Monday, April 30, 2018

North Pole, NY (2018) IFF Boston

I was in the middle of the Tribeca film festival when I received an email from a publicist about a film World Premiering at IFF Boston, would I want to take a look? My response to everyone sending me anything during Tribeca was either a flat out no, or if it was for something a reasonable time after the festival I told them to check back after Tribeca. But in this case there was something about it that made me say yes. Call me a sucker, or call me someone who is a id at heart, but I had to see NORTH POLE, NY despite being crushed with other work and I am really glad a did.

NORTH POLE ,NY is a small little film from Ali Cotterill who did UNITED IN ANGER: A HISTORY OF ACT UP. It’s a loving portrait of the small amusement park in upstate New York devoted entirely to Christmas. Once a thriving attraction time and the interstates have whittled away at the crowds. It survives because of the love of the community and a sense of nostalgia that makes families return generation after generation.

What can I say, I sat in my seat with a huge smile on my face absolutely delighted at what I was seeing. This is a nigh perfect love letter to a place that was built not only as a means of making money but also as a means of making people happy. While it’s fortunes have been up and down, the desire to make people happy is what keeps it going even in the lean years.

I absolutely love this delightful confection.

If I might be so bold I would love to see similar films on other attractions. My desire comes from NORTH POLE,NY’s discussion of how it was a part of a larger group of similar attractions in the area. I really would love to know more about the others now long gone. I’m not sure that will happen, so I’m perfectly content to just watch NORTH POLE, NY again (and again).

Do yourself a favor and keep an eye out for this little gem because it will make you feel good like the warm memory of your best Christmas ever.

Little Woods (2018) Tribeca 2018

My decision to see LITTLE WOODS was made entirely spur of the moment when I sudden realized I didn't want to see a very heavy drama and so I chose this thriller instead. The result was I was entirely delighted with my choice.

The film concerns two sisters both in binds. One is pregnant and not sure what to do, while her sister is about to finish her probation but needs quick cash to pay off her mortgage so the bank doesn't take their childhood home. Realizing the only way to get money fast is to go back to dealing drugs but it opens up a world of trouble.

Once you get past the opening couple of minutes which are filled with cliche images and music, the film clicks and races straight on to the end. While some of the plotting does take us down familiar roads, the acting and characters rise to the occasion and make the film something special.

LITTLE WOODS is a nifty little thriller and worth a look.

Ariela on All These Small Moments (2018) Tribeca 2018

I really enjoyed All These Small Moments. A New York coming of age story about a boy named Howie in high school who’s infatuated with the girl on the bus. (Played by Jemima Kirke who is also in Untogether. It’s funny, I wasn’t a huge fan of her in Girls, but am loving her in both films!) While this is going on, he’s also dealing with his parents marriage falling apart.

I loved seeing Molly Ringwald in this, as she was in so many coming of age movies in the 80’s. Kevin Smith’s daughter plays the girl at school who has a crush on Howie. All the characters were a bit quirky. I have nothing bad to say about this film.

Much recommended.

Songwriter (2018) Tribeca 2018

This record of Ed Sheeran during the act of creation is going to be best for  and on interest to his fans.

Filmed by his cousin who has been filming him for years, the film follows the singer as he holds up with friends and puts together the songs for one of albums.

Simply a collection of moments the film is very fly on the wall, however it is little more than a home movie with a better sound mix. We watch as life happens with no context about when or where things are happening. We don't really get to know anyone other than Ed likes them. We also bounce from person to person and song to song with such frequency that it all becomes a blur. All the songs become a jumble and bleed into each other leaving us with the feeling that maybe all his songs sound the same.

Horses: Patti Smith and her Band (2018) Tribeca 2018

Audio visual record of a rock Goddess at the peak of her powers as she plays one of her classic albums live.

Seen big and loud the film is an overwhelming experience. If you've never seen Smith live this is as close as you can get until you do. The Tribeca screening was followed by a performance by Smith and her band and it topped the film largely because you could feel the live energy bleeding off the stage from Smith.

As anything other than as a concert film the film just sort of is there. There are no real bits beyond the performance not does the film break new ground like STOP MAKING SENSE or the Sigur Ross films INNI or HEIMA. It is simply a record of a moment in time.

While truly great on it's own terms, ultimately going to be something you listen to while doing something else...which ultimately high praise since it will be more than a film but part of your life.

