2022 NYFF Film Diaries

In one of the best years of the festival I’ve had the privilege of attending, here were my standout favorites:

She Said: This is a riveting blend of thorough and revelatory reporting surrounded by a very emotional story of two journalistic superheroes taking down Weinstein. What separates this film from other genres is its ability to blend potentially dry material and make it both enthralling and moving for all audiences. There are some minor fumbles along the way, such as Ashley Judd playing herself with lines of dialogue that felt too self-congratulatory that tonally took you out of the movie. The performances, though, are across the board stellar, especially a tough-as-nails Carey Mulligan, Samantha Morton, and Andre Braugher knockout ending! [B+]

Armageddon Time. This a fascinating contrast to The Fabelmans as both feature a formative snapshot of the director’s lives in their artistic pursuit. This features refreshing commentary on capitalism, friendship, white privilege, and going after the American Dream. The film itself is a gorgeous, intimate affair featuring richly textured characters. It then takes a long hard, uncompromising look at the American reality. While the film is a 1980s period piece from director James Gray, the sense of familial bond is something anyone can relate to. The parents in the film use their newfound power and privilege to set their children up for success, but inserting their children into a more affluent environment aspires to the wrong principles. [B+}

Bones And All: Luca Guadagnino’s tragic Cannibal romance is my film of the year. It’s a stunning work of compassion and pain. Taylor Russell proves she’s capable of being a reserved powerhouse of much depth, and Chalamet proves to Call Me By Your Name was no fluke. It’s his most tender and sincere performance to date. It also features dynamic performances from Mark Rylance as the main antagonist, who develops an obsession with Russellsell’s Maren. You also have an unrecognizable Michael Stuhlbarg conveying the film’s title and director. David Gordon Green is a cannibal groupie that feels fitting as he’s mimicking being an actor. The movie brilliantly uses the cannibal genre to journey the wonder of life without a compass—no sense of who we are as we explore romance, trauma, and our uncertain beginnings through Maren’s eyes. There is enough mythology to define an entire genre. [A]

Stars at Noon: Claire Denis is a bit of a chameleon. She can tackle multiple genres yet superbly craft unforgettable movies in ways no director living is today. Here she sets a thriller and romance movie against a backdrop of political unrest in Nicaragua. The movie is extraordinary, about blindly trusting someone you have never met and how they strengthen individuals. Margaret Qualley continues to be the greatest actress of her generation, and I was very impressed by how commanding Joe Alwyn is as the enigmatic love interest. I also appreciated how it used the weather further to contextualize the sensuality and eroticism between the lead actors. A new layer to Denis’ films seems to be a strong improvisational comedy, with one scene featuring John C. Reilly I will still laugh at long after watching it. The casting of Benny Safdie playing against type as a federal agent brought a lot of levity and laughter. What you’re watching is brilliant and absurd at once but is nothing short of visionary. [B+]

Showing Up: After teasing a new comedic side in her previous feature, First Cow, Kelly Reichardt, this time, gives us a downright delightful discomforting comedy about a chronically overworked artist via her trademark gentle and intensely visual sensibilities. It also features a great Fabelmans reunion for Michelle Williams and Judd Hirsch! The film is mostly without a plot as it navigates the imbalanced life of Williams’ character’s day-to-day as she sets to open a new art show. It features dysfunctional family members and co-workers bringing her stress, and her uncompromising yet aloof landlord by Hong Chau (a fantastic performance), bringing her up to a boiling point. You think we’re being set up for some meltdown, but Reichardt subverts those expectations and prefers less negative outcomes. Sometimes life may feel like it’s collapsing down on you, and there may be speedbumps, but as long as you’re surrounded by people who ultimately care, you will still prevail. [B+]

TÁR: Todd Field’s second film, and first since 2006, is a rather Kubrickian affair. Instead, fly on the visionary wall work that hands you the keys to the psyche of composer Lydia Tár, one of the greatest composers that ever lived, as her world comes crashing down in the aftermath of her greatest successes and unbeknownst joining the ranks of cancel culture as her reign of power is coming to an end. The movie is so transfixing, superbly crafted, and inviting that you initially think you’re watching the film backward. Blanchett is as good as you heard, and it features a one-take lecture scene at Julliard that will be burned into my brain and is probably one of the best scenes you’ll see all year. It’s uniquely structured as it’s straightforward yet paced in a foreboding nature. Nina Hoss and Noémie Merlant bring rich love interest characters central to the cancel culture theme as they’re also part of their career and is dealt with surprising nuance. Moral dilemma: Can we ethically consume art and be viewed in the context of the artist? This is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year, and the type of auteur cinema we got pre-pandemic is the perfect watercooler movie to dissect further the more times you watch. [A-]

Master Gardener: A former Neo-Nazi gang assassin (played by Joel Egerton), the ideology is that gardening is a space to cleanse your soul and believe in a better tomorrow. His prolonged is disrupted ct by a unique new bond he develops with one of his pupils and potential proteges. It grows in shocking ways. Edgerton portrays a master gardener at a southern botanical garden in Louisiana with subtle racial undertone hints that this garden palace that delivers once was a plantation that did the exact opposite. There are no significant antagonists, but developments from romantic entanglements inspire the violence that Egerton’s character swore away. While a showdown ensues but ends in a surprisingly tender and satisfyingly happy way that we deserve from Schrader’s trilogy, which has previously met more tragic turns. [B]

White Noise: Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of Don DeLillo was said to be impossible to adapt into a feature, but the impossible was achieved. What we get is a thrilling, goofy, and genre-juggling epic. It transforms the existential fear of death into a darkly funny and familial exploration. It’s also a movie about many other things. The boredom we face in a loveless marriage, a toxic event threatening their lives, filmed with the technical proficiency of Steven Spielberg, and the obsessive nature one would have if a Jewish character dedicated their livelihood to the study of Adolf Hitler. Baumbach here is so visceral and unleashed. It also features an incredible score, a dazzling visual style, and a never-better Adam Driver performance. Stay for the credits, which are some of the best filmmaking in Baumbach’s career. [A-]

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed: This is a profoundly moving, painful, necessary, and brilliant documentary about the unbelievable life and work of renowned photographer Nan Goldin intertwined with her awe-inspiring activism toward the opioid crisis. Goldin is a quirky personality so internally affected by addiction and how it’s infected her entire livelihood in the artspace that inspires her to lead the charge take on art as the whole world as the make of these drugs are greedily benefiting and showcasing everyday art in museums and galleries. A great reminder that we have an impact on making change and what art inspires us to do. [A-]


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 )

Connecting to %s