- NEW YORK (AP)
The New York Film Festival will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a robust 32-film main slate and a number of hometown tales, including James Gray’s Queens coming-of-age drama “Armageddon Time” and Laura Poitras’ documentary “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” about artist Nan Goldin’s battle against the Sackler family.
Film at Lincoln Center, which puts on the annual festival, announced this year’s lineup Tuesday. The gala screenings are notably New York-centric, beginning with the previously announced opening night film, from longtime New Yorker and New York Film Festival regular Noah Baumbach. He’ll debut his Don DeLillo adaption “White Noise” shortly after it also opens the Venice Film Festival.
The festival’s centerpiece will be “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” in which the “Citizenfour” filmmaker chronicles Goldin’s fight to stem the opioid crisis and the pharmaceutical companies that benefitted from it.
Elegance Bratton, who drew from his own experiences in his documentary about homeless queer and transgender young people in New York in his documentary “Pier Kids,” will close out the festival with his semi-autobiographical fiction film “The Inspection,” starring Jeremy Pope as a gay man in Marine Corps basic training.
Gray’s “Armageddon Time” will screen as part of the festival’s 60th anniversary celebration. The film, which premiered in May at the Cannes Film Festival, draws from Gray’s own childhood in 1980s Queens. It co-stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway.
Other entries include Todd Field’s anticipated “TÁR,” starring Cate Blanchett as a world-renown composer; Paul Schrader’s “Master Gardner,” starring Joel Edgerton as a horticulturist; Joanna Hogg’s “The Eternal Daughter,” with Tilda Swinton; master documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s “A Couple,” a monologue drama based on the letters of Leo Tolstoy and wife Countess Sophia Behrs.
Several standouts from this year’s Cannes will play at the festival including Charlotte Wells’ feature debut “Aftersun”; Park Chan-wook’s “Decision to Leave”; Mia Hansen-Løve’s “One Fine Morning”; Kelly Reichardt’s “Showing Up”; Cristian Mungiu’s “R.M.N.”; and Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winner “Triangle of Sadness.”
Also among New York’s selections is the latest from Iranian director Jafar Panahi, “No Bears.” In July, Panahi, one of Iran’s leading filmmakers, was sent to prison for a six-year sentence related to a 2011 charge of producing antigovernment propaganda. His imprisonment has been widely decried internationally and in the film community.
The New York Film Festival runs Sept. 30-Oct. 16. Along with premieres at Lincoln Center, the festival will host screenings throughout New York’s five boroughs, at Staten Island’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema; Brooklyn Academy of Music; the Bronx Museum of the Arts; the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens; and the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem.
The 60th New York Film Festival Main Slate Films & Descriptions
Noah Baumbach, 2022, U.S., 135m
North American Premiere
In one of the year’s most gratifyingly ambitious American films, Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) has adapted Don DeLillo’s epochal postmodern 1985 novel, White Noise, long perceived as unfilmable, into a richly layered, entirely unexpected work of contemporary satire. Adam Driver heartily embodies Jack Gladney, an ostentatious “Hitler Studies” professor and father of four whose comfortable suburban college town life and marriage to the secretive Babette (Greta Gerwig, perfectly donning a blonde mop of “important hair”) are upended after a horrifying nearby accident creates an airborne toxic event of frightening and unknowable proportions. In a tightrope walk of comedy and horror, Baumbach captures the essence of DeLillo’s cacophonous pop-philosophical nightmare on unbounded consumerism, ecological catastrophe, and the American obsession with death. Impeccably matching DeLillo’s and Baumbach’s similarly percussive form of stylized dialogue, White Noise is wonderfully abrasive and awe-inspiring, a precisely mounted period piece entirely befitting our modern, through-the-looking-glass pandemic reality. A Netflix release. Campari® is the presenting partner of Opening Night.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Laura Poitras, 2022, U.S., 116m
In her essential, urgent, and arrestingly structured new documentary, Academy Award®–winning filmmaker Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) weaves two narratives: the fabled life and career of era-defining artist Nan Goldin and the downfall of the Sackler family, the pharmaceutical dynasty greatly responsible for the opioid epidemic’s unfathomable death toll. Following her own personal struggle with opioid addiction, Goldin, who rose from the New York “No Wave” underground to become one of the great photographers of the late 20th century, put herself at the forefront of the battle against the Sacklers, both as an activist at art institutions around the world that had accepted millions from the family and as an advocate for the de-stigmatization of drug addiction. Illustrated with a rich trove of photographs by Goldin, who mesmerizingly narrates her own story, including her dysfunctional suburban upbringing, the loss of her teenage sister, and her community’s fight against AIDS in the eighties, Poitras’s film is an enthralling, empowering work that stirringly connects personal tragedy, political awareness, and artistic expression.
