Friday, September 24, 2010

Notes on the 2010 New York Film Festival: 1

A couple months ago, I'd have slapped you and called you a loon if you'd have told me that, today, I'd be in the third row of the Walter Reade Theater, seeing the first public NYC screening of the Movie of the Now, David Fincher's The Social Network, with its writer (Aaron Sorkin), director, and three leads (Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake) in attendance. But, indeed, this is the case. Crazy things do happen.

First off, let me say, The Social Network very much deserves to be the Opening Night offering for this country's most svelte, no-nonsense festival. It is, as of this writing, the film of the year. And when I first saw the now-legendary trailer (which is not echoed in the movie per se but is very much so represented emotionally), that goddang bell went off in my head. DING DING DING! This is the one! You should know, I get that bell going off every once in a while, when I see a sign of the movie of the year. Rarely is the DING DING DING wrong. And still I stop short of calling it a decade-defining movie, because its themes are too wide-reaching for such limited praise. The Social Network is simply too moving and smart, rich and suspenseful, to be pidgeonholed as movie of this time only. But I'll save my review for later, and I'll tell you why, at the personal risk of burying the "lead." But, THIS IS the lead, in my opinion:

About five months ago, I started listening to an absolutely, astoundingly great movie-related podcast on Blog Talk called Movie Geeks United. Hosted out of Tampa, Florida by the inimitable Jamey Duvall and co-hosted, from Washington DC, by the super-knowledgeable and friendly Jerry Dennis, Movie Geeks United was nearly everything I had hoped to enjoy one day: a audio-only, free-form discussion of not only movies of the day, but also movies of the past. Instantly, upon hearing my first episode (about three years after these guys had started the project), I knew I'd met kindred spirits. But after catching my first installment of MGU, I was aghast that this uncommonly lively show--which invited us EVERYDAY listeners to call in--had almost no other voices out there chiming in on things cinematic. Confident of my ability to talk extemporaneously about any facet of the movie business (given my past experience), I began calling in on a weekly, sometimes bi-weekly, schedule.

I think Jamey and Jerry really dug talking to a caller who could converse intelligently with them about movies, even if said caller was sometimes too vociferous (I've learned to control myself and listen a lot more since my first shows). And so, at any rate, from my lowly flat in Midwood, deep in Brooklyn NY, I was soon contributing regularly, as a character of sorts, to Movie Geeks United in an unofficial capacity. I even started getting fans, and was namechecked by Jerry as the person that knows more about movies than anyone he could recall. And I killed on the on-air trivia contests. Plus, I was occasionally funny, and always well-reasoned, if not always armed with the popular opinions. And this leads to where we are now.

A little over 45 days ago, seeing that the 2010 New York Film Festival was coming up, I got the bright idea to offer Movie Geeks United my services as a representative reporter for the NYFF goings-on. I posed the idea to Jamey, and at first, he wasn't for it, mainly because he thought it would be a fruitless effort. I assured him that the festival's staff was very wise about the direction of online film criticism, and that they were quite accepting of people like us. It didn't take too much persuasion, because Jamey said, in effect, what the hell, as long as you, Dean, handle it. If we got in, good, and if not, no harm done.

I framed my letter of application as primarily one as representative of the internet's #1 movie podcast, which Movie Geeks United is certainly entitled to bill itself. In my writing, I pride myself on honesty and full disclosure, so I'll let you in on my sales pitch. Here, in part, is what I wrote to the New York Film Festival's press office:

MOVIE GEEKS UNITED is the leading movie-related podcast on the net. With over a million subscribers, host Jamey Duvall and co-host Jerry Dennis have created a unique and fun way for film fans to think and converse about films. Their show has been so successful, they've attracted an impressive line-up of past guests. Here's only a very partial list: James Cameron (on Aug. 25, 2010), Robert Duvall, Francis Ford Coppola, John Sayles, Paul Schrader, Brian DePalma, Joe Dante, Elizabeth Shue, Patricia Clarkson, Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Renner, Chazz Palmentieri, Jon Voight, Jeff Goldblum, Alan Rickman, James Toback, Ellen Burstyn, and Leslie Caron. Add to this mix an impressive number of character actors, newcomers, composers, editors, cinematographers, and film experts--you can see the list of guests on the website, and listen to any show you like. I, myself, have been appearing on the program for the past four months, on a regular basis, and both Jamey and Jerry are impressed enough with my knowledge of film to charge me with this assignment (I will be providing further coverage of the festival on my blog at

I'd love to say the the inclusion of the last bit--the URL to this lovely site--was the deciding factor in the NYFF's decision to let me attend. But I only rate about 9000 hits a month (and, by the way, you and your friends could change this). Meanwhile, Movie Geeks United, as far as I'm concerned, is an online titan, and I'm glad to do whatever I can for them free of charge, just because I love the show, and the people involved. Of course, I wanted to go to the festival, but it wouldn't mean nearly as much to me, somehow, if I were doing it only for myself and filmicability.

I knew we'd get in. I knew it. And when we did, I was not surprised, but still ecstatic. And so, as the magnificent Jamey Duvall requested of me (what a voice, and passion for film Jamey has), I'll be revealing my initial thoughts about The Social Network on the September 26th episode of Movie Geeks United, and immediately afterward, I'll be posting my full written review on filmicability, right in time for Monday morning surftime. So if you want a preview of what I'll be saying in "ink," (and that's a Social Network reference) and a host of other films playing at the 2010 New York Film Festival, dial up and tune in.

Specific to that September 26th show (which will also feature an interview with Little Children and Barry Munday lead Patrick Wilson), you should know, I'll also be reporting on what was said at the riveting press conference by the five major players involved in The Social Network. As well, I'll be offering my thumbnail impressions of the festival's offerings thus far. EXAMPLES: Oliver Assayas 5 1/2 hour quasi-gangster picture Carlos, Martin Scorsese's love note to Kazan A Letter To Elia (co-directed by Film Comment regular Kent Jones), the music doc LennonNYC, Russia's lovely Silent Souls, and Cannes champs Uncle Boonmee Recalls His Past Lives (Apiachapong Weerasethakul, Thailand) and Certified Copy (by Iran's Abbas Kierostami, starring Best Actress winner Juliette Binoche, who's a true stunner in the film).

And over the next 15 days or so, on filmicability, I'll be posting FULL daily reviews of each film that I've seen (to date, I've caught 14 out of some 35 features). That way, I'll be covering much more than even the estimable Movie Geeks United wants to handle. And, now, onto the next set of notes.

Now that I've gotten this intro out of the way, I can truly begin...

The Social Network is the Opening Night film for the 48th New York Film Festival, and is playing at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. September 24th, at the Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, 1941 Broadway (at 65th Street), New York, NY 10023.

For more ticket information regarding this or any of the festival's many other great offerings, go online here, or call (212) 875-5050

David Fincher's The Social Network opens nationwide on Friday, October 1st.


Lisa said...

There's nobody better qualifed to be attending the festival! We're so proud of you and can't wait to read about your experiences!

Jamey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamey said...

You're THE man, Dean! We couldn't be more thrilled to have you covering the fest for us! Looking forward to our conversations on the show, and your reviews here on your site.