Not even the most dedicated cinephile with unlimited time and resources can see everything that New York's bounteous repertory film scene has to offer every day. But one can always give it the good college try.
The New York Film Festival
Sept. 27-Oct. 13
The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Since its conception in 1963, NYFF has been a reliable behemoth, not simply touting Oscar season’s mightiest wares, but tailoring their own vision of the year’s cinema by choosing a small, elite bunch. But each fest’s identity is sculpted by their lead programmer, and this is the first since 1988 without Richard Pena, who departed last year. The new head is the incomparable Kent Jones, and he has ballooned the number of films a tad and embraced some more populist fare. Of course, that Jones picked Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” as the centerpiece film says more about the film than Jones’ tastes.
Oct. 4-Oct. 17
The French New Wave is known for rough and tumble filmmaking, life caught on the fly with lightweight cameras. Jacques Demy was the mega-stylist, in love with music, loud colors and artifice. Best-cherished for 1964’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” — a rare musical that, like its equally brilliant “The Young Girls of Rochefort,” is all-sung — Demy gets a rare near-complete retrospective at Film Forum. In addition to the biggies, you get to see (and perhaps re-evaluate) such rarities as 1982’s “Un Chambre En Ville” — also all-sung — the 1985 fantasy “Parking” and his final film, “Three Seats for the 26th.”
To Save and Project
Oct. 10-Nov. 12
The Museum of Modern Art
Though Netflix’s Reed Hastings has said that nearly everything is on DVD or streaming, that’s simply not true. Film preservation remains a major concern, even for films widely available on home video. Now entering its 11th year, MoMA’s epic round-up of the year’s latest saved films once again eats up over a month, and boasts guest programmers touting newly scrubbed up greats. Alexander Payne will show such items as Edmund Goulding's noir "Nightmare Alley" and Richard Fleischer's chilling serial killer study "10 Rillington Place." Chantal Akerman also swings by to screen her two ultra-minimalist New York City movies "Monterey Hotel" and "News From Home." And of course, all selections will be presented on glorious (and newly clean) film.
The Middle Ages
Anthology Film Archives
The cruel and forbidding era known colloquially as medieval times has a long, storied and diverse depiction in movies, from those that embrace strict verisimilitude to those that go kitsch. Anthology Film Archives continues its presentation of this period, this time focusing on films about knights (Sept. 19-29), Vikings (Oct. 25-28) and Shakespeare (Nov. 20-Dec. 1). This means films as ascetic as Robert Bresson’s “Lancelot du lac,” as grimy as Orson Welles’ “Chimes at Midnight,” as ripping as “Prince Valiant” and as silly as “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (plus Terry Jones’ “Erik the Viking”). One also gets the chance to weigh three different “Macbeths,” by Welles, Roman Polanski and Bela Tarr, the latter done in one single take.
Karen Black + Bruce Dern
Oct. 14-Nov. 17
The careers of two of the 1970s’ most unlikely stars repeatedly came close to touching but only occasionally made contact. Black, who died in August, and Dern, who has a meaty role in this fall’s “Nebraska,” meet again at BAM, who dedicate a series to each, with one section devoted to three films (including the 1974 film of “The Great Gatsby”) that contain them both. Both were phenomenal character actors who rarely scored lead, but they were prolific enough that one can catch, on beautiful film, such heavies as “Nashville,” “Five Easy Pieces,” “The Driver” and “Smile,” and such tiny gems like Robert Altman’s “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.”
Also at BAM this fall: A weeklong run of Claire Denis’ Tindersticks-drenched sorta-vampire opus “Trouble Every Day” (Oct. 11-18); a series on movie puppets (Oct. 25-27); and a complete nine-film retro for Czech New Wave great Jan Nemec, of the creepy allegory “A Report on the Party and the Guests" (Nov. 8-14). "Trouble Every Day" will return to Astoria's Museum of the Moving Image, which will run a series of four Denis films, also including "L'intrus" and "Chocolat" (the good one, not the one with Johnny Depp) (Oct. 13-27).
Dec. 18-Jan. 7
The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Like most of the kings of Golden Age-era Hollywood, George Cukor wasn't easily pigeonholed. He was a versatile director, easily shifting between genres, most clearly singled out as a great director of women. His homosexuality, an open secret at the time, may explain his rapport with the fairer sex, but even that is limiting, as this retrospective should prove. In addition to his heavyweights ("Holiday," "The Philadelphia Story," "Adam's Rib," the Judy Garland-James Mason "A Star is Born," one of the few almost perfect movies ever made), there's also his rich and strange final years, when he made near-experimental oddities like 1969's R-rated "Justine."