The Reeler


--Brooklyn International Film Festival
--Human Rights Watch International Film Festival
--Media That Matters Festival
--NewFest LGBT Film Festival
--Rooftop Films
--Swiss American Film Festival


--Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Films
--NY African Film Festival
--NY Asian Film Festival
--NY Asian American Film Festival
--NY International Latino Film Festival
--Reel Venus Film Festival
--Rooftop Films
--Rural Route Film Festival
--Scanners: The NY Video Festival


--ACE Film Festival
--Central Park Film Festival
--LaCinemaFe Film Festival
--NY Korean Film Festival
--Rooftop Films


--Coney Island Film Festival
--Impact Festival
--IFP Market/Independent Film Week
--NY Brazilian Film Festival
--NYC Midnight Movie Making Madness
--Next Reel International Film Festival


--CMJ FilmFest
--E.Vil City Film Festival
--Fordham Law Film Festival
--Hamptons International Film Festival
--Harlem International Film Festival
--NY Film Festival
--NY Bad Films Festival
--NYC Horror Film Festival
--NY Turkish Film Festival
--Pordenone Silent Film Festival Weekend at BAM
--Russian Film Week
--South Asian International Film Festival
--Woodstock Film Festival


--African Diaspora Film Festival
--Avignon New York Film Festival
--Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival
-- International Dog Film Festival
--Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival
--Native American Film + Video Festival
--NY International Independent Film and Video Festival
--NY Lesbian & Gay Experimental Film Festival
--Queens International Film Festival


--Explorers Club Documentary Film Festival
--NY Jewish Film Festival


--NY Arab and South Asian Film Festival
--Red Shift Festival
--SinCine Fest


--Craic Film Fleadh
--Fusion Film Festival
--Harlem Stage on Screen
--Independent Thai Film Festival
--New Directors/New Films
--NY International Children's Film Festival
--NY Underground Film Festival
--Westchester Film Festival


--Brooklyn Underground Film Festival
--Gen Art Film Festival
--Havana Film Festival in NY
--NY African Film Festival
--Sprout Film Festival
--Tribeca Film Festival
--Urban Visionaries Film Festival


--Bicycle Film Festival
--Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival
--NY International Children's Film Festival
--NY Minute Film Festival
--NY Polish Film Festival
--Pacifika: NY Hawaiian Film Festival
--Sundance at BAM
--Be Film / Tribeca Underground Film Festival

ONGOING --Animation Block
--Asbury Shorts of New York
--Caroline's Funny Film Shorts
--First Sundays Comedy Film Festival

NYC Film Festivals

NYFF: Blessed Be the Children

Not having been among In the Bedroom's biggest fans in 2001, I admit owning a few reservations about director Todd Field's follow-up, Little Children, which enjoys its NYC premiere Saturday at the New York Film Festival. I pretty much got over the hammy, yawny white suburban malaise informing both films a long time ago, but I actively want to like Field; In the Bedroom's principal accomplishment came in loving its characters without defending them--a powerful, harder-than-it-looks act owing to Field's moody, ex-actor legerdemain.

All my Children: (L-R) Todd Field, Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson meet the press (Photo: STV)

And so we have Little Children, based on Tom Perrotta's novel and, in fact, revisiting many of the same themes of family infirmity, middle-class striving and even the criminal psychosis that Field overcooked five years ago. As stay-at-home parents, Sarah (Kate Winslet) and Brad (Patrick Wilson) get to know each other through the daily summer routines of parkgoing and pool play with their young kids. Their alienation from their respective spouses--most explicitly diagrammed in the emasculating micromanagement of Brad's wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly)--underpins their mutual attraction, affairs ensue... you can see where this is going.

Except, really, you can't. Field's small-world cosmopolis also hosts an ex-con pedophile (a haunting, ice-eyed Jackie Earle Haley) and a troubled, alpha-male ex-cop (Noah Emmerich) obsessed with abating the prowler's threat. In contrast to the minor mysteries of Sarah and Brad, these are the men whose inescapable pasts everybody knows and whose futures--winding over the story like question marks--overlap with those of men and women negotiating increasingly public indiscretions of their own.

As implied in its title, Little Children addresses a life-long interchangeability of the parent/child role. Brad's 3-year-old son knows what his father is doing even as he sinks into denial, and Kathy's reliance on her mother--both financially and as the eventual guardian of her husband--shifts their relationship from that of marriage to one resembling daycare. And while Little Children is doubtless the more microcosmic (and trenchant) evaluation of husband/wife/child dynamics, Field acknowledged that he might have had a little bit of unfinished business left over from his own life as well as from the tragedy of In the Bedroom.

"I have three children," he recently told the NYFF press. "My wife's and my first daughter is in college here in New York City. And we a very different parents to all three of those children. We were very different people at different stages of our lives, and my wife and I would say that our first child grew up very fast. She did. And to this day, she has a sense of herself and confidence and assuredness based on that fact. Family life is fascinating to me because that's what I've known for a very long time, and because there's so much internal drama in family life--things that happen inside my household that are mind-boggling to me. The only time I don't have to navigate them is when I'm making a film. So in terms of the difference between one film or the other, I suppose that interests me."

And, of course, Field himself grew between then and now; he handles Perrotta's humor with a dry assuredness clearly derived from his mentor Stanley Kubrick (Field portrayed the pianist Nick Nightingale in Eyes Wide Shut), and nothing here is taken as seriously as the grave meltdowns that corroded so much his first film. Now I guess we have to wait another five years to see what he does next, but I admit feeling a little better about being on the bandwagon. -- STV

Posted at September 28, 2006 10:55 PM

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Search The Reeler
Join the Mailing List

RSS Feed


Send a Tip