New York Film Festival encore highlights

Mrs. Hyde, Thelma, Ismael’s Ghosts and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

by Anne-Katrin Titze

The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected) director Noah Baumbach:
The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected) director Noah Baumbach: "It's always a pain in the ass shooting food, too." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Mrs. Hyde (Madame Hyde), screenplay by Serge Bozon and Axelle Ropert, cinematography by the director's sister Céline Bozon, starring Isabelle Huppert with Romain Duris and José Garcia; Joachim Trier's Thelma with Eili Harboe in the title role; Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected) with a terrific ensemble cast including Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson, Elizabeth Marvel, Ben Stiller, and Grace Van Patten, and Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantômes D'Ismaël), the director's cut at 132 minutes, starring Mathieu Amalric (whose films on John Zorn and Barbara Hannigan will be shown in Spotlight on Documentary), Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg with Louis Garrel, László Szabó, Alba Rohrwacher, and Hippolyte Girardot, directed by Arnaud Desplechin are four more highlights screening in the Main Slate of the 55th New York Film Festival.

Isabelle Huppert is Serge Bozon's Mrs. Hyde
Isabelle Huppert is Serge Bozon's Mrs. Hyde Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

At the Film Society of Lincoln Center press conference for The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), moderated by festival selection committee member Amy Taubin, Noah Baumbach and I had the following exchange:

Anne-Katrin Titze: I loved the scenes with food. I was hoping there would be Maureen's cookbook published.

Noah Baumbach: They should do that to promote the film.

AKT: They should. Could you talk a little bit about how you came up with the recipes?

NB: That's a good question. It's always a pain in the ass shooting food, too. So, you know… And there was a lot of discussion, you know, about the shark. Because I wanted it to be horrible, but not too horrible. You know, and then it's like, is it really horrible enough? And then it always takes longer than you want it to - doing a closeup of a plate, you know, with food. And tell them, "brace, now go for the clam, bring it up." So a lot of it becomes technical in that way. Emma [Thompson as Maureen] probably knows the ingredients.

Mrs. Hyde
Mrs. Hyde

Mrs. Hyde (Madame Hyde)

Madame Géquil (Isabelle Huppert) is the science teacher you don't remember. She is like a dried pressed flower that fell out of a book. Fragile, timid, frightened, she has a preference for pale yellow cardigans and pink skirts and sensible shoes and speaks with a high, shaky voice when she enters the classroom. The students make fun of her - one splatters ink from his fountain pen onto the back of her blouse while she writes a formula on the blackboard. Malik, a student who himself is being teased for a bad leg he had from birth, is particularly hostile. Monsieur Géquil (José Garcia) is a stay-at-home husband. He cooks food (not exactly Baumbach's shark soup but close) she hides in a napkin - a daily routine, we have to suppose, because the couple of dogs living next door to their little house are already eagerly awaiting her gift at dinnertime. The principal at the school (Romain Duris) whose pants and ties (in rust, avocado, pale purple or the like) match the colors of the school's walls and doors, has everything and nothing under control, it turns out. It is the time of the harvest moon and one day a thunderstorm is brewing. Lightning strikes which makes our protagonist cross a magnificent identity threshold. Serge Bozon's cinema is no stranger to doubles and doublings and detoured forces. Huppert gives Spencer Tracy a run for his money. Madame Hyde emerges with fiery hands that make more than the ice at the fish market melt.

Public screenings: Friday, September 29 at 6:00pm - Alice Tully Hall; Sunday, October 1 at 12:30pm - Walter Reade Theater - Expected to attend: Serge Bozon and Isabelle Huppert

Thelma
Thelma

Thelma

A man and a child walk across a frozen lake. Down below the ice the girl (Grethe Eltervåg) sees fishes swimming. The camera angle shifts. Suddenly we look up from the fish perspective. The father carries a gun. In the snow-covered forest he spots a deer. But is he aiming the gun at the animal? At his daughter? At us? No detail of this preface to Joachim Trier's unclassifiable Thelma turns out to be superfluous. Grown-up Thelma (Eili Harboe) is going off to college in the big city where she will experience her first drink, her first love, and strange seizures that worry her overprotective and very religious parents (Henrik Rafaelsen and Ellen Dorrit Petersen). Infused with flavors of Carl Theodor Dreyer's Ordet and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, this is a film that lingers and challenges you to blend in your mind the supernatural with religion. Not since Joan Didion's exquisitely terrifying snake encounters has a depiction of the legless reptile disturbed me so.

Public screenings: Friday, October 6 at 9:00pm - Alice Tully Hall; Saturday, October 7 at 12:00pm Howard Gilman Theater - Expected to attend: Joachim Trier with Eili Harboe on October 6 and the director on October 7

Ismael’s Ghosts: Director’s Cut
Ismael’s Ghosts: Director’s Cut

Ismael’s Ghosts: Director’s Cut

In our dreams the dead return casually, without warning and little fanfare. An old stained looking glass can make you lose an eye and give you freckles. The director's cut of Ismael's Ghosts is structured around a mirroring of visitations. Ismael (Mathieu Amalric in a cannonball of a performance) is a film director. His wife Carlotta (Marion Cotillard) disappeared 20 years ago and has never been heard from again. Her father Henri Bloom (László Szabó), also a film director, who eagerly awaits the retrospective of his documentaries in Tel Aviv, has been mourning his daughter with equal fervor. One day, in the dunes by the ocean, Ismael's current girlfriend, astrophysicist Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is visited by Carlotta. Not all women are created to be Madeleines to rephrase Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. Arnaud Desplechin's latest piercing, fastidious exploration of jealousy and creation poses among others the following question: What if the woman you could not save actually came back to give you a second chance?

Public screenings: Friday, October 13 at 6:00pm - Alice Tully Hall; Saturday, October 14 at 12:00pm - Alice Tully Hall - Expected to attend: Arnaud Desplechin with Mathieu Amalric on October 13 and the director on October 14

The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected)
The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected)

The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected)

Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected) huddle around a paternal center and explore the very special relationship individuals tend to have with fathers - how much they get away with and why children far into adulthood still return for more abuse in the never ending search for approval. The father of the Meyerowitz clan, Harold, is played to perfection by Dustin Hoffman. Like many of his previous films (including Frances Ha and Mistress America), Noah Baumbach's latest brims with bold, lucid details - verbally and visually stinging. We experience the family dynamics in neatly constructed scenes of abundance that evoke an almost physical response. Early on Harold's most recent wife Maureen (Emma Thompson), a more or less recovering alcoholic, has prepared a meal of shark soup, so vividly awful in grey broth with vongole clams still closed. Danny (Adam Sandler) and Matthew (Ben Stiller) are flawless casting as the feuding, loving, furious stepbrothers.

Public screenings: Sunday, October 1 at 6:00pm - Alice Tully Hall; Monday, October 2 at 9:00pm - Alice Tully Hall; Tuesday, October 3 at 8:45pm - Francesca Beale Theater - Expected to attend: Noah Baumbach with cast members on October 1 and the director on October 2

The 2017 New York Film Festival runs through October 15.

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