Elegance Bratton, 2022, U.S., 93m
Known for his affecting and dynamic documentary Pier Kids, about homeless queer and transgender youth in New York, and the Viceland series My House, on underground competitive ballroom dancing, filmmaker and photographer Elegance Bratton has made his ambitious narrative debut, a knockout drama based on his own experiences as a gay man in Marine Corps basic training following a decade of living on the streets. In a breathtaking first cinematic starring role, Tony and Emmy–nominated actor Jeremy Pope is run through an emotional and physical gauntlet as a young man dealing with the intimidation of a sadistic sergeant (Bokeem Woodbine), his desire for a sympathetic superior (Raúl Castillo), and his complicated feelings toward the mother who rejected him (a revelatory Gabrielle Union). Bratton’s film is a nuanced portrait of American masculinity and evocation of the military during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era, as well as a forceful, electric work of autobiography. An A24 release.
NYFF 60th Anniversary Celebration
James Gray, 2022, U.S., 114m
The most personal film yet from James Gray (The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z) is also one of his greatest, an exquisitely detailed and deeply emotional etching of a time and place: Queens, 1980. Set against the backdrop of a country on the cusp of ominous sociopolitical change, Armageddon Time follows Paul Graff (Banks Repeta), a sixth grader who dreams of becoming an artist. At the same time that Paul builds a friendship with classmate Johnny (Jaylin Webb), who’s mercilessly targeted by their racist teacher, he finds himself increasingly at odds with his parents (Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway), for whom financial success and assimilation are key to the family’s Jewish-American identity. Paul feels on firmest ground with his kind grandfather (a marvelous Anthony Hopkins), whose life experiences have granted him a weathered compassion. Rejecting easy nostalgia for a more difficult, painful form of recall, Gray’s film—shot with intimate naturalism by Darius Khondji—is a perceptive and humane coming-of-age story that does what only cinema can do, elevating the smallest moments into the greatest drama. A Focus Features release.
Charlotte Wells, 2022, U.K., 98m
In one of the most assured and spellbinding feature debuts in years, Scottish director Charlotte Wells has fashioned a textured memory piece inspired by her relationship with her dad, taking place over the course of a brooding weekend at a coastal resort in Turkey. The charismatic Paul Mescal and naturalistic newcomer Francesca Corio fully inhabit Calum and Sophie, a divorced father and his daughter often mistaken for brother and sister, who share a close and loving bond that creates an entire world unto itself. Wells employs an unusual and gorgeous aesthetic that brings us into the interior space of this parent and child, even as she judiciously withholds details, an approach that finally grants the film a singular emotional wallop. Aftersun reimagines the coming-of-age narrative as a poignant, ultimately ungraspable chimera, informed by the present as much as the past. Winner of the French Touch Prize of the Jury at this year’s Cannes Festival. An A24 release.
Carla Simón, 2022, Spain/Italy, 120m
Catalan and Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale Festival, Carla Simón’s follow-up to her acclaimed childhood drama Summer 1993 is a ruminative, lived-in portrait of a rural family in present-day Catalonia whose way of life is rapidly changing. The Solé clan live in a small village, annually harvesting peaches for local business and export. However, their livelihood is put in jeopardy by the looming threat of the construction of solar panels, which would necessitate the destruction of their orchard. From this simple narrative, pitting agricultural tradition against the onrushing train of modern progress, Simón weaves a marvelously textured film that moves to the unpredictable rhythms and caprices of nature and family life. A MUBI release.
