Sunday, September 28, 2014

NYFF52 Day 3: A Surprise in 'Le Retour'; 'Maps to the Stars,' or What Was Julianne Moore Thinking?; In ' '71,' Belfast Is No Picnic

Africans in France are just people, like anybody else, in "The Return /"Le Retour." Photos courtesy of the New York Film Festival.

HEADS UP: Picking up where we left off last year, but expanding a tad (OK, quite a bit but still pithy), we will limit comments about New York Film Festival films to 200 or less. And ... Lights. Camera. ACTION! ...

“THE Return" (“Le Retour”) is mainly remarkable because it depicts Africans in France as something other than downtrodden refugees to be pitied.

Yohann Kouam's film is among those on the Shorts Program 2 premiering today at The 52nd New York Film Festival.

An older brother is clearly doing something positive with his life, judging by the new suit of clothes he has bought his loving, doting father. Another signifier of his upward mobility is the degree to which his little brother idolizes him.

That is, until the teen discover his big secret.

Elsewhere today, David Cronenberg's “Maps to the Stars" is in its final U.S. premiere screening. This story, with incest as a lietmotif, uses as a backdrop the cult of fame in 21st century Hollywood to explore omnipresent dysfunction. (See video below).

DC could have had a fine film instead of a coarse, gross, myopic mess. The acting is not the problem among a cast that includes John Cusack and Mia Wasikowska. The director falters in attempting to tell too many stories, diluting the whole.

Also, one can't but wonder why an actress of the caliber of Julianne Moore degrades herself so in "Maps to the Stars." Did she do it to work in a DC film?

Not challenged with staying focused is “'71,” Yann Demange's engaging thriller set in that year in Belfast. It also has the second of its two New York premiere screenings today.

A young UK recruit (Jack O’Connell) is shipped off to Northern Ireland to help keep the peace.

Gary (Jack O’Connell) has no way out in "'71."

He gets much worse troubles than he bargained for when a riot breaks out after what is supposed to be a routine extraction. Beaten, chased and unarmed, he is trapped behind enemy lines, not knowing how to get out or whom to trust. His fear is palpable.

A kindly former soldier tells him the facts of life, however, as he tends his wounds. “They don't care about us. We're just a piece of meat.”

Visit to learn more about The 52nd New York Film Festival, including tickets and showtimes.

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