedy or isn’t funny, as it certainly has its moments of comedic flair that do defuse some painful moments, but overall, one can argue that it’s Payne’s most somber and serious work outside of maybe “About Schmidt.” And it’s not without its problems either.

NYFF '11 Review: 'Policeman' A Strong, Haneke-Inspired Rumination On Israeli Society

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 14, 2011 3:03 AM
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  • 1 Comment
While it's absolutely an important issue that deserves coverage, we've already heard nearly every angle of the Israel-Palestine conflict seventy times over -- so much so that we barely have a clue about their other dilemmas. One of these issues starting to come to light is the large economic disparity that exists among the Israelis themselves, resulting in many protests against the abnormally high cost of living. In his assured debut "Policeman," journalist/novelist Nadav Lapid tackles this very problem with a reserved strength rarely seen in a filmmaker so green.

NYFF '11: Pedro Almodóvar Talks The Identity And Gender Themes Of ‘The Skin I Live In’

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • October 13, 2011 5:16 AM
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Director Discusses Finding Humor In Tragedy, Differences Between Men And Women, And MoreWhen we first laid our eyes upon Pedro Almodóvar's "The Skin I Live In" at Cannes, we called it a film that "snaps between bright glittering glamour and dark, doomed horror," and emerges largely triumphant, "uniquely beautiful and distinctively imperfect." The reception for Almodóvar's latest in the Big Apple has been similarly apprehensive and appreciative; the audience's reaction at last Tuesday's press screening was a testament to the polarizing nature of the film. Almodóvar and stars Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya were present with a translator in tow, and the conversation was by turns amusing and laid-back, touching on themes and concepts native to the story. While our own Jen Vineyard turned in an excellent piece digging deep into the specifics of the production, this time most of the questions were addressed to Almodóvar, who fielded them with ease, occasionally utilizing the translator for particularly verbose answers.

NYFF '11: Eddie Redmayne Says 'My Week With Marilyn' A Celebration Of Old School Filmmaking

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 13, 2011 4:40 AM
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Rising British actor Eddie Redmayne has packed a career’s worth of activity into a short time. He's already won a Tony Award, is well regarded for his stage efforts and is quickly making headway on both the small and big screen. He features in the mini-series "The Pillars Of Earth," has appeared in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and "The Other Boleyn Girl," however, “My Week With Marilyn” is where he’s got his biggest, showiest role to date. As third assistant director Colin Clark, he’s not only got to manage the egos on the set of “The Princess And The Showgirl,” he’s also tasked with being Marilyn Monroe’s unofficial “handler.” And like anyone else who orbited the star, he winds up falling for her.

NYFF: Pedro Almodóvar Told Antonio Banderas To Watch Cary Grant Movies To Prep For 'Skin I Live In'

  • By Jen Vineyard
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  • October 12, 2011 3:26 AM
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The Director Reveals He's Not Doing A Biopic On Mina; Tension, Twists & More From The Team Behind The FilmPedro Almodóvar crafts a creepy Frankenstein-esque tale of rape, revenge, and survival in "The Skin I Live In" – a polarizing film which is one of his most ambitious yet. Because the movie features an unexpected twist halfway through the film, discussing it becomes difficult – how do you debate the themes, the issues and the meaning without giving it all away? We leave that task to the esteemed director and his cast that includes Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya, who hit NYFF this week to present this latest concoction, a tale unlike anything Almodóvar has put on the big screen before. Covering everything from the twist in the movie (don't worry, we won't reveal it here), the reason why Antonio Banderas had to watch Cary Grant movies to prepare for the film, and the themes of identity that run through the story, the trio were happy to discuss in detail the quirky, provocative and unforgettable film.

NYFF: Simon Curtis Discusses Recreating Marilyn Monroe For 'My Week With Marilyn'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 10, 2011 9:27 AM
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“My Week With Marilyn” tells the story of Colin Clark, a third assistant director on the set of “The Prince And The Showgirl” who served as mediator between star Marilyn Monroe and the frustrated cast and crew. However, if you heard it from Clark’s memoirs, published long after Monroe’s passing, there was more than just a working relationship between the two of them.

Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' Is Secret Work-In-Progress Screening At NYFF Tonight, New Featurette Debuts

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 10, 2011 7:24 AM
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Speculation has been rife over the last couple of days among Big Apple-based film fans as to the possible identity of the secret screening that the New York Film Festival added to their program as a last-minute surprise last week. The festival narrowed it down a little, saying that the film was a "work-in-progress" from a "master filmmaker" for a film that would be released before the end of the 2011, so it left only a few contenders. Could it be David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?" Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?" Mike Mitchell's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked?"

Béla Tarr Confirms At NYFF That He's Retired From Filmmaking

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 10, 2011 6:47 AM
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We can't claim to be massive fans of everything that Béla Tarr's made; his work can be fascinating, but somewhat trying. But when he's firing on all cylinders, as in "Werckmeister Harmonies," the Hungarian director is an incredibly vital voice in cinema, and even when he's not, his films find a way of indelibly printing themselves on your mind. As such, we were disappointed to learn back in 2008, on the announcement of Tarr's latest project, that it was intended to be his last.

NYFF: Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky Talk Ethics, Media & Witch-Hunts In The West Memphis Three Docs

  • By The Playlist
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  • October 10, 2011 2:59 AM
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Documentary Filmmakers Of The 'Paradise Lost' Movies Talk The Challenges Of Making Films About Wrongly Convicted MenIt’s not easy to distill the story of the West Memphis Three and the three “Paradise Lost” documentaries (though reading our review of “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” might provide some pretty good context).

Director Sean Durkin Talks Food, Violence And Open Endings In 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 10, 2011 2:00 AM
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All The Lowdown From The NYFF Screening Of One Of The Year's Best FilmsIt may feel like you've been hearing about "Martha Marcy May Marlene" all year; the film, the debut of director Sean Durkin (who was the producer of Antonio Campos' underseen "Afterschool"), bowed at Sundance, and has spent the last nine months picking up new fans at every subsequent festival, from Cannes to Toronto, and launching its young star, Elizabeth Olsen, into stardom. And take it from someone who finally saw the film last week; the praise is much deserved.

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