The Hamptons International Film Festival, now in its 20th year of delivering solid, award-winning films to the tastemaking Hamptons audience, has seen its share of movies with a local focus. This year is no exception. While there are a few films featuring the Hamptons as part of the narrative or highlighting the area in some way, the festival is full of exciting features and events for all levels of cinema fans.
David O. Russell’s latest, Silver Linings Playbook, is part of the HIFF’s opening night ceremonies. The film stars Bradley Cooper (from The Hangover series) as a man struggling with bipolar disorder after a court- ordered stint in a psychiatric center. Also starring The Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence and the legendary Robert De Niro, the film is a poignant look at a man’s psyche. Russell, who directed the critically acclaimed The Fighter, might be eyeing Oscar gold with this latest effort.
Among documentaries, 59 Middle Lane contains an all-Hamptons focus. Greg Ammon seeks to reclaim his identity, while also dealing with the difficulty surrounding the murder of his father 10 years ago. Not long after his father’s death, Ammon’s mother would succumb to cancer, leaving Greg and his twin sister orphaned. As in great detective stories born from tragedy, Greg Ammon returns to the Hamptons to unravel the mystery surrounding his father’s murder and what he finds takes him on a journey of incredible self-discovery. From the Hamptons to Alabama to Europe and back again, Ammon’s odyssey is filled with twists and turns that, though true, sound like a true crime detective novel.
Ben Lewin’s The Sessions is already generating buzz for the steamy performance from Helen Hunt (who might be vying for her second Oscar). The film tells, the true story of Mark O’Brien (played by John Hawkes, who is generating Oscar buzz as well), a polio survivor who happens to be paralyzed and confined to an iron lung. Rather than allow his disability to get him down, Mark, a poet and journalist, vows to fulfill his lifelong goal of having sex with a woman. In order to do so, he gets in touch (no pun intended) with a sex therapist (Hunt) to aid him in his quest. Also stars William H. Macy.
Tobey Jones stars in The Girl, portraying master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. The film is set to hit HBO soon, but, the movie will be screened at the HIFF. Also starring Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren, the film entails the director’s infatuation with his young starlet during the making of The Birds. Directed by Julian Jarrold, the film looks to be a somewhat disturbing exploration of desire and obsession.
Frankenweenie is a family-friendly option for those looking to bring their kids to the HIFF. Directed by Tim Burton (Beetlejuice) with a script from John August (Big Fish), the movie is about a young boy who, after the death of his beloved dog, decides to play God and attempt to resurrect the pup. It is based on a 1984 short film directed by Burton and stars frequent Burton collaborator Martin Landau, Martin Short, Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara.
The Montauk Observatory will also be hosting an all-ages free documentary at the Montauk Movie Theatre. The doc is called The City Dark and is an entertaining yet educational film about light pollution. Director Ian Cheney used the Hamptons as a backdrop, and makes use of some incredible night sky footage. The film took home some awards at South by Southwest in 2011, and looks to shine a light on the alarming costs of light pollution.
Closing out the HIFF will be Argo, Ben Affleck’s follow-up to The Town. The true story of a CIA operation to rescue six Americans hiding in a Canadian embassy during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979 in Tehran, the movie stars Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston (TV’s “Breaking Bad”) and Alan Arkin, and is also generating some incredible Oscar buzz for Affleck, who has become one of the finest American filmmakers working today.