Ariela on The Elephant and the Butterfly


Unlike Steve- I really enjoyed this film.

First off, the little girl in the movie, Elsa, who is 5 years old, is so adorable. She steals the movie. She is also the director, Amelie Van Elmbt’s daughter.

The story starts with Antoine, Elsa’s father (she is unaware it’s her father) coming to see how Camille(the mother) is doing. She laughs in his face. We soon find out, he hasn’t seen her in at least 5 years.

Now some things are a bit strange- the mother rushes off to catch a flight, the babysitter isn’t there and she asks Antoine, a man she hasn’t seen in 5 years and who has never met the daughter, to watch her until the babysitter comes.

The babysitter never shows (and no one seems too concerned about this).

What follows is Antoine taking care of Elsa for several days. He has never been a dad and you can see his unsureness..not exactly sure what to do, but then seems to get more comfortable.. he definitely makes mistakes.. like leaving Elsa in the car alone! (Twice!) Elsa even calls him loopy. I found their interactions and relationship to be so sweet. I would have liked to have learned more about the back story of Camille and Antoine, but the director, during the Q&A, said she wanted to focus on the relationship with Antoine and Elsa. I really enjoyed watching them, and enjoyed this film a lot despite some factors that are a bit odd.

Recommended!

The Serengeti Rules (2018) Tribeca 2018

A front runner for the most beautiful film at Tribeca 2018 THE SERENGETI RULES is an otherwise okay look at how we are destroying animal populations and what that means for the environment as a whole.

The premise of the film is that there are certain keystone animals.If you remove them from any environment then nature goes out of balance and one species will begin to run the table potentially to the point of destruction.  We look at people who have investigated the keystone idea and see what it means and how nature can be readjusted and brought back into balance.

A lot of great images covers up for not a lot of information. To be certain we learn what it all means but there isn't much beyond the basics. To be certain that's going to be all that most people are likely to retain but at the same time I really wish there was a bit more here than "Keystone animals are vital and if you remove them everything collapses." and  "Sometimes things can be adjusted".  There wasn't anything here I didn't know or couldn't work out from the basic information we are given.

While not a bad film, there really isn't much here beyond the images, which are stunning. Frankly the one thing you will remember are the images, probably the otters, and little else.

MCQUEEN (2018) Tribeca 2018

I am not certain how deep and meaningful this biography of fashion designer (Ledd) Alexander McQueen is but it is a truly visceral marriage of sound and image which makes it one of Tribeca's must sees.

What makes the film so potent is the wall to wall score by composer Michael Nyman. Nyman was one of the composers whose music McQueen ued for inspiration and it drives the entire film forward. It's rhythms are the fuel that make the film go.

The music is marries to endless images of McQueen and his work. We are there as he goes from teen with a passion to one of the most powerful and important people in Fashion. Things truly come together when we get Nyan's music to the runway shows. Things suddenly become magical and we understand why McQueen shook the pillars of heaven.

The story of a poor young lad from England who became a superstar also provides a great look into the world of fashion that if you have talent, vision and a great deal of luck and drive you can accomplish anything.

What I love about the film is that unlike most other fashion docs, and several biographies at this year's Tribeca, we are given a very clear reason as to why the film's subject, in this case McQueen matters. We come to understand on several levels why he matters. For a film like this to truly soar that simple fact has to be made clear to everyone and that is the case here. We know why he matters beyond just fashion

A glorious film, it is highly recommended.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Tribeca 2018: Final Day - The Fourth Estate

The final day of Tribeca 2018 was bittersweet. I only saw a single film, but it was a good one. I also had to say good bye to the festival is always a sad thing to do.

THE FOURTH ESTATE is an episode of the upcoming Showtime series about the first year of the Trump Administration through the eyes of the New York Times. Its an inside look at how the media deal with the insanity that Trump let loose on Washington and America.  Interesting for numerous reasons, not the least of which is watching the seasoned reporters trying to make sense of what amounts to a martian in their midst. It's very clear they were not prepared for the new President.

Also intriguing is watching events transpire through the lens of hindsight. We know where all the threads are going to lead. There are some genuine laughs and groans because know how things will play out. We know how bad it's going to get and we marvel at how "they didn't know"

This looks to be a great series. Frankly has they capped it  off with an ending this would be a great film. While I do not watch series TV I am now looking forward to this one.

