‘Life of Pi’ director Ang Lee defies expectations again with ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” will make its grand entrance at the New York Film Festival.

Ang Lee’s military drama will mark its world premiere at the gathering on Oct. 11, the festival announced Monday. The movie has been one of the most anticipated of the upcoming Oscar season, with Sony/TriStar releasing it in theaters Nov. 11.

Based on Ben Fountain’s ambitious novel, “Billy Lynn” tells much of its story during a single break of a Thanksgiving Day NFL game, using a series of flashbacks and recollections. The tale centers on a returning Iraq War veteran (Joe Alwyn) as he recalls his crucibles in the Middle East at the same time his company is being feted with a victory tour.


The story has the feel of allegory while also being pressingly of the returned-veteran moment. Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund and Vin Diesel are among those with supporting roles in the film.

Lee, synonymous with genre and setting changes, makes the switch to war picture after investigating a wide series of cinematic realms in recent years: animal-based survival allegories (“Life of Pi”), Boomer countercultural nostalgia (“Taking Woodstock”), gay-themed Western (“Brokeback Mountain”) and espionage erotica (“Lust, Caution”).

He also continues to push the technological envelope. After making “Pi” in 3-D, Lee is using new conventions for “Billy Lynn.” The film is touted as “the first full-length narrative film shot in 4K, native 3D at the ultra high rate of 120 frames-per-second.” New York Film Festival organizers said the format has never been screened before.

“With each film, I try to learn fresh ways to connect with the audience and with myself,” Lee said in a statement Monday. “Since ‘Life of Pi’, I have been working with my team towards a new cinematic approach that I hope will revitalize that connection.”

Lee, who has won two directing Oscars in just over a decade, has a long history with the New York festival, screening “Pi” as well as “The Ice Storm” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in show slots over the years.

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