Lame Adventure 469: Opening Night at the 53rd New York Film Festival

Since I am a creature of habit, and I annually discuss the films I see at the New York Film Festival, which is like Christmas in October, here are observations from this year’s opening night festivities.

As usual, I was with my dear bud, Milton. We had not planned to attend the opening night film, The Walk, because it opens nationwide on October 9th. The Walk is based on the true story about Philippe Petit, a high-wire artist from France, who in 1974 walked the tightrope between the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. When that mind blowing event happened, we had plenty of dinner table conversation about it in my house. That took balls the size of cantaloupes, but if memory serves correct, that was not an exact quote at our dinner table, but my brother, Axel, could have said it afterward when we stepped out to walk the dog.

Tickets to the gala event screening at Alice Tully Hall cost a king’s ransom. Even more distressing was that it was not a tee shirt and sneaker-type screening. The idea of dressing formal to see a popcorn movie in 3D that is opening at every multiplex across the country in less than two weeks, rubs us wrong. Fortunately, a few days before the screening, the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced that there would be additional screenings on opening night in their more intimate surrounding theaters for the come-as-you-are types with stains on their shirts. Those tickets cost $20. Count us in!

Score!

Score!

Because the gala screening started at 6pm, while the screenings for slobs kicked off half an hour later, we realized that gave us ample time to rubberneck the red carpet ceremony outside Alice Tully Hall featuring the film’s stars. Unfortunately, a horde of autograph hounds had the same idea, creating a dense wall of humanity in front of us.

Better doors than windows.

Autograph hounds making better doors than windows.

Autograph hounds are on a mission. Basically, they’re dragon air breathing descendants of paparazzi. Milton explained that they sell the autographs they collect on line. I asked him if any of these autograph hounds had tickets to see the film. He thought that was highly unlikely. Apparently, standing behind a police barricade for hours waiting for a celebrity to pass by for a split second to sign a paper thrust aggressively in their face is their typical day at the office.

As we were waiting, Milton spotted Kate Mulgrew, who is currently appearing as Red in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. She is not in The Walk and she didn’t register on the autograph hounds radar, either. They stood slack jawed as Milton snapped this shot of her.

Kate Mulgrew wearing red scarf.

Kate Mulgrew wearing red scarf.

When the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis, appeared, the hounds sprang into action.

Crowd surge.

Crowd surge.

He's there somewhere!

Robert Zemeckis is there somewhere!

Milton's gotcha shot proving the new adage that two cameras are better than one.

Milton’s gotcha shot proving the new adage that two cameras are better than one.

They also pounced all over actor Steve Valentine.

Steve Valentine happy to oblige.

Steve Valentine happy to oblige.

Steve Valentine working the horde.

Steve Valentine working the horde.

But they went their most bat-shit crazy when Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who stars as Philippe Petit, approached.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt about to approach the lion's den.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt about to approach the lion’s den.

What was craziest was as he was being rushed inside the theater a voice among the hounds cried out:

Autograph Hound: Joseph, please come back!

And he did!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt a.k.a. Mr. Nice Guy.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt being Mr. Nice Guy.

The film is a very entertaining story about a wildly ambitious young man with the tenacity to do something historical. Milton thought it was the best use of 3D he had ever seen in a film. At one point when Petit is learning how to walk the wire, he drops his balancing pole. Milton and I both ducked, fearing we were each about to lose an eye. Even though we knew the story well, the film packs a tremendous amount of tension and suspense. Often, I found myself squirming; I suffered so much such anxiety. Afterward, I asked Milton if he thought that Joseph Gordon-Levitt actually learned to walk a tightrope for this film.

Milton: Yes, but his wire was probably two inches off the ground and everything around him was superimposed.

Petit’s magical achievement was something that could only be accomplished in a bygone era when it was possible to plot something so audacious almost invisibly in plain sight. The film was also a wonderful tribute to the towers. Before Petit walked the tightrope between them, New Yorkers viewed them as primarily two ugly boxes, but afterward, they took on a degree of humanity and New Yorkers embraced them. The film is peppered throughout with Petit standing inside Lady Liberty’s torch, talking directly to the camera about his feat, a cheesy device that breaks the fourth wall. At first, we found that gimmick irritating, but by the very end, we realized it provided poignant punctuation.