All That Breathes
Shaunak Sen, 2022, India/U.K./USA, 94m
Hindi with English subtitles
High above bustling New Delhi, birds of prey known as black kites have for years routinely been falling from the skies due to injuries sustained from pollution or manja, the dangerous cotton threads of paper kites that slice through their wings. For decades, brothers Mohammad Saud and Nadeem Shehzad—who believe in the interconnectedness of human and animal life—have taken it upon themselves to save the birds, which the general city population largely sees as nuisances despite their essential role in the city’s ecosystem. In his hypnotic, poignant, and beautifully crafted documentary, New Delhi–based filmmaker Shaunak Sen immerses himself with Saud and Shehzad for a portrayal of their struggle to make change that doubles as a diagnosis of a city rocked by turmoil. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary (World Cinema) at Sundance and the L’OEil d’or for Best Documentary at Cannes. A Sideshow and Submarine Deluxe release in association with HBO Documentary Films.
Marie Kreutzer, 2022, Austria, France, Germany 113m
German, French, English, Hungarian with English subtitles
In a perceptive, nuanced performance, Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread) quietly dominates the screen as Empress Elizabeth of Austria, who begins to see her life of royal privilege as a prison as she reaches her 40th birthday. Marie Kreutzer boldly imagines Elizabeth’s cloistered, late-19th-century world within the Austro-Hungarian Empire with both austere realism and fanciful anachronism, while staying true and intensely close to the woman’s private melancholy and political struggle amidst a crumbling, combative marriage and escalating scrutiny. Star and director have together created a remarkable vision of a strong-willed political figure whose emergence from a veiled, corseted existence stands for a Europe on the cusp of major, irrevocable transformation. An IFC Films release.
Frederick Wiseman, 2022, U.S., 63m
French with English subtitles
Countess Sophia Behrs married Leo Tolstoy when she was 18 and he was 34. They were husband and wife for 48 years, had 13 children, and she outlived him by nine years. Yet their relationship, among the most discussed and written about in literary history, was anything but harmonious, as Sophia, an artist in her own right—a photographer, memoirist, and editor—was constantly forced to negotiate her happiness with her husband’s infidelities. Inspired by Sophia’s story, legendary American documentarian Frederick Wiseman has made a film based on Sophia’s diaries and letters from Leo to Sophia, structured as a series of monologues delivered with magnificent poise and gathering intensity by star and co-writer Nathalie Boutefeu, pillowed by graceful images of natural beauty from the film’s bucolic French setting. Wiseman’s captivating one-woman portrait presents a remarkably contemporary rendering of a marriage. A Zipporah Films release.
De Humani Corporis Fabrica
Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2022, France/Switzerland/U.S., 117m
French with English subtitles
In their thrilling new work of nonfiction exploration, Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, best known for such aesthetically and ethnographically revelatory films as Leviathan and Caniba, burrow deeper than ever, using microscopic cameras and specially designed recording devices to survey the wondrous landscape of the human body. More transfixing than clinical, the film, shot in hospitals in and around Paris, eschews the normal narrative parameters for medical documentation in favor of a rigorously detached, expressionistic look at our tactile yet essentially unknowable flesh and viscera. With its unshakable images of biopsies, cesarean delivery, endoscopic procedures, and the little-seen crevices inside all of us, De Humani Corporis Fabrica both demystifies and celebrates life and death. A Grasshopper Film and Gratitude Films release.
Decision to Leave
Park Chan-wook, 2022, South Korea, 138m
Korean and Chinese with English subtitles
Busan detective Hae-joon finds that he’s increasingly obsessed with a puzzling new case: a middle-aged businessman has mysteriously fallen to his death during a rock climbing expedition. Upon discovering photos of his abused wife, a Chinese national named Seo-rae (Tang Wei), Hae-joon begins to suspect it wasn’t an accident, all the while becoming emotionally and erotically drawn to her. From this Hitchcockian situation, director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) weaves a swelling, expanding, ever more complex tale about a possible black widow and the investigator who just might be fashioning his own web. One of Park’s most enveloping and accomplished thrillers, which earned him the Best Director award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Decision to Leave is a constantly surprising, elegantly constructed film that builds in power to a truly haunting denouement. A MUBI release.
