“The Golden Eighties,” directed by Chantal Akerman; “Heart Like a Wheel,” directed by Jonathan Kaplan

New York Film Festival

With a number of exceptions, this year’s New York Film Festival was comprised of a cinema entertaining that great theme of themes: man’s terrible struggle with his terrible freedom. The “great” European directors Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, Alain Tanner, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Andrzej Wajda portray the gargantuan responsibility of it all: the painful quandaries of history, the infinity of the spiritual, the charms of esthetic formality, the romantic immortalisms of sexual otherness. Carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, these are “great” and ambitious men, artists who mediate between God and the public—and who, in doing so, have incidentally refined the art of making the “perfect” festival film. Compared to the ireloquent exercises in florid pretense, Robert Altman’s Streamers and Francis Coppola’s Rumble Fish read like refreshingly forthright expositions of the classic

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