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NYFF57 SPOTLIGHT ON DOCUMENTARY: THE BOOKSELLERS

The Booksellers

Rare-book dealers such as Adam Weinberger scour through private homes to find buried treasure in The Booksellers

THE BOOKSELLERS (D. W. Young, 2019)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
Monday, October 7, Francesca Beale Theater, 6:00
Wednesday, October 9, Howard Gilman Theater, 8:30
Festival runs September 27 - October 13
www.filmlinc.org

“There’s so much more to a book than just the reading,” Maurice Sendak is quoted as saying in D. W. Young’s wonderfully literate documentary The Booksellers, screening at the New York Film Festival on October 7 and 9. I have to admit to being a little biased, as I work in the children’s book industry in another part of my life, and I serve as the managing editor on Sendak’s old and newly discovered works. The film follows the exploits of a group of dedicated bibliophiles who treasure books as unique works of art, buying, selling, and collecting them not merely for the money but for the thrill of it. “The relationship of the individual to the book is very much like a love affair,” Americana collector Michael Zinman explains.

Sisters Adina Cohen, Judith Lowry and Naomi Hample, owners of the Argosy Book Store, at the store on East 59th Street in Manhattan

Sisters Adina Cohen, Judith Lowry, and Naomi Hample of Argosy Book Store keep the family legacy alive

In the film, which features narration by executive producer Parker Posey, Young visits the Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory and speaks with a wide range of intellectual characters, including author and cultural commentator Fran Lebowitz, who relates her experiences in rare-book stores; bestselling writer Susan Orlean, who discusses her archives; leather-bound connoisseur Bibi Mohamed of Imperial Fine Books, who talks about going to her first estate sale; late-twentieth-century specialist Arthur Fournier; Nicholas D. Lowry and Stephen Massey of Antiques Roadshow, the latter of whom was the auctioneer for the most expensive book ever sold, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Hammer codex; sci-fi expert and author Henry Wessells; Justin Schiller, who worked with Sendak and other children’s book authors; Rebecca Romney of Pawn Stars; Jim Cummins, who owns some four hundred thousand books; Erik DuRon and Jess Kuronen of Left Bank Books; Nancy Bass Wyden of the Strand; and Adina Cohen, Naomi Hample, and Judith Lowry, the three sisters who own the Argosy Book Store, continuing the family legacy.

But times have changed, for both good and bad. Dealer Dave Bergman complains, “The internet has killed the hunt,” comparing the excitement of live auctions and the detective-like chase for a title to the boredom of automated online searches and bidding. However, diversity is on the rise, as explored with Kevin Young of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Caroline Schimmel, a leading collector of books by women; and hip-hop archivist and curator Syreeta Gates. “I think the death of the book is highly overrated,” Heather O’Donnell of Honey and Wax Booksellers declares. From her mouth. . . . The Booksellers, which is worth seeing solely for Antiques Roadshow appraiser and Swann Auction Galleries president Nicholas D. Lowry’s fab mustache, is screening October 7 at 6:00 and October 9 at 8:30, followed by Q&As with D. W. Young and producers Judith Mizrachy and Dan Wechsler.

NYFF57 MAIN SLATE: THE MONEYCHANGER

The Moneychanger

Daniel Hendler plays the harried Humberto Brause in Federico Veiroj’s The Moneychanger

THE MONEYCHANGER (Federico Veiroj, 2019)
New York Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center
144/165 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
Wednesday, October 9, Walter Reade Theater, 9:00
Thursday, October 10, Francesca Beale Theater, 6:00
www.filmlinc.org

“Jesus knew what he was doing; at the very cradle of civilization, we money brokers are the root of all evil. We’re to blame for everything that’s rotten in this world,” Humberto Brause (Daniel Hendler) says at the beginning of The Moneychanger, Uruguayan-Spanish writer-director Federico Veiroj’s fifth narrative feature, making its US premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 9 and 10. Hendler is terrific as Brause, playing the selfish, greedy businessman with a jittery unease, a man clearly uncomfortable in his own skin, especially as his world falls apart all around him.

The film begins in the city of Montevideo in 1975 and flashes back to 1956, when Brause is working for successful financier Schwensteiger (Luis Machín) and takes an instant liking to his boss’s daughter, Gudrun (Dolores Fonzi). Schwensteiger might be highly ethical, but his protégé and son-in-law is soon in bed with corrupt politicians, a questionable couple who needs a whole lot of laundry done, and an unclean prostitute. Brause knows he is doing bad things, breaking laws, and jeopardizing his relationship with his family — he moves about awkwardly, hesitant with his words, a kind of schmendrick who keeps being offered piles of cash — but he just can’t say no. “Our goal in life wasn’t to earn our peers’ respect and admiration,” he narrates. “Life was about making money and enjoying it. Enjoy every penny earned and spent. Getting into the garden of Eden was just a small fortune away.” But when his actions start blowing up in his face, he has to decide how far he will go to protect his interests.

