Fest Five: Critic Bill McCuddy's Must-See Films at HIFF 2022
It seems almost inconceivable that the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) is turning 30 this year. If you believe Jerry Rubin, that means we can’t trust the event anymore. I’m not buying it.
The festival grabs bigger “gets” every year. It’s a perfect awards precursor/primer. And to celebrate this year, we get extra days. Like bonus scenes on a DVD (Remember those?).
Here’s where I’ll be if I can get a ticket. And if you’re tall, please sit BEHIND me.
HIFF begins on Friday, October 7 and continues through Sunday, October 16. Visit hamptonsfilmfest.org for more info.
Five Must-See Films at HIFF 2022
Sam Mendes is one of my favorite directors. So his Empire of Light is near the top of my list this year. It’s described as “an intimate and moving story about love, friendship, and connection, set in a coastal town in Southern England against the social turmoil of the early 1980s.” Oscar catnip Olivia Colman (The Crown) runs a cinema. This story is as much about the movies as it is about Colman, and that makes it kind of like Mendes’ Cinema Paradiso which I also loved. Can’t wait.
A comic pal of mine used to do a joke about actor William Conrad getting a call from his agent. “They want you for the lead in Jake and the Fatman.” Conrad pauses and then says, “Any chance I’m Jake?” Brendan Fraser puts on a 600-pound fat suit for The Whale getting its East Coast premiere here after a six-minute standing ovation for the comeback kid in Venice. Fraser’s been at HIFF before and was always a straight shooter. Director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) rarely disappoints me. Okay, The Fountain. I’m going anyway. Because the Oscars love an acting turn like this.
Here’s a literal cliffhanger. Except he may have let go. Or was he pushed? They’re billing Decision To Leave as “full of Hitchcockian twists and turns.” That’s good enough for me. Even if director Park Chan-wook DOESN’T make a cameo in this thriller. A mountain climbers’ body is found at the bottom of the mountain. The lead suspect is the wife! Cue Keith Morrison from Dateline. “Or did she?” This won a director’s award at Cannes and it’s South Korea’s official selection for Oscar consideration. I’ll climb to a balcony seat if I have to.
Full disclosure: Dick Cavett helped me get my first job on television. There will never be a documentary about that, but it does make me a little biased in recommending Groucho & Cavett. Have I seen most of these interviews on the 750-disc boxed set of Cavett’s talk show? Probably. Doesn’t matter. Cavett asks great questions, has real interest in the answers and is a fan without geeking out on Groucho. Jimmy Fallon should come and bring a notebook. Cavett is coming for a Q and A with Alec Baldwin and that could easily be the highpoint of the festival.
Denmark’s official Oscar candidate is a loosely based true story about sex trafficking and a serial killer in the Iranian holy city of Mashhad. Cannes Best Actress winner Zar Amir-Ebrahimi is examining the deaths of prostitutes in Holy Spider, and here’s the twist: The locals actually like what the killer is doing. Part thriller, part social critique and all McCuddy. This has also got Mrs. McCuddy’s name all over it. We’ll be there.
Others HIFF Films I Will Try to See
Kentucky Pride. Sadly not bourbon, this revival print about a horse is directed by the great John Ford. Living had me at “stars Bill Nighy.” That’s all I need.
My Policeman will prove if Harry Styles can act for a director he’s not sleeping with.
Raymond & Ray has two of my favorite actors as half-brothers: Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke.
The Rolling East is a short doc about surfing in New York. Apparently that only takes 11 minutes.
She Said will try to make some sense of Harvey Weinstein. Bonus: He won’t be doing the Q and A.
And finally, Daniel Craig isn’t Bond anymore but he IS funny (rent Logan Lucky some time) and he’s having a whodunit ball as Benoit Blanc back in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
Bring your masks and I’ll see you on the aisle.
Bill McCuddy is a frequent Dan’s contributor. He also cohosts a movie review show on PBS/AllArts and has three podcasts including “Sitting Around Talking Movies” and “The Accutron Show.” He is also a voter in the Critic’s Choice Awards. He lives in Bridgehampton with his wife, a dog and cat and an 87-inch Sony LCD TV in a bedroom he says he “rarely leaves.”