The Walk was a perfect film to inaugurate this year’s New York Film Festival. Don’t miss seeing it in 3D when it plays the multiplex wherever you live.

Advertisements

45 responses to “Lame Adventure 469: Opening Night at the 53rd New York Film Festival

  1. Excellent endorsement … and I assume Milton’s vertigo stayed in check. How many films will you see during the festival?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Milton was a trooper! We squirmed and sunk deeper into our seats right in unison. I highly recommend this one, Frank! As of last count, we’re only seeing eleven (last year we saw twenty), but we’re hoping to add more as the festival progresses should they add screenings

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cheers to Milton … Thanks for the recommendation and enjoy the rest of the shows.

        Liked by 2 people

        • We hope to, but every so often we’ll see a stinker there. Last year it was “Jauja”. What a steaming pile of crap!

          Liked by 1 person

          • When you see that many films, it is bound to happen.

            Liked by 1 person

            • You’ve got that right! Last night we saw two more: Mountains May Depart written and directed by Jia Zhangke (who’s earlier film, A Touch of Sin, was terrific) and The Lobster, written and directed Yorgos Lanthimos. Mountains was a disappointment. The story about a woman who marries a rich guy over a poor guy when she’s young in 1999 and the consequences of that decision through life in 2025. We didn’t buy any of it because we found it so emotionally unconvincing. The Lobster starring Colin Farrell (who gained a million pounds to play a sad sack), on the other hand, is a what-the-hell-are we-watching dramatic comedy, also set in the near future, about single people being sent to The Hotel where they’re pressured to find romantic matches in 45 days or else find themselves transformed into animals, because, as Milton later explained to me, “Single people are considered less than human.” That was a head-spinner.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this review!!!

    Cheers,

    R.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Is it that time of year again?! Great review of “The Walk,” V. I definitely want to see it, but alas, will have to forego the 3D. It makes me sick…

    Looking forward to your additional reviews for this year’s festival. Have a good week.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year, Cathy! This film’s 3D would have you heading straight to ICU, it’s that intense! Warning: it’s pretty harrowing, so it might even mess with your mind in No D. We thought it was a blast. You have a good week, too!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I picked a book for book club years ago called, Let the Great World Spin about several disparate lives including Petit’s and how their lives changed on the day Petit took to the wire. JJ Abrams directed it, but it is being held, I would assume because this film premiered first.
    I would love to see this movie even though I know the story. How cool that you got to see the actors! Whoa!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Everything about that screening was cool, Susie, We even got our favorite dead center, back row, front section seats at our first come, first serve screening. This film is one of the best main stream movies I’ve seen in a while. Don’t miss it and make sure to see it in 3D to (pun intended) heighten the effect!

      I was not aware of that JJ Abrams film. I’ll mention it to Milton when I see him tonight.

      Petit was also there, but we didn’t see him. We’re lucky we were able to see anyone with that crazy mob in front of us.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks again to you and Milton for being my conduits to culture! Glad you’re back reporting the scene for us.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow – great review and camera work! Kudos to Milton! You two make a good team! Looking forward to seeing the film 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks for your excellent review and the usual fun photos. I’m glad I have you and Milton to do my star spotting for me, because I never seem to be in the right place at the right time to spot stars. I did see Mary Tyler Moore on an escalator in New York many years ago. Whoa – I’m feeling really old right now! Enjoy the rest of the festival, V!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I assume that Mary did not toss a beret in your direction, Terri. Milton has a celebrity radar gene that’s very impressive. My celebrity radar gene is often defective. I urge you to see The Walk when it opens by you. It’s very (highly!) entertaining and so well done. We were impressed.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Sounds like you guys had a great time. Like you, I’m not interested in dressing up to go to a movie. I live in a place where a clean Hawaiian shirt and nice sandals are acceptable for church & funerals.