Margaret Brown, 2022, U.S., 109m
In 1860, decades after the U.S. banned the practice of kidnapping and importing humans for enslavement, yet five years before the 13th amendment emancipated the nation’s already enslaved people, a ship named the Clotilda docked in Mobile, Alabama. There, it unloaded more than one hundred African souls before it was ordered destroyed and sunk to eradicate evidence. Freed in 1865, yet unable to return to their homeland, the survivors founded Africatown—a testament to their strength which persists today despite the town’s governmental neglect and economic disparity. This long submerged history symbolizes a nation’s forgotten atrocities in this poignant and cathartic documentary from nonfiction veteran Margaret Brown (The Order of Myths). Reckoning with the legacy of this history and giving voice to the descendants of these enslaved people, Brown’s intricately drawn film tells an urgent tale of community revitalization, environmental action, and racial justice. A Netflix release.
Mark Jenkin, 2022, U.K., 91m
In 1973, on an uninhabited, windswept, rocky island off the coast of Cornwall in southwest England, an isolated middle-aged woman (Mary Woodvine) spends her days in enigmatic environmental study. When she’s not tending to the moss-covered stone cottage in which she lodges, her central preoccupation is a cluster of wildflowers at cliff’s edge, their subtle changes noted in a daily ledger. Yet she’s also increasingly haunted by her own nightmarish visitations, which seem both summoned from her own past and brought up from the very soil and ceremonial history of this mysterious place. Shot on enveloping, period-evocative 16mm, this eerie, texturally rich experience from Cornish filmmaker Mark Jenkin conjures works of classic British folk horror but remains its own strange being, a genuine transmission from a weird other world. A NEON release.
Jerzy Skolimowski, 2022, Poland/Italy, 86m
Polish, Italian, English, French with English subtitles
At age 84, legendary director Jerzy Skolimowski (The Deep End, Moonlighting) has directed one of his spryest, most visually inventive films, following the travels of a peripatetic donkey named EO. After being removed from the only life he’s ever known in a traveling circus, EO begins a journey across the Polish and Italian countryside, experiencing cruelty and kindness, captivity and freedom. Skolimowski imagines the animal’s mesmerizing journey as an ever-shifting interior landscape, marked by absurdity and warmth in equal measure, putting the viewer in the unique perspective of the protagonist. Skolimowski has constructed his own bold vision about the follies of human nature, seen from the ultimate outsider’s perspective. A Sideshow and Janus Films release.
The Eternal Daughter
Joanna Hogg, 2022, U.K./U.S., 96m
One gloomy night, a middle-aged filmmaker and her elderly mother arrive at a fog-enshrouded hotel in the English countryside. An ominously brusque clerk, an apparent lack of other guests, and disturbing sounds from the room above theirs bode a less-than-welcome arrival. Yet all is not what it seems on this increasingly emotional trip into the past for these two women, one of whom has definitely been here before. Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), among today’s foremost filmmakers, uses this Victorian gothic scenario for an entirely surprising, impeccably crafted, and, finally, overwhelming excavation of a parent-child relationship and the impulse toward artistic creation. And Tilda Swinton, in a performance of rich, endless surprise, turns in one of the most remarkable acting feats in her astonishing career. An A24 release.
Paul Schrader, 2022, U.S., 107m
North American Premiere
Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton) takes great care and pride in his work as the longtime head horticulturist at Gracewood Gardens, the historic estate of the demanding, imperious Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver). An enclosed, scrupulously run world of its own, Gracewood has been in the Haverhill family for generations, and Norma trusts no one other than Narvel to continue its traditions. However, a threat of change is harkened by the arrival of Norma’s troubled grand-niece, Maya (Quintessa Swindell), whose presence sets off a chain reaction of events that catalyze Narvel into coming to terms with his own shocking past. Following First Reformed and The Card Counter, Paul Schrader continues his dramatic renaissance with an equally effective, startling tale about dormant violence and the possibility of regeneration.
Jafar Panahi, 2022, Iran, 107m
Farsi, Azerbaijani, Turkish with English subtitles
One of the world’s great cinematic artists, Jafar Panahi has been carefully crafting self-reflexive works about artistic, personal, and political freedom for the past three decades, and his risk-taking output has never slowed down even amidst his globally condemned treatment by the Iranian government. Now, as the international film community vehemently denounces Panahi’s summer 2022 arrest, this time for his vocal support of a fellow artist’s independence, he has gifted us all with a new film, and it’s another virtuosic sleight of hand. In No Bears, as in many of his recent titles, he centers himself, having relocated temporarily to a rural border town to remotely oversee the making of a new film in Tehran, the story of which comes to sharply mirror disturbing events that begin to occur around him. In these parallel yet cross-hatching narratives, Panahi keeps pulling the narrative rug out from under the viewer as he confronts tradition and progress, city and country, spiritual belief and photographic evidence, and the human desire to escape from oppression.
