Sunday, April 22, 2018
The plot of the film follows a Hasidic cantor as he tries to over come the loss of his wife to cancer. More to the point he tries desperately to get past the thought of her body decaying in the grave. Since some part of her soul is tied to the body and will suffer until it has turned to dust, he needs to know how long that will be with the result he ends up talking to a science professor who becomes an unwilling partner in crime.
Frequently funny the film actually an examination of grief and suffering. As our hero suffers as does his children (who have a funny sideline about a Dybbuk) and his mother. It raises questions about how long should we mourn and must we follow everyone else? There is also the notions of science vs religion kicking around. The answers when they come are not always easy.
Everyone in the cast is wonderful, with special praise going to Matthew Broderick who turns his usual schitck on its head to create a wonderful man of science to guide the grieving cantor.
For me this is one of the meatiest films at this year's Tribeca. It was the 38th film I saw and it was the first one that made me both laugh and think.It was a film I pondered for a long time afterward as I wrestled with various notions of life and death.
For anyone who wants real meat in their film, TO DUST is highly recommended
For tickets and more information go here
The incident that happened in Steubenville Ohio involved members of the high school football team. The boys were considered gods and allowed to pretty much to do whatever they wanted since they brought so much happiness and pride to the town. However when a girl from across the river went off with some of the team she ended up drinking way too much and was sexually assaulted although she was so drunk she didn’t remember it. When her parents found out they had rape charges filed against two of the boys. The town was shocked (in a Casablanca sort of way) that anything like this could happen- until it came out that pretty much everyone in the high school knew all about it since it was being openly discussed, with pictures, on social media.
If you want to come to hate people then ROLL RED ROLL is for you. Don’t get me wrong it is a truly great film (it is one of the best at Tribeca) but the behavior of the teens and many of the adults make you want to wipe them off the face of the earth. Clearly we are not better than that. The fact that so many people knew what happened and either did nothing or found it hysterical crushes the soul when it comes to future of mankind. I was so pissed off by the time a second earlier incident was revealed involving an even younger girl that I just kind of died inside.
Director Nancy Schwartzman has to be applauded for putting together a film that shows just how rotten many people are. What is shocking is that she doesn’t have to interview anyone to tell the story, all she need do is present the public record. Everyone, including the rapists, put it all out there on social media and Schwartzman simply plays it back to us. Further she presents the police interviews which damns many others whose words of explanation just hangs them out as morally dead.
I have no idea what to say. This is a great film. It is also a really tough film. It’s a film that must be seen. People have to understand that it really can happen anywhere they are. The rot on the human soul that is causing terrible things to happen around the world is in ourselves.
One of the best films at Tribeca.
For tickets and more information go here
ALL ABOUT NINA surprises at every turn. What seems to be a typical look at a comedian trying to make it instead presents it self as a stunning character study. There is some very heavy material being presented here, often in a humorous fashion with the effect that by the end we are blindsided by how we feel as it all plays out. I was left feeling moved and slightly shell shocked at the rawness of some of the emotion revealed.
That the film works as well as it does is due in large part to the cast especially Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Common who make their characters real people we really like. Winstead should be singled out and up for numerous awards with a performance that is deceptively simple (a comedian with issues? Piece of cake right?) but in fact reveals itself to be filled with very real and very raw emotion. She is not the typical by the numbers movie girl but one many of us know or are ourselves.
To be honest while this was on my list of films for Tribeca I was not in any rush to see it, however the PR person handling the film insisted that I needed to see the film sooner rather than later, and she was right. ALL ABOUT NINA is one of the best of the early crop of films I've seen at Tribeca and it is highly recommended.
For tickets and more information go here.
Odd narrative short is heart felt and well done but leaves one feeling what we are supposed to feel. More public service film than anything, it is kind of like being lectured to instead of being told.
The problem is the film kind of falls in between being a narrative and documentary. Some people are actual survivors. Others are actors. We get to see scenes from their lives recreated but it feels like an odd cable TV documentary. As a result I remained at arm's length and never connected.
To be honest I respect the film but I really didn't much care for it.
SURVIVING THEATER 9 plays at Tribeca as part of the AFTERMATH shorts collection. FOr more information and tickets go here.
The story in the briefest of terms is that in the aftermath of a roadside bombing 24 civilians were killed, a number of them women and children who were hiding in a bedroom in “House Two”. When the story broke because Time magazine got the story after CNN passed NCIS investigated. However there was a political agenda at work and it suddenly became clear to the defense and NCIS that all was not kosher.
