2021 New York Film Festival: talks and panels announced

September 22, 2021

The following is a press release from Film at Lincoln Center:

Film at Lincoln Center announces Talks for the 59th New York Film Festival (September 24 – October 10). All NYFF59 Talks are presented by HBO®, supplementing festival screenings with a series of free panel discussions and in-depth conversations among a wide range of guests.

With last year’s NYFF events taking place entirely in virtual and socially distanced drive-in settings, this year’s Talks promise a much-needed and long-awaited return to in-person gatherings, with a robust lineup of spirited and engaging conversations between moderators, filmmakers, and audiences.

2021 marks the birth centenary of NYFF co-founder Amos Vogel. In recognition of this milestone, which is being celebrated with a Vogel tribute in the NYFF59 Spotlight slate, the festival will present the first annual Amos Vogel Lecture. Filmmaker Albert Serra (The Death of Louis XIV, NYFF54; Liberté, NYFF57), whose singular and transgressive approach to cinema epitomizes the vision of Vogel’s landmark text, Film as a Subversive Art, will deliver this inaugural edition of the lecture. The Amos Vogel Centenary Retrospective and lecture are sponsored by MUBI.

Additional highlights include career-spanning Deep Focus dialogues with director Mira Nair, star Sarita Choudhury, and cinematographer Ed Lachman on the making of Revivals selection Mississippi Masala, moderated by novelist Jhumpa Lahiri; Jane Campion in an extended conversation with Sofia Coppola about Campion’s NYFF59 Centerpiece selection The Power of the Dog and its mesmerizing exploration of masculinity; Ryûsuke Hamaguchi on his two Main Slate selections, Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy; and Apichatpong Weerasethakul in an in-depth conversation about Memoria, his first film set outside of Thailand and his first outing with an international star, Tilda Swinton.

Crosscuts returns after its successful launch last year with pairings of filmmakers across NYFF sections, genres, and styles. This year’s lineup includes conversations between Mia Hansen-Løve (Bergman Island) and Joachim Trier (The Worst Person in the World) as well as Silvan Zürcher (The Girl and the Spider)and Alexandre Koberidze (What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?), with more events to be announced in the coming days.

Roundtable discussions highlight thematic trends within the program and consider the films in the context of wider cultural conversations. Among these: Cinema’s Workers, which will explore past and ongoing labor movements within film and art communities with panelists Abby Sun, Dana Kopel, Kazembe Balagun, and filmmaker Ted Fendt (Outside Noise, NYFF59); and two Film Comment Live conversations presented by the reputed publication. The Velvet Underground &the New York Avant-Garde brings together Todd Haynes, Ed Lachman, and critic Amy Taubin to discuss the making of The Velvet Underground and Songs for Drella, and the enduring legacy of the historic moment of artistic innovation they so vividly capture, while Festival Report enlists a group of critics in a lively wrap-up discussion with Devika Girish and Clinton Krute, Co-Deputy Editors of Film Comment, about the NYFF59 lineup.

Talks are organized by Devika Girish and Madeline Whittle, in collaboration with Eugene Hernandez and Dennis Lim.

Free tickets for NYFF59 Talks will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning one hour prior to each event at the corresponding box office. Tickets are limited to one per person, subject to availability. For those unable to attend, video from these events will be available online on Film at Lincoln Center’s YouTube channel at a later date.

NYFF59 will feature in-person screenings, as well as select outdoor events. In response to distributor and filmmaker partners and in light of festivals returning and theaters reopening across the country, NYFF will not offer virtual screenings for this year’s edition.

Proof of full vaccination will be required for all staff, audiences, and filmmakers at NYFF59 venues. FLC requires all guests to maintain face coverings consistent with the current CDC guidelines inside their spaces regardless of vaccination status. Additionally, NYFF59 will adhere to a comprehensive series of health and safety policies in coordination with Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and state and city medical experts, while adapting as necessary to the current health crisis. Visit filmlinc.org/safety for more information.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema and takes place September 24 – October 10, 2021. An annual bellwether of the state of cinema that has shaped film culture since 1963, the festival continues an enduring tradition of introducing audiences to bold and remarkable works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent.

DESCRIPTIONS


THE 2021 AMOS VOGEL LECTURE: Albert Serra

2021 marks the birth centenary of Amos Vogel, the pioneering film programmer, author, and co-founder of the New York Film Festival. As the flagship event of NYFF’s corresponding tribute, the festival is inaugurating the Amos Vogel Lecture, to be delivered annually by an artist or commentator who embodies the spirit of Vogel’s cinephilia and brings it into conversation with the present and future of the medium. For this first edition, we are proud to welcome the filmmaker Albert Serra (The Death of Louis XIV, NYFF54; Liberté, NYFF57). Serra’s singular and transgressive approach to cinema epitomizes the vision of Vogel’s landmark text, Film as a Subversive Art, whose French edition features a foreword by the director. Serra’s original lecture will be followed by a conversation with the programmers of the NYFF59 Spotlight sidebar devoted to Vogel’s curatorial legacy. Sponsored by MUBI.

