New York art types with a penchant for film have a lot on their plate this weekend with the launch of the New York Film Festival. There’s Tom Hanks fighting pirates in the premier of Captain Phillips if you want the mainstream. There’s James Franco’s latest bizarre literary adaptation “Child of God”, if you want what Manohla Dargis refers to as “a scene of on-screen defecation that’s so aggressively up close and personal that it approaches 3-D”. Yes, pirates and poop are very exciting. But those movies will be released across the nation, so it’ll be easy to check them out. This is a listing of the smaller and better offerings that don’t come around everyday.
If Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul’s traveling installation at the New Museum a couple years ago was any indication of his cross over potential, this filmmaker is one of the few to break through the divide between film and the art world. While he’s enjoying more success than ever, his early films benefits from not being weighed down by the more fantastical elements he’s obsessed over in recent years. It’s for this reason that we’re particularly excited about Mysterious Object at Noon, a simple documentary in which Joe asks rural villagers in Thailand to continue an exquisite corpse story one-by-one. The project simultaneously gives us a portrait of the Thai countryside’s inhabitants while constructing a surrealist story full of the Thai mysticism Joe has used to varying degrees of success in other projects. This is a solid reminder that Joe’s greatest strength is as a chronicler of Thailand and it’s history, which is heavily informed by folklore.
Showtime: Tuesday, October 8th, 6 PM
In 2001, Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson decided that their next film project would focus on immigration reform. Then 9/11 happened and we started “smokin’ out” the bad guys. In short, life’s changed quite a bit. So one film became a series of twelve and they will all be playing at the NYFF. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this series, is none of them are complete, and they will be screened as works in progress.
Showtime: Wednesday, October 9th, 7:45 PM
NYFF will kick off their massive Godard retrospective this weekend, but the “can’t miss” selections will play after the festival ends. Those would be France Tour Detour Deux Enfants and Six Fois Deux, each massive works that are rarely screened and will definitely require some dedication to see in their entirety. If you just gotta get your Godard on during the actual festival, check out “For Ever Mozart,” a beautiful meditation on the war that consumed Sarajevo in the 90’s. It’s a visually poetic and a very timely piece given the parallels to Americas possible upcoming intervention in Syria.
David Hockney’s “Hockney-Falco thesis” is a controversial theory that advancements throughout art history occurred primarily through technological developments (camera obsurca, camera lucida, and curved mirrors), rather than the development of artistic technique. Software developer Tim Jenison puts these ideas to the test when he becomes obsessed with recreating Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson” down to the very last object, and teaches himself to paint. Whether Hockney is proven right, wrong or (more likely) beside the point, this documentary should be an interesting art history experiment.
Frederick Wiseman is a giant. He’s spent the last 50 years chronicling American institutions as a fly on the wall and mercifully presenting his results without leading the audience with voiceovers and agendas. “At Berkeley” is his first foray into the American university, and with all the troubles that institution faces right now it will surely be required viewing for a long time to come. If it’s half as good as his 1968 examination of High School it’ll be one of the best films of the year.
Showtimes: Saturday, September 28th, 4:30 PM
Pretty much everything in the Convergence Series sounds worth checking out, but Cloud Chamber gets the recommend if for no other reason than it will give viewers a better idea of what this multi-platform project is all about. “Cloud Chamber” is a collaborative experience that is part alternate reality game, part film, part social network and allows the audience to participate in a mystery with a pre-recorded narrative. Could be great, could be some choose your own adventure, Dragon’s Lair style mess that loses momentum once you’re over the novelty. The participation of Lars Von Trier’s long time producer, Vibeke Windeløv, though, seems promising.
Showtimes: Saturday, September 28th, 11 AM
A documentary all about Google’s controversial project to digitize every single book ever published. That’s an interesting enough premise but the approach is what sells this; it’s a humorous, yet very fleshed out story. Issues of copyright, labor and conspiracy are all touched on. Here’s hoping the movie gives more traction to the whole Google class system story.
Showtimes: Wednesday, October 2nd, 3:30 PM
A selection of Aura Satz’ short films, all of which are difficult to get a hold of and pretty amazing. There are two programs of work to chose from, but program one is our choice for standout. With a particular focus on sound, subjects range from the search for a true alphabet of sound to attempts to play a skull with a gramophone. Very cool.