I think one of the biggest misnomers about the Film Society of Lincoln Center is that their film programs merely cater to film snobs and rich older people who make up their membership, which means that they only show foreign films and Oscar fare. In fact, the Film Society offer a number of annual series that feature some of the best genre fare out there, and the series we look forward to every year is Film Comment Selects.
Programmed by Film Comment editor-in-chief Gavin Smith and his editorial staff, the 12th Edition runs from February 17 to March 1, and this year, it features 31 of the coolest films – some favorites from the festival circuit, some without distribution and some lost classics. In some cases, this will be the first (and possibly only) opportunity for New Yorkers to see some of these films on the big screen.
Of course, some of the movies this year will give New Yorkers early looks at movies before their planned theatrical release like Silent House (Open Road March 9) from Laura Lau and Chris Kentis, directors of Open Water, an 86-minute single-take haunted house film starring Elizabeth Olsen that premiered over a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival. We’ve also heard great things about the Norwegian thriller Headhunters (Magnolia – April 27) from Morten Tyldum about a corporate recruiter who doubles as an art thief to help support the lifestyle his trophy wife expects. That will have two screenings on February 23 and 24.
Justin Kurzel’s serial killer film The Snowtown Murders (IFC Films – March 2) explores the horrifying account of dismembered bodies found in 1999 in Australia and a young man dragged into the business of a psychotic man his mother has latched onto. Those looking for lighter fare might want to check out Nanni Moretti’s comedy We Have a Pope (IFC Films April 6) about a new pope and his relationship with his therapist.
Jack of all trades James Franco’s My Own Private River is his own reedited version of Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho including outtakes and unseen footage to create something brand new. Franco will be on-hand after the single screening on February 19 to discuss his work.
Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, released by Fox Searchlight last September, became the talk of 2011 when many film critics rallied behind the film, and it will have a special screening as part of “Film Comment Selects” on February 25 with Lonergan and some of his cast on hand to discuss the phenomenon.
The Film Society also pays homage to former United Artists and October Films founder, the late Bingham Ray, with a special airing of Mike Leigh’s Life is Sweet, the first film he released as a distributor. The film has been unavailable on DVD in this country making the screening on February 20 an extra-special albeit bittersweet treat.
This year “Film Comment Selects” isn’t just going to be about unreleased indie or foreign films either because this year, they’re previewing a big studio comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston as well! Wanderlust (Universal), the new comedy from director David Wain, founding member of “The State” and helmer of Wet Hot American Summer, will get a special screening two days before its theatrical opening along with Role Models, Wain’s previous comedy.
Other films of interest include Faust, the Golden Lion-winning new film from Aleksandr Sokurov (Russian Ark), his adaptation of Goethe’s famous play about a deal with the devil only done in a more comic way. Other films that have intrigued us include Mathieu Kassovitz’s Rebellion and Alexander Zeldovich’s Target.
One of the repertory films we were excited to see on the schedule was the 1971 midnight movie classic Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii, the trippy concert movie of the British prog-rock band performing in an empty amphitheater in Pompeii.
The 12th Edition of Film Comment Selects kicks off on Friday, February 17, and runs through March 1, and if you’re in New York City, you should definitely check out some of this year’s offerings. Tickets are just $13 ($9 for students) and they have special four-film packages for just $40 (or $32 for students). Ticket can be picked up on the Film Society of Lincoln Center Site.