    I had to look up Alice Tully Hall. Didn’t realize it was in the Lincoln Center (which explains the limited “slob” shows). Of course, I didn’t previously know where the Lincoln Center is, but it looks like it’s just a few blocks south of where you dropped me off in Verdi Park.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a movie (I may be wrong about that), but he’s hard not to like. This story doesn’t change that at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a cool dude, Smak. That was so generous of him to run back. He wears his celebrity status well.

      ATH is a terrific screening room. We love it there. That’s where all the main slate screenings take place. But, that said, the Francesca Beale, where we saw it, is lovely, too. The Film Society of Lincoln Center is an A-list film facility. We love it!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Duuuuude first off I’m glad to see you here and to hear that you and Milton are out and about creating more Lame Adventures…this one was awesome. I love Red, she cracks me up on Netflix with her obsession of the kitchen. As for Joseph … Dude I think he’s such a great actor! Really liked him in Inception and way back in A River Runs Through It. Totally grew up after his 3rd a Rock From a The Sun days. He picks such interesting roles, definitely a dude I like to watch on the Big Screen 🙂 But I did love him when he had a Lip Sync Battle with Jimmy Fallon, best one. Thanks for the review buddy, hope you’re all good. Heard some bloggers were out in NY, did you have any blogging buddy visits? Have a good one 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Wow, you sure know JGL’s career, Guat! He didn’t cross my radar until “Mysterious Skin”! He’s excellent in “The Walk” which is rated PG so you can take The Whole Family! How cool is that? I haven’t seen anyone visiting The Big Apple lately.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. thanks for the great review and red carpet sightings! i’ll have to take your word for it because i can’t even watch the commercial without having my knees buckle and feeling faint! *sigh* it really is a sad sight to see, me i mean, covering my eyes and muting the sound. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s funny that you mention the anxiety you suffer watching the commercial. The NYFF always starts with a trailer that’s a mash-up of the films that are being screened. This year’s trailer starts with The Walk and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as Philippe Petit, losing his footing while walking the wire between the twin towers.

      Last night, I heard someone in the audience gasp when they saw that. Were you there?

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Years ago I saw the documentary on Petit and that walk. Very, very brave is an understatement. The 3-D film would be so intense for me. I always wondered why NY NY in Vegas never had the twin towers in their skyline. It was built way before 9/11. How did they know about the future NYC skyline?
    I like watching a Red Carpet, but never understood why photogs and fans go nuts. Who buys these autographs and why. Next month that idol can be forgotten old news or in prison.
    Thanks for the report and pics.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, we saw that documentary, Man on Wire, too. We thought it was great, and this Hollywood dramatization of it is just as entertaining. That’s a good question about Vegas’s NY NY. Possibly whoever designed it preferred to go with other symbols that are emblematic of The Big Apple? I also have no idea who buys those autographs, and how do you know for certain, if you do buy one, that it’s authentic? I think it’s a waste of money, but it must be lucrative judging from the mob competing to get those signatures.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t care how long I’ve lived here. Seeing celebs in person never gets old.

    Have you seen Man on Wire? It’s worth your time.

    Isn’t Alice Tully Hall Geffen Hall now? Did I get that wrong?

    Next Tuesday: Patti Smith at the NYPL. Are you going?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I feel the same as you about the many celebrity sightings I’ve had here in NYC. It’s always fun to see someone famous out and about, and more so now with cellphones that can capture and freeze the moment.

      Yes! Milton and I saw Man on Wire. This Hollywood dramatization of the story is just as compelling and filing it in 3D is perfect.

      ATH is still ATH. I researched Geffen Hall. That’s where the New York Philharmonic plays. It was formerly Avery Fisher Hall. The NYFF used to screen films at AFH, but when it was a renovated a few years ago, all the screenings take place at the Film Society’s theaters: ATH (for major main slate screenings), the Walter Reade, Francesca Beale and/or the Howard Gilman. This is a vast improvement over what it used to be.

