The New York Film Festival kicks off its 52nd edition Friday night with a typically substantial lineup combining eagerly anticipated Hollywood fare and off-the-radar international cinema.
For every “Gone Girl,” which premieres on the Upper West Side Friday, or “Inherent Vice,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson from the Thomas Pynchon novel, there’s a film like “The Blue Room,” an erotic French noir, or “Timbuktu” from the Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako.
What might seem to some an uneasy blend over the course of the festival, which runs through Oct. 12, is in fact business as usual according to Kent Jones, the director and selection committee chair.
“The mission is very clear and simple and really hasn’t changed since the festival started, which is to pick the best films from around the world within the calendar year,” Jones says.
Quality is the operating principle here, rather than any sort of allegiance to films of a particular sort of topic or geography. Still, even if by coincidence, the 2014 NYFF has an abundance of movies with New York connections.
These range from the self-reflexive “Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” starring Michael Keaton as an action star trying to be taken seriously as a stage performer, to a brand new cut of Sergio Leone’s epic 1984 masterpiece “Once Upon a Time in America,” about Jewish gangsters on the Lower East Side.
The festival includes many side programs, including directors’ talks, revivals, a documentary sidebar and a retrospective of filmmaker Joseph L. Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”), among other features. There’s something for everyone, says Film Society of Lincoln Center executive director Lesli Klainberg.
“We are expanding, we do want to bring in new audiences, we do want to attract folks from around the city and people who are interested in the different disciplines within the art of film,” she says.
Jones has his own particular definition of a successful festival.
“What I’m interested in is finding stuff that will create a dialogue with the audience between films,” Jones says. “That’s a really exciting thing.”
If You Go:
The New York Film Festival runs Friday-Oct. 12. More information at filmlinc.com/nyff2014
Most notable movies that are playing at the 2014 New York Film Festival:
David Fincher’s high-profile adaptation of the best-selling novel stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.
Paul Thomas Anderson directs Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel set in 1970 Los Angeles.
‘Maps to the Stars’:
A Hollywood satire from David Cronenberg, starring Julianne Moore and Robert Pattinson.
‘Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Innocence’:
Critics who have seen this meta flick starring Michael Keaton have flipped for it and his performance.
‘Goodbye to Language 3D’:
Festival Director Kent Jones calls this film from French icon Jean-Luc Godard “a wonder.”
‘Listen Up Philip’:
Jason Schwartzman and Elisabeth Moss star in this small film about a struggling writer.
There’s some Oscar buzz surrounding this dark drama with Steve Carell and Channing Tatum.
‘Two Days, One Night’:
The Dardenne brothers, two of the most engaging filmmakers around, direct Marion Cotillard in this workplace drama.
Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons star in this flick about a drummer in a prestigious music school and his intense band director.