Lame Adventure 347: New York Film Festival 2012

The New York Film Festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  Milton and I have been there every day since Saturday, even though we’ve only seen three films thus far.  Milton, who has been a longtime member of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, has not been wild about the location of our seats.  For many screenings we seem to be sitting in the nosebleeds.

Guy playing the piano with his dog outside Alice Tully Hall on Saturday.

The first film we saw was Amour, written and directed by one of our favorite filmmakers working today, Michael Haneke.  He won the Palme D’Or at Cannes for this very unsentimental story set in Paris about Georges and Anne, a longtime married couple coping with the ravages of old age after one suffers a stroke and the other is the caregiver. The octogenarian actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, both give extraordinary performances. Veteran actress Isabelle Huppert plays Eva, their middle-aged daughter that resides in London, who feels increasingly frustrated and helpless every time she visits her parents.  Although this film is depressing,  Haneke is such a talented filmmaker, it is riveting and packed with brilliant moments including a chilling nightmare sequence that elicited gasps from the audience.  Of course the real horror is the physical decline that likely awaits many of us as we approach our own mortality.   Yee ha.

Paparazzo Milton sees Michael Haneke milling around the Alice Tully Hall lobby pre-screening of “Amour”.

We noticed that our audience was full of senior citizens including a woman that inched toward her seat with half the energy of a sleeping snail before she settled in front of us.  All the while her friend repeatedly bleated in a thick New York accent, “Fran!  Over here, Fran!  Fran, over here!”  This agitated Milton who kept muttering fluent monosyllabic. There was also quite a lot of loud phlegmy coughing around us prompting him to mutter:

Milton:  God, we’re seeing this in a tuberculosis ward.

Fortunately, the film was excellent, even though we were sitting in row U.

The next day we had tickets to Beyond the Hills, written and directed by the Romanian filmmaker Christian Mungiu.

Milton’s iPhone gotcha shot of Christian Mungiu mingling with fans post “Beyond the Hills” screening.

We’re sitting in row T and Milton is fixated on the two and a half hour running time:

Milton:  This better be good.

I reminded Milton about the Bela Tarr screening we attended last year for The Turin Horse, a film about the futility of existence as illustrated through an ill work horse and two peasants eating potatoes. It was 146 minutes long – but we both loved it.

Beyond the Hills, is a story set in the present about two 25-year-old women that were best friends in a Romanian orphanage after they were abandoned at a very young age by their parents.  One woman is essentially an atheist, but the other has joined a monastery.  When they were in the orphanage, the relationship was sexual.  The secular woman, after working as a waitress in Germany, misses her friend terribly, so she visits her in the monastery.  She wants to rekindle what they had before but the religious woman has decided to devote her life to God.  Life in the monastery provides her with security and a sense of home. The besotted secular friend, grows increasingly unhinged.  The members of the monastery, a priest and several nuns, resort to a barbaric religious ritual to control the situation.  It ends miserably.

Milton declared this film:

Milton: Brokeback Mountain meets The Exorcist.

Milton iPhone gotcha shot of Anjelica Huston trying to slip into Alice Tully Hall through a side door.

On Monday night Milton and I had tickets to a film written and directed by Sally Potter called Ginger and Rosa.  We have third row balcony seats, seats he despises because they’re located a time zone away from the screen.

Ginger and Rosa is a pretentious 89-minute film with a terrific classic jazz soundtrack that seemed to run five hours as I drifted in and out of consciousness.  The story is set in 1962 England during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a time when 17-year-old Ginger, a budding radical suffering extreme anxiety about a potential nuclear holocaust, worships her best friend, Rosa, a full fledged slut, who sleeps with Ginger’s cad of a father.  The worship ends, the world continues and Ginger writes a poem where she forgives Rosa.  Milton delivered a one-word review:

Milton: Awful.

I would have almost preferred watching a black screen with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie playing on the audiotrack.

Afterward he revised it when he assessed the talent of the 63-year-old filmmaker, Sally Potter:

Milton: She’s too old to be making a film this bad.

Then, he revised his assessment a third time; he was impressed with Elle Fanning’s performance as Ginger:

Milton:  I don’t know what’s in the water those Fanning sisters drink, but they all have talent.  Too bad they can’t find a filmmaker that knows what to do with them.

