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Thread: New York Film Festival 2023

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    New York Film Festival 2023

    61st New York Film Festival 2023


    Links to the reviews:

    Opening Night - May December (Todd Haynes 2023)
    Centerpiece - Priscilla (Sofia Coppola 2023)
    Closing Night - Ferrari (Michael Mann 2023)
    About Dry Grasses (Nuri Bilge Ceylan 2023)
    All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson 2023)
    All of Us Strangers (Andrew Haigh 2023)
    Anatomy of a Fall Anatomie d'une chute (Justine Triet 2023)
    The Beast/La Bête (Bertrand Bonello 2023)
    La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher)
    Close Your Eyes/Cerrar los ojos (Víctor Erice 2023)
    The Delinquents (Rodrigo Moreno)
    Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World (Radu Jude 2023)
    Eureka (Lisandro Alonso 2023)
    Evil Does Not Exist 悪は存在しない (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi 2023)
    Fallen Leaves/Kuolleet Lendet (Aki Kaurismäki 2023))
    Green Border (Agnieszka Holland)
    Here (Bas Devos 2023)
    In Our Day (Hong Sangsoo 2023)
    In Water 물안에서 (Hong Sangsoo 2023)
    Janet Planet (Annie Baker 2023)
    Kidnapped/Rapito (Marco Bellocchio 2023)
    Last Summer[ (Catherine Breillat 2023)
    Menus Plaisirs-Les Troigros (Frederick Wiseman 2023)
    Music (Angela Schanelec 2023)
    Orlando, My Political Biography (Paul B. Preciado)
    Perfect Days (Wim Wenders 2023)
    Pictures of Ghosts (Kleber Mendonça Filho 2023)
    Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos 2023)
    La Práctica (Martín Rejtman 2023)
    Prince, A (Pierre Creton 2023)
    The Settlers Los colonos (Felipe Gálvez 2023)
    The Shadowless Tower 白塔之光 (Zhang Lu 2023)
    Strange Way of LIfe/Estraña forma de vida (Pedro Almodóvar 2023)
    Youth (Spring) 青春 (Wang Bing 2023)
    The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer 2023)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; Yesterday at 12:14 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area




    A great French restaurant gets the Wiseman treatment

    The meticulous observational documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman has lived in France lately, and since the nineties made films in France - where it turns out he developed a connection living for two years when quite young, after military service. Is he, in his early nineties, going to defect, like Eugène Green? The most memorable Americans who appear in this four-hour film about the legendary three-star Michelin restaurant Maison Troigros in Roanne, near Lyon, are an absurdly pretentious group of youngish men holding forth about wine with adjectives the French don't use.

    But there is no rancor here, and this is a quietly admiring portrait of a social institution one can't but admire: in French there is a saying, "À bien manger, le sage met sa gloire." Roughly, it means, For the wise man, eating well is a big deal." Eating chez Troigros, or any restaurant like that, which will set you back in the vicinity of four hundred dollars per person per meal, not counting wine or the fee for a room at the posh adjoining inn, is a very big deal. But eating is also one of the most fundamental human pleasures. At best, eating at such a place is a wonderful experience, worth the time, attention, and financial outlay. The presence of many return customers is evidence of this. But it is also a great luxury, an outrageous self-indulgence. Such restaurants are very costly and labor-intensive to run; the bill is not actually a ripoff. I at least however, toward the end of the four hours, began to long for a hot dog, in a crisp roll, with a dash of mustard, and a Coke. You may remember that the way high-end dining can tilt toward the absurd, even the nightmarish, was exploited in Mark Mylood's recent feature The Menu.

    This is, naturally, being from Wiseman, an intensive account of its subject, to the point at times even of being a bit repetitive. "Menus Plaisirs" means "small pleasures" but also was the rather ironic name for a department of service to the French king in the ancien régime, besides punning on "menu" (not the French word for that, which is "carte.") This reminds one of an earlier documentary about a similarly elite and fanatical and impressive French Michelin starred restaurant, Paul Lacoste's 2011 Entre les Bras, also a punning title, since it refers to passing on control of the establishment but also to the name of the family, Bras. (The English title achieved a pun too with Step Up to the Plate.)

    Lacoste's film is austere, but more focused. It defines the plant-based focus of the dishes, focused on fresh herbs and edible flowers, and also delves in depth into the personalities of the father and son chefs and carefully details the difficult process of passing on responsibility for running the Bras restaurant - almost like pulling teeth. There is a hint of that, but only a hint, when Michel Troigros, the father and current scion of the restaurant here, tells a customer, a retired vigneron who has completely turned over independent control of his winery to his sons, that he doesn't find it so easy to do that, even though one son is officially in charge of the kitchen.

