Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Nightcap 5/6/12 Film Festivals Old and New

A week out from Tribeca and I’m still decompressing.

I have to apologize to some of the film makers of some of the later films since I never managed to have it in me to write up full reviews. There are a few films that really deserved more coverage than I could give them. But the weight of so many movies in such a short time added to the craziness of just trying to stay on top of administrative stuff just prevented me from doing so.

I really wanted to write up something on Turn Off the Lights about the three young men getting out of prison. This is a super film that really gives you a sense of place and of the people it’s about that it’s kind of like spending a couple of hours with them. In the film’s ability to bring these men to life the film achieves something that even some of the greatest films never do, a genuine sense of real people. Its an amazing film, that at this point has gotten jumbled up in my head.

I also gave the short shrift to Benji, a documentary about the life and death of high school basketball player Benjamin--- who had the world at his feet until a random act of violence ended everything. To be honest my lack of words comes from the fact I simply didn’t have much to say beyond it’s a great film, see it. Sometimes that happens. Sometime films just defy explanation and just are. This is one of those cases. It’s a film that does what it does so well, showing Benji’s life and how it affected those around him, that there is nothing to comment on. Is it perfect? Probably not, but the film delivers enough of a kick that you really won’t care.

Some of the films that I didn’t really write up weren’t worth the effort to do more than I did. With everything that was going on I couldn’t justify taking the time to chronicle their mediocrity.

The one lesser film I feel bad about not writing up is Wagner’s Dream about the current version of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera. I feel bad simply because the Festival was kind enough to gift me with a ticket to the film and a talk that followed it. It’s a well made film that is going to be on no interest to anyone except those who really want a technical look at how this production was put together…and even then its going to be of most interest who want to know about the set. If you want to know about more than that you’re SOL. There is almost no background on the Cycle or anything else. Yes, the actual production looks great, and yes the film kind of comes to life in the final half hour but you have to suffer through 90 minutes to get there. As for the talk, it would have been of more interest to me had it been less self congratulatory and less focused on things that seemed tied closely to the Opera.

Now that Tribeca is done and as life gets back to normal it’s also time to look else ahead.

The DC Film Fest wrapped up just before Tribeca started and one of our spies was there. They may be turning in a report in the near future.

This weekend was the Montclair Film Festival and Mr C was attending.

The Seattle International Film Festival starts shortly and I’m hard at work trying to get a friend of Unseen to file some reports.(I will not be denied and I’ll keep asking until I get something)

The Brooklyn Film Festival starts in four weeks.

There is BAM Cinema Fest and Animation Block Party not long after that.

The New York Asian Film Festival starts in less than 8 weeks- as does Japan Cuts at the Japan Society.

After that a few smaller festivals (many at Lincoln Center) before the fall season hits, and if possible we’ll be road tripping to Toronto, going to the New York Film Festival, All Tomorrow’s Parties, New York Comicon and then settling in for winter with the planned return of the New York City Horror Fest.

This doesn't include the 100 Years of Universal or Spaghetti Western series that Film Forum will be running in a few weeks. Nor some of the goodies BAM has planned.

Nor does it include the Midnight Movies series nor the complete films of Ridley Scott that Lincoln Center is running

Basically expect a ton of reports in the future.

And as usual expect a film a day every day

In order to decompress I saw a couple of films not a Tribeca screening. I can’t say not related to Tribeca since Detachment premiered last year at Tribeca.

Detachment is Tony Kaye’s punch in the face look at teachers, students and the education system. Adrian Brody is brought in for a month long substitute teaching assignment and despite professing having an ability to detach from events he finds he’s drawn in to life in the school as his own life becomes complicated. The film is a cage rattling experience that not only works as basic human drama but also on the larger scale about our public school systems, among other things. It’s a film that you can’t help but react to. Adrian Brody once again shows why he’s one of the best actors working today.

I also saw Cabin in the Woods. This is a twisty little film that’s being hailed in some quarters as one of the best films of the year. I wouldn’t go that far. It’s a knowing send up of the cabin in the wood style horror film that for my money is too intent on being clever rather than telling a wholly logical story. While I like the idea of the film, I found the internal logic doesn’t work. Plot holes? It’s Swiss cheese. Yes it has some really cool moments in it, but I found myself at a certain point going, “but that makes no sense” which is the death knell for any sort of fantastic tale like this. It’s the sort of film that drunken fan boys might come up with after a debauched evening at Comicon…but which no sane person would ever take beyond the talking stage since it could never (and doesn’t) work. Wait for cable.

And now some links:

The horrible things implied by happy endings.

The ghost from the Grudge throws out the first pitch at a baseball game

Kubrick Quiz

(This weeks films- Spaghetti Westerns)

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