Tuesday, October 5, 4:00pm, Walter Reade Theater

DEEP FOCUS

In-depth dialogues with festival filmmakers & their collaborators

The Making of Mississippi Masala

Moderated by Jhumpa Lahiri

Released in 1991, Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala endures as a breakthrough work of American independent and diasporic cinema. The rare film to explore relations between South Asian and African-American communities in the South, Nair’s second fiction feature stars Sarita Choudhury as a Ugandan Indian refugee who falls for a self-employed carpet cleaner played by Denzel Washington, cueing familial and communal tensions and pitting passion against tradition. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film’s release and the premiere of its new restoration in NYFF59’s Revivals section, join us for a conversation with Nair, Choudhury, and cinematographer Ed Lachman, moderated by the writer Jhumpa Lahiri, whose novel, The Namesake, Nair adapted in 2006. Sponsored by Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

This event will take place in Damrosch Park immediately following the September 25 screening of Mississippi Masala and will be accessible to ticket-holders.

Jane Campion

Moderated by Sofia Coppola

Following her Best Director win at this year’s Venice Film Festival, Jane Campion returns to NYFF with her first feature since 2009’s Bright StarThe Power of the Dog, the Centerpiece selection of NYFF59. Known for her incisive portraits of womanhood, Campion turns her lens to masculinity in this new film, which adapts Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name. The results are thrilling: The Power of the Dog is a mesmerizing, psychologically rich variation on the American western, and a compassionate examination of repressed sexuality and the fragility of patriarchy. We are thrilled to welcome the legendary New Zealand director for an extended conversation with filmmaker Sofia Coppola (On the Rocks, NYFF58) about this latest entry in Campion’s masterful, decades-spanning career.

Saturday, October 2, 4:00pm, Amphitheater.

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi

Making his return to NYFF with not one but two Main Slate selections, Japanese filmmaker Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Asako I & II, NYFF56) affirms his stature as a true rising star of world cinema, and one of the foremost chroniclers of the ebbs and flows of human relationships. With Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy—a pair of vividly realized and ceaselessly surprising emotional epics—Hamaguchi demonstrates his singular talent for tracing the intricate workings of the heart amid the perennial paradoxes of modern life. Join us for an in-depth conversation with the writer-director to explore the resonances and shared preoccupations of his new films and his prolific body of work.

Sunday, October 3, 7:00pm, Amphitheater

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

For over two decades, Apichatpong Weerasethakul has been celebrated as one of world cinema’s most original auteurs, with films that constantly refract and reinscribe the contours of narrative, reality, and temporality. His new feature—which comes six years after 2015’s Cemetery of Splendour (NYFF53)—reaffirms his peerless status even as it takes the Thai auteur into uncharted territory: Memoria is Apichatpong’s first film set outside of Thailand, in Colombia; his first English- and Spanish-language venture; and his first outing with a bona fide international star, Tilda Swinton. We are thrilled to welcome the filmmaker for a deep-dive conversation about his extraordinary oeuvre and the elliptical novelties and familiar mysteries of his latest masterwork.

Thursday, October 7, 6:30pm, Amphitheater

CROSSCUTS

Conversations between filmmakers across festival sections, genres, and styles

Mia Hansen-Løve & Joachim Trier

With their respective NYFF59 Main Slate selections Bergman Island and The Worst Person in the World, Mia Hansen-Løve (Things to Come, NYFF54) and Joachim Trier (Thelma, NYFF55) achieve new creative heights in their parallel trajectories as two of the preeminent European filmmakers of their generation. Both artists have spent the last 15 years interrogating, with great compassion, the moral and emotional crosscurrents that undergird human behavior, and their latest films refine these inquiries with an invigorating reflexive frankness. Join the two writer-directors for a conversation about their influences and inspirations, their distinctively personal and philosophical approaches to cinematic storytelling, and the endlessly generative themes of romantic ambivalence and evolving self-knowledge that animate their new films.

Monday, September 27, 7:00pm, Amphitheater

Silvan Zürcher & Alexandre Koberidze

In an NYFF lineup with a record number of new and emerging filmmakers, Alexandre Koberidze’s What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? and Ramon and Silvan Zürcher’s The Girl and the Spider—both sophomore features—stand out for their sui generis approaches to cinematic narrative and form. Formally assured and intellectually audacious, the two films, in their own unique ways, electrify the quotidian with currents of desire, romance, and modern myth. We’re excited to bring Silvan Zürcher and Koberidze together to discuss their filmic inspirations and aspirations; their trajectories within Swiss and Georgian cinema, respectively, and in world cinema at large; and their experiences at the renowned DFFB (the German Film and Television Academy Berlin), which all three directors attended.

