The New York Film Festival 2012

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The experience of attending the press and industry screenings of the 50th NYFF at Lincoln Center was clubby and collegial, and this was my eighth consecutive year, though some of my colleagues have attended all fifty. It’s all in the Walter Reade Theater, which has great sound and projection capacity. Though having three new additional cinemas means a host of sidebar programs, the Main Slate remains limited and highly selective, 33 films this year. There are no awards. It’s considered a sufficient honour simply to be part of the Main Slate.

I enjoy being able to talk to people with vast experience of the business, like veteran critics, distributors, or the cinematographer, Ed Lachman — who disappeared for a weekend to attend the Rotterdam debut of Dark Blood, River Phoenix’s last film, which he shot. Skype brings most of the directors in who can’t be present, but one got to meet Michael Haneke in person, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, and Leos Carax, to name a few.

But it’s a sufficient honour simply to attend these screenings, headed by the outgoing Film Society of Lincoln Center Program Director Richard Pena, the witty, unflappable theater manager Glenn Raucher, the Publicity Director John Wildman — and this is unique among such experiences in one’s being able to watch the entire festival from the same seat in the same hall, all in press screenings.

The Main Slate is my focus. I have reviewed all 33 films. This is the best way I know of conveying what the experience of the New York Film Festival is like. The Main Slate includes half a dozen world premieres, but the elite selection is intentionally a Best Of major earlier festivals of the year — Cannes, Venice, Locarno, Berlin, San Sebastian.

I’m content to experience the variety of the films, from the austerity of Haneke’s Amour to the luridness of Lee Daniels’ Paperboy, and even more so the ones not getting even limited release. My only conscious regret was the jury didn’t include Matteo Garrone’s Reality, no. 2 (the Grand Prix) at Cannes, and I could have lived without the gala world premieres of Life of Pi and Flight with Denzel Washington, or other mainstream films — but they were good choices, and movies like that are necessary to create a red carpet excitement and sell tickets, which went well this year. It’s a festival, after all.

You’ll see from my ratings which films I liked best but read the reviews and you may have opinions of your own.

Reviews:
Amour (2012)
Araf/Somewhere in Between (2012)
Barbara (2012)
Beyond the Hills (2012)
Bwakaw (2012)
Caesar Must Die (2012)
Camille Rewinds (2012)
Fill the Void (2012)
First Cousin Once Removed (2012)
Flight (2012)
Frances Ha (2012)
Ginger & Rosa (2012)
Here and There (2012)
Holy Motors (2012)
Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)
Kinshasa Kids (2012)
Leviathan (2012)
Life of Pi (2012)
Like Someone in Love (2012)
Lines of Wellington (2012)
Memories Look at Me (2012)
Night Across the Street (2012)
No (2012)
Not Fade Away (2012)
Our Children (2012)
Passion (2012)
Something in the Air (2012)
Tabu (2012)
The Dead Man and Being Happy (2012)
The Gatekeepers (2012)
The Last Time I Saw Macao (2012)
The Paperboy (2012)
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (2012)

Summary Lists:

Top five narrative features:
AMOUR
HOLY MOTORS
BARBARA
BEYOND THE HILLS
NO
LIFE OF PI

Documentaries I liked:
LEVIATHON
CAESAR MUST DIE
FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED

Biggest disappointments:
HERE AND THERE
THE DEAD MAN AND BEING HAPPY
THE LAST TIME I SAW MACAO
GINGER & ROSA
HYDE PARK ON HUDSON

Lead performances:
DENIS LAVANT (HOLY MOTORS)
JEAN-LOUIS TRINTIGNANT & EMANUELLE RIVA (AMOUR)
SURAJ SHARMA (LIFE OF PI)
NICOLE KIDMAN (THE PAPERBOY)

Supporting performances:
JOHN GOODMAN (FLIGHT)
KELLY REILLY (FLIGHT)
ZAC EFRON (THE PAPERBOY)
MACY GRAY (THE PAPERBOY)

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Reviews have been kindly syndicated with permission from filmleaf.
For more information about the NYFF check out their website.

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