Late in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson (see below), the title character and his partner Laura splurge on a Saturday night movie. “This is so much fun,” she says, as they meander into the multiplex. “It’s like we’re living in the 20th century!” It’s true — in these smart-phone-streaming, peak-TV-watching, “cinema is dead”-pronouncing times, going to the movies can feel like an artisanal activity, a throwback. But if it is, the New York Film Festival is one of the best farmer’s markets, rolling out two-and-a-half weeks of exciting premieres and carefully curated selections from Cannes, Toronto, and Sundance. The feast starts tonight, with the world premiere of Ava DuVernay’s new documentary The 13th; we’ll have coverage of that one tomorrow, and many more of this year’s selections.
To whet your appetite, here are ten titles we recommend seeking out if you’re heading in for the fest – or keeping an eye out for at your local art house in the months to come.
The latest character drama from Jim Jarmusch radiates with the comfort of watching a filmmaker who knows exactly how to achieve his effects, and willing to take all the time he needs to do so. Here, he’s telling the story of a New Jersey bus driver (Adam Driver, unsurprisingly an ideal Jarmusch protagonist) who spends most of his spare moments writing evocative poetry; it’s an absolutely modest narrative, a week or so of his life that (spoiler?) doesn’t culminate in his discovery by a super-agent or publication in a giant magazine or any such payoff. Instead, it’s a low-key snapshot of a day-job creative, but by its conclusion, even the simplest gestures are bottomless in their resonance.