Rarely has a film made me physically ill because things are just wrong. My stomach knotted and I wanted to get up and leave the theater. From the methodical and deliberate murder of women and children, to the manipulation of evidence, to the intentional freeing of guilty parties the whole Haditha affair stinks to high heaven and I was made sick by it. My regular day job is in criminal justice and if any of the stuff that happened here happened where I work the people involved would have been shitcanned.
While not a perfect film, it springs a couple of things out of left field (the video of the massacre aftermath for example- who is the soldier who shot it?), the film is still incredibly powerful. It’s an unending series of body blows that will leave you shaking your head and talking to yourself. I wanted to scream.
What is most sickening about the film is that the quest for justice became a quest to protect the name of the Marine Corps. The Marines never had a massacre of civilians- or so they want people to think. By throwing justice out the window they keep their record intact . However as one of the defense lawyers says near the end, the fact that they are offering a puissant plea deal after all that happens makes them all look even worse than if they had admitted what happened and sent the offenders to jail.
I can’t recommend this film enough.
One of the very best films at Tribeca 2018 and of the year as well.
For tickets and more information go here.
|Po Lin and director Gabrielle Brady outside a Tribeca Film Fest screening|
The film is a portrait of Po Lin a trauma therapist working on Christmas Island. Her job is to help the refugees being kept in a near by detention center deal with the fallout of their lives both in their home countries as well as the stress of being detained for an indeterminate amount of time in the center. The Australian government is simply holding the refugees for random amounts of time before sending them somewhere else. Worse the government doesn't really care about anyone getting any sort of help and will often simply not bring them to their sessions. Despair grows among not only the refugees but within Lin who finds her best efforts to help thwarted and her patients getting worse instead of better.
However as restrictive as the government is concerning human migration they go to great lengths to help the island's population of red crabs having people whose job it is to make sure that the crabs can cross the islands safely by closing roads, building log bridges and gently pushing them out of the way of danger. The result we are forced to ponder who or what is more important to the authorities.
When ISLAND screened pre-festival for the New York press some people loved it and some people didn't. The less positive reactions seemed to hinge on the writers wanting it to be something it wasn't. They had their own ideas which were not Ms Brady's. Additionally several of the writers I heard speak on the film disliked that a lot of details were left out. It bothered them that they didn't know certain small details. Having seen the film I think my colleagues were, and are wrong.
To begin with the film isn't a straight on documentary. Yes it documents what the situation is on the island but there is an edge to what is being reported. Ms Brady has reason to her style, she is not just telling a story but attempting to make her audience think. She is trying to get us to react and engage by structuring the film a certain way. We are supposed to feel emotionally the uncertainty of all of the people in the story. We are supposed to feel slightly dislocated and out of sorts, like the refugees and like Po Lin. We are supposed to not be passive observers but active participants. The intentional dreamlike existence would not be possible if we met things head on.
Brady very intentionally doesn't give us all of the details. We don't know where everyone is from, or where they are going. We don't know how everything works. We are just shown Po's life and her sessions with her patients. We are left to piece together things on our own. This draws us into the film, forcing us to listen and watch for pieces of information. The lack of a a lot of concrete information also forces us to not compartmentalize the story. This is not the story of one time and place but something larger. The story of refugees on Christmas Island now reflects the plight of refugees everywhere. Brady has made a what is ultimately a universal film.
To be honest when I walked out of the film I wasn't instantly certain what I thought of the film. I had seen the film but I didn't fully engage with it. Walking out into the hall outside the theater with Hubert Vigilla we ran into Susan Norget the publicist for the film. Asked what we thought of the film we begin to more fully engage with the film. Feelings for the film became more than that was good or bad but something more. I think both Hubert and myself began to more fully ponder the film as a result since in trying to explain why we felt as we did we really had to engage with the film when all of the details were fresh instead of going on to the next thing without truly thinking about what we had just seen.
I know in opening myself up for the discussion the film I found myself liking the film even more. As the reasons for my liking the film became clearer and I began to see the film as something greater than many others who didn't truly engage with the film. As a result I have had the film dance around inside my brain much like the ghosts of the forgotten souls of the Chinese workmen who came to the island a century ago and never left.
