Sunday, October 5, 2014

NYFF52 Day 10: She Wants to Work for Her Money in 'Two Days, One Night'; While He Wants to Eat, Then Sleep in 'Time Out of Mind'

Sandra (Marion Cotillard, center) doesn't have much time to do the seemingly impossible in "Two Days, One Night." 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 no more than 200. And ... Lights. Camera. ACTION! ...

SANDRA spends Friday night and Saturday and Sunday trying to convince at least nine of her colleagues to vote to keep her job, thereby forgoing a 1,000-euro bonus.

As the title says, “Two Days, One Night,” before the vote on Monday at 8 o'clock sharp. The anguish, desperation, urgency and shame consuming Sandra (Marion Cotillard in a performance that is stunning because it is so understated) are heartrendingly palpable. One is in the utterly awkward moment with her as she drives from town to town, from door to door with her proverbial hat in hand.

The film has the first of its U.S. premiere screenings this afternoon at The 52nd New York Film Festival (See video below).

The reactions of Sandra's colleagues – from ruthlessly selfish to unbelievably sacrificial – are all too real. From Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, “Two Days, One Night,” is a powerful commentary on the human condition in the modern workplace, where increasingly workers are devalued and required to make the most humiliating choices.

Without giving anything away, the ending renews one's faith in human decency and principles.

Richard Gere's human condition is that he is homeless. Not really. But he is in “Time Out of Mind.”

George is a man without a home, wandering the streets and homeless shelters of New York. How did he come to this place is never explained. He just is.

And this mystery is intentional, both producer RG and director Oren Moverman, stated during a press conference after the screening of the film. It has the first of its two U.S. premiere screenings this evening.

“Time Out of Mind” shows a lot and tell as little as possible in illustrating how invisible homeless people are. It's a plot device that will likely be better received in parts of the country where homelessness is less a way of life than in a New York City, for instance.

Here, it will get a sort of “and?” response, meaning “so what's your point.” The audience is left to fend for itself a little too much, unblissfully ignorant of the backstory. So little is known of George, except he is estranged from his bartender daughter. It is also revealed that he lost his wife when the daughter was but a girl, sending him into a tailspin.

New York audiences and ones in other cities with a visible homeless problem will probably be distracted while watching “Time Out of Mind.” Even knowing, as OM disclosed, that those long-lense camera shots of people going about their business, ignoring George, are not staged, this will not keep them focused.

Yours Truly was distracted, too distracted by RG's $300 (razor-cut, perhaps?) haircut. This is not homeless-man hair. The actor might have scruffed himself up a bit more to sell these goods. Similarly, his flirting brought to mind the “American Gigolo” Julian Kaye character. The hair guy and the hustler so consumed me that I asked RG to compare and contrast the two.

After overcoming his initial shock of being asked such an oddball, curve-ball question, he managed a coherent response, totally pulling it out of the air. “The genesis of 'American Gigolo' was the pickpocket ... that was a movie about a secret – how do you pick a pocket, what does a pick pocket do ... ”

Not bad, right. Continues RG: “So there is a certain line here. What do people do in terms of what their job and situation is, not in terms of plot. What does a homeless guy do. What is the plot of the film – the guy only asks for two things: 'I need a place to sleep and I am hungry'. Gigolo was asking for something else.”

George (Richard Gere) has two basic requests in "Time Out of Mind."

Thanks in large part to Ben Vereen's spirited, sometimes hilarious performance as Dixon, a homeless resident in a shelter where George spends some time, the viewer is saved from the ennui that threatens to settle over “Time Out of Mind” like a mist.

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

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