Luis Buñuel's L'Age de Or. Photo: VICOMTE CHARLES DE NOAILLES / THE KOBAL COLLECTION.
Obviously, the ideal way to watch classic NYFF films is on the big screen. But since we've only been able to show film from each year as part of our ongoing 50 Years of the New York Film Festival series, here are a few you can watch online (several for free)!
L'Age de Or
Director: Luis Buñuel (Tristana)
Writer: Salvador Dali (Un Chien Andalou)
"Buñuel scoffed at critics who praised his visual aesthetic. He said it was non-existent, perhaps because the Surrealists were self-named anti-visualists. And though there is no denying the potency of his images, Buñuel was more a master theorist: a purveyor of anti-oppressive codes and signs." —Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
Born to Win
Director: Ivan Passer
"Born to Win is a good-bad movie that doesn't always work but has some really brilliant scenes. It opened last week under cover of darkness in several neighborhood theaters, and that's probably just as well. If they'd given it the big hype at first-run prices, people might have felt uneasy at a tragicomedy about dope ... Passer has a nice cynical sense of humor, and Segal is a virtuoso at making his character funny and sad, laughing and laughed at, brave and pathetic." —Roger Ebert
Writer/Director: Robert Bresson
"Robert Bresson’s final film—made when he was 81—is a harrowing scour of ideological cinema, based on a sermonic Tolstoy story about greed but turned by Bresson into a pantomime stations of the cross, so completely focused on sensuous minutiae, moral interrogation, and the fastidious lasering away of movie bullshit (like acting and action) that it comes as close as any movie has to 15th-century Christian icons." —Michael Atkinson, Village Voice
Director: Andrzej Wajda
Wajda’s dark, complex vision of the French Revolution is clearly articulated by Danton during his trial: “Like Saturn, the Revolution is devouring its children”—the fury of the Revolution unleashed obliterated its ideals. Wajda had seen the postwar dream of political transformation in his native Poland turn to ashes. In Danton, the vanquished hero/antihero may go to the guillotine, but if there is political hope, it lies in his extremely flawed humanity, not in the ruthless idealism of Robespierre.—Leonard Quart, Criterion Collection essay
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Black Narcissus. Photo: ITV Global / THE KOBAL COLLECTION.
Black Narcissus (1947)
Directors: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
A story of damaged faith and rising sexual hysteria set among a group of nuns in India who are working to convert a sultan's palace into a convent (1946). Films on this subject are generally solemn and naive, but director Michael Powell and writer Emeric Pressburger bring wit and intelligence to it—the title, for example, refers not to some campy romantic theme, but to a cheap men's cologne worn by the local princeling. The film's lush, mountainous India, full of sensual challenges and metaphorical chasms, was created entirely in the studio, with the help of matte artist Peter Ellenshaw. Powell's equally extravagant visual style transforms it into a landscape of the mind—grand and terrible in its thorough abstraction.—David Kehr, Chicago Reader
Director: William Wellman
Everything about Nothing Sacred shrieks "Algonquin Round Table," but as is so often the case in New York, appearances are deceiving. The script for this 1937 screwball classic, one of the first comedies shot in Technicolor, was written by Round Table habitué Ben Hecht, but it was based on a short story, "Letter to the Editor," by James Street, a serious out of towner from Lumberton, Mississippi who somehow made a career change from Baptist minister in St. Charles, Missouri to reporter for the New York World-Telegram.—Alan Vanneman, Bright Lights Film Journal
Director: Ken Burns
Before there was Baseball, before The Civil War even, documentarian Ken Burns was sifting history for PBS’ The American Experience, and doing a fine job at that. Titles include The Shakers, Brooklyn Bridge, and Huey Long, a 90-minute portrait of one of the most fascinating and divisive figures in American politics.—Jay Hardwig, The Austin Chronicle
Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams. Photo: OCUS FEATURES / THE KOBAL COLLECTION / SHELDON, JIM
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
The stars, Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts, achieve something that doesn't sound as if it's possible: a virtuosity in the depiction of people wasting away minute by minute. Be prepared for it. You won't come out unaffected, because the depths of intimacy that the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu plumbs here are so rarely touched by filmmakers that 21 Grams is tantamount to the discovery of a new countr—Elvis Mitchell, The New York Timest
Director: Cristi Puiu
When the central character in “Aurora” begins eyeballing another person — turning his shiver-inducing gaze on a complaining co-worker, on a salesgirl who anxiously laughs out of turn and even on a child who innocently returns his look — he seems like a man possessed. His eyes lock and the whites catch the light, shining without revelation. You may think you’re in Charles Manson-ville. (It’s only Romania.)—Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Director: Jean-Luc Godard.
I’m sympathetic towards those who found Film Socialisme pretentious and incoherent, I certainly had the same experience with Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend, but Film Socialism is a provoking and profound work for those willing to tease out the why Godard’s latest feature is so flamboyant, dissonant and damn cryptic. It’s not simply pretentious dribble, but a bleak and fragmented postmodern clash of ideological flaws and corrupt media depictions.— James Blake Ewing, Cinema Sights