Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tomorrow the Tribeca Film Festival Starts

It's arrived. The Tribeca Film Festival officially starts tomorrow night with the world premiere of The Union, a documentary about the album with Elton John and Leon Russel at the world Financial Center. It's to be followed by a brief performance by Elton John.

I'm not going. I don't like crowds of EPIC proportions.

After that the festival runs from Thursday through to May 1st when the festival will sum up with everything that has gone before with screenings of the various award winners and fan favorites.

I'll be wading into to the festival screenings starting Thursday. As is the norm for me, I'll be posting reports as I go.

As you no doubt know, the festival actually started three weeks ago for me when the press screenings started. I've been going to screenings as they came up and as my schedule allowed. As it stands now I've seen about 19 films, some of them have been winners, some have been losers. Some of them I can talk about now, some I'm still sworn to secrecy (reviews of those will go up as I'm allowed to lift the veil).

Right now, with the festival about to start I'm going to give you a run down of the titles that I've seen and that I can talk about. The reviews here are going to be brief. The idea is to give you a jump on some of the titles so that you can make a decision and try to score some tickets (or avoid some stinkers). For the most part I'm not going to be posting full reviews now, that will come later when I get a chance to really write everything up. I've given you the date of anything that is getting a fuller review down the road.(And keep in mind not everything I've seen is listed since somethings a forbidden until a certain time, so keep checking back)

So with out further adieu I give you a taste of the up coming Tribeca film Festival...


I reviewed this back in December and to be perfectly honest this just barely missed making my best of 2010 list. Its a huge scale martial arts murder mystery. Its a film that cries out to be seen a a big screen. Most importantly it's Tsui Hark, one of the best directors in the world, getting back to the top of his game. This film is at the top of my must see list (again) for the festival.


I posted a review of this back in February. I saw it sans subtitles and it still blew me away- the comedy as well as the action. If you want to see a great film get your tickets now.

Comedian Jon Gnarr decides that he’s had enough of politics as usual and decides to run for Mayor of Reykjavik. He forms the Best Party. Refusing not to speak to anyone who hasn’t seen all five seasons of the wire, he goes about promising free admission to Disney Land, to get a polar bear for the Zoo and other things. This is a screamingly funny documentary that will restore your faith in democracy. I was laughing so hard I almost fell out of my seat. Despite what you might think this is film about not so much getting rid of the system but getting rid of the morons in power. It’s a wonderful film who’s only flaw is a refusal to explain who is who or what is happening when. While that might have worked for an Icelandic audience I and several other people in the audience were lost as to the details. On the other hand the big picture is so funny and so hopeful that the film is a must see. (As much as I would like to follow this up with a longer review, It’s a movie that needs to be seen, I just can’t find the words beyond go see this it will make you feel good) Jon Gnarr is appearing at the festival and I'm hoping to see him in person.

Trollhunter is a neat little movie about a crew of student filmmakers investigating bear poaching. They end up stumbling upon the secret that trolls are real and that the government or Norway is keeping the fact hidden. Told from the point of view of their found footage, the film will convince you that trolls are real. Any short coming in the filmmaker daily life footage is made up in the troll sequences. Two of them stood out with the bridge sequence provoking out loud reactions from the audience I saw this with and the final one achieving a visual beauty that is will take your breath away. Definitely worth seeing (A full review will go up May 10).

Dick Maas normally a great director missteps with this story of the real St Nicholas. In this tale he's an evil Bishop who comes back from the dead with his band of helpers to slay everyone he can. The film is a mash-up of The Fog and Halloween, but it also borrows from many other films. The plotting is wildly illogical, with huge gaps left open between events. There is almost no character development. There is nothing another half hour of material couldn't fix. While not bad,it's kind of not worth the effort to go go to see in a theater, especially since there is only one sequence that has the right "oh wow" factor, a chase across the roofs of the city. Don't get me wrong in the weeks since I saw this film my opinion of the film has grown, I've begun to realize how good the individual pieces are, they are dynamite. The trouble is that Maas didn't connect them up. Definitely worth seeing, I'd just wait for ticket price that isn't over 10 bucks (unless you're buying the DVD).

A must see French thriller about a 1994 hijacking of an Air France plane in Algiers and the subsequent operation to get the hostages back. Shot in a washed out color palate the film looks amazing. From a stunning pre credit sequence to the literal edge of your seat finale this film grabs you and never lets you go. Its a straight forward film in a just the facts style focusing on just the cops and the hijackers. The final sequence is one of the most amazing things you're likely to see all year. I'm going to do a full review on May 11th, but for now just see this film.

