I'm covering the New York Film Festival virtually, and I'm better off for it
As you can imagine, I’m very excited about the Tallgrass Film Festival later this month, but right now, I’m covering the New York Film Festival, which is entering its second week.
Times being what they still are, I applied to cover the festival remotely, but then festival organizers changed course and decided they would only offer most of the main slate in person. At first, I was selfishly disappointed, because that meant I wasn’t going to get to see the big-name movies, but really, I’ll see those eventually. The movies that are available are challenging and interesting films with a bit of a lower profile, and some fantastic revivals of older movies that have often been hard to find. If I’m being honest, a lot of these are movies I might not have made the time to see, and I would have been worse off for it.
I’ll keep updating at kmuw.org through this weekend, but so far of the festival’s new movies my personal favorite has been The Tale of King Crab, which tells the story of a surly 19th-century shepherd who falls in love with a young woman in his Italian village, before everything takes an extremely sharp turn to the far reaches of the Earth. It stitches together folktales, myths, the stories of old hunters, and some small degree of historical fact to tell its tale, and it’s a knockout to look at, too.
The biggest eye-opener of the festival for me though, is the restoration of the 1989 movie Chameleon Street, which is undoubtedly one of the most exciting films to come out of the American independent movement. It’s the only movie made to date by Wendell B. Harris, Jr., and it tells the real-life story of a Detroit con man and impersonator. It’s hilarious, messy, self-referential, incredibly smart, and breaks so many rules of moviemaking that it really does seem like anything could happen. There’s an unrestored version on the internet right now, but it’s probably best just to wait for this restoration to be released. Trust me, this is why we love movies.