The Novelist’s Film
Hong Sangsoo, 2022, South Korea, 92m
Korean with English subtitles
North American Premiere
For his playful and gently thought-provoking 27th feature, Hong Sangsoo takes on the perspective of a prickly middle-aged novelist, Junhee (Lee Hyeyoung, the magnetic star of Hong’s In Front of Your Face). After revisiting an old friend who now runs a bookshop outside of Seoul, she embarks on a restorative journey that leads her to a chance encounter with a famous actress and former movie star (Kim Minhee); the two make an instant connection that stokes both women’s dormant creative impulses. Within this simple, loose-limbed premise, Hong locates a deep well of emotional truth, and poses a bounty of questions about the necessities and expectations of art-making, leading to a poignant, entirely unexpected, mode-shifting climax. A Cinema Guild release.
One Fine Morning
Mia Hansen-Løve, 2022, France, 112m
French with English subtitles
Few filmmakers are as adept at exploring the contours of modern love and grief as Mia Hansen-Løve (Bergman Island), whose intensely poignant and deeply personal latest drama stars Léa Seydoux as Sandra, a professional translator and single mother at a crossroads. Her father (Pascal Greggory), rapidly deteriorating from a neurological illness, will soon require facility care, and her new lover (Melvil Poupaud) is a married dad whose unavailability only seems to draw her nearer to him, despite—or because of—the fact that she’s going through an overwhelming time in her life. Hansen-Løve, so finely observant of the small nuances of human interaction, creates, in harmonious concert with a magnificent Seydoux, a complicated portrait of a woman torn between romantic desire and familial tragedy that is a marvel of emotional and formal economy. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Albert Serra, 2022, France/Spain/Germany/Portugal, 162m
French with English subtitles
Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra reconfirms his centrality in the contemporary cinematic landscape with this mesmerizing portrait of a French bureaucrat (a monumental Benoît Magimel) drifting through a fateful trip to a French Polynesian island with increasing anxiety. Pacifiction charts the various uneasy relationships that develop between Magimel’s autocratic yet avuncular High Commissioner, De Roller, and the Indigenous locals (including nonprofessional actor Pahoa Mahagafanau in a hypnotic breakthrough as De Roller’s trusted right hand and maybe lover) who operate essentially under his faux-benevolent thumb, many of whom we meet at a resort that caters to the prurient exoticism of foreign tourists. Serra’s gripping, atmospheric thriller is a slow-building fever dream that lulls before catching us by surprise with the depths of its darkness, a film that allows its incisive social commentary about the remnants of colonialism to surface through quiet observation and aesthetic audacity. A Grasshopper Film and Gratitude Films release.
Cristian Mungiu, 2022, Romania/France, 125m
Romanian with English subtitles
Cristian Mungiu, whose bravura films such as 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days and Beyond the Hills dramatize the tensions of a modern Romania still beholden to dangerous traditions, returns with a gripping, mosaic-like portrait of a rural Transylvanian town riven by ethnic conflicts, economic resentment, and personal turmoil. Matthias (a glowering Marin Grigore) has returned to the village after an altercation at his job in a German slaughterhouse, only to find that his estranged wife has grown more distant and his young son has stopped talking after witnessing something disturbing in the forest near their home. Meanwhile his former lover, Csila (Judith State), with whom he hopes to rekindle an affair, has become involved in an escalating controversy when her local bread factory hires Sri Lankan migrants. These strands converge in increasing combustibility, building to an unsettling climax and a bravura town hall sequence that ranks with Mungiu’s best work. An IFC Films release.