What great way to end this Years Tribeca.

---

Before I go and try to type up all the reviews I have in long hand in my notes I want to say a few things.

First I want to thank the festival for letting Unseen Films cover it. Ariela, JB and myself had a great time. I know even those in the Unseen Family who were not reporting for us also had a great time.

As with every year I loved hanging with all of my friends...when our schedules lined up. SO many of them I saw fleetingly so as a result I never go to have lunch or dinner with several people (Chris) the next time we met up. We never did and I'm sorry.

I also made a couple of new friends which is always a delight....

For those wondering when all the dust settles we'll have reported on well over 100 films and events. This doesn't include duplicate reviews,interviews, red carpets, or video Q&As. We basically lived at the festival and never went home (or so it felt).

We have tons more coverage coming, with things appearing until May 4th. The interview with the directors of CARGO is going to post closer to the Netflix premiere largely because there a lot of spoilers in it and I want everyone at least have a chance to see it before spilling the beans.

As I head off I have to say that this is the first fest where I am walking away not wanting to ever see another movie again. I'm ready to see something else. That said this is the first of the nine Tribeca's I've ever attended where I'm walking away feeling that I was done. I was actually done yesterday but went in today because I was so close to the end it would have been sad not to make the whole journey.

And now it's time to go, while the doing is all done, it's time to finish cataloging the memories.

Pilot Season TRIBECA 2018

One of the oddest collections of "films" I've run across in the 9 years of going to Tribeca. The pilots are all over the place with one of the worst things I've ever seen at a Tribeca Film Festival

FABLED
Boasting a great cast (Zosia Mamet, Trace Lysette, Gugu Mbatha Raw, Paul Wesley, Norbert Leo Butz) this is the possibly the start of something but one really can't be certain since this is much too short to really get a sense of it. The plot of the pilot has two women, one named Alice and the other Dorothy who both see magic in the world escaping from an mental hospital in their doctors car. And that's as far as it goes leaving us wanting to know where its going to go but not sure if the tome will work. Still I would like to see where this goes.

I have already reviewed Naomi Ko's NICE and I really liked it. This story of a Korean American young woman diagnosed with breast cancer is just really good. Actually seeing it a second time truly impressed the hell out of me to the point I'd love to see where this goes. This is my choice for a full series.

OVER SHARING has as it's central character one of the most obnoxious asshole's I've ever seen on screen. why or how anyone thought that anyone would want to see this person in anything is one the great mysteries of life. It is one of the worst things I've seen at any of the last 9 Tribecas. The less said the better unless it is to come up with an idea about how to erase it from existence.
This image is not in the pilot of TANTALUM screened at Tribeca

TANTALUM just stops with no sense of what this is or where its going. A super rich guy who is planning on jumping from a bridge meets a strange woman sitting up high on the bridge... and then it stops. The promo material talks about it becoming a bizarre and violent night, but frankly none of that is in the 15 minutes screened. There is no sense of anything. And while what is here is interesting, there is absolutely nothing here that would make me think this should go to series because there is no sense of anything- despite being an excellent start of something

ON THE SPECTRUM is an Israeli series about three people on the autism spectrum trying to get by in life. It is quite good, would probably be a good series, and is the odd duck in that it is strangely normal compared to the other pilots in the collection

Mapplethorpe (2018)Tribeca 2018

Somehow they've made a biography of  artist and provocateur Robert Mapplethorpe that renders him utterly bland. How they reduced a guy who changed the the (art) world to just  a guy is something that needs to be explored

Beginning just before Mapplethorpe met Patti Smith the film charts his course into the rt orld nd the world of photography. We watch as he tries to find his way in life and art seeing how some his many images came together.

Sadly outside of an Oscar worthy performance by Matt Smith there really isn't much exciting here. The man simply goes about creating but we really don't get any real sense of the larger picture. Last year the similar film TOM OF FINLAND played Tribeca and we not only got a sense of the man but also the place his work blazed trails in and out of the gay community. In that film we get a sense in the shift in the world that I never felt in MAPPLETHORPE despite his being someone who caused a seismic shift in the world. Without that sense there really isn't a reason to watch the film. BEing told he is great is not the same as seeing why that is so.

And as much as I a bitching about the film, it really is no where near a bad film, rather it is simply and uninteresting one.

