Review of The Meyerowitz Stories

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Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) premiered this week at the The New York Film Festival.

The Meyerowitz Stories received early buzz at Cannes earlier this year.  The films made  up of  a series of chapters about the Meyerowitz family led by the father Harold (Dustin Hoffman). Harold was a professor and had minor success as a sculptor, but now he’s forced to watch his old friends get big shows at museums. Adam Sandler plays Danny, Harold’s oldest and least successful son.

Danny is a great father to Eliza, played brilliantly by Grace Van Patten. Eliza is headed to film school and Danny is left dealing with his father Harold. Harold has been married four times to the mother of Danny and his sister Jean played by Elizabeth Marvel. They have a half-brother from another mother, Matthew played by Ben Stiller. He’s a very successful financial manager for famous people. Harold is currently married to alcoholic Maureen played by Emma Thompson.

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Most of the film is about Danny and Matthew as Harold begins to need medical attention and his kids have to figure out out their long-repressed issues in their relationships with each other and their father.

The Meyerowitz Stories has all of the ingredients for a tender comedy, but in the end it falls flat. Dustin Hoffman is great as Harold and could qualify for a Best Actor nod in a better film. Sandler attempts to play a serious role through his rivalry with his half-brother. Sandler and Stiller do not have the chemistry needed to make us care about their characters. The third act has them in a silly physical fight that was clearly crowbarred in. Baumbach admitted in his Q&A after the screening that Sandler and Stiller talked him into adding a physical altercation.  The movie is not free from laughs and could be described as mildly entertaining.

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Netflix bought The Meyerowitz Stories, but will have a theatrical run to qualify for awards season. Its worth checking out on Netflix, but doesn’t stand up as a major theatrical film.

The Meyerowitz Stories can be seen on Netflix beginning on October 13th.

My Grade: C

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55th New York Film Festival Line-Up

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The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the full list of playing at the 55th annual The New York Film Festival.

The Main Slate consists of some of the favorites so far this year including, the AIDS drama BPM (Beats Per Minute), Call Me by Your Name and The Florida Project. The festival will open with Richard Linklater’s Last Flag Flying. The Centerpiece is Todd Hayne’s Wonderstruck and Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel on closing night.

In past years the NYFF was known for showing more international and small obscure films. In more recent years they have shown more accessible films and have been a springboard to awards season.

The 55th annual New York Film Festival runs September 28th-October 15th. The full 2017 line-up is below.

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2017 MAIN SLATE

OPENING NIGHT
Last Flag Flying
Dir. Richard Linklater

CENTERPIECE
Wonderstruck
Dir. Todd Haynes

CLOSING NIGHT
Wonder Wheel
Dir. Woody Allen

Before We Vanish
Dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa

BPM (Beats Per Minute)/120 battements par minute
Dir. Robin Campillo

Bright Sunshine In/Un beau soleil intérieur
Dir. Claire Denis

Call Me by Your Name
Dir. Luca Guadagnino

The Day After
Dir. Hong Sang-soo

Faces Places/Visages villages
Dir. Agnès Varda & JR

Félicité
Dir. Alain Gomis

The Florida Project
Dir. Sean Baker

Ismael’s Ghosts/Les fantômes d’Ismaël
Dir. Arnaud Desplechin

Lady Bird
Dir. Greta Gerwig

Lover for a Day/L’Amant d’un jour
Dir. Philippe Garrel

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Dir. Noah Baumbach

Mrs. Hyde/Madame Hyde
Dir. Serge Bozon

Mudbound
Dir. Dee Rees

On the Beach at Night Alone
Dir. Hong Sang-soo

The Other Side of Hope/Toivon tuolla puolen
Dir. Aki Kaurismäki

The Rider
Dir. Chloé Zhao

Spoor/Pokot
Dir. Agnieszka Holland, in cooperation with Kasia Adamik

The Square
Dir. Ruben Östlund

Thelma
Dir. Joachim Trier

Western
Dir. Valeska Grisebach

Zama
Dir. Lucrecia Martel

 

Last Flag Flying Opens New York Film Festival

Richard Linklarer’s Last Flag Flying will open this year’s New York Film Festival.  It stars Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne who are Navy veterans that reunite to bury the son of Carell’s character, who has been killed in the Iraq War.  Last Flag Flying is supposed to be a quasi-sequel to the 1973 Hal Ashby comedy The Last Detail. 