Whether you want it to be or not ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS is a complex film. It is a challenging and thoughtful film that requires us to meet the film head on do more than wash over us but think about what it is showing us. As a result it is one of the more haunting films at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.
For tickets to the one remaining Tribeca screening or more information on the film go here.
WHEN LAMBS... is the story of the illegal Ivory trade in Kenya. However it is not focused on the killing or just the rangers looking to stop it. The film is a portrait of both the poachers and the rangers as a game of cat and mouse is played between both sides.
Full disclosure-I am unashamedly a huge Jon Kasbe fan. I have loved his work ever since we came into contact four or five years ago regarding one of his films playing at DOC NYC. I have seen a large selection of his work since then and it has surprised and delighted me. His film was at the top of my Tribeca Must See List as a result.
Cut from over 700 hours of film shot over almost four years Kabe has fashioned a film that doesn't seem like a documentary. Playing more like a narrative he has turned his friendship and access to the forces battling over ivory into something truly special. It is a film full of immediacy and you are there quality. Some how he has managed to put a film together that in sequence after sequence makes you wonder how he got the shot and why the people on screen let him film them.
The answer to that question was revealed in the Q&A following the screening when Kabe said that he was allowed to film because he had earned the trust of everyone involved. He was with them for more than just the film shoot so they knew he wasn't just going to film and leave. He hung around. He also added that after a certain point he stopped having what was being said when he filmed translated. By doing that his subjects were less on guard when they spoke. He said that also forced him to shoot more footage since he never knew when he had the right stuff which ended up giving him the best stuff.
What I like about the film, and which I think confuses the hell out of some people, is that Kabe doesn't take sides. There are no good guys or bad guys. We like everyone because we get to understand them. Actually everyone likes everyone since many rangers were poachers and are still friendly with those in their former lives. Additionally this does not play out as expected simply because there is no artificially created through line. Kabe simply lets life happen- which results in a whiplash or unexpected ending.
Kasbe is an expert at image creation and editing. No one I have ever seen has the eye for an image like he does. His images are masterpieces that take your breath away in shot after shot. Time after time I was left to wonder how did he manage to get a shot that perfect. No one could be that lucky or skillful, and yet the entirety of Kasbe's work reveals that yes, he is.
As for editing, the film is astounding. Watching how sequences play out is an absolute delight as image connects to image telling a greater story. As I was watching the film part of me was pulling some sequences apart as realized that each switch of perspective deepened our understanding what we were seeing.
I am in love with the film, with its craft, with its story and themes.
Half way into it my overriding thought was there is no way I can ever hope to really write about the film until I see it at least one more time.(I will be writing more down the line) However because the film has premiered and because of the need to get word out I've cobbled this piece together.
Do yourself a favor and go see this film. There are only two public screenings left but you must make an effort to go. Not only is this a great film, but is it a beautiful one as well. It is a film of such stunning beauty that when you see the image projected on a big screen you will wonder at how anything could look so lovely.
For tickets to the remaining screenings go here.
Jon Kasbe introduces his film at the World Premiere
John Kasbe does a Q&A following the World Premiere
The film has a young man visiting his ex on the night of a party in order to collect somethings from her that she took by accident when she move out. Finding them in a office he ends up falling asleep when he sits down for a minute. When he wakes up he finds the apartment empty and the world over run by zombies. He then has to find a way to survive.
Largely silent film shows us what might have to be done should something like this ever happen. We also watch as our hero tries to fight off loneliness (he misses the zombies when they disappear at one point) and just find enough food. Its a kind of grand adventure with flesh eating ghouls and completely entertaining.
Because I have to nit pick I have to say the film isn't perfect, there are little problems such we never see any bodies other than those who do themselves in, which makes no sense if zombies break in and tear people apart. However despite the small logic problems the film never falls apart as a result. It simply moves along fast enough that you probably won't'notice since you'll be too caught up in the tale,
For tickets and more information on the remaining screenngs go here.
Largely typical surfing biography is lifted up by stunning and visuals and an aggressive audio track. It is the amazing images and overwhelming sound that make this a must see on a big screen with the best sound available. The sound is so impressive that the film was the focus of a Dolby Labs Masterclass in film sound. Trust me you want to see this as big and loud as possible.
Beyond the visceral this is a pretty straight forward of Hamilton who seems to be a sweet girl whose circumstance put her on the radar of most people beyond what a surfer of her caliber normally would be. Its all well and good but she is a sweet girl who has had a charmed existence with the result there isn't much drama. Left on its own the tale of her life doesn't really warrant a 100 minute film.
