10 Movies We Can’t Wait to See at the 2014 New York Film Festival
The 52nd annual New York Film Festival begins this week and there is a plethora of movies to see, spanning from September 26 through October 12. It’s hard to just pick ten movies! But, we did our best to restrain ourselves here as Senior Editor Mike Ryan (that’s me) and Associate Editor Nick Romano each pick five movies to see over the next two and a half weeks.
Hey, here’s a handy list of those movies:
The plot details of ‘Inherent Vice’ are so secretive that just days before the New York Film Festival premiere there still isn’t even a trailer. We've heard the word is not to expect this to be anything like Paul Thomas Anderson’s last film, ‘The Master’ – it’s a much lighter movie. But, I’ve also been told this isn’t ‘Boogie Nights’ either. The cast is impressive – Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short (!) – but let’s hope PTA allowed himself to have some fun here … it’s been awhile. -- Mike
The clear early awards frontrunner has to be ‘Foxcatcher,’ the story of the unhinged John du Pont, a multimillionaire who becomes obsessed with sibling Olympic wrestling hopefuls. Yeah, it’s pretty dark stuff, and of all the people to portray du Pont, ‘The Office’ and ‘Anchorman’ funnyman Steve Carell is that guy. Our own Mike Ryan saw the film at the Toronto Film Festival and says we’ll never be able to look at the actor the same way again. In fact, you might not even be able to recognize him at first. But it’s important to remember that, despite this dramatic transformation, he’s not the central focus of the film. Channing Tatum, as one of the wrestling brothers in question, is earning acclaim for his more dramatic role, proving that he can thrive outside the spheres of ‘White House Down’ and ‘Magic Mike.’ Mark Ruffalo, meanwhile, turned it out for Ryan Murphy’s HBO film ‘The Normal Heart,’ and I’m psyched to see him back in the saddle with another serious role soon after. -- Nick
This documentary about the Soviet national hockey team was recommended to me by someone who absolutely hates sports. This is a good sign! I’ve now seen ‘Red Army’ (I’ll write more about it later) but, boy, is this compelling stuff. Ho many times have we been told the story of the Miracle on Ice – how our boys in blue won gold against the scary Soviet tem in 1980. ‘Red Army’ looks at it from the Soviet player’s perspective, which is fascinating. The 1980 Olympics are covered in the first half of the film, as the film stretches the narrative all of the way into the late 1990s when Soviet born players are now dominating the United States and Canada as members of the NHL. ‘Red Army’ is less a film about sports and more a film about the strange relationship between the United States and Russia. -- Mike
This fall season is filled with biopics of historic figures, and two of this genre’s standouts focus on prominent gay figures: Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in ‘The Imitation Game’ and Willem Dafoe as filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini in ‘Pasolini.’ The latter, which will screen at NYFF, is a biopic of the controversial figure will focus on the final hours of his life as he writes and speaks to his family and friends. This is one of those titles that earned some mixed reviews, but despite the criticisms, Dafoe seems like a dynamite casting choice for Pasolini, whose work, political views and sexuality were known for causing scandals. -- Nick
Jack O’Connell. That will be a name you hear a lot over the next few months. This guy is Your Next Star. Which he proved first in Tribeca Film’s powerful ‘Starred Up’; now in this historical drama, ‘’71’; and the buzz is strong for his upcoming role in Angelina Jolie’s directorial effort, ‘Unbroken.’ In ‘’71,’ O’Connell plays Gary, a British soldier trapped in Belfast after his until is ambushed. What follows is a complicated game of “who to trust,” as Gary learns quickly that the conflict in Northern Ireland is much more complicated than he ever imagined. Again, Jack O’Connell – learn that name. -- Mike
Having spent my middle school, high school and early college career on the road to becoming a classical trumpet player, the subject matter for ‘Whiplash’ touches me on a personal level. The line spoken by J.K. Simmons’ character has haunted me since I first picked up the instrument: “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than 'good job.'"
Miles Teller portrays a hopeful jazz percussionist who catches the eye of a sadistic and even physically and emotionally abusive instructor (Simmons) during his time at a music conservatory, and early buzz places this performance as the young actor’s best yet. While he proved himself a dramatic force in ‘The Spectacular Now,’ and flexed his comedic chops in movies like ‘That Awkward Moment’ and ’21 & Over,’ he hadn’t really broke out from the bro-y mold. He’s great at playing the funny, tough, party guy, but with ‘Whiplash,’ he shows vulnerability (and eventually mental deterioration) in his character’s quest to become one of the greats. -- Nick
Ethan Hawke directs this profile of pianist Seymour Bernstein – who stopped performing publically some years ago; but still teaches – and it’s just a lovely thing. But the twist is, as much as this is about Bernstein, it’s just as much about Hawke. Hawke frames the film by admitting that he doesn’t know why he’s acting any longer – basically, what’s going to be the point of the second half of his life? Hawke feels that he has found the answer an his inspiration with Bernstein. The thing is, we all can find a lot of answers by listening to Seymour Bernstein. -- Mike
While David Cronenberg has come a long way from his earlier work, his last film, ‘Cosmopolis,’ definitely had its fair share of disturbing scenes, and the director is re-teaming with Robert Pattinson for another dark tale with ‘Maps to the Stars.’ Though, perhaps, not as violently dark. Tackling the real world of Hollywood, which Cronenberg has a bone or two to pick with, the film sees Julianne Moore in the role of aging starlet Havana, winning her Best Actress from Cannes. As she becomes increasingly haunted by the ghost of her deceased mother, Clarice, she encounters a young woman (played by Mia Wasikowska) who has just been released from a psych ward and has a dark past of her own. There are many characters, from Pattinson’s up-for-anything driver to John Cusack’s self-help therapist, and their colliding paths as they all attempt to thrive in California is an interesting concept. -- Nick
It’s fun to live in a world in which Michael Keaton is not only acting pretty regularly again – hey, he was funny in ‘The Other Guys’! – but also in a world in which Michael Keaton is being talked about as a possible Academy Award nominee. ‘Birdman’ is my personal “most anticipated” after its debut at the Venice Film Festival – (a) because it puts Keaton in the role of an aging actor most famous for his role in a superhero movie (yes, there are real world parallels at play) and (b) for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction, which creates the illusion that the movie is all one extended take. -- Mike
On paper, ‘Gone Girl’ already has a lot going for it – David Fincher is in the director’s seat, the soon-to-be-Batman Ben Affleck stars and the film is an adaptation of author Gillian Flynn’s international sensation. While book fans will already be going into theaters in October with certain standards, the early word is that this film is actually quite faithful to the source material, and, possibly Fincher’s greatest work since ‘Seven.’ When Amy Dunne (Pike) goes missing on the day of her and her husband Nick’s (Affleck) fifth wedding anniversary in what appears to be a murder, their suburban town is thrown into chaos. As police start investigating and tensions build, however, all signs peg Nick as the prime suspect. Did the “doting” husband kill his wife? If you’ve read the book, then you know it’s gonna be a mind trip. -- Nick