Saturday, October 2, 7:00pm, Amphitheater

ROUNDTABLES

Panels and discussions that connect the festival to the themes of the moment

Cinema’s Workers

Moderated by Gina Telaroli

The phrase “dream factory” has long been invoked to capture the magical, transporting allure of the American film industry, but too often, as consumers, our fascination with the dream obscures the factory: the workforce that breathes life into the movies and delivers them to audiences. Behind the glitz and glamor of cinema is the labor of seen and unseen workers across the fields of production, distribution, exhibition, and curation. As questions of labor and equity take center stage in art communities in New York and beyond, this roundtable brings together a multifaceted group of film workers to discuss past and ongoing labor movements in cinema. Panelists include Abby Sun (curator, the DocYard, My Sight Is Lined with Visions), filmmaker Ted Fendt (Outside Noise, NYFF59), Kazembe Balagun (project manager, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office), and Dana Kopel (writer, editor, and organizer).

Sunday, September 26, 7:00pm, Amphitheater

Film Comment Live: The Velvet Underground & the New York Avant-Garde

Two films in this year’s NYFF lineup take us back to the ‘60s heyday of the New York avant-garde: in the Main Slate, Todd Haynes’s The Velvet Underground offers a revelatory portrait of the milieu that gave rise to the eponymous band and its boundary-pushing music, while in Revivals, Ed Lachman’s Songs for Drella captures Lou Reed and John Cale in concert, paying tribute to the late Andy Warhol with riveting intimacy. Presented by the editors of Film Comment, this special roundtable brings together Haynes, Lachman, and critic Amy Taubin to discuss the making of the two films as well as the enduring legacy of the historic moment of artistic innovation they so vividly capture.

Sunday, October 3, 4:00pm, Damrosch Park

Film Comment Live: Festival Report

For the festival’s final week, a group of critics will gather together for a spirited wrap-up discussion with Devika Girish and Clinton Krute, Co-Deputy Editors of Film Comment, about the movies they’ve seen in the NYFF59 lineup. Panelists include Molly Haskell (critic and author), Bilge Ebiri (staff critic, Vulture), and Phoebe Chen (critic and scholar).

Saturday, October 9, 7:00pm, Amphitheater

FILM AT LINCOLN CENTER

Film at Lincoln Center is dedicated to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema and enriching film culture.

Film at Lincoln Center fulfills its mission through the programming of festivals, series, retrospectives, and new releases; the publication of Film Comment; and the presentation of podcasts, talks, special events, and artist initiatives. Since its founding in 1969, this nonprofit organization has brought the celebration of American and international film to the world-renowned Lincoln Center arts complex, making the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broad audience and ensuring that it remains an essential art form for years to come.

Support for the New York Film Festival is generously provided by Official Partners HBO, Campari, The New York Times, and Vanity Fair’sAwards Insider; Benefactor Partners Netflix and Citi; Supporting Partners Topic Studios, Hearst, and Radeberger Pilsner; Contributing Partners Dolby, Turner Classic Movies, Manhattan Portage, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, and UniFrance; and Media Partners Variety, Vulture, Deadline HollywoodThe Hollywood Reporter, WABC-7, The WNET Group, and IndieWire. All NYFF59 Talks are presented by HBO. American Airlines is the Official Airline of Film at Lincoln Center.

Review: ‘On the Rocks,’ starring Rashida Jones and Bill Murray

October 23, 2020

by Carla Hay

Rashida Jones and Bill Murray in “On the Rocks” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

“On the Rocks” (2020)

Directed by Sofia Coppola

Culture Representation: Taking place in New York City and Mexico, the dramatic film “On the Rocks” features a cast of white and African American characters (and a few Asians) representing the upper-middle-class and middle class.

Culture Clash: A married mother of two young daughters begins to believe her philandering father’s suspicions that her husband is cheating on her.

Culture Audience: “On the Rocks” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching movies about “privileged people’s problems.”

Marlon Wayans, Rashida Jones, Alexandra Reimer and Liyanna Muscat in “On the Rocks” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

“On the Rocks,” written and directed by Sofia Coppola, is the type of movie that Woody Allen has made for most of his career, but “On the Rocks” is told from a female director’s perspective. It’s a story about an upper-middle-class woman in New York City who spends almost the entire movie worrying about whether or not her husband is cheating on her. And there are several scenes with conversations about the differences between how men and women handle romance and a committed relationship. “On the Rocks” had its world premiere at the 2020 New York Film Festival.

In order for the film not to be too talkative and have some action, “On the Rocks” throws in a plot development of “I’m going to spy on my husband,” so that viewers get to see different angles of her privileged lifestyle, where she can have cocktails at exclusive lounges in the middle of the day and jet off to Mexico whenever she wants. And did we mention that this woman has daddy issues? Because that’s what’s propelling her to feel so insecure about her marriage.