    Like Lacoste's film, this one begins with buying fresh food in the local market. It is a truism that the quality of what goes on the plate of a restaurant begins with the local, seasonal freshness of ingredients. The film then focuses on many aspects of the restaurant. A lot of time is spent on such things as briefing servers on the day's menu; the importance of draining the blood from brains before cooking; creating new dishes and debating their combination of ingredients and sauces; the somelier's discussion of new wine stock, presold bottles for up to 15,000 euros, very high prices of even recent vintages for prestigious labels; coaching staff to treat other employees more fairly and equally and avoid teasing and using mocking names; the open design of the kitchen (a very interesting aspect), which Michel says means César, his son, can therefore control activity without shouting, because everyone is in sight.

    An engrossing side issue is the suppliers. There are informational meetings with several livestock farmers who explain their natural and earth-preserving methods, free of fertilizer and pesticides. For me the most surprising digression is a visit to a cheese-ripening center. Who knew that many of the famous (and not so known) cheeses of France, soft and hard, large and small, offered on a big cart to diners, are skillfully ripened not at home where produced, but in this hand work factory where they are washed, scraped, chilled, and moved about to the exact point when they need to be sold.

    The cheese ripening plant is an enlightenment, but departs from Wiseman's "fly on the wall" style, since we are simply following around a man providing a tour of the place. Wiseman's own editing of the sometimes jumpy camerawork of James Bishop, which gives a vérité effect, leads us from one sequence to the next, hypnotically. This is a talky film, relying very much on explanatory scenes. And yet its best moments are wordless. We are inspired and informed by the sight of the deft, graceful manipulation of tools, the flipping of meat in pans, the folding and smoothing out of sauces, the wordless tap on pieces of meat to assess their consistency. This is where we see how much all this is done carefully by hand, and where cooking enthusiasts and pros may learn things even Escoffier and Larousse Gastronomique, may not cover.

    Something that seems new (or risen to a new extreme) is more elaborate catering to whims and needs of diners, whose allergies, intolerances, and preferences are gone into in tireless detail. Hours before the meal, the servers are briefed oh customers, which tables they will be at and which servers will be assigned to them, and all those special needs. This may seem an odd development in a world where the chefs are famous and thought to call the shots. The Triogros family were influential in the development of the "nouvelle cuisine" movement starting in the sixties which revolutionized French cooking style. Now however it seems they must rearrange deserts because someone doesn't like cream, and these special requirements seem to be very numerous indeed. One customer, more down to earth, declares the only thing he's allergic to is the bill.

    Something old fashioned that emerges is how male-dominated this whole scene is. Women are there, but very under-represented in key kitchen positions. Mostly they are seen serving at table or making up rooms of the inn (which Michel's daughter, however, runs). Conversations between Michel and customers are man-to-man; any women customers are observers, or just put in a word here and there as the men do the talking. But they talk politely. We see a strong hand, but no tyranny, abuse of underlings or substance, no tirades. Everyone is dedicatedly at work. Professionalism reigns, which is impressive, and suits Wildman's focus on social organisms. But only Michel Troisgros gets enough attention to seem colorful, eating too much of a new dish while repeating the same thing over and over, striving to explain his ideas to American customers and finding his English falls short of the task.

    That key fact about Troigros and nouvelle cuisine you will find if you look up the restaurant elsewhere. You will not get it from Wiseman's film. He relies rather heavily here on people explaining things - the farmers describing their methods, the tour guide in the cheese ripening plant, Michel Troigros talking about himself and his sons to customers. It's through the latter that we learn the main current restaurant, known as Le Bois sans feuilles (The Woods Without Leaves), dates only from six years ago, and is in the country, replacing the old one in town - a big shift in style, look, and experience. The look of the new place, more casual than formerly, without white linen, with big windows opening up to landscape and grazing animals, resembles that of the Bras family, and may show its influence.

    Watching this film after Paul Lacoste's one can see that Troigros is more "conventional" in serving up lots of meat and fish of many varieties. We learn it departs from old style French cooking in such things as Japanese influence (pioneers in that, Michel Troigros says), use of hot spices and passion fruit. But what distinguishes the Troigros style doesn't emerge. This is a film that has a lot to give us, but still leaves us hungry - as fancy restaurants themselves do.