Based on Juan Enrique Gruber’s 1979 novella Así habló el cambista, this cinematic satire was written by Veiroj with Martín Mauregui and cinematographer Arauco Hernández, who shoots the film in a droll 1970s palette of browns, blacks, and grays; the splendid period art direction is by Pablo Maestre Galli. Fonzi is static as Gudrun; her passive expression barely changes no matter what is happening. The cast also includes Benjamín Vicuña as extortionist Javier Bonpland, Paulo Betti as political conspirer Don Marins, and Germán de Silva as hit man Moacyr. Veiroj (A Useful Life, The Apostate) maintains an offbeat pace with subtle humor aimed at the absurdity of it all as one man navigates through a business sector gone off the deep end because of rampant deregulation. The Moneychanger is screening at the Walter Reade Theater on October 9 at 9:00 and at the Francesca Beale Theater on October 10 at 6:00, both followed by Q&As with Veiroj.

NYFF57 SPOTLIGHT ON DOCUMENTARY: THE BOOKSELLERS CAPSULE REVIEW

The Booksellers

Rare-book dealers such as Adam Weinberger scour through private homes to find buried treasure in The Booksellers

THE BOOKSELLERS (D. W. Young, 2019)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
Monday, October 7, Francesca Beale Theater, 6:00
Wednesday, October 9, Howard Gilman Theater, 8:30
Festival runs September 27 - October 13
www.filmlinc.org

D. W. Young’s wonderfully literate documentary The Booksellers is making its world premiere at the New York Film Festival, screening on October 7 at 6:00 and October 9 at 8:30, followed by Q&As with D. W. Young and producers Judith Mizrachy and Dan Wechsler. The film follows the exploits of a wide-ranging group of dedicated bibliophiles who treasure books as unique works of art, buying, selling, and collecting them not merely for the money but for the thrill of it. “The relationship of the individual to the book is very much like a love affair,” Americana collector Michael Zinman explains. Among those who share their thoughts on books are Fran Lebowitz, Susan Orlean, and the owners of such New York City bookstores as Imperial Fine Books, Left Bank Books, the Argosy Book Store, and the Strand. Look for my full review to be posted when the film debuts Monday night.

NYFF57 RETROSPECTIVE: THE PASSION OF ANNA

The Passion of Anna

Andreas Winkelman (von Sydow) and Anna Fromm (Liv Ullmann) seek love, companionship, and the truth in Ingmar Bergman’s The Passion of Anna

THE PASSION OF ANNA (Ingmar Bergman, 1969)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Howard Gilman Theater, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
Wednesday, October 2, 6:30
Festival runs September 27 - October 13
www.filmlinc.org

The New York Film Festival’s Retrospective tribute to cinematographers continues October 2 with The Passion of Anna, the conclusion to Ingmar Bergman’s unofficial island trilogy that began with Hour of the Wolf and Shame, each work filmed on Fårö island and starring Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow as a couple. Bergman throws caution to the wind in the film, the Swedish title of which is the more direct and honest The Passion. The 1969 film was made while Bergman and Ullmann’s personal relationship was ending, and it shows. The film opens with Andreas Winkelman (von Sydow) trying to repair his leaking roof. A divorcé, he lives by himself on the island, treasuring his isolation as he smokes his pipe and goes about his basic business. But when Anna Fromm (Ullmann) stops by to use his phone, he gets swept up into Anna’s drama — her husband and child were recently killed in an accident that left her with a bad leg — and that of her best friends, Elis Vergerus (Erland Josephson) and his wife, Eva (Bibi Andersson). Suddenly Andreas is going to dinner parties, taking in a puppy, and getting involved in the mysterious case of a rash of animal killings, which some are blaming on off-kilter local resident Johan Andersson (Erik Hell). And the more his privacy is invaded, the worse it all could become.