“On the Rocks” telegraphs those daddy issues from the film’s opening scene, which features a dark screen with a voiceover of an unseen man telling his unseen daughter, who is presumably underage at the time this conversation is taking place: “And remember, don’t give your heart to any boys until you’re married. And then you’re still mine.”

The movie then cuts to the lavish wedding of Laura (played by Rashida Jones) and Dean (played by Marlon Wayans), who are blissfully happy on this big day in their relationship. The wedding reception is in one of those European-styled ballroom halls that includes a romantically lit swimming pool on the property. When they are alone at the reception, Laura and Dean are seen impulsively stripped down to their underwear and frolicking in the swimming pool.

The movie then fast-forwards several years later. Laura and Dean are now parents to two daughters: Maya (played by Liyanna Muscat), who’s about 9 or 10 years old, and Theo (played by identical twins Alexandra Reimer and Anna Reimer), who’s about 3 or 4 years old. Maya and Theo are both adorable and obedient kids. Dean is a busy executive at a company whose industry is not named, but it’s the type of company that revolves around getting clients from all over the world. Therefore, Dean does a lot of traveling.

Laura, who’s 39 and soon about to turn 40, is a writer who’s working on a novel called “Amici e Conoscenti,” which is Italian for “Friends and Acquaintances.” The movie has a brief flash of the book cover, and it looks as pretentious as it sounds. Laura and Dean live in the type of spacious New York City apartment that’s for people who can afford a home that’s worth at least $3 million. However, they don’t have servants, and Laura’s casual style of dressing indicates that she tries to be as “down-to-earth” as possible.

One thing that Laura is very uptight about though is her current situation of having writer’s block. She moans to Dean that she shouldn’t have sold her book before writing it. Laura, who works from home, also complains that it’s hard for her to adjust to writing during the day when she’s accustomed to writing at night. In other words, Laura has privileged people’s problems.

And soon, there’s another problem that will preoccupy Laura’s thoughts. One night, when Laura and Dean are in bed, he starts kissing her while he’s half-asleep, but then he suddenly stops when he hears Laura’s voice. Laura doesn’t really know what to think about this interrupted amorous moment, so she asks two people in separate phone conversations. And she gets two completely different answers.

The first person she asks is an unidentified female friend, who tells Laura that she shouldn’t worry about it because Dean is a wonderful and loving husband who wouldn’t cheat on her. The other person Laura talks to about it is her father Felix (played by Bill Murray), who immediately tells Laura that Dean is probably cheating on her. Laura gives Dean the benefit of the doubt and tries to put the incident out of her mind.

But then, one day, while she’s unpacking Dean’s luggage, she sees a woman’s toiletry bag in his suitcase. She opens the bag and sees body oil. She takes the bag out and leaves it on the dresser. Her suspicions begin to percolate, but she doesn’t say anything to Dean about it right away. Some of the passion has gone out of their marriage, but Laura thinks it’s because they’ve been busy with their separate careers.

Soon after finding this mystery toiletry bag, Laura and Dean attend a work party that Dean’s company is having at the office. At the party, she meets for the first time a woman named Fiona (played by Jessica Henwick), a fairly new account manager who works closely with Dean and usually goes on the same business trips with Dean and some of their other colleagues. Fiona is outgoing, effusive, and seems very happy to meet Laura.

Fiona then introduces Laura to two other work colleagues: Jenna (played by Zoe Bullock) and Chase (played by Chase Sui Wonders), who aren’t as friendly as Fiona. In fact, they seem slightly uncomfortable talking to Laura, so the conversation is brief and awkward. At this point, viewers are probably thinking what Laura is probably thinking: “Are any of these women having an affair with Dean?”

During Laura and Dean’s ride back home, Laura casually mentions the toiletry bag that she found in Dean’s suitcase. He tells her that the bag belongs to Fiona, who asked him to carry it for her in his suitcase because the toiletry bag couldn’t fit into her carry-on luggage. He says he’ll return the bag to Fiona. Dean’s response seems open and honest, without hesitation, surprise or guilt. And so, Laura accepts that explanation and doesn’t make a big issue out of it.

However, Laura’s father Felix won’t let it go, and he plants seeds of doubt in Laura’s mind about Dean’s marital fidelity when he starts interrogating Laura about Dean’s activities when Dean is away on business trips. Felix, who is a semi-retired art dealer who used to own an art gallery, even gives an analysis of the type of hotels that Dean stays at, by commenting on which hotels are more discreet than others if someone wants to have an affair. Felix is also an incessant name dropper who loves to brag about all the people around the world he knows, including hotel concierges, who can do favors for him.

How does Felix know all of about the mind of a cheater? Because he’s a longtime philanderer, and it’s the reason why Laura’s mother Diane (played by Alva Chinn) and Felix got divorced years ago. Felix left Diane for his mistress, a much-younger woman named Robin, but that relationship didn’t work out either.

