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New York Film Festival 2015

In addition to new works by auteurs new and old, the festival is once again rich in sidebars and special events that aren’t to be missed.

New York Film Festival 2015
Photo: TriStar Pictures

Fourteen years ago, the New York Film Festival kicked off a little over two weeks after the September 11 attacks. Grief hung heavy over the festival’s early press screenings, and at times the rawness of the emotions unveiled on screen seemed indistinguishable from our own. Flash-forward to the present and, less than a year after the opening of One World Trade Center, the festival unveils its 53rd edition, almost triumphantly, with a screening of Robert Zemeckis’s The Walk, a dramatization of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers on August 7, 1974.

In recent years, the festival has become an important stop on the road toward the Academy Awards. In addition to The Walk, other films from this year’s lineup with obvious awards-season ambitions include the centerpiece selection, Steve Jobs, Danny Boyle’s character-driven, Aaron Sorkin-penned portrait of the titular Apple visionary; Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, a Cold War-era thriller starring Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, and Mark Rylance; Todd Haynes’s Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt that, earlier this year, won Rooney Mara the Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival; John Crowley’s Brooklyn, an adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s novel about a young Irish immigrant (played by Saoirse Ronan) living in the titular New York City borough; and the closing-night selection, Miles Ahead, Don Cheadle’s portrait of Miles Davis, “refracted through his crazy days in the late ‘70s.”

This year’s main slate features 26 films, 28 if you count the three parts of Miguel Gomes’s heady homage to the Arabian Nights, rooted in the “facts that occurred in Portugal between August 2013 and July 2014,” as separate entities. Other auteurs returning to the festival include Hou Hsiao-hsien with his elegiac wuxia film The Assassin; Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose Cemetery of Splendour rhythmically traces a series of strange happenings in and around an improvised hospital in Khon Kaen, Thailand; Jia Zhang-ke, whose decade-spanning Mountains May Depart promises a pointed look at communist China’s capitalist explosion; and Hong Sang-soo, whose Right Now, Wrong Then may be his most emotion-rich, bifurcated narrative to date.

And in addition to new works by Michael Almereyda (Experimenter), Guy Maddin (The Forbidden Room), Philippe Garrel (In the Shadow of Women), Arnaud Desplechin (My Golden Days), Chantal Akerman (No Home Movie), Michael Moore (Where to Invade Next), among others, the festival is once again rich in sidebars and special events that aren’t to be missed. Of special note are screenings of Frederick Wiseman’s In Jackson Heights, a 190-minute immersion into the titular Queens neighborhood’s very being; Junun, Paul Thomas Anderson’s portrait of a recording session by his frequent collaborator (and Radiohead member) Jonny Greenwood at the 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort; and De Palma, a loving portrait of Brian De Palma (whose Blow Out will also screen in the Revivals sidebar) by Noah Baumbach.

Starting September 22, check back daily for a review of each main-slate title. The 53rd New York Film Festival will run from September 25 to October 11. For a complete schedule of films, screening times, and ticket information, go to the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s official site. Ed Gonzalez


New York Film Festival 2015

Arabian Nights: The Restless One

Miguel Gomes’s Arabian Nights trilogy is a sprawling, shoot-for-the-moon patchwork of virtually every genre and film convention one can imagine, fusing documentary, comedy, fantasy, vérité, parable, and first-person confessional together under the ambition of mounting a non-traditional, free-form adaptation of One Thousand and One Nights. Gomes derives his creative energy from contrast, from startling juxtaposition of tones, and the comingling of genres mirrors the unlikely union between the source material and the filmmaker’s real subject: Portugal, and the austerity measures imposed on it by the European Central Bank and others during the present financial crisis. Gomes isn’t subtle on this point, as text appears on the screen in each of the three volumes to remind us that the stories included are real tales of Portugal in the face of the government’s social cost-cutting measures, which has spectacularly failed to rejuvenate its economy, leaving more and more people literally and spiritually stranded. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Arabian Nights: The Desolate One