Return to Seoul
Davy Chou, 2022, France/Germany/South Korea/Belgium, 115m
English, French, and Korean with English subtitles
Freddie (Park Ji-Min), a young French woman, finds herself spontaneously tracking down the South Korean birth parents she has never met while on vacation in Seoul. From this seemingly simple premise, Cambodian-French filmmaker Davy Chou spins an unpredictable, careering narrative that takes place over the course of several years, always staying close on the roving heels of its impetuous protagonist, who moves to her own turbulent rhythms (as does the galvanizing Park, a singular new screen presence). Chou elegantly creates probing psychological portraiture from a character whose feelings of unbelonging have kept her at an emotional distance from nearly everyone in her life; it’s an enormously moving film made with verve, sensitivity, and boundless energy. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Alice Diop, 2022, France, 118m
French with English subtitles
Rama (Kayije Kagame), a successful journalist and author living in Paris, has come to Saint Omer, a town in the north of France, to attend the trial of a young Senegalese woman, Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanga), who allegedly murdered her baby daughter. Although she admits to killing the child, she cannot or will not provide motivation, claiming it was a kind of sorcery out of her control. Rama’s plan to write about Laurence in a book inspired by the Medea myth increasingly unravels as she becomes overwhelmed by the case, and reckons with memories of her immigrant mother as well as her own impending motherhood. In her consummate fiction feature debut, Alice Diop (We) constructs an arresting yet highly sensitive, superbly acted film of constantly revealing layers. Saint Omer is at once a tense courtroom drama, a work of abstracted psychological portraiture, an inquiry into human agency, and a provocative examination of the limits of myth and cross-cultural knowledge.
Pietro Marcello, 2022, France/Italy/Germany, 103m
French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Pietro Marcello, one of contemporary cinema’s most versatile talents, follows his dramatic breakthrough Martin Eden with an enchanting period fable based on a beloved 1923 novel by Russian writer Alexander Grin. Beginning as the tale of a sensitive brute (Räphael Terry) who returns home from World War I to his rural French village to discover his wife has died and that he must take care of their baby daughter, Juliette, the film blossoms into a pastoral portrait of Juliette as a free-spirited young woman (Juliette Jouan) reckoning with a local witch’s prophecy for her future and falling for the modern man (Louis Garrel) who literally drops from the sky. In his first film made in France, Marcello proves again he is as comfortable in the realm of folklore as he is in creative nonfiction, delicately interweaving realist drama, ethereal romance, and musical flights of fancy.
Kelly Reichardt, 2022, U.S., 108m
North American Premiere
Continuing one of the richest collaborations in modern American cinema, director Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women) reunites with star Michelle Williams for this marvelously particularized portrait of a sculptor’s daily work and frustrations in an artists’ enclave in Portland. Lizzy (Williams) struggles to put the finishing touches on her latest pieces for a gallery show, all the while juggling admin work at the local art school; dealing with the neglect of her well-meaning landlord (a funny and nuanced Hong Chau), who also happens to be a rising-star conceptual artist; and tending to the emotional wellbeing of her increasingly fragmented family. Christopher Blauvelt’s patient camerawork, Reichardt’s precise cutting, and Williams’s physically transformative performance coalesce to create something remarkable in Showing Up, a delicately humorous drama of the experience of being a creative person that avoids all clichés that plague films about artists. An A24 release.
Stars at Noon
Claire Denis, 2022, France, 137m
English and Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A dissolute young American journalist (Margaret Qualley) and an English businessman (Joe Alwyn) with ties to the oil industry meet by chance while on different, mysterious assignments in modern-day Nicaragua. The two tumble into a whirlwind romance despite knowing little about each other’s true professional identities—all while abstract forces close in on them as they desperately try to book it out of a country that won’t seem to let them leave. Stars at Noon, based on the 1986 novel by Denis Johnson, represents a new mode for director Claire Denis, a contemporary thriller suffused with political intrigue and languid eroticism, moving entirely to the tactile rhythms of its actors, especially rising star Qualley, who gives a live-wire performance of fervid spontaneity and mercurial passion. Winner of the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. An A24 release.
Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuka, Japan, 148m
Hunanese with English subtitles
For more than a decade, Beijing-based wife-and-husband team Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuka have been making films about the lives of young people in China—in many cases “left-behind children,” or those whose parents are forced to leave their families to find jobs in cities. Expanding their project, their gripping, humane yet uncompromising latest, shot with a precise formal economy by Otsuka (who also serves as cinematographer), focuses on a year in the life of Lynn, a flight-attendant-in-training whose plans to finish college are thrown into doubt when she discovers she’s pregnant. Not wanting an abortion (a decision she hides from her callow, absent boyfriend, away on modeling and party-hosting gigs), she hopes to give the child away after carrying it to term, while staying afloat amidst a series of dead-end jobs. As incarnated by the filmmakers’ quietly potent recurring star Yao Honggui, Lynn—whose story continues after being the center of the filmmakers’ acclaimed The Foolish Bird (2007)—is both a fully rounded character and the vessel for an urgent critique of a modern-day social structure that has few options for women in need of care.