    Menus Plaisirs-Les Troigros, 240 mins., debuted at Venice Sept. 3, 2023, also shown at Toronto, followed by New York. It was screened for this review as part of the NYFF.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; Yesterday at 10:47 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    ALL OF US STRANGERS (Andrew Haigh)



    A powerful gay ghost story from Haigh

    All of Us Strangers, a propulsive and intense film about loneliness, loss, and love, was adapted by Haigh from the Japanese novel Strangers by Taichi Yamada, translated into English by Wayne Lammers (already filmed in Japanese), "possibly tilting away," Bradshaw wrote at Telluride, from the the original’s "tone of disturbing possibilities towards a melancholy sweetness." (Also translating from straight to gay.) Well, you can take this picture of a middle-aged gay screenwriter in London, played with his usual relaxed intensity by the Irish born Andrew Scott (of "Fleabag" and "The Pursuit of Love") either way - as sad and disturbing, a nervous breakdown, or simply as a man coming to terms with both the saddest and the most hopeful thinking and feeling a of his highly imaginative and emotionally vulnerable self.

    There is a certain amount of return by Haigh to the wonderful sense of gay connectedness he achieved in his first film, Weekend, to which this has been called "a companion piece." Bradshaw calls this a "mysterious, beautiful and sentimental film." Or it is an overweening episode of "Black Mirror." Thgough I was thrilled by Haigh's fluency, I could not fully relate with the film's in-your-face intensity and was following one step behind. But I had a feeling it would come to get me later. The young New York audience at a press screening watched raptly, but seemed withdrawn at the end - and the ending is a bit much to take. Haigh remains a powerhouse filmmaker. And once again he has brought wonderful performances out of a quartet of the best actors in the business.

    In The new feature Adam (Scott), a screenwriter, lives in a new building that's not occupied. An intense, handsome younger man Harry (Paul Mescal) approaches him when he is drifting, He is uneasily at work on a screenplay based on his life with his lost parents, who died in a car accident when he was twelve. Harry comes to the door with a bottle, already plastered but inviting fun. He anticipates that Adam is "queer" - the different word denotes younger years, but Adam cautiously but politely declines the offer and closes the door.

    What happens after that I'm not certain; and finding out should be left to the viewer anyway. Adam goes to his old home in the country outside London (Dorking) and meets - his parents, Dad Jamie Bell and Mum Claire Foy. The most arresting sequence is the one in which he carefully informs her that he's gay. she does not take it well; later, his dad is much more understanding, and later declares Harry, with whom now Adam has a relationship, to be "a handsome fella." Whatever elseis going on here Haigh eventually works through the experience of being gay and dealing with AIDS and post-AIDS attitudes as a young gay man; going over Harry's own approach to coming out,

    Haigh goes over the ways the experience is, and is not, different now. We can also say as PEter Debruge does that Allof Us Strangers "is therapy for the audience," or "at least that specific segment of us" who "desperately need" our fathers to apologize for not coming into our room when we were crying. This is also mainstream gay emotional therapy for a younger generation than the ideal one for Brokeback Mountain (mine). As a gay writer, Haigh writes for the LGPTQ person who knows that "everything is different now," yet is also aware that in some ways in some places it is not. To say this is a "ghost story" (a very likely kind of tale to come from Japan) is to say this is a movie about dealing with people and emotions that have changed or gone and yet are still present in our hearts and minds.

    Despite the "Black Mirror" comparison, which is there, Andrew Haigh works like nobody else. He paints with a broad brush, and has ways of using events with utmost simplicity to deliver visceral, intense cinematic experience. Not only the Guardian's Bradshaw but Variety, The the Hollywood Reporter, Screen Daily, and the Los Angeles Times'Justin Chang have delivered absolute raves. Awards consideration, especially on the UK side, is assured.

    All of Us Strangers, 105 mins., debuted at Telluride Aug. 31, 2023. Screened for this review as part of the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, where it will show Oct. 1j at 6pm and Oct. 2 at show Showtimes
    6:00 PMStandby Only
    MONDAY, OCTOBERwhere it will also scheduled for London BFI and Chicago in Oct. Theatrical release scheduled for Dec. 22 in the US and Jan. 26, 2024 in the UK. Metacritic rating: 98%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; Yesterday at 10:32 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area




    A woman is suspected of her husband's murder, and their blind son faces a moral dilemma as the sole witness. (Cannes: Palme d'Or.)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-15-2023 at 10:24 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area



    This is a short film by Pedro Almodóvar with a gay theme. (Cannes.)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-15-2023 at 10:08 PM.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    THE ZONE OF INTEREST (Jonathan Glazer 2023)


    THIS is about the cozy family of the man who runs Hitler's worst extermination camp. With Sandra Hüller. Adapted from the late Martin Amis' novel. Cannes: Grand Jury Award and Fipresci Prize.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-15-2023 at 10:30 PM.


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