Arabian Nights: Volume 2, The Desolate One, like the chapters that precede and follow it, is the equivalent of director Miguel Gomes taking his creative hubris onto the art-film playground, locating the sandbox, and suggesting the sand be removed and replaced with feces, for no greater reason other than jolting the decorum for recess procedure. Gomes says in an interview with CinemaScope that he finds the Arabian Nights folktales to be “completely scatological,” but these segments, in their proclivities for distended muckraking and obtuse meaning, border on coprophilia. This is Gomes’s most abstruse film yet, even though its foundation is rooted in “facts that occurred in Portugal between August 2013 and July 2014.” However, those facts remain entirely off screen, sans a general assertion (via on screen text) that the nation’s people were “held hostage to a program of economic austerity,” resulting in widespread poverty amongst large portions of the population. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Arabian Nights: The Enchanted One

As shapeless and occasionally sublime as its predecessors, the third segment of Miguel Gomes’s Arabian Nights trilogy begins in the “Antiquity of Time” of the “Baghdad archipelago,” where actors in lavishly designed Arabic clothing laze and dance around a rocky seashore, with an undisguised, modern Portugal as a backdrop. Here, the bewitching storyteller Scheherazade (Crista Alfaiate) takes part in a narrative rather similar to the one she’s been weaving. Instead of regaling a bloodthirsty king with folk and fairy tales in order to save the skin of her country people, Scheherazade is tempted by a series of tempters, bandits, and magical genies. They offer her experience rather than stories: a genial thief named Elvis break-dances for her; a prolifically reproductive charmer, Paddleman (Carloto Cotta), tries to seduce her; and a hipster guitarist plays in the backdrop as a windblown Scheherazade sings a multilingual pop song, the scene’s cuts and compositions redolent of Wilson Phillips’s 1990 music video for “Hold On.” >>


New York Film Festival 2015

The Assassin

Set amid the distant reaches of China’s expansive past, wuxia films are first and foremost fantasy stories, replacing the mystical vagueness of storybook nowherelands with hazy historical allegories. Focused on communicating the transportive heroic purity of traditional values, their plots and settings are fundamentally set dressing, used to enhance the verisimilitude and overall beauty of the fable. This makes it a seemingly strange choice of genre for a meticulous director like Hou Hsiao-hsien, whose films are both remarkably modest in terms of emotion, and specifically attuned to the concrete details of very specific points in history. Yet just as he mined lavish, muted melodrama from 19th-century opulence in Flowers of Shanghai, or granted piercing tenderness to the near future in Millennium Mambo, the Taiwanese auteur sets down to familiarize Tang dynasty China in The Assassin. Less concerned with eulogizing values than exploring them, the film carves out a rich emotional sphere concomitant to its stunning production design, finding delicate poetry in the dispassionate pursuit of revenge. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Bridge of Spies

Rife with lawyer James Donovan’s (Tom Hanks) plainspoken moral authority, Bridge of Spies is a good movie that suffers from a lack of anxiety about its convictions. Steven Spielberg counters the false binaries and nuclear bogeymen of Cold War America with an argument built from equal parts liberal humanism and earnest pleas to Constitutional law. Only rarely does the director observe how queasily at odds our patriotism is with our humanity: A stunning series of cuts segues from an audience rising in a courtroom to a group of schoolchildren reciting the pledge of allegiance, and then watching an educational video about how to defend oneself in the event of a nuclear holocaust. The impact of this sequence is blunt, but stirring. Elsewhere, Donovan’s pleas to due process are broadly phrased to allude to contemporary matters of jurisprudence and war posturing, but these political allusions lack the fraught, pinpoint pungency of Spielberg’s work in Munich, which managed to explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center with an urgency that continues to astonish and unsettle. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Brooklyn

The life Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) might have had if she had stayed in Ireland shadows the film’s first half, as she establishes a new life in Brooklyn and mourns what left behind. Then she goes back for a visit after a family tragedy and the ghost of possibilities past is resurrected. Parallels between her two lives illustrate a bit too neatly the degree to which Eilis is torn between them, as she heads to the beach, goes out with friends, or has dinner and goes dancing with a devoted suitor in Ireland, just as she once did in New York. As that list of activities indicates, it’s hardly all thin gruel and rejection for Eilis. Gracefully balanced on the cusp of young adulthood, she may be as passive as a Dickens orphan, far more acted upon than acting, but nearly everyone she encounters seems drawn to her modest, matter-of-fact self-confidence. But even a world in which people are quick to offer praise, love, or assistance can be a lonely place for a young woman far from everything and everyone she once knew. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Carol