It’s not clearly stated when Felix and Diane got divorced, but it’s implied that it happened when Laura and her younger sister Amanda (played by Juliana Canfield) were still children and living at home. It’s clear as the story goes on that the devastation of the divorce and Felix’s perpetual selfishness have caused Amanda to become estranged from her father. And the pent-up resentment that Laura has about Felix’s role in the divorce comes out later in the movie’s best scene.

Felix is addicted to being a playboy, because everywhere he goes, he flirts with women who are almost always young enough to be his daughter. He also has an outdated, very sexist attitude toward life that is a mix of Neanderthal and elitist. In the beginning of the movie, Felix is only heard on the phone because he’s away on a trip in Paris. When he arrives back in New York City to see Laura, his insufferable personality is on full display.

Felix loves to spout self-righteous platitudes where he thinks he’s always right in his mindset that men always have to be dominant and superior to women. His ramblings are a mishmash of garbled anthropology and philosophy to justify why he has such a sexist attitude toward women. It’s really all just Felix’s egomaniacal way of denying that he’s a crass boor who doesn’t want to admit that a lot of men have evolved from the old days when women were treated like property.

For example, in one scene, Felix explains to Laura that in ancient times, women’s breasts reminded men of when humans used to walk on their haunches. The rounder the breasts, the more desirable the woman, according to Felix. Felix also says that men are attracted to adolescent females because adolescent females are easier to catch and therefore easier to mate with in man’s instinctual need to spread his seed. What’s creepy about this comment about adolescent females is that Felix thinks that what applied to ancient times—when human life expectancy was much shorter than it is now and having kids at age 14 was considered normal—applies to society today.

Adding to the “creep” level of Felix, he’s weirdly flattered when he and Laura are out in public together and people assume that Laura is his girlfriend. He mentions it any chance he gets to Laura, who is understandably uncomfortable with this semi-incestuous implication. It’s pathetic insecurity on Felix’s part, but there’s not much Laura thinks she can do about it because he’s her father and he’s set in his ways. Occasionally, she scolds him by saying things like, “Can you just be normal around women?”

And it comes as no surprise that Felix thinks that men aren’t wired to be monogamous. It’s an incredibly narrow-minded viewpoint that doesn’t take into account that not everyone is the same when it comes to love and committed relationships. It’s an example of how Felix, as he does throughout the entire story, believes that his way of thinking is always the correct way, even if it’s “politically incorrect” by today’s standards.

As annoying as Felix might be to some people watching this movie, there are many men with money and privilege who think the exact same way as Felix does. They might not share these thoughts with everyone, but they will talk about it with people whom they feel comfortable with, and this backwards mindset is reflected in how they live their lives. (These are the type of men who hate the #MeToo movement.) Some people might think that the Felix character is over-the-top and unrealistic, but it’s a very accurate depiction of how some people in certain social circles really think and act in life.

And so, it comes as no surprise, considering Felix’s history of infidelity, that he’s quick to assume that Dean is cheating on Laura. Felix keeps nagging Laura to do something about it and even takes it upon himself to hire a private detective to spy on Dean. Felix keeps telling Laura that Dean is probably having an affair with Fiona.

At first, Laura is appalled by Felix’s assumptions, but eventually she gets sucked into Felix’s suspicions and gives in to the idea that she should start spying on Dean too. Felix is happy to egg her on, and he spearheads arrangements so that Laura can go with him on these spying excursions.

There are several scenes where Felix shows up at Laura’s home or calls her and expects her to drop everything so that Laura can accompany him for drinks at this swanky hotel or that upscale lounge. Over cocktails and at stuffy parties, they commiserate over Dean’s possible infidelity, as well as talk about Felix’s point of view that it’s harder for men to be faithful spouses than it is for women.

At one point in the movie, Laura wails to Felix and asks him if it’s possible for women to keep their love partners’ interest and if it’s possible for men to still be attracted women once they reach past a certain age. (Felix believes a woman reaches her attractiveness “expiration date” around the age of 40.) Felix says that it’s possible for a woman to hold a man’s interest in a long-term relationship if she still has confidence that she’s attractive.

Even though Felix is the last person who should be lecturing other people about successful, monogamous relationships, he does have a good point about self-confidence that Laura completely misses because she’s become too caught up in her own misery and insecurities in thinking that she might not be good enough for Dean anymore. An objective observer would also be able to see that Felix seems way too invested and too eager to find out if Dean is a lying, cheating husband. It’s as if Felix wants confirmation that there are more men than not who are cheaters, even if it means that his daughter will be emotionally hurt in the process.

