Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Capsule Reviews:Tribeca

Here are some capsule reviews of films from the Tribeca film Festival. I’m going to try and do a week of full reviews in May but for now there are a couple of films I want to write up before they get lost in the shuffle that has become Tribeca films.

The three films below are really good, with
Into Eternity, a strong possibility for my best of year list, however they are films that I can’t really find the words to write a long review for. In the case of the first two films a truly fair discussion of the film might make you think they are not as good as they are, I’m keeping it brief because it works in their favor. With Into Eternity, the trouble is that it’s a great film that is somewhere beyond words. It’s a film that is best experienced since words of description don’t serve it well. You just need to see it.

Andy Sirkis stars as Ian Dury front man for the group the Blockheads. The film covers Dury’s life from childhood until his death, It’s a time tripping film told in a fashion that has Dury talking about his life during a concert which leads into scenes from his life. Its an affectionate portrait that does show many of the warts of the man. It’s a good film that shines because of Sirkis’ performance as Dury. Sirkis once again inhabits the man to the point that he disappears completely. Why Sirkis isn’t better known as an actor is beyond me since he repeatedly turns in some of the best, though almost always over looked, performances. He’s good enough that he makes a good but rather conventionally unconventional film worth your time and money (On pay per view in connection with the Tribeca film festival, its getting a brief theatrical run in the US. It hits DVD over seas in May) A final note: I dare you not to tear up at the end.

This is the story of two guys on a Finnish rugby team over the course of the 2007 season. We watch as they try to get new players (they recruit a woman who’s better than the men), drink, talk, try to deal with home life and play rugby. Actually we watch as they try to remain high enough in the standings that they don’t get bounced to a lower bracket. (They are not the worst rugby team in Finland as the promotional material from Tribecea said). It’s the cinematic equivalent to hanging out with your buddies and shooting the breeze. Honestly this is one of the few films at the festival I didn’t bother to look at my watch at any point during the film, because I was having such a good time being in the theater watching it. If there is any flaw in the film its that its, as I said, the cinematic equivalent to hanging out with your buddies: namely It rambles all over the place and really doesn’t have a point. I’m not sure what the point of it all was and I would have loved more detail on some of the threads that are picked up and go nowhere, say what happened to the young lady who played with them? Still, it’s a good time and when this hits dvd or cable you really should make an effort to see this.(Oh how I would love a special edition DVD with deleted footage)

One of the better films screening at this years Tribeca film festival is a meditation on what we should do with the nuclear waste that’s left behind. More specifically it’s what Finland is doing with their nuclear waste. What the country is doing is digging a miles deep tomb in which they hope to bury all of their waste so that it will hopefully remain undisturbed for the 100 or more thousand years it will need to decay and become safe.

The film, is more an essay in the form of a letter to future generations, and isis a trippy affair with some of the most haunting marriages of image and music you are likely to find. The film masterfully ponders what are our options for waste such as this and how do we protect our children’s children’s children from its dangers.

I love how filmmaker Michael Madsen draws you in as if it’s a fairy tale and forces you to think. He also scores many points for presenting the people who are responsible for the project as human beings who are far from certain, but trying the best they can. Its nice to see a bunch of experts with the willies scared out of them.

If there is any flaw in the film its perhaps that its 75 minute running time is a couple minutes too long. But that is a quibble. This is a film that should be seen, preferably on a big screen in the dark where the imagery will work its way into your brain.

Okay- how good is the film? Out of the 11 films I saw from Tribeca so far this was the first and only film where no one moved when the end credits rolled. Everyone just sat there staring at the screen. Everyone seemed to want to stay to talk to the filmmaker at the Q&A. (except for the few of us who peeled ourselves out of our chairs to make trains or other screenings)

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