If you can score one of the Tribeca tickets or if you can see this on a big screen then it is recommended. If not the choice is up to you though I think it will play best for surf film fans.
For tickets and more information go here.
When you think bank robbery hostage movie, you don't think comedy, but that is what primarily this movie is. Ethan Hawke is great as the clumsy, inexperienced and sensitive captor. Noomi Rapace plays the pretty and smart worker at the bank he takes hostage.
I really enjoyed this one. Better to not say much, but I definitely liked this one more than I thought I would and highly recommend it.
Both the girls and the boys in the film all have their own interesting personalities. The film does a good job of talking about double standards between boys and girls and also does a good job of dealing with sex, friendships and girls trying to figure things out.
I don't often see modern day movies that are filmed in black and white, and I liked it a lot. I'm curious why the director decided on that. I recommend it. It was a fun and entertaining movie.
THE DARK will break your heart, but not in a good way. What starts out as grand and glorious homage to the wild and crazy horror films of the 70’s and 80’s where nothing is certain and anything is possible goes sadly off the rails after about 40 minutes as the pacing slows and the seems to become an allegory about surviving sexual abuse.
I’m not going to give you details, but he film has to do with the relationship between the monstrous Mina who lives in the wooded Devil’s Den and the blind Alex who was brought there by a very bad man. As Mina ponders why she doesn’t have the urge to kill Alex the pair begins to bond.
For the first part this is a balls to the wall creepy horror film that mixes horror and humor to stunning effect. We laugh at things that end up catching in our throats. The plotting of the film is such that there is no way to really know where the hell this is going. It is in its way one of the most original horror films in years. We have an undead beast tearing throats and traveling with a young man who has been horribly blinded.
The audience of critics I saw this with was talking back to the screen in fear.
And then things begin to change…
… the internal logic falls away and what was most definitely a kind of supernatural horror film shifts. Alex and Mina begin to bond and the film largely stops being about a manhunt and monsters but about two people who have been horribly sexually abused. Alex begins to connect to Mina and Mina begins to literally become human and alive again, with the visible scars of her “death” slowly disappearing along with her desire to kill and inability to eat people food. The film I revealed to NOT be a horror film but an allegory about recovering from horrific sexual abuse.
While I and the audience members who didn’t walk out on the film had no problem with the film turning into an allegory, the trouble is the switch is so radical it’s as if the filmmakers took two scripts and grafted them together. Plot threads fall away. The internal logic of a supernatural film crashes into the brick wall of reality. Questions don’t appear but explode like rabbits with a suite of copy machines.
To be fair I suspect that the switch is not supposed to be a complete dropping of the horror film- but if you don’t stop thinking of the film as a horror film it becomes unbearably bad. Any plot threads and all internal logic just cease. To think of the last hour as a straight up horror film means you want nothing to work because nothing in the last hour nothing does. It’s such a radical shift that it forces you to rethink what you saw in the first part and it destroys the film completely.
On the other hand if you view the film as purely from the point of view of Mina’s internal dead psyche, that she is not really a monster but a young woman who had been raped and abused by her mother’s lover helping a young man who was kidnapped by a sexual monster who did unspeakable things to him then the film works better. We understand why she connects to Alex. We understand why here physical appearance changes. Of course that still doesn’t explain people referring to her monstrous appearance or some horrific actions- but it makes the film at least tolerable.
Frankly THE DARK disappoints. I think it’s the result of the filmmakers desire to make a serious film about abuse that collided with a need to make a film people would want to see. Somewhere along the way good intentions derailed a good movie. I want to applaud the attempt but despite a good cast and great filmmaking the film never achieves the heights it was reaching for.
A noble miss.
For more information and tickets go here.
Quiet and unassuming HOME + AWAY seems to be the sort of film you've seen any number of times. The lower income kid struggles to make good and achieve their dreams. It is the sort of film that the Tribeca Film Festival is full of every year. However what sets HOME + AWAY from most others is that the film just shows us life . We are there on the playing fields, in the living rooms and in the classrooms as the kids try to do their best and figure our what direction we want to go. Nothing is over sold we just watch it happen, even if everyone is very aware the camera is there.