The dynamics between Laura and the women in her family have subtle clues about how race and class play a role in their family’s hierarchy. There’s a scene where Laura, her sister Amanda, and their multiracial mother Diane are having an outdoor luncheon with Felix’s mother (played by Barbara Bain), who’s called Gran in the movie, at Gran’s grand estate. Gran immediately expresses disapproval to Laura about how Laura is dressed (Laura tends to wear blazers, jeans and flat shoes), while Diane nips this criticism in the bud by telling Laura that she looks great.

The topic inevitably turns to Felix, who is clearly a troublemaker in the family, and Gran makes excuses for him by saying he was rebellious even as a child. Amanda tells Laura that she doesn’t know how she can still put up with their father, while Diane (who’s been through enough with Felix to last a lifetime) tries not to say anything negative about Felix in front of his mother. This scene explains a lot about Felix’s upbringing and why he turned out the way that he did. (Felix’s father is not seen or mentioned in the movie, but it’s implied that Felix’s mother is a widow.)

In one of Felix and Laura’s spying excursions, Felix shows his elitist attitude when he scoffs that Dean and some colleagues are going to be hanging out at Soho House (a members-only social club in downtown Manhattan), which Felix considers to be a “downmarket” place because it’s apparently not upscale enough for Felix. For this spying trip, Felix picks up Laura in his red Alfa Romeo, as you do when you’re spying on someone and you want to show off your car instead of being truly incognito.

When Dean and Fiona get in a taxi together, it leads to a not-very-subtle car chase with Felix speeding to try catch up to the taxi. Felix gets pulled over for speeding by two cop partners, but he charms his way out of getting a ticket because Felix happens to know the father and grandfather of one of the cops. The cop’s demeanor changes from stern to friendly.

As Felix and Laura drive off, Laura says to him, “It must be great to be you.” And Felix agrees. The words “white privilege” aren’t said in this scene, but this scene shows how someone like Felix can get away with certain things, while someone of a different color or race who’s pulled over by police for the same reason probably wouldn’t be let off as easily.

The subplot about Laura’s writer’s block is important because it provides some context for why Laura wastes time and goes along with Felix’s schemes. She’s avoiding working on her book to go off to wherever Felix thinks they should go on a moment’s notice. She’s running away from a problem (finishing her book) by distracting herself with another potential problem (her possibly crumbling marriage).

Nowhere is this avoidance more evident than when Felix convinces Laura that they should go to Mexico to spy on Dean while Dean is on a business trip there with Fiona. In the movie’s most unrealistic contrivance, Felix just happens to know someone who owns a condo that’s right next to the resort in Mexico where Dean is staying. And so, Laura hastily arranges for her mother to watch the kids while she flies off to Mexico with Felix for a few days. This trip leads to a reckoning that gives clarity to Laura on her relationship with her father and on her marriage.

Because the movie is more about Laura’s relationship with Felix than it is about Laura’s relationship with Dean, this father and daughter are the two characters who get the most screen time. Dean seems like an overall good guy, but there’s not enough shown of him and the other supporting characters to give any insight into their personalities. Jenny Slate has a recurring role as a single mother named Vanessa, whose son goes to the same school as Laura’s daughter Maya. Vanessa’s only purpose in the movie is to give neurotic, rambling monologues about her love life to Laura while they’re waiting somewhere at the school, and Laura has to find an excuse to get away from Vanessa.

Jones is the cast member who shines the most in the emotional scenes between her and Murray, who portrays Felix as jaded and desperately trying not to show his insecurities. For all of Felix’s macho attitude toward women, he’s still very much alone and doesn’t have a romantic partner in his life who truly loves him and vice versa. There’s a world-weary sadness that Murray brings to the role that’s nuanced among Felix’s ego posturing.

The movie is also a subtle commentary on how people who seemingly “have it all” can still find ways to create problems in their lives, often out of sheer boredom. Because really, the average person does not have time to gallivant around cocktail lounges during the day and fly to resorts in other countries with their father on short notice, in order to spy on a spouse.

However, amid all of these shenanigans, what this movie shows is that Laura and Felix, in their own ways, are haunted by how infidelity and divorce had an effect on their family. Laura doesn’t want to go through what her mother Diane experienced (having her husband leave her for another woman), while Felix is determined to show Laura that it could happen to her because he’s convinced that Dean is cheating on Laura.

Rashida Jones, who is the daughter of Grammy-winning legend Quincy Jones, co-directed the 2018 documentary “Quincy” about her father’s life. This documentary, which had Quincy Jones’ participation, shows that Rashida also has a close but complicated relationship with her divorced father, who has publicly admitted that he’s incapable of extended monogamy. That’s probably why there’s an authenticity to how Rashida Jones plays the role of Laura in expressing both loyalty and exasperation when she’s with her father.