NYFF Director and selection committee chair said in statement “Last Flag Flying is many things at once — infectiously funny, quietly shattering, celebratory, mournful, meditative, intimate, expansive, vastly entertaining, and all-American in the very best sense,” NYFF director and selection committee chair Kent Jones said in a statement. “But to isolate its individual qualities is to set aside the most important and precious fact about this movie: that it all flows like a river. That’s only possible with remarkable artists like Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston, and a master like Richard Linklater behind the camera.”

Each year, the New York Film Festival becomes more and more a precursor to the Oscars. It’s not quite Telleride or Toronto, but it is beginning to make a name for itself. Previous opening films include The Walk, Gone Girl and Captain Phillips. Last years Oscar Best Picture Moonlight was one of the featured films that played NY. 

The New York Film Festival runs Sept. 28 – Oct. 15.

Amazon Studios will release the film on Oscar friendly date of November 17th. 

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Premieres at NYFF 

Now that The Birth of a Nation is pretty much dead in the water, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk jumps up a notch in the Best Picture race. America will now gets its first look at Ang Lee’s highly anticipated film as it will screen as a Special World Premiere Presentation at the 54th New York Film Festival on Friday, October 14th at the AMC Lincoln Square. 

Committee Chair Kent Jones said, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk astonished me, and it moved me deeply—in the grandest way, as a story of America in the years after the invasion of Iraq, and on the most intimate person-to-person wavelength. Ang Lee has always gone deep into the nuances of the emotions between his characters, and that’s exactly what drove him to push cinema technology to new levels. It’s all about the faces, the smallest emotional shifts. In every way, Billy Lynn is the work of a master.”

The “cinema technology ” he refers to BFLHWH being the first full-length film shot in 4K, native 3D at the ultra high rate of 120 frames-per-second. This will be the first time ever that this format will be screened publicly. I would guess that the Alice Tully Hall and Walter Reed Theater, the usual NYFF screening locations, are not equipped to screen in this new format. Hence the Lincoln Center AMC location. 

This will be my third year attending the NYFF.  Those of us with limited resources have to narrow down our top choices and hope the dates are close together. My hope is to catch Billy Lynn, Manchester by The Sea and possibly Moonlight or Personal Shopper.

 

Ava DuVernay’s The 13th Opens New York Film Festival

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Ava DuVernay’s documentary The 13th is the Opening Night selection of the 54th annual New York Film Festival. The festival take place September 30 – October 16 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The 13th is the first documentary to open the NYFF. It will then debut on Netflix and open in a limited theatrical run on October 7th.

Chronicling the history of racial inequality in the United States, The 13th examines how our country has produced the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with the majority of those imprisoned being African-American. The title of DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing film refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution—“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States . . . ” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass incarceration and the prison industry in the U.S. is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity.

The Walk Premieres at New York Film Fest

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The New York Film Festival Kicked off on Friday with the world premiere of THE WALK.  A film many were not expecting much from ends with rousing applause.

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Most of the discussion revolves around the work of Director Robert Zemeckis and his authenticity of 1970’s New York. And a visual tribute to the Twin Towers. Very little is being said about the performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his attempt at a French accent, not a good sign for an acting nomination. It now has a mediocre score of 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, so far. The first half of THE WALK is described as slow while you wait for the actual walk when the suspense kicks in.

Sounds like there may not much awards buzz for THE WALK. Maybe a few technical nominations for the re-creation of the World Trade Center, but not much else.