Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: NYFF Day 1 - Notes on Happy-Go-Lucky and Voy a Explotar

Friday, September 26, 2008

NYFF Day 1 - Notes on Happy-Go-Lucky and Voy a Explotar

by Tony Dayoub

NEW YORK - Today is opening night of the 46th New York Film Festival. Tonight's film is Laurent Cantet's Entre les murs, winner of the Palme D'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. It is definitely an auspicious premiere for one of the most important film festivals in America. Tickets are sold out, but you might still squeak in if you can brave the rain in the no-show line.

I caught a screening of the latest by Mike Leigh (Topsy-Turvy), Happy-Go-Lucky, featuring a fascinating performance by Sally Hawkins (Vera Drake). Her character, Poppy, is a rare one in cinema, an unfailingly happy and optimistic one. Despite all manner of obstacles modern society presents her with, she unswervingly manages to keep her spirits up. While at first, this may seem difficult to sustain in a film - after all, drama is about conflict - Leigh takes a character without internal tension, and externalizes it instead. The conflict is created by Poppy's optimism and the disparity it creates with her circle of friends, family, and in fact society itself. I highly recommend you catch this one in one of its two weekend showings, and I'll have a detailed review of it up by tomorrow morning.

Voy a Explotar is a Spanish language film by Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo. My feelings are mixed on this one. I like the two young non-actors that Naranjo cast as the leads, Juan Pablo de Santiago and Maria Deschamps. Deschamps in particular shows an introspective quality that goes beyond what inexperienced performers usually are capable of. Naranjo lets them down by telling a story that is distractingly uneven in tone. The movie's two young paramours hide from the world because of their anarchic desires to rebel. Against what? Everything, pretty much. But the broad manner in which their parents are treated by the filmmaker leaves the viewer unsure as to what exactly is trying to be said. My review of this one will be up on Sunday, in time for its first show that night.

Below is a schedule of the events through Sunday. More information can be found at the festival's web site.

NYFF – Festival main slate film
OSH – NYFF Sidebar: In the Realm of Oshima
SE – Festival special event

ZT – Ziegfeld Theatre, 54th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues
AFH – Avery Fisher Hall, Broadway and 65th Street
WRT – Walter Reade Theater, 65th St. between Amsterdam and Broadway, upper level
KP – Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, 65th St. between Amsterdam and Broadway, 10th Floor

Friday, Sept. 268:00 OPENING NIGHT: The Class, 128m (NYFF/AFH)

Saturday, Sept. 2711:00am Cruel Story of Youth, 96m (OSH/WRT)
12:00 Hunger, 96m (NYFF/ZT)
1:00 PANEL: Film Criticism in Crisis? (SE/WRT)
3:00 24 City, 112m (NYFF/ZT)
3:00 A Town of Love and Hope, 62m, with Diary of a Yunbogi Boy, 24m (OSH/WRT)
4:45 Night and Fog in Japan, 107m (OSH/WRT)
6:15 Happy-Go-Lucky, 118m (NYFF/ZT)
7:00 Diary of a Shinjuku Thief, 94m (OSH/WRT)
9:00 Pleasures of the Flesh, 90m (OSH/WRT)
9:30 Wendy and Lucy, 80m, with Cry Me a River, 19m (NYFF/ZT)
midnight In the Realm of the Senses, 110m (OSH/WRT)

Sunday, Sept. 2812:00 Happy-Go-Lucky (NYFF/ZT)
12:30 The Man Who Left His Will on Film, 94m (OSH/WRT)
2:30 The Sun’s Burial, 87m (OSH/WRT)
3:15 Wendy and Lucy, with Cry Me a River (NYFF/ZT)
4:30 Empire of Passion, 106m (OSH/WRT)
6:15 Hunger (NYFF/ZT)
6:45 Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, 122m (OSH/WRT)
9:00 I’m Gonna Explode, 106m, with This is Her, 12m (NYFF/ZT)
9:15 Taboo, 100m (OSH/WRT)

Happy-Go-Lucky Photo Credit: Simon Mein/ Courtesy of Miramax Films / Film Society of Lincoln Center

Voy a Explotar Photo Credit: Canana / Film Society of Lincoln Center

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