The 2019 New York Film Festival is packed with creativity
I love the New York Film Festival.
Every year, this magical collection of movies restores my faith in the future of on-screen creativity. Each edition of this event celebrates the best of film in any given year and teaches us a few things about what movies can be. Here’s what the 57th annual celebration has to say.
Reach beyond boundaries
The film of this year’s festival has to be Bong Joon-ho’s thriller “Parasite,” a piercing exploration of the moves desperate people may choose to protect the people they love. While this look at the devotion families share may not paint a conventional portrait, the movie celebrates the layers of affection, anxiety and aspiration that can live inside any home. Joon-ho brilliantly walks a tightrope between exaggerated comedy and excruciating tragedy with the cinema courage to take abrupt turns in his narrative. The genius of “Parasite” is not just how it tells the story, it’s how Joon-ho lets us decide how we want the story to end.
Celebrate the legacy
At an age when many might prefer a round of golf, Martin Scorcese still makes movies. Good movies. And, with “The Irishman,” a great movie that ranks with the director’s best. Not only does this masterpiece tell an epic story worthy of the big screen, it captures the essence of what makes Scorcese such a magical moviemaker. He again demonstrates a fascinating ability to capture the emotional layers that define why people lean into crime. And, as he has so many times in the past, he uses the camera to surround us with conflicts his characters experience as they debate right and wrong. “The Irishman” should be remembered as the ultimate Scorcese take on an underworld that has fascinated his camera for almost 50 years.
Focus on real feelings
Anyone who is married, was once married or wants to be married may see signs of themselves in Noah Baumbaugh’s appropriately titled film, “Marriage Story,” a devastating drama that played as the festival’s centerpiece. After all, marriage is a story, with beginnings filled with promise, chapters that can be challenging, and resolutions that can feel complete. Or not. Without hesitation or apology, moviemaker Baumbaugh reveals the many layers such an intense relationship can create, from the intense joys of discovery to the deep hurt that comes from revelation. Working with a superlative cast, and a screenplay that easily shifts from silly to sad, Baumbaugh reminds us how, when it comes to sharing what gets in the way when people fail to connect, he remains one of our most reliable storytellers.
Let characters soar
In Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” a man looks in the mirror to see what his life could have been while fearing what it may have become. While this man who makes movies clearly sees the wisdom of age in the lines that crease his face, he looks behind his eyes to consider what choices he has made. As he continues to stare at himself, he wonders what in his personal narrative he would love the chance to rewrite. Just like someone who makes movies. Like the best Almodóvar’s films — including “All About My Mother” and “Talk to Her” — this new piece is at his best when the moviemaker brings his own fears to the characters he creates, letting us inside his creative soul to discover the disappointments that still fuel his voice. With “Pain and Glory,” the moviemaker lets us see into a corner of his life he may still be deciding how to remember. Or rewrite.
While we have to wait a year for the next New York Film Festival, the work of Film at Lincoln Center continues all year long. Go to filmlinc.org for details.