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA Q&A Tribeca Film Festival April 25 2018



After the Tribeca premiere of RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA Mr Sakamoto and the film's director Stephen Nomura Schible sat down for a Q&A. Chocko was there and brought back some video

SONNY CHIBA Q&A Chiller Theatre April 28 2018



The great Sonny Chiba was at the Chiller Theater convention this weekend. Chocko was there and escaped with his life and this video.


THE MAN WHO STOLE BANKSY (2018) Tribeca 2018

Portrait of a man in Palestine who cut a Banksy off a wall and then tried to sell it.

Good and Good Looking film will either thrill you or leave you feeling "Been there, Done that" having to become yet another in a growing line of films on people stealing Banksy's, Street art and the politics of art. As some one interested in all of those subjects Ive seen variations of the discussions before.

However to be very clear: this is NOT a bad film, but it's release is kind of ill timed specially after a steady stream of Banksy films that have appeared at Tribeca over the last few years.

Recommended if the subjects interests you or if you haven't seen numerous similar films

Braid (2018) Tribeca 2018

Form over content is all style and no no real substance and as a result it just is just disapates.

Two girls who have the hopes of making quick cash lose it all when the cops raid their place. Needing money they decide to hide out and rob a friend of theirs, a mentally unstable rich girl with a fortune in her safe. Unfortunately this will require playing an elaborate and very dangerous game with her until they can break into the safe.

Great visuals over power the slender story line which is basically a kind of truth or dare game or game of one upsmanship. Boredom over takes everything because despite the popping colors and sense of fetish overtones there simply is nothing here

The Girl and The Picture (2018) Tribeca 2018

Xia Shuqin was eight years old when she witnessed the Rape of Nanjing. After she survived, she, along with her younger sister who also survived were photographed by missionary John Magee who was doing the only thing he could, documenting the crimes of the Japanese soldiers. As Shuqin shares her story with her family she encounters the grandson of the man who took her legendary photograph.

Moving story of a terrible chapter in human existence is given a connection across the generations as the relived story of what happened is connected to the next generations. If you've never heard of what happened in Nanjing this film will reveal itself to be a real kick in the pants. Even if you have heard of the massacre this film will bring is starkly to life and make it something living and breathing.

Recommended.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tribeca 2018 - See them now on Netflix THE RACHEL DIVIDE and BOBBY KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT

A couple of the films that just finished playing at Tribeca this past week are now on Netflix for all to see. Here is my quick take on them

THE RACHEL DIVIDE
If you ever wanted to take a look at Rachel Dolezal the former head of the NAACP in Spokane who had to resign when it was discovered her parents were white, this film is for you.

Actually this film is for anyone with any level of interest in the case because it is an eye opening little film that doesn't go as expected. While the film is sympathetic to Dolezal, it would have to be because she let a crew follow her around, it doesn't shy away from looking into the tough questions.

To be completely honest I had zero interest in the film because I really didn't like Dolezal, however when the film showed up on Netflix and I didn't have to trade off with another film at Tribeca I gave it a shot. Frankly I'm glad I did because while I still don't really like her, it did soften my opinion slightly by putting the whole affair into perspective.

BOBBY KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT
This is a four part look at Kennedy's run for the White House and the aftermath of his death. Based on the first episode (Tribeca only screened one episode so I'm doing the same thing) this is a very good look at the man and what exactly happened. While I'm not personally sure that we need yet another Kennedy doc, this one will delight anyone looking to revisit the story one more time.

Tribeca Day 10: Almost Done THE PROPOSAL, SAY HER NAME..., WHITE TIDE and BATHTUBS OVER BROADWAY

The penultimate day of the festival had me seeing four films, hanging with Hubert, stumbling into JB and Ariela and trying simply to remain upright and reasonably coherent as the long days and little sleep took it's toll.

Here's a quick look at Today's films:

THE PROPOSAL
Director Jill Magid was working on a project involving the work of Luis Barragán Mexico's most celebrated architect. When she asked to see his professional archive, which was purchased by a Swiss company she was told she could not. She soon discovered that the owners of the archive don't let anyone see it and are ruthless in controlling the intellectual properties connected with it. In an effort to secure access Magid went down a long road which ended up with a proposal to have the archive returned to Mexico.

