Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:16 am 
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Main Slate addition. Ang Lee's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.

Key add-ons to the Main Slate continue with today's (22 Aug.) announcement: a "Special Presentation" premiere of Ang Lee's Billy Lyn's Long Halftime Walk. It will show in the New York Film Festival 14 Oct.

The movie is an adaptation of the Ben Fountain novel penned by long-time Lee team member Jean-Christophe Castelli.

Book and film present the flashbacks of 19-year-old protagonist Billy (newcomer Joe Alwyn) to the horrors that really happened in combat, while he and his Bravo Company and their exploits are being celebrated at an elaborate Thanksgiving Day halftime football show. The movie is presented in a new format that's supposed to rock our world: shot in 4K, in "native 3D," at "the ultra high rate" of 120 frames per second. (In release it will also be shown in 2D, thankfully.) It has a supporting cast of Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, and Garrett Hedlund, with Vin Diesel and Steve Martin. (US theatrical release is 11 Nov. 2016.)

I haven't read Ben Fountain's novel, but Theo Tait's review of it in the Guardian makes Fountain and it sound terrific. If Lee's version lives up to the description's literary models it's going to be one of the movies of the year, for certain. Tait starts by saying it's been called "the Catch-22 of the Iraq War. He continues: "It doesn't particularly resemble Catch-22, but it recalls all sorts of good things: the delirious Playboy bunnies stadium scene in Apocalypse Now; the outrageous military banter in Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket; the all-American cacophony of Tom Wolfe when he was still funny; Norman Mailer's anatomies of US celebrity; perhaps even the baseball game at the start of Don DeLillo's Underworld." Tait says the novel is "eloquent and angry, funny and poignant." Has Ang Lee got that in him? I hope so! If this description is even half true, we better find copies of this book!

The NYFF's mutually beneficial relationship with Mr. Lee goes back to 1997 when The Ice Storm (arguably his best serous dramatic feature, along with Brokeback Mountain) opened the festival; then Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which won him and his glossy popularization of Chinese wuxia films wider US and Western recognition) was the NYFF's closing night film in 2000. Lee's adaptation of Yann Martel's grand adventure, Life of Pi, filmed in 3D, was the opener of 2012.


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