“On the Rocks” isn’t Coppola’s best film, but it’s not her worst either. The performances of Rashida Jones and Murray are the best parts of what could have been a very pedestrian movie. “On the Rocks” might be compared to Coppola’s 2003 Oscar-winning movie “Lost in Translation,” because that film also had Murray as an older man in a complicated relationship with a younger woman (played by Scarlett Johansson). However, “On the Rocks” is very much in the mold of a Woody Allen film, except that Allen doesn’t cast African Americans as stars of his movies. But just like Allen’s films, “On the Rocks” avoids showing racial issues in a racially diverse big city like New York because the movie wants to be about how privileged neurotics need love too.

Apple TV+ released “On the Rocks” in select U.S. cinemas October 9, 2020. Apple TV+ premiered “On the Rocks” on October 23, 2020.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound’

April 29, 2019

by Carla Hay

Making Waves
“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” interviewee Walter Murch re-recording mixing of “Apocalypse Now” (Photo by W.S. Murch)

“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound”

Directed by Midge Costin

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 29, 2019.

“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” is the type of documentary that is best seen in a movie theater, where the film’s impressive sound editing and sound mixing can be best appreciated.  It’s also the kind of documentary that some might consider too technical for their tastes, but it’s a must-see for cinephiles, film students or anyone who cares to find out more about the history of sound in film.

The movie does a quick run-through of the transition between silent films and “talkies” to get to the heart of the film—the movies and filmmakers who’ve had the most influence on today’s cinematic experiences. Like a classroom presentation at a film school, “Making Waves” takes a somewhat academic approach in describing the different components of sound in cinema. And that’s probably because “Make Waves” director Midge Costin is an Oscar-nominated sound editor who’s also a professor of sound at USC Film School. The movie divides the discussion intro three categories: voice, sound effects and music. In the voice category are production recording, dialogue editing and ADR (automated dialog replacement). In the sound effects category are SFX, Foley and ambience.

“Making Waves” also interviews many of the top filmmakers in the industry, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, Alfonso Cuarón, Sofia Coppola, Ang Lee, Ryan Coogler, Robert Redford, David Lynch and Barbra Streisand. Sound designers/editors interviewed in the documentary Walter Murch (a longtime collaborator with Francis Ford Coppola), Ben Burtt (a favorite of George Lucas), Bobbi Banks (“The Fate of the Furious,” “Straight Outta Compton”), Anna Behlmer (“Moulin Rouge!”, 2009’s “Star Trek”) and Gary Rydstrom, who’s worked on numerous Steven Spielberg movies.

The documentary takes the position that sound in cinema really began to hit its stride in the 1970s, with movies like “The Godfather” and “Star Wars.” There are several movies that are singled out for their pioneering sound. The 1976 version  of “A Star Is Born” is credited with being the first to fully utilize stereo effects in sound editing. Streisand, who starred in the movie and was one of the film’s producers, tells a story in “Making Waves” about how she had to pay $1 million of her own money for the sound, and Warner Bros. Pictures ended up being so impressed with the movie’s sound quality that the movie studio ended up covering the $1 million cost.

Coppola’s 1979 masterpiece “Apocalypse Now” pioneered surround sound, while 1995’s “Toy Story” is considered a breakthrough animated film for sound. Other movies whose sound is given a spotlight in “Making Waves” include “Jurassic Park,” “Argo,” “Top Gun,” “Selma,” “Inception,” “Ordinary People,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “A River Runs Through It.” As for music in movies, the Beatles are credited with being pioneers on screen, as well as being major influences on filmmakers who were fans of the band. “Making Waves” also has interviews with famous composers such as Hans Zimmer and Ludwig Goransson, who gives a demonstration of how he crafted his Oscar-winning score for “Black Panther.”

Although a few of the people interviewed in “Making Waves” come across as bit dull, “Making Waves” is still worth seeing for the way it gives valuable history lessons in cinema. Just don’t watch this movie on a phone or a computer, or you’ll be missing out on the full sound experience of the movie and the reason why this documentary exists.

UPDATE: “Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” opens in New York City and Los Angeles on October 25, 2019. The movie expands to more cities in the U.S. and Canada, beginning November 1, 2019.

Apple announces Apple TV+ with Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and more

March 25, 2019

The following is a press release from Apple:

Apple today announced Apple TV+, the new home for the world’s most creative storytellers featuring exclusive original shows, movies and documentaries, coming this fall. Apple TV+, Apple’s original video subscription service, will feature a brand new slate of programming from the world’s most celebrated creative artists, including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Jon M. Chu and more. On the Apple TV app, subscribers will enjoy inspiring and authentic stories with emotional depth and compelling characters from all walks of life, ad-free and on demand.

“We’re honored that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world – both in front of and behind the camera – are coming to Apple TV+,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We’re thrilled to give viewers a sneak peek of Apple TV+ and cannot wait for them to tune in starting this fall. Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet.”

