NY Times critic cranky about N.Y. Film Festival | The Moviegoer

Thursday, October 5, 2006

NY Times critic cranky about N.Y. Film Festival

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2006 at 9:22 PM

writes Manohla Dargis,

. . . Good, bad and sometimes just blah, most of the selections in the coming week support Mr. Peña’s assertion that the festival represents something like the state of the art. Too bad the fine art has to share precious shelf space with white-elephant frippery like “Little Children” and “Marie Antoinette.” Along with the similarly audience-friendly film “The Queen,” which was released in theaters the day after it opened the festival, these selections feature the bulk of the recognizable faces in the event. All three are red-carpet bait, the sort of star-gazing entertainments that attract the mainstream-media attention that is so crucial for festivals from Cannes to Los Angeles. All three are also being released by a studio or studio division, and are among the small set of English-language films that will dominate awards chatter until the Oscars in February.

Given the increasing competition for the audience’s attention, it would be easy to justify putting any one of these three in the festival: films like “The Queen” sell tickets (and newspapers), and probably make board members happy. But it is harder to justify programming all three in a festival with just 25 slots in its the main section. The New York Film Festival isn’t a grab bag; it’s an elitist event for film lovers willing to shell out as much as $40 a show. In a D.I.Y. world with too many choices, including an estimated 600 film festivals, some of which have seriously deep pockets and no qualms about pandering to their audiences, elitism is a virtue. It’s also this festival’s greatest strength.

The public’s appetite for serious work of the sort that has defined the New York Film Festival since its inception in 1963 has diminished, at least in theatrical terms. . .

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