Friday, September 28, 2012

50th NYFF Opens With Ang Lee's ‘Life of Pi’

YOU’RE literally in the middle of nowhere. You are lost a sea, the only survivor of a shipwreck.

Well, not exactly. There is another, that would just as soon have you for dinner as look at you. Not a cannibal, but a Bengal tiger. Somehow – rather surprisingly – you become allies on a whirlwind adventure. It is “Life of Pi.”

Based on the best-selling novel and directed by Ang Lee, “Life of Pi” opens the 50th New York Film Festival today. (See trailer above.) NYFF50 funs through 14 Oct. and closes with Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight.”

In “Flight,” Denzel Washington heads an ensemble cast as a pilot who does not have a Chesley Sullenberger experience after he safely lands his plane. He is accused of having alcohol in his system and faces jail time if the charges stick. (See trailer below.)

NYFF50 is an an ambitious (and uncharacteristically commercial) program, including 32 films in its “Main Slate,” a good number of which arrive at New York award winners from other festivals. On tap, too, are returning features such as “HBO Films Directors Dialogues, which is “Inside the Actors Studio,” except with directors.

Rival gangs prove to be a challenge for a bad cop in "Outrage Beyond." Photo courtesy of Celluloid Dreams.

Among those talking about process and inspiration are Abbas Kiarostami (“Like Someone in Love”) and David Chase of “The Sopranos” fame, whose feature film debut, “Not Fade Away,” is NYFF50’s “Centerpiece” selection. The film follows a group of friends in 1964 New Jersey that forms a rock band.

A good companion piece to "Directors Dialogues" is “On Cinema,” described as NYFF’s master class. For the first time, two directors, Brian De Palma and Noah Baumbach, share the stage. In addition to shoptalk will be film clips and an audience Q&A.

Always a popular feature of NYFF is the “Masterworks” series. This latest installment boasts a restored version of Laurence Olivier’s “Richard III” (1965), a screening of Pierre Chenal’s “Native Son” (1951). The “Native Son” screening will be followed by a discussion with Edgardo Krebs and journalist Stanley Crouch. Also among the 17 films in the series is the world premiere of a new version of “The Rolling Stones – Charlie Is my Darling – Ireland 1965” (1966/2012) from Peter Whitehead.

Richard Wright and Gloria Madison in "Native Son." Photo courtesy of Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Among new stuff is the Midnight Movies” series of three suspense-thrillers. “The Bay” from Barry Levinson and Oren Peli involves giant insects. In Peter Strickland’s “Berberian Sound Studio,” a sound engineer is not certain whether the horror he hears is real or make-believe. A rogue cop and his intervention in clan warfare continues in Takeshi Kitano’s “Outrage Beyond,” a sequel to “Outrage.”

Another newbie is NYFF Convergence, a two-day (29 and 30 Sept.) transmedia conference that will bring together practitioners that employ multiple mediums simultaneously to tell a lone story. NYFF Convergence Panels include “Novels in New Forms (30 Sept.). Here, authors discuss the tablet computer as yet another storyteller. The audience as a character is the subject of the Workshop, “You’re Such a Character:  New Roles for Audiences in Storytelling" (30 Sept.).

In the Immersive Experiences component of NYFF Convergence, hipsters and dinosaurs are at odds on phones, the Internet and a card game in the film, McCarren Park, Parts 1 and 2. The conversation also turns to how to create a film for very little and getting noticed without a huge outlay of marketing cash (29 Sept.).

In the Film Society of Lincoln Center's ongoing effort to make NYFF as open as possible, it also offers a number of events – mainly talks and panel discussions – that are free and open to the public. Likely to attract a crowd will be Lee Daniels (“The Paperboy,” “Precious”) when he holds court at the Apple Store in Soho.

Visit to learn more about the 50th New York Film Festival, including show times and ticket information.

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VEVLYN'S PEN: The Wright take on life by Vevlyn Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .
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