      Nope, not seeing PS. I was aware of it, but I keep the period that the NYFF is playing open, should they add additional or new screenings. I won’t even usher during when the NYFF is in progress.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Seeing a celeb in the audience of a play or concert doesn’t count. It only counts if you see one on the street. Don’t ask me why that is. It just is.

        You sure do love the NYFF, don’t you? Have you ever been to Carnegie Hall? I get there 2x a year; in the spring and the fall for some classical music. Walking inside is like seeing a building that’s a celebrity. It’s that kind of thrill for me. And the acoustics! My god! Don’t get me started.

        My Bride is coming into town tonight to see Thérèse Raquin with me. A rare treat for me. Fool for Love is being papered like crazy! I thought it was going to be a hot ticket. Shows you what I know. Ugly Lies the Bone at the Roundabout Black Box is quite good. Hamlet in Bed, notsomuch.

        Liked by 1 person

        • We do see quite a few celebrities when we go to the theater. I wish we had seen George Clooney when he was milling around at the NYFF the other day! And, yes, Milton and I are in our bliss when we’re at the NYFF! It’s wonderful!

          The other day, I mentioned to Milton that I’ve never been to Carnegie Hall. It’s odd. He’s seen some great concerts there and I’m quite sure that one of them was with Sarah Vaughn.

          That’s a coup that your wife is going to the theater with you! Let me know what you think. Is tonight the first preview? The last plays I saw were in mid-September, the weekend of 9/12-13: I ushered Anne Washburn’s adaptation of Iphigenia in Aulis. The day before that gig, I ushered The Christians at Playwrights Horizons and in the evening, Milton and I saw Fondly, Collette Richard at New York Theater Workshop. That was a wild ride! But that’s what we’ve come to expect from Elevator Repair Service. They could stage the phone book and we’ll show up. (They’re probably trying to figure how to do that right now.) Iphigenia was very good (I am a big AW fan and CSC is pretty consistently excellent), but The Christians completely blew me away. If you can only see one of those three (and I do recommend all three), see that one. PH has extended the run.

          Like

  13. At first when I’d read that this film was in 3-D, I thought that it would be just a gimmick. But if Milton says this is a great use of 3-D, then I’m on board. I’ve seen Man on Wire, so I’m hoping this film has more to add to the story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This film is a Hollywood dramatization of the exact same story starring the perfect leading man. Telling this story in 3D practically places the audience on that highwire. It was a very inspired choice of special effect that, pun intended, heightened the suspense. There’s not a nanosecond of doubt that he would succeed, but still we were squirming and sinking low in our seats, about ready to hug the ground. This film is a lot of fun, but it’s also a homage to those towers. It’s very respectful.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Films already? Yeah! Great review, I wish I could see 3D, unfortunately I have found for some reason these films trigger my seizures, haven’t figured it out.

    More reviews please.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I love the way you capture and relate the small details that put us in the moment. Only a talented writer can do that.
    Just for the record, I once walked across a narrow 2 x 4 stretched above a pen containing 4 live swine. The ends of the board were tacked to a couple of rickety fence posts, suspending me 3 feet above the oinking audience. It was a breathtaking event in more ways than one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Awwwww, thanks for the compliment!

      Why exactly did you walk a narrow plank over live swine, Russell? Was it for the same reason why people Philippe Petit walked across the wire stretched between the twin towers: an insane mission embedded deep in your DNA, or clogging the holes in your heads? And you both only accomplished your feats once!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Let the games begin! Excellent opening to the festival, crowd scenes were hilarious and you got some amazing red carpet shots of the VIPs!

    And now I am on the edge of my seat to find out what you and Milton have next on your list.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’re having a great time at the NYKK, Kate! We’re seeing many good films and we’ve gotten some photos at the post screening q&a’s. Milton got one “gotcha!” shot of John Turturro, who flashed Milton the stink eye. Milton was undaunted and reasoned, “That’s the price you pay for being a celebrity.” I agree!

      Like

  17. Quite a demotion in onscreen life stations for Kate Mulgrew going from star ship captain to evil Russian prisoner.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s