Can a film about crushing loneliness and isolation still be what critics used to call a “sumptuous” experience? Todd Haynes’s Carol is as prim and curlicued a movie as a Fifth Avenue window display at Christmastime—and ensconced beneath just as much glass. There’s no doubting the film was financed as an awards-season vehicle for the reaffirmation of Cate Blanchett as one of the great doyennes of acting. But beyond the machinations of “how exactly did this downtempo lesbian period piece get made?,” Haynes leaves his audience precious little to figure out for themselves. Carol’s main draw, then, is to luxuriate in the pining shared by the film’s blueblood namesake (Blanchett) and a bashful clerk from Frankenburg’s named Therese (Rooney Mara)—a pining which, in buttoned-down postwar America, can also look and feel an awful lot like being trapped. The connection doesn’t build laterally toward any long date scene, illicit kiss, or even their inevitable first night in bed together. Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy largely refuse such facile signposts, preferring to stretch the narrative along Therese’s gaze, forcing viewers to engage both Carol herself and Therese’s at-times vaporous idea of Carol. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Cemetery of Splendour

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s quietly incandescent new feature, Cemetery of Splendour, is so serene, so perfectly meditative, that it puts the viewer in precisely the same hushed reverie to which its characters eventually submit. Moving away from the spatial and temporal bifurcations of much of his previous work, the film fixes its tender gaze on all the myriad things one specific place was, is, and yet may be, gently and often imperceptibly shifting between past and present, legend and modernity, wakefulness and reverie. Regardless of what might lie beneath, there’s a peculiar joy in peeling away the different layers. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Les Cowboys

Thomas Bidegain’s Les Cowboys appears to pride itself on demonstrating both sides of a complex racial divide, only for its messaging to wind up flattering the whitest sensibility imaginable. Heretofore comedic actor François Damiens stars as Alain, a hardheaded father and husband in rural France whose 16-year-old daughter, Kelly, disappears at the end of a long day of country-western-themed roleplaying in the autumn of 1994. A lot hinges on the question of how metaphorically Bidegain, Jacques Audiard’s longtime co-writer, wants his viewers to take this family’s obsession with American iconography. The cheeseburgers, horseback rides, snakeskin boots, square dances, and 10-gallon hats feel borderline satirical, but then the camera hangs back in a kind of halting, reverential handheld, as if characters were the Mennonite broncos from Carlos Reygadas’s Silent Light. Speaking of comparisons: Despite the “riff on The Searchers” logline currently making festival-circuit-recap rounds, Bidegain’s directorial debut might be better elevator-pitched as Taken meets Paul Haggis’s Crash, too enamored of its would-be importance to come anywhere remotely near being enjoyed (or enjoying itself) for the meatheaded pulp that it is. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Don’t Blink: Robert Frank

What Robert Frank’s The Americans did for the nation, presenting the post-war United States with an X-ray of its soul, the free-form, intensely personal films he started making a few years later did for New York City. Watching a charismatic character in one of those movies in Don’t Blink: Robert Frank, the photographer-filmmaker says, “I don’t know people like them anymore.” Maybe not, but he seems to have known just about every artist who passed through mid-century New York, and he distilled the rebelliously ragged genius of people like a young Allen Ginsberg and a skeletal William Burroughs in films like Pull My Daisy and One Hour. As a result, Laura Israel’s documentary is a portrait not just of the Swiss-born artist, but of his adopted city, especially during the Beat era that was his heyday. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Experimenter

Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter is strikingly indifferent to being liked, reminding one how rare and refreshing it is to encounter a biopic that courts a somewhat distanced observational response from the audience, rather than detonating the usual emotional fireworks in an attempt to open up a troubling topic’s potential approachability. The film doesn’t include much about the personal life of its protagonist, the controversial social psychologist Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard), and there’s none of the montages that can often be counted on in biopics to reduce vast amounts of social context to platitudinous homily. By contrast, Experimenter is chilly and determinedly subdued, quietly accepting as a given that, for Milgram, work is life, as it is for many committed, somewhat antisocial people who think outside the boundaries of normative society. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