Elle Fanning sitting in the center during post “Ginger and Rosa” screening q&a. Photo taken from third row balcony seat i.e., the moon.

He added authoritatively:

Milton:  This was so bad it made Beyond the Hills seem like Gone with the Wind.

Red carpet.

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112 responses to “Lame Adventure 347: New York Film Festival 2012

  1. Love your commentary. Milton sounds like a great partner in viewing them.
    Danny and I just watched Red Lights which is an 2012 indi film out on PPV. We loved it!

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  2. Brokeback Mountain meets the Exorcist! Sounds wonderful! V, you and I have talked about film festivals before. I love them, just to get to see the great surprise films before critic and public commentary. Hope some of the other screenings are better…

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    • Amour was a terrific film. I highly recommend it. You’d love the NYFF Cathy.

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      • Yes, I would love the NYFF. Culcha at it’s finest! Truly.

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        • lameadventures

          I think you’d enjoy the NYFF very much and afterward you could walk south seven blocks, climb six flights of stairs and hang out with the statue of Christopher Columbus in a penthouse living room. We really know how to live large in the Big Apple Cathy.

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          • I would love that! And not to brag, but climbing six flights of stairs at sea level is nothing compared to hiking our mountains and starting at 8000 feet climbing to 11. If I were traveling to the Big Apple this fall, I would definitely pay Chris a visit. I have to say, I’m a bit jealous about your amazing proximity and access to the NYFF.

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            • The access to culture is why I am such a barnacle to this town. Climbing a mile and a half high mountain, or even a ten foot high grade is not on this city slicker’s to-do list.

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              • I can so understand the culture. I love that too. When we were in Boston last week, we spent a whole day the Museum of Fine Arts. Divine…I visited some of my favorite paintings as well as their exquisite Egyptian galleries. And I’m excited because at the end of the month, we’re going to the Denver Art Museum for my birthday to see the Van Gogh exhibit.

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  3. V, that one with the horse and potato-eating peasants doesn’t sound that riveting to me, but art is objective, eh? Enjoyed the film reviews and critiques and you and Milton seem to have a good time no matter what the circumstances. Wish you could have snapped a pic on the red carpet — you two being on the red carpet.

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  4. Thanks. The reviews have probably saves me untold hours and more than a few shekels. I believe I can safely avoid all 3 films. I have never been to a film festival but I did visit Cannes about 10 years ago and walked up the steps where the red carpet lay.

    What I remember of that trip to Cannes comes down to a couple of lessons learned. Because I was meeting The Bride there I has to book the flight(s) myself. I would need to book a red eye to Paris and catch a domestic flight to Nice. I don’t remember the dates but it was about a week or two after the film festival. The only problem was I booked the first leg on British Air for, for the sake of argument, June 2 and the second leg for the same date. Problem was: the flight to Nice should have been on the 3rd. Nice surprise at DeGaulle. Moral of he story: if your brighter significant other cannot book the flight, call the airline and don’t book it online. They’re a tad more experienced than you when it comes to things like time and date.

    The second thing I learned about Cannes was that most European females sunbathe topless. Even octogenarians. Never stare, 80 year old breasts, when belonging to a reclining woman on a chaise, resemble a couple of fried eggs that are slipping off the plate.

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  5. I’ve been to Sundance a bunch of times and the CIFF too, but I have yet to come to the NYFF. one of these days I will! that’s a threat!

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  6. Milton should be giving movie reviews on television, radio, and print. Let some (as you) give all the details, then his bit would be 6 words of less … such as Brokeback Mountain meets The Exorcist … he would be a big hit.

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  7. I agree with Frank. Milton needs a larger audience. He’s good.

    But, gosh, what a great opportunity you have to see at least the first two of these films. Beyond the Hills, despite it’s “Brokeback Mountain meets The Exorcist” characterization, sound intiguing to me. ANd the first–well, I think I may be declining myself at an alarming rate. Aging is a bitch, and then, of course, we’re f*cked– The third–we won’t go there.

    Hope your week is going well, V.

    Hugs,
    Kathy

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    • Here’s a snippet of Beyond the Hills, Kathy:

      Toss in another 149 minutes and some religion-inspired torture and there ya go!

