Richard J. Lewis opened this year's Hamptons International Film Festival with the U.S. premiere of his upcoming film "Barney's Version" and also offered a twinge of nostalgia.
"I like to think of 'Barney's Version' as the kind of film I grew up watching in the '70s," the director said. "Not easy to categorize."
That turned out to be true, and not just because the movie is set partly in that era. The film stars Paul Giamatti as Barney Panofsky, a television producer, philanderer, boozer and reluctant Jew. It's a picaresque, a genre that fell out of favor so long ago -- probably sometime after Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" flopped in 1975 -- that it's surprising to see it on screen.
The movie follows Barney through three wives, at least one true love (a captivating Rosamund Pike), the disappearance of his best friend (Scott Speedman, cast against type as a heroin addict) and various embarrassments caused by his rascally father (Dustin Hoffman).
Essentially plotless and told out of chronological sequence – Barney becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator in his dotage -- the film does indeed resemble off-beat classics of the late '60s and '70s like "Shampoo," "Petulia" and "Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?" It's surreal but also deeply real, full of beautiful little moments and painfully human performances.
Other films and events worth noting today:
Alec Baldwin interviews Julian Schnabel, here to promote his upcoming film "Miral," starring Freida Pinto (also attending the festival). 4 p.m. at Guild Hall.
"And Everything is Going Fine," Steven Soderbergh's tribute to his late friend, the monologuist (and Sag Harbor resident) Spalding Gray. 8:45 p.m. at the UA East Hampton.
"Made in Dagenham," starring Sally Hawkins as the ringleader of a group of women who take on the Ford Motor Co. in England. She is scheduled to appear at the screening. 9:15 p.m. at the UA East Hampton
"Fair Game," a political thriller based on the autobiography of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn star; director Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity") will speak at the screening. 9:30 p.m. at Guild Hall.