My NYFF has been underway for what feels like several blurry months, but today is when the festival opens to the public--or at least the overprepared elite who managed to procure a ticket for the opening night screening. I guess Saturday is when the festival truly begins (for mere mortals, that is), though as of now the most notable films have sold out. But fear not, for we've been repeatedly reminded to inform general audiences that extra tickets open up before almost every screening, so if there's something you really, really want to see, arrive at the theatre at least an hour before showtime, wait in the standby line, and your wish might just come true.
Go here to check out the schedule. (Special thanks to Tom Hall for teaching me the trick to creating actual links. I owe you one, Tom. Now get back to work on your "PAN'S LABRYINTH VS. LADY IN THE WATER" essay, you lazy bastard.)
Speaking of wishes coming true, I'm thirty-three hours away from seeing INLAND EMPIRE! As if that weren't exciting enough, I found out before this afternoon's screening of EL TOPO (more on that masterpiece of insanity later) that David Lynch is going to be in attendance after next Friday's press/industry screening. I'm hoping the film confounds and exhilarates me enough to want to sit through it again just six days later, but even if that doesn't happen, I'm definitely showing up for the press conference. One year ago today I was falling in love with The Prettiest Girl In The World, which stands firmly as the single greatest week in the history of my human existence. If I had one wish for this weekend, I would recreate last year's magic with the same aforementioned female. But that's not going to happen. Boo hoo. Fortunately, the world doesn't hate me that much--in fact, I think it might have the hots for me--because instead of mocking my memory by thrusting me into a hellish situation of unbearable proportions, it is actually granting me my most outlandish second wish: to see a new David Lynch film for the first time on the big screen. Believe me, I know how lame this sounds (what, no sexual trysting with Carmen Electra? no four-picture deal with a major studio? no Powerball victory?). But it's true. I don't know if I'm going to be able to sleep Saturday night. I might just say fuck it and pull an all-nighter (although since I'm teetotalling, that would be extra difficult to pull off). Either way, I'll be at the Walter Reade at 8:45am Sunday morning with adrenaline coursing through my veins.
As for the opening night film, Stephen Frears' THE QUEEN, I'm going to go out on a crazy limb here and predict that Helen Mirren is already a lock for this year's "Honorary Dame Judy Dench Oscar" (aka, the "British Female Who Gets Nominated For Best Actress But Doesn't Win" award). THE QUEEN is a dazzling specu-biopic that won me over even during the moments when I knew I was being manipulated. The film presents a fictionalized account of the week surrounding Princess Diana's horribly premature death. Frears brings Peter Morgan's snappy script to life with the help of cinematographer Affonso Beato and his stellar cast (Mirren, James Cromwell, Michael Sheen, Alex Jennings). But that isn't to say that I think it's great. I actually have a major problem with THE QUEEN. Like UNITED 93, my problem has nothing to do with the filmmaking itself. It's the content. No matter how honest or sympathetic or nonexploitative THE QUEEN may be, it is still a grossly invasive experience, and while we're not supposed to think that this is exactly what happened in Buckingham Palace and Balmoral, it's still actors playing political figures who are still alive. I clearly don't know what I'm saying here. I guess I just think it takes a lot of balls to make a film about a topic like this. However, like UNITED 93, I have nothing but superlatives to hurl at the film itself (though the superlatives are much louder with regards to Paul Greengrass's film).