I know that sound like it isn't anything special. And for most of the film I was thinking that this was just another poor kid over comes adversity film that would come and go quickly. Then something happened- As the film moved into its final moments I found myself tearing up and crying. Ogen's low key approach had worked it's magic and I found that I really cared about hat happened. I really wanted to know where they are now. It truly mattered to me.
Damn you Matt Ogens, I didn't want to care and I didn't want to cry.
If you are willing to be patient and willing to wait for Ogens to work his magic HOME + AWAY is recommended
For tickets and more info on the remaining screenings of HOME + AWAY go here
Saturday, April 21, 2018
This is the story of Carlos "Kaiser" Henrique Raposo, who in the days before the internet managed to talk his way on to numerous professional football (aka soccer) teams in Brazil, despite never actually playing a game...and he did this for 26 years.
There is no way I can explain this simply. Its too crazy a story, and besides the story changes depending upon who is telling it. Basically you are just going to have to go see this film because you aren't going to believe it---probably not even after you see it. I say that because I'm not sure I believe it- yet apparently it's true.
Think of it as a real version of the legendary Sidd Finch April Fool's story that Sports Illustrated ran in 1985.
I laughed my way through the film which absolutely delighted me, even its late in the game revelations.
For more information and tickets to the remaining screenings go here.
Lovely film about lovely people with rightly warm your heart. Filled with lots of great music by the father and daughter, as well as great conversation the film wonderfully shows how people can reconnect after decades apart and how one small kindness can change the world.
I have very little to say beyond go see this film. It is just wonderful. This is one of the best shorts at Tribeca.
I kind of wish I had been able to attend the world premiere since I would love to talk to the pair and see how Don was liking New York- which is some place he constantly says he wanted to visit.
For more information or tickets to HOMELESS: THE SOUNDTRACK which screens as part of the HOME SWEET HOME block of shorts go here
Showing what it took to get elected this film brought a couple of tears to my eyes. This is a feel good film about how you can fight the system and how you can bring change if you really want it.
Following Ilhan from when she decides to run through the primary, where she effectively won the seat (the Republicans didn't put anyone up against her), through the troubles that arose via fake news and on to her taking her seat, this is good time with a great lady. That the film is as compelling as it is is due to entirely to Ilhan,who has a natural charm and charisma that makes her a natural. You an see why the political organizers wanted he to run.
What got me misty was the small human moments such as the absolute love and pride in the faces of her husband and dad when she won or the small but thundering moment when Ilhan's husband pulls her aside to simply say I love you.
Hands down one of the best films at Tribeca TIME FOR ILHAN is a must see.
For Tickets and more information go here
A reminiscence of the three astronauts Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell about what it was like to travel to the moon, EARTHRISE is the first film I've ever come across that truly made clear what it was like to not only be in space but to go away from earth and look back at the planet from an impossibly far distance. I was moved to tears by the men's simple words about what they saw and experienced.
I am in awe of the achievement of this film. Simply the three men talking while we see film they shot while on their mission, There is, on the face of it nothing special, the film we've seen before and the stories we've heard but something about this film makes it all click. Seeing the world so far away on a big screen while the men told of what they saw I was reduced to raw emotion. For the first time I understood how and why they were changed by their flight.
Whats most amazing is the photographs were secondary. The first priority was getting their and back and while they were there the moon was what they had to shoot not the earth---however when they all saw the earth rise they all knew that was why they had come.
I have no words other than see this film- preferably as bi ah humanly possible when it plays in the HOME SWEET HOME collection of shorts at this year's Tribeca on April 24,25 and 28.
For tickets and more information go here.
The film is about a group of Jewish seniors in Palm Desert, California who get together on Friday nights for a Shabbat meal at the local Wendy’s. (It’s the meal that starts the Sabbath). The group started accidentally when a couple casually mentioned to a friend that they were going to Wendy’s for Shabbat and asked if they wanted to go along. Since the group is traditional more than religious, they keep the traditions in order to keep the community, the group grew over time to the point where they now call to make reservations.
A joyous celebration of life and friendship and belonging, Wendy’s Shabbat delights. These are real people living life and hanging out with friends. These are senior citizens of the type that I am very familiar with, grand folks who are living life to the fullest and hanging out with friends. While nominally a religious gathering it really is about having a place and sense of community.
I smiled from ear to ear for the whole time.
I can’t recommend this film enough. Its one of the best films of any length at this years Tribeca
A must see at Tribeca or where ever you can manage to see it.