The New York Film Festival has run longer than most of his prestigious contemporaries — the 56th annual edition ended yesterday — and though it’s easy to lump them all together, it’s really an altogether different kind of festival. It stretches out for a longer period, three weekends and two weeks, as opposed to the two weekends plus one week and change standard of Sundance, TIFF, and SXSW — but it shows fewer movies than those festivals, presenting its patrons with a carefully selected and delicately spaced menu, instead of an all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s actually possible to see most or even all of the movies that play at the NYFF, and one year, your correspondent may do just that. This was not that year. But, to supplement my top-of-the-fest recommendations, here are a few more NYFF faves that will hopefully make their way to you soon(ish).
“They sh*t in the streets ‘round here,” the servant explains. “’Political commentary,’ they call it.” The line comes so early in Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest that it’s easy to see the wink — that he’s fully aware of the pitfalls of obviousness and clumsiness that await anyone attempting political commentary at this particular moment, but he pulls it off in scene after scene of this deliciously nasty comedy/drama, in which two ruthless women (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz) vie for the affections of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), and the proximity to power that entails. The drawing-room wit and period setting are atypical for Lanthimos, though he handles both with ease — and sooner or later, his trademark narrative brutality and visual uneasiness come out to play as well. Yet it never seems desperate to shock, the way even his best films have tended to; this is a story of power and subjugation, a point driven home by its potent closing images.