Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tribeca Day 7: Rodriguez, Wagner, Deadfall, Postcards, The Virgin and Lights Off

I'm past exhausted. I was in the movies at 9AM today and I staggered out close to 9PM, having seen 6 films in between.

I'm just about movied out, but I'm going to see if I can squeeze a few more in over the next couple of days. I have 4 lined up for tomorrow and then depending perhaps two on Friday.

I should also mention that I've started watching things on line. I've seen three so far, with only Ballroom Dancer really holding my attention (the other two were Nancy, Please and Jackpot). A Full report will be coming in a day or so.

Today began with TURN OFF THE LIGHTS . This is a very good documentary about three young Roma men who get out of prison and then try not to go back in. You watch how the three different men react to being out and dealing with, friends, family and lovers. It's a marvelous slice of life that clearly shows how these guys ended up in trouble in the first place. I'm going to see about writing this up full because its a really good film.

THE VIRGIN, THE COPTS AND ME is a documentary by Namir Abdel Messeeh that starts off in one direction, an examination of Virgin Mary sightings in Egypt and ends up being a family portrait because no one would talk to him. It's an okay film, that works at all simply because the people around Namir are interesting. He is, to my mind a self centered twit, and given the chance I'd like to smack him upside the head. Much of the film feels staged or restaged or made up, which is odd for a documentary, but then the director always seems to want to have his own way so it's expected.

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN is the almost unblievable story of Rodriguez, a singer who had no success in the US, but who was, and is bigger than the Beatles and Elvis in South Africa...which he only recently found that out. This is simply put one of the best films of Tribeca and of the year. Its an amazing story, with great music and a great emotional kick, even if you know how it goes. Both Chocko (who's interview with the director ran earlier today) and myself were blown away. A full report will follow once we see if we're going to a Rodriguez concert later this week. See this one...if not now, in July when the film hits theaters.

DEADFALL is a modern film noir, that didn't impress me at all. One of the most crowded of the press screenings I attended it's also one of the fast selling films at the festival. The plot has a brother and sister robbery team splitting up after a car accident. The cops are looking for them since he shot a state trooper dead. (Why? Beats me since they are supposed to be smart people) Add to the mix, an ex con heading home, and in trouble, after a prison stay, his parents, an ex girlfriend, who's a sheriff and assorted other noir cliches and you have a film that you'll be way way ahead of. You you can't write the dialog and guess the situations you haven't seen any classic noir. I also wasn't impressed by the performances which seemed by rote. 

Going into POSTCARDS FROM THE ZOO I was handed an audience ballot. This confused me since I haven't gone to many public screenings. This is the story of a young girl who grows up in a zoo. She, like many others simply lives there. Eventually she meets up with a magician who dresses as a cowboy and the pair leaves the zoo. Beautiful to look at I'm at a loss to explain or fully understand the film. Clearly it means something to someone, but to me, and most of the audience it's a cypher. When the film ended, a young woman, who I believe was the actress in the film applauded wildly and the audience just stared at the screen waiting for the director to arrive to explain it.

I couldn't stay, I had been generously granted a seat at the world premiere of WAGNER'S DREAM, which was due to start in a theater across the street in about 40 minutes. This was being shown as a Tribeca Talk so there was going to be a panel discussion afterward.

The film is a documentary about the Metropolitan Opera's latest staging of Wagner's Ring Cycle. It involves a unique set design that is so heavy that the floor of the opera house had to be re-enforced.

Okay at this point I have to make a stand and say something up front. If you love Wagner. If you love the Met. If you know all about the Ring then give the film a try. You'll probably like it. If you want to know about the series you would have loved the talk back because it was geared to you.

On the other hand if you're looking for a film that's good for the general audience look elsewhere, because this movie is a long painful slog.

I like Wagner.

I like the Ring.

I didn't like this movie for 3/4 of it.

This hyper specific film is on this production of the Ring and only that. There is zippo attempt at explaining anything outside of it, which makes this film basically a DVD extra for when they release the series on DVD and Bluray. Abuse me all you want because it's true.

The problem is that the film spends it's first 80 to 90 minutes talking about Das Rhiengold and the building of the set for the four operas. Its a multifunctional set that is used in all of them. Its interesting if you like stage craft, if not it get tiring real fast.

After 80 minutes the film races through the other operas in away that is more entertaining than what went before. Sure we know bupkis about anything, but at the same time its entertaining thanks to images from the operas and Wagner's kick ass music.

As entertained as I was by that last half hour I can't recommend you go near this film unless you are a fan of the Met and this production.

I'm sorry if I can't say more than that. This is a film blog and as such I have to talk about things on that level. I know that opera junkies around me during the film and the post film discussion were orgasmic with delight, that's all well and good, but unless you are one of them, odds are you're going to want to shoot yourself rather than watch this film.

I do have to add that the actual productions look and sound amazing and I will have to consider getting them on DVD if and when they are released.

That's it. I'm beat.

Bed time for Bonzo.

Night night.

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