The Forbidden Room

The surface curiosities of Guy Maddin’s cinema are such that the analytical mind can boggle at the thought that his work may in fact be deeply personal, and this misdirection applies doubly to The Forbidden Room, a colossal symphony of cascading oddity that features such indelible curveballs as a pair of malevolent “Aswang bananas.” Alas, the longstanding trend of Maddin’s career has been a consistent piling of farfetched folklore and dreamlike designs around a cluster of familiar human truths (grief, infatuation, forgetting, remembering), so his new film’s utter indulgence in esoterica paradoxically leaves it most vulnerable to the beating heart of this great artist of self-therapy. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

In the Shadow of Women

In the Shadow of Women doesn’t stray far from Philippe Garrel’s usual formula. Like most of his films, it’s a throwback to the nouvelle vague that uses that movement’s stripped-down experimentation to depict a tumultuous relationship. Yet Garrel diverges from his usual early-Godardian prism of wounded (but also analyzed and critiqued) male insecurity and tracks closer to the milder politics and aesthetics of Eric Rohmer. As such, Garrel shifts the bedrock of the film away from the post-May ’68 context that dominates his filmography toward a comedy of manners that pokes fun at the hypocrisies and self-denial that dominates each point of its love triangle. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Journey to the Shore

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Journey to the Shore has its defining moment a few minutes in, as its focus shifts from the meandering melancholy of a dejected widow to something more novel and alluring. Preparing a quick meal of sweet dumplings, Mizuki (Eri Fukatsu) finds her departed husband, Yusuke (Tadanobu Asano), watching her from across the room. Her understated reaction sums up the film’s inconspicuous handling of this supernatural incident: Distressed at her phantom husband’s forgetfulness, Mizuki reminds him to take off his shoes in the house. He smiles and complies, updating his wife on his current situation (his body has been eaten by crabs). When she wakes the next morning, expecting it all to have been a dream, Yusuke is still there, curled up on the living room floor, again wearing his shoes. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

The Lobster

As Yorgos Lanthimos’s high concepts usually are, this one is as sui generis as they come. The title derives from main character David’s (Colin Farrell) choice of animal when asked what he’d like to turn into if, after 45 days at a particular hotel, he fails to find a mate. From that nutty premise, Lanthimos and co-writer Efthymis Filippou, for a while at least, hit upon some genuinely provocative truths. These characters take the need for human companionship as a given, and some of them go to desperate lengths to find their match—like a limping man (Ben Whishaw) who fakes a nosebleed problem simply to make it with a particular woman with a similar “defining characteristic.” This focus on merely superficial similarities to try to force a romantic connection especially resonates in our digital age, with the increased emphasis on creating online personas and making instant impressions. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Maggie’s Plan

The film’s first act builds to a manic climax, starting with Maggie’s (Greta Gerwig) misadventures relating to her pregnancy. Guy’s (Travis Fimmel) clumsiness with normal social engagement leaves him positively befuddled by the business transaction of his semen, leading to the kind of awkward entreaties that Maggie hoped to avoid in the first place. The farce of their trade culminates in something near to a gross-out gag, with Maggie using a home kit when a sudden knock at the door prompts her to crab walk across the apartment to keep Guy’s sample inside of her. But if Maggie’s Plan wryly pokes at the convoluted nature of its main character’s supposedly simple solution for having a child, it saves its sharpest critiques for the more traditional romance that blossoms between Maggie and John (Ethan Hawke), one that ruins John’s marriage and curiously coincides with how fervently Maggie praises his manuscript. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

The Measure of a Man

Stéphane Brizé saves his boldest flourish for the film’s midpoint. Just as we’re resigned to watching a hopeless, nontraditional sort of process thriller, Thierry (Vincent Lindon) gets a job, though his attainment of it is daringly elided. One moment he’s weathering the search for work, and the next he’s a security officer in a department store, helping to interrogate folks caught shoplifting in altercations that also weirdly resemble the sort of scolding that he’s recently escaped. The interviews, the conferences at his child’s school, the conversations at the bank, and the interrogations at the store all involve crass attachments of “objective” rules of conduct to unquantifiable matters of resentment and survival. Eliding Thierry’s one victory illustrates how the fear of unemployment haunts him, and how quickly one can shift from oppressed to oppressor. Landing a job provides Thierry and his family with financial relief, but the tense precariousness he feels hasn’t been lanced. Disaster is never not a possibility. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Mia Madre