Hidden gem of Tribeca doesn't go where or how anyone expects. You may have read about the case in the papers but I had no clue and thus was completely enraptured by the tale and where it goes. If you don't know I'm not telling. This was the first film of the day and it haunted me during the rest of my time at Tribeca.  What a weird little tale.

While I wish we got to know why Barragan matters, the story that has enfolded around him makes this film one you really should see.

SAY HER NAME: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SANDRA BLAND
Excellent HBO documentary about Sandra Bland, who ended up dead in the local jail after a bullshit traffic stop. This is a film that will rightly piss you off. Everything about what happened to Bland was wrong and despite it all there are still a lot of questions (my biggest one being if the coroner said she was sitting down when she "hung herself" what was she sitting on, since the noose was several feet too high).

The film is also a beautiful portrait of Bland herself. In an age when some people are pushing back against Black Lives Matter, Bland's words masterfully explained why they do and why it isn't a threat. Her death was clearly a great loss to humanity.

Highly recommended.

WHITE TIDE: THE LEGEND OF CULEBRA
Very funny, largely unbelievable, but apparently true story of a legendary buried stash of cocaine in the Caribbean that set a regular guy in financial trouble after it.  This is one of those stories that is a great story, if a bit of a shaggy dog one, to the point I really can't say discuss it until you see it because the whole film is the unfolding of the tale. Do I believe it, I don't know but it was fun hearing it told to me.

BATHTUBS OVER BROADWAY
Entertaining and informative look at the industrial musicals that companies put on in the 50's 60's and 70's at sales conventions and meetings to fire up the staff.  Comedy Steve Young stumbled on the very rare LP recordings for David Letterman show segments and it became a grand passion for him.

This is a wonderful and loving look at the collectors, performers and creators that have crossed into Young's life and inspired him to write a book on the subject. The film is an absolute delight which opens our eyes to some great songs and wonderful people.

And lest you think that the shows were half-assed affairs consider that in the year that MY FAIR LADY hit Broadway with a budget of $450,000, one of the shows a company put on had a budget of $3 million and was only supposed to be run once or twice.

One of the best films at Tribeca. I'm hoping to do a full review because there is still much to say.

As I decide whether to make one last trip into the Festival I'm off to see two films currently on Netflix. A report probably later tonight.

Ariela on UNTOGETHER(2018) Tribeca 2015

Untogether is a romantic drama which has various stories. Andrea is a writer who has one published book but hasn't written anything recent in years. Nick, played by Jamie Dornan, is a doctor who wrote a book who Andrea meets and they start sleeping together. Meanwhile, her sister, who she lives with, Tara, a massage/facial therapist, is dating an older rock star(played by Ben Mendelsohn), and soon befriends a rabbi and starts to delve into her Jewish roots.

An interesting thing to note is that the two sisters are actually sisters in real life.(Jemima and Lola Kirke) Lots going on in this film and I really enjoyed it! Billy Crystal as the lovable rabbi was great (but really, can he ever do wrong?). I don't have too much to say about this film, but I really enjoyed it a lot.

One of my favorites of the festival.

Ariela on BLOWIN’ UP (2018) Tribeca 2018

Blowin’ Up is a documentary mostly set inside a Queens court that deals with women who have prostitution charges against them. In this courtroom they aren’t seen as criminals. The judge offers women to either plead guilty and face the charges (often including deportation), deny the charges and go to trial or go to an advocacy/support session 6 times at GEMS and have the charges be dropped and there would be no record.

The judge is great and makes sure that she is clear and makes sure the women understand their options. The documentary spends a lot of time with one of the counselors of GEMS and her interactions with the women.

I liked this documentary. However, I had some issues with it. I would have liked to have heard more about GEMS and what they do (I do plan to google to find out more). I also was hoping there would be a “where are they now” part at the end about these women, but maybe it’s too soon to do this. Lastly, I would have liked to have heard more of the stories of these women. They did include one, but I would have liked to have learned more.

Ariela on Jonathan (2018) Tribeca 2018

Jonathan stars Ansel Elgort who does a fantastic job in the title role.

It is the strange story of the relationship of two brothers. We see Jonathan record videos of his day. He talks about what he did that day, mentions leaving food for his brother in the fridge, talks about any encounters he had with neighbors or others during the day. Then we see Jonathan waking up and watching videos his brother recorded for him.

