Saturday, April 16, 2016


Tribeca has been kicking my butt the last two days. Its okay I do this for a living....

I'm sitting on ten films from the last two days that need reviews. In order to let you know whats good and bad I'm going to give you capsules of 9 of them (I am unable to say anything about DON'T LOOK DOWN, about Richard Branson's ballooning adventures, until the film premieres). Some of these are going to get full reviews later but I wanted to get word out now.

WIN! excellent documentary on the birth and first season of The New York City Football Club which is owner in part by Manchester and The New York Yankees. Its a rousing film that is going to get the club a legion of fans. Originally the film was supposed to only go to the first game but fate and a run for the playoffs forced the film to be reconfigured into something more and better. One of the great surprises of the Tribeca Film Festival. ( a full review may be coming)

CONTEMPORARY COLOR is a documentary about the David Byrne show that played New York's Barclay Center last year. The show had ten color guard teams perform with live music from people such as Nelly Furtato, Ira Glass, David Byrne and St Vincent. An odd mix of straight reporting of the show with some behind the scenes footage it will either grab you or bore you. For me the film was a mixed affair with some piece working better than others. The result was a film I couldn't warm to. Chocko on the other hand loved the film and I'm hoping my arm twisting will get a review out of him.

DO NOT RESIST is nominally a look at the militarization of police forces and the trouble its causing. While several friends loved the film and were rocked to their core I was less impressed. While the sequences that stretch from Ferguson's riots,  random drug raids, police meetings and Congressional hearings are effective, they don't hang together. Things don't flow from piece to piece they way they should. I don't know how some things are connected. Worse several pieces like the Grossman training lectures or the shield bump between cops are picked for maximum sound byte effect. There are great pieces here but its deeply flawed film over all

BETTING ON ZERO is the story of a hedge fund trader who is expecting that Herbalife is going to go belly up because the company isn't sound and is actually a pyramid scheme. We watch as Bill Ackman makes his case and battles the company and wealthy enemy who want to bring him down. Its a kick ass film that will make you wonder how the hell Herbalife is being allowed to continue to operate when anyone with sense can see it's a scam.

THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY will be getting a long review soon (it had a 45 minute Q&A after the film). The film is the story of self taught Ramanujan who revolutionized mathematics and the world as we know it. The film focuses on the five years he spent at Trinity college working with GH Hardy.  A good film, it never manages to reach the greatness it reaches for thanks to a by the numbers story telling style that reduces things down to well worn forms and one note characterizations (Hardy doesn't do much but brow beat Ramanujan). That said the film moved me to tears in the end. Worth a look (and a long review is coming)

I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD portrait of DJ and musician Steve Aoki. A great portrait of the man who never stops as framed by his relationship with his dad who founded Benihana and to whom Aoki wanted prove himself. Its the sort of a film that I wish I had seen at the public screening since it had Aoki performing after the film. As it stands it a neat little film that's best played LOUD.

TICKLING GIANTS is one of the two best films at Tribeca. Its at the top of the heap as to the recent run of films about humor and free speech. It gets to the top because where other films deal with the ideas in the abstract this look at the Jon Stewart of Egypt is what happens when you make fun of dictators. I have a lot to say, so a long review is coming, but until I do know this is one of the best films of 2016 and and an absolute must see.(Its also laugh out loud funny)

SOUTHWEST OF SALEM is the story of four gay women in Texas who ended up in jail for child molestation twenty years ago despite being completely innocent. Trumped up charges were brought against the women who to this day insist, rightly, that they are innocent. A frequently moving documentary the film ultimately feels unfinished thanks the movement of events which brought about a turn of events from five weeks ago. The addition, a simple audio recording unbalances the film and makes it less than satisfying. (Though not to include it is unfair though it may have been better to delay releasing the film)

FEAR INC is a mess. The story of a guy who calls a company to give him and his friends a personalized scare treatment, the film never manages to get over the fact that it has no idea whether its a comedy or horror film so is neither scary nor funny. Worse the film riffs on so many other better films the film effectively is cutting it's own throat since you'd rather be watching those better films. I suppose that had Joe, the main character not been such an absolute dick and taken thing seriously, this might have worked, but as was pointed out by several people in the post film discussion in the lobby the film makes no sense what so ever to the point things happen "because its a movie". While one of the only two of the Tribeca Midnight section films to actually belong there, the film is like all the others in the section I've seen and ended up being not very good. (Which is a relative rave since other people think this maybe one of the worst films ever made)

Look for the longer reviews over the next few days and more reviews dropping as fast as I can see the films and write them up.

1 comment:

  1. My biggest disagreement with you this year is with TICKLING GIANTS which was an incoherent mess, auspicious but terribly unfunny. Absolute torture to sit through this disaster, and I am generally quite taken with the subject. A dismal recall to BORAT but with no teeth at all. I'd counter this was one of the two or three WORST films of the festival and I am especially angry that I missed the last five minutes of the terrific LITTLE BOXES to see this junk.