Documentary on the West Indies cricket team and how is struggled from being a bunch of fun loving guys into a power house that fought racism and remained unbeaten for fifteen solid years (seriously they were NEVER beaten for 15 years). It's a breezy film that looks good, sounds good, and has some wonderful interviews. What it doesn't have is a great deal of meat and once it makes it's point it doesn't tell you much more even as it makes you smile. I liked it but ten minutes after it was over I had pretty much forgotten it.Worth a look, but wait for cable.

This was one that was on my short list of must see films. It's also pretentious twaddle. Nominally a documentary about various people living by the Salton Sea, the film had me looking for an exit early on. I stayed to the end and the film picked up in the second half, but to be perfectly honest the documentary about the people and the area around the Salton Sea, has no real point. We watch a family with a kid who is "different", an old man and a high school football player, but I still don't know why I'm being shown anything. Even the odd dance numbers don't amount to much. It's everything I hate about the Tribeca Film Festival. It was such a wake up call I chopped off five titles from my dance card.


Story of four photographers in South Africa from 1990-1994. With amazing set pieces of violence the film has some of the best moments of the year. The problem is that the film mixes masterful story telling with heavy cliche use for an uneven mix. Still I recommend it, especially since it's on the Tribeca pay per view service. (A longer review may follow, I'm not sure yet)

Winning Romantic comedy is easily one of the must see films of the festival. The premise is that two painfully shy people crash into each other when she goes to work for his chocolate company. It's a sweet 80 minute movie that kind of short changes the plot, however in it's place we get two of the best characters you'll ever meet in a romantic comedy. Absolutely a joy and almost certain to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. One of the best films of the festival and the year.(Full review to go up May 12)


This is the story of a man, his restaurant, his sons and his sushi. It’s a loving portrait of a man who lives for his work and what it takes to be the best. Beautifully shot, with a heavy use of Philip Glass music this is a great little film that makes you want to go out and have some sushi (several people at the end of the screening were going to head across the street to get sushi.) This is a neat portrait of wiley old man who strives to always improve and be the best at making sushi and has been awarded with accolades from around the world as a result. A tough task master Jiro puts his apprentices and sons through rigorous training, and he freely admits that if it wasn’t for their preparation of the staff he wouldn’t look so good at preparing the food for the guests.(There is revelation late in the film about the Michelin award- which reveals how good his training is). I liked this film a great deal. Definitely worth a look.

I reviewed this Saturday. One of the best and most important films of the year. Its the story of one of the most mind boggling miscarriages of justice you'll ever see. It's needless to say a must see.

Documentary on the Yugoslavian film industry from it's creation after the war until the break up of the country. Its a good little film, that is perfect for anyone who loves history or movies about movies. I was so inspired by the film that I'm going to track down a couple of the films that were mentioned. Also I really wish they had covered more stories in the film. I say this because as I was reading the press material on the train home I realized how much they cut out. Definitely wortha look.

A bad bad film. This poo poo platter of a film is a mess. First off the Tribeca description of the film isn't the film, well kind of but not really. The film guide says:

In this beautiful and brutal drama, King, a handsome boxer-turned-barman falls for Rosa, a fiery and untamable beauty in the decaying Serbian town of Bor. Their love triggers a series of events that drive the many residents of Bor inexorably toward a fateful and moving finale. Reminiscent of classical Greek theater, White, White World is an epic musical tragedy staged against the stark landscape of a small, crumbling mining town

I have no idea what that's all about. The moving finale is a song on the edge of a mine song by the miners who until this point just stood around doing nothing. What it's doing there I don't know. (I haven't figured out what any of the songs are doing in the film).

The plot has Ruzica getting out jail for killing her husband. She moves in with her dad and her daughter. She tries to reconnect with King, a bar owner she once had an affair with, but he isn't really interested. King does take up with her daughter. Tragedy strikes, of the sort the ancient Greeks handled well, but here it's bobbled and laughably awful. Also awful is the twists and turns, like King's blindness and illness, which are more likely to provoke laughter in anyone who hasn't fallen asleep.

The film is painfully slow, with almost nothing explained until towards the end. By that point it seems its more desperation on the part of the director to keep his audience interested, rather than actual plot development. I kept murmuring "you have got to be kidding me" during much of it.(If you want a clue take a look at one characters name and what he's afflicted with and you'll know where this is going.)

Sadly the press material is full of tons of facts, story points and additional material that isn't in the film. Reading it you can't help but wonder what the film was like in the directors head or what the film would have been had the full story as told by the press book had been on screen.

This is a film to avoid unless you've sworn off sleep medication.

(Sadly this turkey of a film has one of the best looking, most loving produced set of press notes I've seen. If you can get you hands on the press notes read that and skip the film).

That's all the films I can talk about for now. There are seven more reviews due to go up once some of the films officially premiere. I also have at least another 23 films I'm planning on seeing so between now and the end of the festival there will me more to read.

Actually do yourself a favor and just pick a few titles and just go.

No comments:

Post a Comment