My first thought was that Jonathan had multiple personality disorder, but first I thought that would be too easy an answer and also remembered that this isn’t a psychological movie, but is labeled a sci-fi movie, so I thought it was something other than that. I won’t give away much.

The film is a strange one, and I’m not sure what I think about it just yet. It’s going to stick in my mind for a while. I did hear several people talking about it after while waiting in the bathroom line, so it’s one you will think about after.

Mary Shelley (2017)

Elle Fanning stars as the creator of Frankenstein. Covering the period from just before Mary's meeting with her future husband to just after publication of her world altering novel.

Well acted and great looking MARY SHELLEY is a film that manages to generate some emotion despite never really earning it.  A kind of speed trip through Mary's life the film hits all the high points with out all of the sensationalism of say Ken Russell's GOTHIC. Indeed the trip that inspired the tale is just one in a series of events that brought the monster to life.

And that is kind of the problem with the film, it hammers away at all of the things that came together to make the novel come together. Every time something happens we get a shot of an expanding universe and a musical underline to let us know that this was one of the moments. It becomes silly after a while with the effect it takes us out of the film instead of keeping us in it.

The music by Amelia Warner is a stunner (I'm going to see about getting a copy) but director Haifaa Al-Mansour has mixed it badly so that it is often intrusive than actually part of the story.

Still despite it's problems the film does generate some emotion at the end. When Shelley returns for a salon where the book is discussed and categorically states that the book was beyond his ability to write and was the work of Mary brought tears to my eyes.

The fact that the film generates emotion despite it all makes it worth a look see, though I'm not certain you need to go see it at Tribeca for festival prices since the film will hit theaters on May 25th.

For tickets and information on the Tribeca screening go here.

A note from Jeremy Workman concerning his ONE-TRACK MIND book and up coming events

Hey friends,
Excited to tell you a bit about my book ONE-TRACK MIND: Drawing the New York Subway.

For several years, I’ve been involved in bringing the subway drawings of artist Philip Coppola to a wider audience.  Last year, Princeton Architectural Press greenlit my book project, and for the last several months, my co-editor Ezra Bookstein and I have been getting it ready!  We worked closely with Phil to select a ton of his amazing drawings, and the three of us wrote up some really interesting tales about the history and creation of New York's subway decor. And then Jonathan Lethem somehow said yes when I asked him to write the introduction!

The book hits the streets on May 1st!  It’s an awesomely beautiful book and a fabulous NYC keepsake. It’s got great heft too (it’s over 150 pages) — a real "objet d’art,” as they say.  You can pre-order/buy it on Amazon: http://a.co/hUK5QbW

We have a few cool events happening in NYC in the weeks ahead. Hope you can join us for one of them.  Phil, Ezra, and l will be signing copies, doing slide show presentations, and talking about New York City's historical subway decor!

Events:

THE NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM
Tuesday, May 1 - Q&A And Slide Show Presentation.  This one is $10.
This event will also play a short documentary on Phil that I made a few years ago.

POWERHOUSE BOOKS in DUMBO
Thursday, May 10th - Q&A And Slide Show Presentation. Free!

[WORDS] in MAPLEWOOD New Jersey
Thursday, May 24th - Q&A And Slide Show Presentation. Free!

Press: 

The New Yorker “Talk Of The Town” hits either this week or next week. Look out for it.

Fast Company

Atlas Obscura

In addition, the Transit Museum Annex in Grand Central Station is presenting Phil’s artwork in their gallery. The exhibit will be up through June 24. (It’s free, so check it out if you’re in Grand Central! The bookstore also carries the book)

Thanks!
Jeremy

Friday, April 27, 2018

IN THE SOUP Q&A Tribeca Film Festival April 24 2018



Chocko was at and recorded the conversation with director Alexandre Rockwell, actors Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Beals, and cinematographer Phil Parmet that happened at Tribeca 2018. Moderated by IndieWire deputy editor and chief film critic, Eric Kohn.

Tribeca 2018: Day 9: Too many damn films- BLEEDING EDGE, AMATEURS, ENHANCED, EGG and SWEETBITTER

A five film day that followed a five film day (in addition to the 4 Tribeca films yesterday I also saw AVENGER INFINITY WAR- It's good) has left me exhausted. Thankfully, and sadly, there are only two more days left.