      How’s my week going? You don’t want to know but I promise I will get to your site this evening.

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  8. V- I love how you really take advantage of living in NY. Thank you for sharing all the cool stuff you do. I guess art films must be vodka, bathtub, razor depressing to be called art. :) I watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last night and it was really fun.

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  9. I shouldn’t have read this while eating a mozzarella tomato sandwich — I could’ve choked from laughing! I love that you were sitting in the “U” seats — Hilarious!

    Also — thanks for the reviews, and for Milton’s commentary. Milton’s comment about Brokeback Mountain meets the Exorcist — hell I’m laughing as I type it out — bahahahaha!

    Good stuff!

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  10. I saw the potato and horse film last year. Since then, I have never looked at a baked potato in the same way. I use that film as my measure of good film festival fare. As in, never again will i sit through a film with peasants eating hot potatoes with their hands.

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  11. Love your reviews, though I wonder why you have to cast aspersions at sitting in Wuthering Heights, Section C. I love it up there. Having said this, I saw you feebly clapping at the end of The Sally Potter and almost had a heart attack. I’m so relieved you were just being polite. Thank God, Milton, you and I agree that it sucked. Milton nailed it. There were first films by much younger directors in the festival that are a thousand times less amateurish than this piece o crap. It was like a badly staged Mexican soap but with British people. Nice seeing you in the nosebleeds!
    Best
    Grande Enchilada.

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    • It doesn’t cost anything to be polite, but I was so bored, terminally bored. Yes, I thought I saw my life pass before my eyes. I didn’t realize that I’ve eaten so many bananas through the years. That factoid interested me far more than that film.

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  12. By the way, and as you know, Brokeback Meets The Exorcist is one of my faves of the festival, so I went over to Mungiu and told him I love his long takes and don’t let anybody tell him otherwise. He was very pleased with himself.

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  13. unfetteredbs

    Milton would be my perfect date, if I ever left the house :)

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  14. Yes, loved the commentary, LA. I went to a Destiny’s Child concert about three hundred years ago and had Moon seats like those you had, so fully appreciate what you mean.

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    • I hope there was at least a giant screen TV when you saw them Tom.

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      • There must have been… although I don’t remember actually seeing one. The odd thing about that night, was that in the thousands of people who were in the audience, my friend went to the same concert, separately, and was sitting on the opposite side. He saw me and called my mobile to tell me. I couldn’t see him though, even though he was telling me he was frantically waving. I think the hundreds of others who were dancing caused him to blend in a little… and although they were dots, Destiny’s Child were good!

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  15. It’s good to have a viewing partner who knows when to be ruthless over these things. Have you ever walked out of a film that was truly terrible?

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    • Not that I can recall, but Milton would have gladly bolted last night’s q&a. I wanted to stay to try to get more rubberneck photos afterward, but everyone responsible for that steaming pile either left through a secret passage unless they were all executed.

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      • rollergiraffe

        Probably executed, lest such a film would have to be inflicted on another festival. I bet they have people taking the temperature of the audience during the film and making life or death decisions.

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  16. writerwendyreid

    Film festival sounds cool. Tell Milton since he likes long movies, he needs to see Schindler’s List. :-)

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    • Milton saw Schindler’s List — probably on opening day when it was released. There are very few films that Milton has not seen, Wendy.

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      • writerwendyreid

        Really? A real movie-goer, huh? I will only go into a cinema if there is a good reason to pay $12 to see it…either it’s in 3D or IMAX or it’s a movie that really needs to be seen on the big screen.

        Other than that, I’m cheap and I wait for it to come on blue ray. :-P

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      • At the risk of repeating myself (MacArthur digression) you and Milton need to lock yourself in the garret and watch Our Hitler by Syberberg. Makes Schindlers List look like a made for TV movie (in terms of time commitment at least).

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  17. That first film is a must for me,Lame, Very topical. Sounds like you and MIlton have had a very busy few days…..a real buzz in the NY air…

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    • Fall in New York is always great since there is so much to do out here Kate and the weather is cooler, but still far from horrible. There’s the NYFF discussed in thi spost, but many new plays have opened or will open, soon. There’s a new season of ballet and the opera. Later this month, MoMA is going to display one of Edvard Munch’s original paintings of The Scream. I’ll be all over that and maybe I can drag Milton there.

