This year with the short films that are playing the New York Film Festival I am attempting to watch as many of the films as I can. However, as difficult as this sounds, I am not going to be reviewing everything. Three sections in and I realize that some of the films are just not hitting me where I can say more than providing a description and a brief note of it was good bad or indifferent. Because most of the films deserve more than a dispassionate nod (which often makes them sound bad when they are not) I am going to talk about the films that moved me to say something.
I want to begin by saying that Section 2: Free Radicals is a good collection of films that are slightly avantgarde. Sound and images with slight narrative threads. While I liked the collection the nature of the films made me react viscerally more than intellectually. My attempts to really write them up crashed and burned. However if you like heady avant garde films give it a shot.
Section 8: NEW YORK STORIES
OBJECT LESSONS OR WHAT HAPPENED ON WHITSUNDAY
An avant garde mix of material relating to a fatal stabbing , the property and art collection of the later Dean Ott that includes blueprints, newspaper clippings, shots of a lone tree, etchings and other “connected” bits. I was interested for a while however I don’t think things ever came together. I also began to giggle when a shot of a single tree repeated making me think of a Monty Python sketch on how to recognize trees.
SHOTS IN THE DARK WITH DAVID GODLIS
Hands down one of the best films at this years festival and a glorious celebration of 1970’s NYC as photographer Godless talks about how he stumbled into taking street photos at night by going to CBGB’s . This is one of the films that will make you go wow and want to watch it repeatedly.
In 1983 a family goes through a blackout in NYC. It’s a super portrait of a family, good and bad told, essentially through the eyes of one of the daughters. For give me if I don’t say a lot but this is a small gem that is better to see then read about.
I am mixed on THE ISOLATED. A documentary look at a friend of the director’s during COVID the film is a cool record of what it has been like in the city for some. At the same time I feel it’s too early to be considering this type of film, especially when we are still in the middle of the pandemic. Worth a look but I refuse to state if it’s good or bad when ultimately qualitative judgement will be determined when we are long out of this.