Since I need to write up about 15 films from this week I'm just going to jump and write up today's films:

THE BLEEDING EDGE is a Netflix documentary about how medical devices are not really tested thanks to FDA exceptions that allow anything based on old devices to skip new testing. The trouble is that if an old device was found to be dangerous and recalled the new device is still allowed to be put on the market. The result is millions of people are being hurt. The film shows what happened with Essure birth control devices, cobalt based joint replacements and mesh devices for bladder leaks. Its a vital and important documentary that is oddly missing passion and urgency. I think that's the result of the lack of seriousness with everyone interviewed. There is no doubt they have all suffered but they all seem so chipper. Reservations this is a must when it plays on Netflix.

AMATEURS is about when a town is in the running for a big box store from Germany. The town council feels that a promotional film is needed and they first turn to their citizens and then a professional to get it done. It's an amusing film that gets better as it goes on but is so rambling that I really don't have much to say about it.

ENHANCED was an episode of an upcoming ESPN documentary series about the ways we are striving to enhance human performance and to win at sports. The episode screened focused on the use of Sabermetrics and various ways of physical monitoring of athletes in order to get the best performance. A very basic primer on the subjects covered, each topic is deserving of a feature of it's own. Watching the episode I kept wanting to stop the film and ask for more information, which is not something I ever really do with a film connected to Alex Gibney. I have no idea how this reflects on the rest of the series but this left me wanting to see more episodes but not needing to.

EGG will get a full review because there is a great deal to say. The story of what happens when two couples get together for dinner. One of the women is pregnant and it is something that acts as a catalyst for examinations of children, women's roles, relationships and what do we all really want. The film unexpectedly moved me because it raised some issues that had recently returned to haunt me. For more you'll have to wait for the full review

SWEETBITTER is a new Starz TV series about a young woman who moves to New York and gets a job in a upscale restaurant. I am not going to review the show because from just seeing a couple of episodes you can't truly know what a show is. This looks good, but what we saw felt like things were still being set in lace to get going in the later episodes.

And that's it for today- I'm off to fill in the gaps from the last five days.  We have so much left to tell you that pieces will be dropping through next Friday.

Dario Argento 12 Film Retrospective of the Supreme Horror Stylist Argento To Appear In-Person!

Dario Argento
12 Film Retrospective of the Supreme Horror Stylist

Argento To Appear In-Person!
When it comes to Dario Argento, the stylist supreme of horror cinema, one might first think of an insidious mood, of piercingly intense colors, of a scrap of haunting music or a set piece in which the camera sets off on its own inexplicable course or an act of violence at once shocking, sensuous, and beautiful. Argento, who came to the director’s chair by way of work as a critic and screenwriter, understands cinema as, among other things, a decorative art, and the movies that he would make, either giallo or supernatural horror, are above all encompassing, voluptuary environments—viewers tend not to want to leave them, even as their persecuted characters struggle to find a way out of the lapidary labyrinths they’ve been trapped in. With his debut, hit thriller The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Argento began one of the most offbeat, inspired runs of moviemaking in horror history, and almost fifty years later he carries on as a visionary force in genre cinema, an elder statesman of unparalleled influence who combines Hitchcock’s grand architectural ambitions, more than a dash of surrealism, and a hedonistic taste for beauty. Watching Argento movies en masse makes for a feast of rich, decadent filmmaking, that leaves one hungry for more.
Presented in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in New York.
Once Upon a Time in the West  (Sergio Leone/1968/164 mins/DCP)
Along with dream team collaborators Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci, Argento is credited with the story for this epic oater, a sort of link between the established spaghetti western and the rising giallo, both genres defined by their elaborate and sometimes insanely involved set pieces. Honest Henry Fonda goes bad—very bad—as a railroad baron’s hired gun, facing off against Bronson’s lethal loner Harmonica, in the soaring, musically-composed movie that really earns the label of “horse opera.”
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970/98 mins/DCP) - New Restoration
Argento’s directorial debut, a thriller unlike anything that had come before it, stars Tony Musante as an American writer in Rome who witnesses a knife attack and, the first in a long line of amateur sleuths in Argento’s cinema, begins his own investigation into the identity of the black-gloved attacker. Shot in awesome widescreen Technicolor by the maestro Vittorio Storaro, with a sharp, singular, dramatically dissonant score by Ennio Morricone. New restoration by Arrow Video.
The Cat O' Nine Tails (1971/115 mins/DCP) - New Restoration
Karl Malden’s blind ex-journalist, now working as a crossword puzzle maker, catches a whiff of a mystery from an overheard conversation outside a lab for genetic experimentation, and after learning of a subsequent, possibly connected murder, teams with newspaperman James Franciscus to get to the bottom of things, risking life and limb to together chase nine separate leads that reveal a conspiracy involving government investment in a chemical cure for juvenile delinquency. Elegant, hugely eccentric, and a double-shot of pure 180-proof Argento. New restoration by Arrow Video.
Four Flies on Gray Velvet (1971/104 mins/16mm)
The capper of Argento’s “Animal Trilogy” begins with rock drummer Michael Brandon being photographed accidentally killing a stalker in a scuffle, then follows his search to unmask his blackmailer as a body count piles up around him, aided by a private investigator hired by his wife and hindered by the appearance of a troubling toy puppet. One of Argento’s most bizarre and beautiful works, featuring the most sumptuous, sensual car crash ever caught on film.
Deep Red (1975/126 mins/DCP) - New Restoration
Blow Up star David Hemmings yet again plays a marked witness, drawn into a deepening mystery after he sees a renowned psychic cut down by a hatchet killer, seeking out the shocking truth behind the murder with the help of Daria Nicolodi’s indefatigable investigative reporter. Featuring striking art direction heavily influenced by the melancholic canvases of Edward Hopper as well as a smorgasbord of gristly violence, this may very well be the creative pinnacle of the giallo. New restoration by Arrow Video.
Suspiria (1977/98 mins/35mm)
A fairy tale construction at once grim and florid, Argento’s best-known film finds Jessica Harper’s American ballet dancer arriving at an exclusive academy in Germany where she discovers a dark past and occult forces at work in the present. With some of Argento’s most perversely ingenious set pieces, a plum part for former Fritz Lang muse Joan Bennett, and a spine-tingling theme by Goblin that will haunt you to the grave. Suspiria screens in a recently discovered uncut Italian 35mm print.