For the first time, Bergman, a perfectionist of the highest order, allowed improvisation in several scenes. He gives each actor a few minutes to describe their characters during the film, breaking the fourth wall, while also adding his own narration. “Has Ingmar Bergman made a picture about his cast, or has his cast made a picture about Ingmar Bergman?” the original American trailer asks. Cinematographer extraordinaire Sven Nykvist (The Sacrifice, Persona) uses a handheld camera while switching between black-and-white and color, occasionally focusing on dazzling silhouettes and close-ups that are challenged by the stark reds of a blazing fire and Anna’s hat and the bold blues of the sky and Anna’s penetrating eyes, all splendidly edited by Siv Lundgren. Bergman tackles such regular subjects as God, infidelity, dreams, war, and loneliness with a slow build that threatens to explode at any moment. The film is also very much about the search for truth, both in real life and cinema. It might be called The Passion of Anna, but there is an overarching coldness that pervades everything. The finale is sensational, the scene going out of focus until virtually nothing is left. The Passion of Anna is screening on October 2 at 6:30 at the Howard Gilman Theater; the NYFF57 Retrospective sidebar runs through October 10 with such other visual dazzlers as Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, and Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller.

NYFF57 SPOTLIGHT ON DOCUMENTARY: FREE TIME

Free Time

Manfred Kirchheimer’s Free Time is having its world premiere this weekend at the New York Film Festival

FREE TIME (Manfred Kirchheimer, 2019)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Francesca Beale Theater, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
Sunday, September 29, 6:15
Festival runs September 27 - October 13
www.filmlinc.org

Eighty-eight-year-old Manfred Kirchheimer will be at Lincoln Center’s Francesca Beale Theater tonight to screen and discuss his latest work, the subtly dazzling Free Time, which had its world premiere yesterday in the Spotlight on Documentary section of the fifty-seventh annual New York Film Festival. The German-born, New York-raised Kirchheimer has taken 16mm black-and-white footage he and Walter Hess shot between 1958 and 1960 in such neighborhoods as Hell’s Kitchen, Washington Heights, Inwood, Queens, and the Upper East Side and turned it into an exquisite city symphony reminiscent of Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb, and James Agee’s classic 1948 short In the Street, which sought to “capture . . . an image of human existence.” Kirchheimer does just that, following a day in the life of New York as kids play stickball, a group of older people set up folding chairs on the sidewalk and read newspapers and gossip, a worker disposes of piles of flattened boxes, laundry hangs from clotheslines between buildings, a woman cleans the outside of her windows while sitting on the ledge, a fire rages at a construction site, and a homeless man pushes his overstuffed cart.

Kirchheimer and Hess focus on shadows under the el train tracks, gargoyles on building facades, smoke emerging from sewer grates, old cars stacked at a junkyard, and grave markers at a cemetery as jazz and classical music is played by Count Basie (“On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Sandman”), John Lewis (“The Festivals,” “Sammy”), Bach (“The Well Tempered Klavier, Book 1 — Fugue in B flat minor”), Ravel (Sonata for Violin & Cello), and others, with occasional snatches of street sounds. The title of the film is an acknowledgment of a different era, when people actually had free time, now a historical concept with constant electronic contact through social media and the internet and the desperate need for instant gratification. Kirchheimer, whose Dream of a City was shown at last year’s festival and whose poetic Stations of the Elevated was part of the 1981 fest (but not released theatrically until 2014), directed and edited Free Time and did the sound, and it’s a leisurely paced audiovisual marvel. The only unfortunate thing is that is only an hour long; I could have watched it for days. The film is screening September 29 at 6:15, preceded by the fifteen-minute Suite No. 1, Prelude, Nicholas Ma’s tribute to his father, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, with both Kirchheimer and Ma participating in a Q&A afterward.

NYFF57: 2019 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL

Actor/Writer/Director/Producer EDWARD NORTON on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (photo by Glen Wilson)

Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn is the closing-night selection of the fifth-seventh New York Film Festival (photo by Glen Wilson)

Film Society of Lincoln Center
September 27 - October 13
www.filmlinc.org/nyff2019

The fifty-seventh New York Film Festival gets under way today with the opening selection, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, a crime drama starring Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro. The festival continues through October 13 with other Main Slate films by Olivier Assayas, the Dardenne brothers, Arnaud Desplechin, Pedro Almodóvar, Kyoshi Kurosawa, and Agnès Varda, among others, with Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story the centerpiece and Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn closing things out; the screenings are held at Alice Tully Hall, the Walter Reade Theater, and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. Documentaries include looks at rare-book sellers, Merce Cunningham, surgical transitioning at Mount Sinai Hospital, Roy Cohn, incarcerated students, and Oliver Sacks.

A stellar lineup of revivals is highlighted by Luis Buñuel’s L’age d’or, William Wyler’s Dodsworth, Jack Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man, and Bert Stern’s Jazz on a Summer’s Day, while Retrospectives boasts such films as Michel Gondry’s Dave Chapelle’s Block Party, Terence Malick’s Days of Heaven, John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath, and Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, focusing on cinematographers. NYFF57 also will host talks, Directors Dialogues, short films, the virtual reality and immersive Emergence section, and Projections, consisting of works that challenge what cinema can be. Below are more than a dozen programs to watch out for.

