New York Film Festival highlights encore

Four more great films to look forward to.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

My Golden Days director Arnaud Desplechin
My Golden Days director Arnaud Desplechin Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

With the 53rd New York Film Festival now in full swing and the visit of Pope Francis to New York ongoing, here are four more films to look forward to. Stig Björkman's portrait on Ingrid Bergman with Liv Ullmann, Sigourney Weaver, Jeanine Basinger and her children providing personal memories accompany Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words and Arnaud Desplechin's resplendent My Golden Days (Trois Souvenirs De Ma Jeunesse) stars Mathieu Amalric, Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Quentin Dolmaire and André Dussollier. Apichatpong Weerasethakul (of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives fame) has his Cemetery Of Splendour, starring Jenjira Pongpas Widner, haunting us, and Brian De Palma discussing his films with Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow in De Palma will keep you awake.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center raises the curtain with six free opening day screenings in celebration of 25 years for The Film Foundation and 100 years for Fox. The Opening Night Gala screening of Robert Zemeckis’s The Walk in 3D, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit will take place at Alice Tully Hall tomorrow, September 26.

Cemetery Of Splendour
Cemetery Of Splendour

Cemetery of Splendour

In a makeshift hospital for wounded soldiers in the countryside of Thailand, these men are in a state of permanent sleep. The airy wooden construction used to house a rural school. Now, "dream machines" in the form of large, candy cane shaped lamps change colour and promise pleasant dreams. A woman (Jenjira Pongpas Widner) with a bad leg knits colourful Japanese baby socks and volunteers to keep the soldiers company together with, mainly, a clairvoyant (Jarinpattra Rueangram) and a nurse (Petcharat Chaiburi).

Is it possible to enter someone's dreams? Are the soldiers now fighting on behalf of the buried kings of yore? A crane makes sand piles and people watch the river at dusk. Past and present, dream and waking state, ancient goddesses and snacking tourists share the same wondrous dimension. With his usual calm and wit regarding traditional magic and unusual supernatural occurrences, Weerasethakul confirms that not only Uncle Boonmee can recall his past lives.

Public screenings: Wednesday, September 30 at 9:00pm - Alice Tully Hall; Tuesday, October 1 at 9:00pm - Francesca Beale Theater.

My Golden Days
My Golden Days

My Golden Days (Trois Souvenirs De Ma Jeunesse)

Three defining chapters in the youth of recurring Desplechin hero, Paul Dédalus (played by Mathieu Amalric in his adult form), make him live up to his name - as constructor of both the mythical labyrinth and the wings to escape it, as well as Joyce's alter-ego set to take flight. My Golden Days bursts with life, more so than any film I have seen this year, by weaving a golden braid of adventure and responsibility. After an episode, titled Childhood, appropriately spotty and pointed, as early memories tend to be, the chapter called Russia twists the hero into a cold war teenage spy story.

A nameless agent played by André Dussollier, as if he were a deity from a Lubitsch designed netherworld, talks with Dédalus about his "twin" and a high school trip to Minsk. Part three is the story of a great love and the conflicts of an anthropologist. Carefully chosen details speak volumes. Partly chewed-off pink nail polish talks unobtrusively of self confidence and dread. A black armband, five years after a death signals a loss unmourned. The epilogue is a wonderful showdown and an epic, verbal confrontation about the nature of integrity.

Public screenings: Friday, October 2 at 9:00pm - Alice Tully Hall; Saturday, October 3 at 12:00pm - Alice Tully Hall.

Ingrid Bergman - In Her Own Words
Ingrid Bergman - In Her Own Words

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words

Ingrid Bergman, we learn in Stig Björkman's warmhearted and elaborate documentary about the star, the woman, the mother, never threw anything away. After she lost her own mother as an infant and her beloved father at age 13, photographs and home movies took the place of family. Super-8 and 16mm footage Bergman shot over the years of her private life are accompanied by letters and diary entries and commentary by her four children, Pia, Isabella, Ingrid, and Roberto as well as colleagues Liv Ullmann and Sigourney Weaver. Much of her life story had been fodder for the press, and it is truly fascinating to catch her from different angles.

You can see at one point in her every gesture, how much in love she was with Roberto Rossellini, and he with her. The conflict of being a mother and having a successful acting career in Hollywood dominates the present-day interviews with her children. Aside from that, the documentary provides fabulous fashion catnip. As we sail with the star through the decades from Sweden to Hollywood to Italy and Paris and London, we get to see any number of marvelous bags and coats and scarves and bathing suits, while listening to Alicia Vikander's charming voiceover. Bergman's luminous face and the camera's love for it are a perfect match.

Public screenings: Monday, October 5 at 6:00pm - Walter Reade Theater; Tuesday, October 6 at 9:00pm - Howard Gilman Theater.

De Palma
De Palma

De Palma

There is something very satisfying and clean about the way Baumbach and Paltrow present De Palma's work and the man behind it. He talks about each of his movies, in chronological order, without omissions and with very natural and revealing extensions or detours into his private life. No talking head commentators speak and he himself is seen wearing a blue polo shirt under a blue casual jacket, framed by an inactive fireplace in Paltrow's house. The film clips, including a lot of Hitchcock and other influences, are chosen with great sense of rhythm and humour.

The filmmaker to filmmakers conversation is fruitful because of what is revealed about craft - (split screen is no good for action, car chases have to be a letdown after The French Connection) and the fact that the three men are friends, allows De Palma to let his guard down, such as when he talks about the Schadenfreude he feels when watching Carrie remakes. "It's good to see when people make all the mistakes you avoided."

Public screening: Wednesday, September 30 at 6:00pm

Brian De Palma's Blow Out will be shown in the Revivals program on Wednesday, September 30 at 9:00pm.

This year's New York Film Festival runs from September 25 through October 11.

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