Sunday, October 14, 2012

Last Day NYFF50: 'Flight’ Brings It to a Close

“YOU’LL never have to buy another drink for the rest of your life,” a friend (John Goodman) assures “Whit” (Denzel Washington).

For about 15 minutes that looks to be true for commercial pilot William “Whit” Whitaker who safely lands a malfunctioning airplane, saving many lives in the process. He’s an immediate hero with all of the media buzz and other trappings – that is until an investigation begins into a part of his past that calls into question his judgment.

Not only are those drinks drying up – and drinking is the last thing Whit wishes to do at the moment – prison may be in his future unless his innocence can be proved. Once praised, he is now being pilloried, until such time that an “all clear” from a review board can restore his good name and hero status. (See trailer above)

This is the premise of “Flight.” It makes its world premiere tonight as the closing film of the 50th New York Film Festival. It opens in wide release in North America on 2 Nov. and continues to rollout across the world through late February 2013.

“Flight” has been getting notice for a few reasons. First, it is the first collaboration between DW and director Robert Zemeckis. Second, it is RZ’s return to the action-thriller format since “What Lies Beneath” and “Cast Away,” both from 2000.

Around NYFF50, “Flight” has produced quiet grumbles. For purists, it and others are further evidence of how commercial the festival is becoming, particularly with the departure this year of the Film Society of Lincoln Center programming director Richard Pena. The society organizes NYFF.

“Are you kidding – “Not Fade Away,” sneered one critic who did not wish to be identified in referencing the festival centerpiece directed by David Chase. He is best known for the HBO series, “The Sopranos.” Festival-opener NYFF “Life of Pi,” received tepid reviews from many, especially those who accused it of having religious undertones. That latter assertion, notwithstanding, the film is plodding. The sequences set in the present have an unreal quality and wasted the talents of Irrfan Khan.

For better or worse, “Flight” is a competent-enough film. It will likely do good business at the world box office, pleasing its producers and proving to detractors its unsuitability for certain venues on the film festival circuit.

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

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