New York Film Festival: Spectacular Trip From Pi's Ocean to Lawrence's Arabia

Aviva Kempner
The Wrap


The 50th New York Film Festival just unveiled its golden anniversary with two epic tales during its first weekend. For opening night there was the 3D premiere of Ang Lee's adventurous "Life of Pi," the compelling story of a young Indian lad being shipwrecked with a ferocious tiger.

I still have not recovered from some of the spectacular ocean scenes and the perception that a tiger does not master emotional ties with humans. An interesting crouching tiger in this film.

That first weekend gained more prestige by featuring another epic film from Hollywood's glorious past. The restored version of David Lean's riveting "Lawrence of Arabia" played on Sunday morning to a most enthusiastic audience.

Instead of a protagonist being overcome by water on Friday night, we empathized with Peter O'Toole combating the desert sands while pushing forward British imperialism. The scale and splendor of this classic proves how stupid it is to ever watch a movie on those new phones that are contributing to the demise of the glories of the movie theater experience.

These two epic movies and the numerous other ones that run through Oct. 14 add to the cachet of the New York Film Festival. Even though I live in Washington, D.C., I've make sure for over 20 years to attend the opening weekend of the New York Film Festival, where a true celebration of cinema reigns. No one has to run to Cannes or even Toronto to see great movies as they unspool right in the Big Apple.

The other milestone this year is the 25th celebration of festival head Richard Pena, who remains with the Film Society but is handing over the reins after his silver celebration of fine programming.


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