Todd Field, 2022, U.S., 157m
The charisma and emotional precision of Cate Blanchett are put to astounding use in this deft showcase for the actor’s nearly musical artistry, a stinging portrait of a world-famous orchestra conductor’s gradual unraveling that is the first film in sixteen years from director Todd Field (In the Bedroom, Little Children). A Focus Features release.
Laura Citarella, 2022, Argentina, 250m (presented in two parts)
Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In her dazzling and enormously pleasurable new opus, Laura Citarella takes the viewer on a limitless, mercurial journey through stories nested within stories set in and around the Argentinean city of Trenque Lauquen (“Round Lake”) and centered on the strange disappearance of a local academic named Laura (Laura Paredes). Through initial inquiries by two colleagues—older boyfriend Rafael and a driver named Ezequiel with whom she had grown secretly close—we learn about her recent discoveries, including a new, unclassified species of flower and a series of old love letters hidden at the local library, which may help them track her down. Yet as flashbacks and anecdotes pile up, we—and the film’s intrepid investigators—begin to realize that this intricately structured tale is larger and stranger than we could have imagined. Citarella, a producer of the equally remarkable shape-shifting epic La Flor, has confidently crafted a series of interlocked romantic, biological, and ecological mysteries that create parallels between past lives and present dangers, invoke the rapture of obsessive pursuit, and salute the human need to find personal freedom and happiness. Trenque Lauquen is told in 12 chapters spread across two feature films.
Triangle of Sadness
Ruben Östlund, 2022, Sweden/France/UK/Turkey/Germany, 147m
Cinematic mischief maker Ruben Östlund liberally applies his customary playfulness to the wide canvas of his wildly ambitious, frequently hilarious latest film, which won the Swedish director his second Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Kicking off as a satirical romance, following the bickering, money-soured relationship between two hot young models (Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Dean), the three-part film escalates into increasing absurdity after they are invited on a luxury cruise, where they rub elbows with the super-rich, as well as a disheveled and disillusioned, Marx-spouting sea captain (Woody Harrelson). To tell more would ruin the Buñuelian twists of this poison-dipped farce on class and economic disparity, which doesn’t skewer contemporary culture so much as dunk it in raw sewage. A NEON release.
Cyril Schäublin, 2022, Switzerland, 93m
Swiss German, Russian and French with English subtitles
A film of immense delicacy and precision, Cyril Schäublin’s complexly woven timepiece is set in the hushed environs of the Swiss watchmaking town of Saint-Imier in the 1870s. In this unlikely place, a youthful Pyotr Kropotkin, who would become a noted anarchist and socialist philosopher, experiences a quiet revolution, finding himself inspired by the buzzing activity of the town’s denizens, from the photographers and cartographers surveying its people and land; to the growing anarchist collective at the local watermill, raising funds for strikes abroad; to the organizing workers at the watch factory, whose craft is depicted with exacting detail and devotion. Schäublin’s abstracted, geometric visual approach reinforces the singularly contemplative nature of his project: this is a film about time—its tyranny as well as its comforts—and how it relates to work, leisure, and the larger processes that shape history. A KimStim release.
Hong Sangsoo, 2022, South Korea, 97m
Korean with English subtitles
Hong Sangsoo uses a delicately radical structure in his latest exploration of the complexities of relationships, growing older, and artistic pursuit. Successful middle-aged filmmaker Byungsoo (Kwon Haehyo) drops by to visit and introduce his daughter to an old friend, Mrs. Kim (Lee Hyeyoung), the owner of a charming apartment building that houses a restaurant on the ground floor. After Mrs. Kim tries to persuade him to move into one of the walk-up units, the film and Byungsoo’s future take a series of unexpected turns, as the various floors of the apartment come to contain different stages of his romantic and professional lives—or perhaps they’re different realities? Hong’s playfully existential drama consistently surprises, asking provocative, unresolvable questions about desire, illusion, and satisfaction and what we need—and take—from one another as we seek our own answers. A Cinema Guild release.