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  18. This sounds awesome. The last movie I saw in the theater was….yup, I don’t know. Hunger Games? Maybe. Jesus that’s depressing. But I am watching the battle rounds on The Voice tonight so yeah….I’m going to jump off a cliff.

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    • That’s an uncomforting thought. You need to visit NYC again! Even though the NYFF will have ended, you could still catch a film at Film Forum, the quintessential New York art house movie theater, and then head over to Balloon Saloon for a happiness fix.

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  19. I feel quite depressed after reading those plot lines. I’ve had a long series of unpleasant encounters with bad film lately. My sister got on an old-folks- in-nursing-home kick. I’ve forbid her to download anymore of that genre. But then we watched “Heaven” with Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi and all we could say afterwards was “Stupid. Stupid.” Can’t wait to start watching “Dexter” again.

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  20. Next time you watch a movie or an awards show, you need to record the conversation between you and Milton. That would be some comedy gold. Seriously.

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  21. Milton sounds like a great movie buddy. “…seeing this in a tuberculosis ward” Ha! That cracked me up. I love that fact that you were at the New York Film Festival sounds like a very fun, cool and culturally awesome experience with all the Frans running around.

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  22. I want to go to a movie with Milton, now.

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  23. I’ve never been to a film festival (although I did once go to an evening of a music video festival–which wasn’t as inane as you might at first think). It sounds like fun.

    Until Milton’s last line, I didn’t realize you guys hadn’t liked the Romanian flick (well, I’m only assuming you didn’t like it). Yes, you did say it ends “miserably” but so do a lot of good movies (and books, plays, etc.). The plot at least sounds interesting, if heartbreaking. Peasants eating potatoes I don’t think I could do, however.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had “nosebleed” seats at the movies, but I’m gathering these theaters are much larger than any in which I’ve ever seen a movie (my clue was the word “balcony”).

    One thing I appreciate about your stuff is that, although the word “lame” is tongue-in-cheek, you really do have adventures. It’s very easy to become caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget to experience new things. I think I’m pretty good at that, and still I find myself forgetting all the time. It’s nice to have a reminder.

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    • The festival atmosphere — the electricity and energy adds to the excitement, and here in NYC I love seeing movies screened at Alice Tully Hall which is actually a concert hall the rest of the year. Milton had far more issues than I did with the Beyond the Hills. I was never bored. When I said it ends miserably, let’s just say it wasn’t a Hollywood ending; I don’t want to ruin it for you should you see it.

      Thanks for the compliment Smak. The one thing you’ll likely never find on this site is epic, romantic adventures, such as a death defying feat in an exotic locale — and I’m fine with that. At least I can handle my lame adventures here in Gotham City.

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  24. Sounds like we’re both in film festival mode. I’m in Vancouver this week soaking in a little FF atmosphere. Last night we’d to stand in line out on the street for 40 mins to get into Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell. I’ve read about all the films you’ve seen, and not seen, and without me making it too obvious, I’d rather be in NYC. I’ve wanted to see Life of Pi, but it’s being screened in NYFF only, not even at TIFF.

    I’ve enjoyed your, and Milton’s, succinct reviews. Amour we do have here at VIFF, but I chose not to see it. It’s a subject that’s too close to home, me being the only daughter to two parents in their 90’s. Actually I try to avoid films on that subject, albeit I know how many excellent films I’ll miss. I saw Heneke’s disturbing The White Ribbon last year and loved it.

    Elle Fanning is one of my fave young stars, preferring her much more than her older sister. Saw her in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere a couple of years ago. Elle Fanning is the only one bright spot in that film, totally authentic and unpretentious.

    I look forward to more reviews from you and Milton. And oh, since NYFF doesn’t screen Birders: The Central Park Effect, you might as well just go straight to Central Park and look for Starr Saphir, the seventy something birder leader (I keep hoping she’s not the victim of that violent act) and tell her Arti sent you. And as I said in my reply to your comment on my post, anytime you start a Latin club, sign me up.

    Enjoy your FF. ;)

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  25. jesus christ, i don’t always love film reviews, but i could read about you and milton attending screenings all day long. and ‘brokeback mtn meets the exorcist’ — christ on a cracker, LOVED. xo, sm

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