Nanni Moretti’s latest, Mia Madre, centers on a middle-aged director, Margherita (Margherita Buy), whose challenges while making a new film distract her from the painful reality of dealing with her mother’s life-threatening illness. Moretti, whose previous films include the highly autobiographical, tongue-in-cheek Caro Diario and the comically offbeat We Have a Pope, tempers wittiness with melancholy throughout. Mia Madre is carefully measured and satisfying, albeit occasionally tone-deaf, suite of fleeting, dispersed impressions, some as delicate as an empty yogurt cup by Margherita’s mother’s hospital bed, or an image of elderly hands being massaged and caressed. While some of Moretti’s films are talky and even occasionally sly, this one’s written in a minor key. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Microbe and Gasoline

Michel Gondry’s Microbe and Gasoline is, first, a textural experience, an evocation of the prickly, confusing crawlspace between adolescence and adulthood through a fixation on the shape and surface of things. Its images abound in astonishingly tactile qualities and pointed associations on which the story’s subtle epiphanies are built. When Daniel (Ange Dargent), alias Microbe, wakes up at six in the morning to piss, the menstrual blood that sits in the toilet bowl connects to a tea bag’s release of brown liquid. The teacup is understood as a universe, a container of life, and one gleans that this boy’s gift for drawing, evinced by the cartoon pornography to which he half-heartedly whacks off to, arises from the pleasures and horrors he alternately sees swirling within it. Poor Microbe fears he has no sperm in his system, and among the film’s many astonishments is that the story doesn’t culminate in a release of tension, as such defying expectation. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Miles Ahead

Like the unruly spawn of The End of the Tour and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Miles Ahead is a fictionalized biography of a real artist that pairs its subject with a journalist turned sidekick of sorts. Unlike The End of the Tour’s logorrheic David Foster Wallace, Miles Ahead’s Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) is tight-lipped and enigmatic, too cool to ever spill his guts—except maybe literally, in one of the comically inept gunfights he keeps getting into. Instead of talking to Rolling Stone freelancer Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor), he makes him his wingman on a series of quixotic quests, pursuing a tape of the only music he’s recorded during a long fallow period; the $20,000 he says his thuggish producer, Harper (Michael Stuhlbarg), owes him; and the mounds of cocaine that fuel his erratic, often violent, possibly paranoid behavior. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

My Golden Days

Arnaud Desplechin tries his hand at a coming-of-age tale with My Golden Days, and does so with equal doses of mature reflection and youthful impetuosity. It’s the latter quality that many may immediately associate with the filmmaker, who’s often infused his work with an anarchic sense of play that could be simultaneously thrilling and exhausting. But his last film, the period drama Jimmy P., displayed Desplechin’s more becalmed side—apt for a story that was all about patiently wading into a person’s deep psychological waters. This side once again comes to the fore in My Golden Days, as he revives anthropologist Paul Dedalus (Mathieu Amalric), the protagonist of his 1996 film My Sex Life…Or How I Got Into an Argument, and has the character, now much older, reflect on his tempestuous past as he plans a return to Paris after many years abroad throwing himself into his studies. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

No Home Movie

If Chantal Akerman’s politics and aesthetics are devoted to a “historiography and theory of women in the home,” as Jayne Loader says in a 1977 Jump Cut piece on Jeanne Dielman, then No Home Movie, Akerman’s stridently unsentimental love letter to Natalia, her recently deceased mother, necessarily unfolds as the culmination of those efforts. Taking a fragmented approach to portraiture, the filmmaker trains her camera on Natalia as she moves about her Belgian home, whether trekking from the living room to the kitchen, eating meals, or Skyping with Akerman while she’s away. Instead of pairing words with images, Akerman often rests her camera in Natalia’s abode, but without urgency to record epitomizing moments or even conventionally meaningful revelations. Natalia is simply present, at times humming a small tune, but generally oblivious to being filmed. Loader also refers to Akerman’s work as “death in installments,” a not inappropriate description of her latest; almost episodically structured, it chronicles Natalia’s gradual deterioration and eventual off-screen death. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Right Now, Wrong Then