Saturday, September 28
On Cinema: Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Alice Tully Hall, 4:15

Saturday, September 28, 8:45
and
Thursday, October 3, 6:00

Man Slate: First Cow (Kelly Reichardt, 2019), followed by Q&As with Kelly Reichardt, John Magaro, and Orion Lee, Alice Tully Hall

Sunday, September 29
On Cinema: Pedro Almodóvar (Pain and Glory), Walter Reade Theater, 3:15

Monday, September 30
Producers on Producing: Hosted by Producers Guild of America, with Emma Tillinger Koskoff and David Hinojosa, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Tuesday, October 1
In Conversation with Nadav Lapid, , Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Wednesday, October 2
Lynne Ramsay’s Brigitte, screening followed by a Q&A with Lynne Ramsay and Brigitte Lacombe, Francesca Beale Theater, free, 1:00

In Conversation with the Dardenne Brothers, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Thursday, October 3
In Conversation with Michael Apted, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Thursday, October 3, 12:00 - 6:00, 9:00 - 11:00
and
Saturday, October 5

Culture Capture: Terminal Adddition (the New Red Order — Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys, 2019), Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free

Thursday, October 3, 6:15
and
Sunday, October 5, 12:15

Spotlight on Documentary: 45 Seconds of Laughter (Tim Robbins, 2019), North American premiere followed by Q&As with Tim Robbins, Walter Reade Theater / Howard Gilman Theater

Friday, October 4
In Conversation with Kelly Reichardt, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Friday, October 4, 12:00 - 6:00, 9:00 - 11:00
and
Sunday, October 6, 12:00 - 6:00, 9:00 - 11:00

Free Amphitheater Loops: A Topography of Memory (Burak Çevik, 2019), Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free

Saturday, October 5
Special Events: The Cotton Club Encore (Francis Ford Coppola, 1984), followed by a Q&A with Francis Ford Coppola, Alice Tully Hall, 2:30

Film Comment: Filmmakers Chat, with Luise Donschen, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Pietro Marcello, Corneliu Porumboiu, and Justine Triet, moderated by Nicolas Rapold, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Saturday, October 5, 2:15
and
Sunday, October 6, 1:30

Projections: The Tree House (Minh Quý Trương, 2019), North American premiere followed by Q&Ad with Minh Quý Trương, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

Saturday, October 5, 5:30
and
Monday, October 7, 8:30

Spotlight on Documentary: 63 Up (Michael Apted, 2019), followed by Q&As with Michael Apted, Walter Reade Theater / Francesca Beale Theater

Sunday, October 6
Screenwriting Master Class with Olivier Assayas, Howard Gilman Theater, 12:00

Making Uncut Gems, with Josh and Benny Safdie, Ronald Bronstein, Sebastian Bear McClard, Daniel Lopatin, and Jen Venditti, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Sunday, October 6, 5:30
and
Monday, October 7, 9:00

Main Slate: The Traitor (Marco Bellocchio, 2019), followed by Q&As with Marco Bellocchio and Pierfrancesco Favino, Alice Tully Hall

Monday, October 7
Denis Lenoir in Conversation with Kent Jones, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 4:00

Writing New York: Hosted by Writers Guild of America, East, with JC Chandor, Geoffrey Fletcher, Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre, and Steven Zaillian, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Tuesday, October 8
Directors Dialogues: Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), Francesca Beale Theater, 6:00

We [heart] Agnès, with Rosalie Varda, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Wednesday, October 9
Film Comment: Festival Wrap, with Nicolas Rapold, K. Austin Collins, Nellie Killian, Michael Koresky, and Amy Taubin, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:00

Thursday, October 10
Directors Dialogues: Mati Diop (Atlantics), Francesca Beale Theater, 8:30

Revivals: Dodsworth (William Wyler, 1936), introduced by Kenneth Lonergan and followed by a Q&A with Catherine Wyler and Melanie Wyler, Alice Tully Hall, 8:45

Thursday, October 10, 3:15 - 9:00
Friday, October 11, 5:30 - 9:00
Saturday, October 12, 1:00 - 9:00
and
Sunday, October 13, 1:00 - 9:00

Convergence: Holy Night (Casey Stein & Bernard Zeiger, 2019), Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center lobby, free

Friday, October 11
Holy Night: Meet the Makers, with Casey Stein and Bernard Zeiger, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 7:30

Saturday, October 12
The Raven: Meet the Makers, with Lance Weiler, Ava Lee Scott, Nick Fortungo, and Nick Childs, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, free, 3:00