Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tribeca on Line: 11 features in three days

When things settled down and I stopped moving I decided to try out the at home portion of the Tribeca Film Festival. This meant looking at the pay per view choices, which I ignored for now since the two I hadn't seen Last Night and NEDS would be up for several more months (yes months). I then logged into the on line press library and found a whole lot of goodies. Most of the shorts are there as well as about 20 feature films, of which I hadn't seen 11. With nothing to do for three days I decided to dive right in and see what I could before it all went away.

I'm going to begin with a look at the feature films. (A review of the short films will follow shortly.)

She Monkeys

Winner of the Jury Award for Narrative Feature left me scratching my head. There is nothing really wrong with it, rather it's simply not all that remarkable a film. The story concerns a young woman who is training for an acrobatic equestrian team, her relationship with one of the other girls and her sister. Its a nice contemplative film, but there isn't anything all that special about the film. (The sexually charged nature of the film made me wonder why the jury voted for it since that is the only amped up thing in it)

When The Drum is Beating

Audience favorite about the Haitian jazz band Septentrional and the history of Haiti. The band has been around for six decades and has survived and thrived when so much else in the country hasn't. I loved the music which kept me bouncing, but the history seemed academic and the talking heads intrusive. If you're curious give the film a try, though odds are you'll be like me checking out Amazon for some of the groups albums in lieu of ever seeing this film again.

Neon Flesh

I was supposed to see this at a press screening but I over slept. What a loss. This film is a winner. Its the story of a young man who lives on the street and survives by hustling and committing small time crimes. When his mom is due to be released from prison he sets up a brothel so she won't have to work the streets. It gets complicated from there. Think Tarantino melded with Guy Ritchie but with a unique spin on the whole deal. The best praise I can pay it is I can't wait to see it again with my Dad.

Cairo Exit

Earnest film about a young woman looking to get out from her life in Cairo and not repeat past mistakes. Her sister was pregnant and forced to get married. Her husband is gone and now she has a son she ignores. Her best friend needs to get married so she'll have support but needs to have an operation to look like she is a virgin. Her boyfriend wants to get out of his house and go to Europe where he is sure to make a fortune but isn't sure she should go with him. What happens is the film. I liked the film and admire that it even got made (The producer speaking at the talk after Grandma 1000 Times related the struggle to complete it)but at the same time I didn't love it, partly because the script is uneven, mostly because the performances are uneven. There were scenes where everyone seemed to be in a different version of the same film. Worth a look on cable.

Artificial Paradise

A beautiful young woman trying to beat drug addiction spends time at a resort community. Beautiful but a tad slow film won the Jury award for cinematography, which kind of says it all since the look of the film is more interesting than the story which just meanders along. Worth a look if you're in the right mood.

Donor Unknown

This is the other sure fire winner in this group of films. It concerns the search by a young woman to find the man who was the sperm donor for her mom and the related quest to find the brothers and sisters she never knew she had. The film is a masterpiece of construction by eliminating all of the typical suspense (we meet dad early on) the film is free to take us on a ride of it's own choosing. This is good time with good people and we're happy to go where ever they want to take us. This film was just wonderful. I can't wait to see it again.

Flowers of Evil

I started this movie about a French man romancing an Iranian girl two or three times and each time I got to this point just after the opening credits where our hero dances down the road I ended up turning the film off. I turned it off simply because I just couldn't connect to it and had the feeling that I was exactly the wrong audience. I tried. It's not bad, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Love Always, Carolyn

The life and times of Carolyn Cassady, wife of Neal and lover of Jack Kerouac. She is intent on setting the record straight and crawling out of their shadow. I liked the film but I didn't love it. I think the problem was I really didn't care about the subject. Don't get me wrong I like the Beats, but the relationship between the Cassadys and Kerouac really never interested me, and this film couldn't make me care.

Love During Wartime

The story of the relationship between a Palestinian man and his wife an Israeli. Described in the press material as a Romeo and Juliet, they are really just a nice couple caught up in a political mess that forces them to move to Germany so they can be together. Solid but rather unremarkable. I would have liked this more had I not seen it in a mass of 54 films.

Loving Story

HBO film about an inter-racial couple that spawned the Supreme Court case that struck down the laws against miscegenation. Its a solid little film, as most HBO films are. Worth seeing when it finally runs on HBO.

My Last Round

This is the love story between a young man and a gruff boxer. This is a nice little film that is the sort of film that were it a conventional heterosexual would be enjoyable but completely forgettable. As it is it's still enjoyable, only slightly less forgettable.

And with that the feature portion of the Festival is done...coming soon the short subjects.

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