Hong Sang-soo’s films are so openly similar to one another that they often seem to run together in one’s mind, their worlds an agreeably homogenous accumulation of wryly interchangeable neurotic directors, pretty girls, awkward encounters, and extended drinking sessions. While Right Now, Wrong Then isn’t a departure as such, it’s also not exactly more of the same, functioning, if anything, as a subtle dig at those who deem the art of variation to be no such thing. A neurotic film director does indeed meet a pretty girl on a trip to a film festival, but the two impeccably calibrated permutations of their encounter that Hong serves up shift the focus somewhere else entirely, namely on to the more abstract question of character versus circumstance. Is any meeting truly unique? Does the nature of a connection really hinge on specific moments? And are we actually different people in different situations? >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Steve Jobs

By now it’s no secret that Steve Jobs was a controlling, egomaniacal bully. But Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs presupposes that, maybe, he wasn’t all that bad. As if testing the mettle of its rendition of the late Apple co-founder, to say nothing of audience endurance, Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is broken into three disparate chunks, each played in something approximating real time. Michael Fassbender stars as the Mephistophelean Jobs, seen exclusively in the minutes ticking down to one of his signature keynote speech-cum-product launches—the first Macintosh in 1984, the neXT “black cube” in 1988, and finally, the desktop iMac in 1998—with frisky expository montages filling in the peaks and dips of his storied career between acts. But despite this intriguing structure and the vigor of its execution, Boyle’s film can’t help but land in the same hagiographizing place as nearly every single other Great Man biopic churned out by the studio powers that be. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

The Treasure

As in Romanian auteur Corneliu Porumboiu’s earlier 12:08 East of Bucharest and Police, Adjective, The Treasure deploys the use of real time to painstaking ends, whereby the absurd and quotidian find themselves at an exact one-to-one ratio. This droll and methodical film is every bit as acerbic a comedy as those works, but it’s also Porumboiu’s most generous ensemble work to date, if quietly so, probing norms of post-communist masculinity and cultural lineage with an almost surgical delicacy. A band of broke and disgruntled men go searching for a mythical buried cache, exposing in the process that the post-communist hangover and bottomlessly corrupt local government has left them feeling—for lack of a better word—devalued. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

The Walk

Robert Zemeckis’s The Walk is, first, a loving tribute to the World Trade Center towers, and second, a recreation of Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between them. An illegal act that Petit could never have carried out with anyone’s official permission, the stunt has often been credited with imbuing the towers—unpopular at first among New Yorkers—with a certain je ne sais quoi, an essence, a spirit, that convinced the notoriously skeptical Big Apple to view its imposing height and utilitarian bulk with warmth, not malice. Not every giant in a city’s skyline gets that treatment; just ask a sample of New York City residents about the 75-story One57 skyscraper in Midtown, which for most of us expresses only dizzying wealth and unattainability. If architecture is politicized, and One57 is a badge of the world’s elite, then Zemeckis’s film argues that the Twin Towers, recreated not just as daunting spectacle, but in physicality and limitless detail, belongs to the awestruck audience. Which is to say, everyone. >>


New York Film Festival 2015

Where to Invade Next

The film itself turns out to be more or less business as usual for Michael Moore, as he, with his showman’s instincts and penchant for oversimplifications and grandstanding, continues to be his own worst enemy when it comes to the broader argument he’s actually trying to make. This argument is a valuable one, as is often the case with Moore’s films. Despite what its title may imply, Where to Invade Next isn’t a diatribe about U.S. foreign policy, but an attack on American exceptionalism. By adopting the persona of an insular American traveling the world in order to find ways to improve his home country, Moore attempts to not just show how much better circumstances are overseas, but, more importantly, to demonstrate how some foreign nations are currently fulfilling such classic American ideals as freedom and equality far better than the United States is. >>

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