Highlights From the NY Film Festival – Part 2

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As has been the case in past years, the 42nd New York Film Festival is often an early showcase for the latest work from filmmakers whose films have appeared at past festivals. Due to the number of awards many of these directors have already acquired, many of these films will be eyed carefully as early contenders for Oscar nominations next year.

At the top of that list is Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, whose Bad Education will be his sixth film to debut at the festival, this time taking the spot of Festival Centerpiece. The movie explores the relationship between an actor (The Motorcycle Diaries‘ Gael Garcia Bernal) and a director (Fele Martinez), who grew up as childhood friends at a Catholic school where dark deeds forever changed their lives. The dramatic thriller done in a film noir style reunites Almodovar with Jose Luis Alcaine, cinematographer for Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! Almodovar will also receive a special honor as the festival presents Viva Pedro!, a retrospective of clips from his many films with appearance by some of the actors that appeared in them, followed by a special reception and party for the director.

David Gordon Green’s third film Undertow is also a thriller with roots in the past, paying homage to the Southern gothic thrillers of the 70’s like Night of the Hunter and Walking Tall. It stars Billy Elliot‘s Jamie Bell as a teen who runs away from home with his ailing younger brother when their father is murdered by a greedy uncle, played by Josh Lucas.

After winning top honors at the Venice Film Festival, Mike Leigh’s Vera Drake will make its U.S. debut at the festival before opening theatrically on Sunday. The movie tells the heartbreaking tale of a housewife, an award winning performance by Imelda Staunton, who hides a dark secret that destroys her tranquil family life when they discover the truth. Leigh is also the subject one of the festival’s two Director’s Dialogues, giving people a chance to get up close and personal with the filmmaker and ask questions about the filmmaking process.

The festival will mark the third debut of a film by director Todd Solonz after Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness. His latest movie, Palindromes, once again takes place in the suburbs of New Jersey, telling a controversial tale about a young girl who wants to become a mother. Not surprisingly, Palindromes is Solonz’s first film to not have distribution at the time of its showing at the festival.

The festival will close with Alexander Payne’s Sideways, starring Paul Giamatti as a writer who takes a road trip through wine country with his best friend Jack (“Wings” star Thomas Haden Church) to celebrate his impending wedding. Things go downhill from there in Payne’s most mainstream work to date, which co-stars Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh (“Arliss”).

The 42nd NY Film Festival runs until October 17.

Vera Drake opens on October 10, Sideways opens on October 20, Undertow opens on October 22, and Bad Education opens on November 19.

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