Additionally, Apple debuted the all-new Apple TV app and Apple TV channels coming in May 2019. The all-new Apple TV app brings together the different ways to discover and watch shows, movies, sports, news and more in one app across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, smart TVs and streaming devices. Users can subscribe to and watch new Apple TV channels – paying for only services they want, like HBO, SHOWTIME and Starz – all on demand, available on and offline, with incredible picture quality and sound; enjoy sports, news and network TV from cable and satellite providers as well as purchase or rent iTunes movies and TV shows all within the new, personalized Apple TV app.

Beginning in May, customers can subscribe to Apple TV channels à la carte and watch them in the Apple TV app, with no additional apps, accounts or passwords required. Apple TV channels include popular services such as HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Smithsonian Channel, EPIX, Tastemade, Noggin and new services like MTV Hits, with more to be added over time around the world.

The new Apple TV app personalizes what viewers love to watch across their existing apps and services while developing a secure and comprehensive understanding of users’ viewing interests. The app will offer suggestions for shows and movies from over 150 streaming apps, including Amazon Prime and Hulu, as well as pay-TV services such as Canal+, Charter Spectrum, DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue. Optimum and Suddenlink from Altice will be added later this year.*

Additionally, the Apple TV app will become the new home to the hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows currently available for purchase or rent in the iTunes Store.

Availability

Pricing and availability for the Apple TV+ video subscription service will be announced later this fall.

The all-new Apple TV app is coming to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV customers in over 100 countries with a free software update this May, and to Mac this fall.

Through Family Sharing, users can share Apple TV+ and subscriptions to Apple TV channels.

The Apple TV app will be available on Samsung smart TVs beginning this spring and on Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony and VIZIO platforms in the future.

Later this year, customers with eligible VIZIO, Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs will be able to effortlessly play videos and other content from their iPhone or iPad directly to their smart TVs with AirPlay 2 support.

Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms – iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS – provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.

Editor’s note: The shows on Apple TV+ include:

  • Steven Spielberg’s reboot of the “Amazing Stories” anthology
  • Oprah Winfrey projects, including a documentary titled “Toxic Labor” about workplace harassment; a documentary (title to be announced) about mental health; and a book club-oriented program whose title is to be announced.
  • “The Morning Show,” a drama series about morning television, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, with Aniston and Witherspoon among the executive producers
  • “See,” a post-apocalyptic drama series starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard
  • “Little Voice,” a musical drama series, executive produced by J.J. Abrams, with original songs written by Sara Bareilles
  • “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” starring Jennifer Garner and executive produced by J.J. Abrams
  • “Peanuts” content, based on the beloved comic-strip characters
  • “Swagger,” a drama series based on the life of basketball star Kevin Durant, with Durant executive producing the show with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer
  • “Defending Jacob,” a drama series starring and executive produced by Chris Evans, about a father whose teenage son is suspected of killing a classmate
  • “Pachinko,” a drama series based on Min Jin Lee’s book, with Soo Hugh as the showrunner
  • A comedy series (title to be announced) about video-game company, executive produced by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” co-stars Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day
  • “Are You Sleeping,” a drama series about how a podcast affects a cold murder case, starring Octavia Spencer, Lizzy Caplan and Aaron Paul
  • “Dickinson,” a drama series about Emily Dickinson, starring Hailee Steinfeld
  • “Bastards,” a drama series about war veterans, starring Richard Gere
  • A drama series (title to be announced) about CIA operative Amaryllis Fox, starring and executive produced by Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson
  • “Little America,” a comedy series about immigrants, executive produced by Oscar-nominated “The Big Sick” writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon
  • “Helpsters,” a children’s show from Sesame Workshop
  • “Calls,” an American remake of a French drama series that does reenactments of 911 calls
  • “For All Mankind,” a space drama series starring Joel Kinnaman
  • “Central Park,” an animated series from “Bob’s Burgers” creator Loren Bouchard, with a voice cast that includes Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, Josh Gad, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr. and Stanley Tucci.
  • “Homes,” a docuseries about unusual homes
  • “Losing Earth,” a possible drama or docuseries about climate change
  • “Shantaram,” a drama series about an escaped prisoner from Australia who’s hiding out in India, from executive producer/screenwriter Eric Warren Singer (“American Hustle”)
  • “Time Bandits,” a fantasy comedy series from executive producer/director Taika Waititi, based on Terry Gilliam’s 1981 film of the same title
  • A still-untitled drama/thriller series from executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, with a cast that includes Lauren Ambrose, Rupert Grint and Toby Kebbell [UPDATE: The series is titled “Servant.”]
  • A still-untitled drama series from Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle, with the show’s plot and cast to be announced
  • A still-untitled sci-fi series from executive producer Simon Kinberg, who has written several “X-Men” movies
  • A still-untitled mystery drama series from executive producer/director Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), based on real-life pre-teen reporter Hilde Lysiak (played by Brooklynn Prince), with Jim Sturgess co-starring as her father

SOURCE: Variety

*Network and streaming app availability may vary by country.

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