Inferno (1980/107 mins/35mm)
The second entry in Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy, begun with Suspiria, brings the maestro to New York—and you’ll never look at Central Park the same way again. Music student Leigh McCloskey travels from Rome to NYC to investigate sister Irene Miracle’s fears of a paranormal plot and finds himself lured into a labyrinth of impossible underground architecture and nightmare visions. Moved along by a pulsing score courtesy Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, for years it was Argento’s proverbial underrated masterpiece, now finally getting its due.

Tenebre (1982/101 mins/35mm)
Argento’s return to his giallo roots after veering off into gonzo horror/fantasy, Tenebre features Anthony Franciosa as an American author of potboiler thrillers who, promoting a new book in Rome, finds that a murderer is re-enacting his most ghoulish flights of literary fancy. Argento uses the occasion to scale new, dizzying heights of his own, employing bravura crane shots, brazenly baroque lighting, and the iconic moment of a razor slashing through white cotton. Print courtesy of the Phil Blankenship Collection at the Academy Film Archive.
Phenomena (1985/82 mins/35mm)
At a girls’ school in Switzerland, boarder Jennifer Connelly discovers that she possesses the ability to telepathically communicate with insects, a skill that comes in handy when she joins forces with entomologist Donald Pleasance and his pet chimpanzee to unmask a murderer running amok. Boasting the most outlandish premise that Argento ever dared, as well as startling soundtrack cues from Iron Maiden and Motörhead. Metrograph will be screening a 35mm print of the American cut, released under the title Creepers.

Opera (1987/107 mins/DCP)
The staging of an opera of the famously cursed Macbeth becomes a springboard for some of Argento’s most big, brazen, aria-like set pieces, filmed with an unchained camera which at one point is seen to soar through a cavernous theater on the wings of a raven. With the interference of a lunatic on a backstage killing spree, understudy Cristina Marsillach’s immersion in the role of Lady Macbeth turns still more intense, in this ultra-rich, rococo nail-biter.

Trauma (1993/106 mins/35mm)
Argento’s first production made entirely in the U.S.—and somewhat under the influence of De Palma—teams him with daughter Asia, playing an anorexic girl who falls for a young man (Christopher Rydell) while briefy escaped from a psychiatric clinic. Her return coincides with the initiation of a bloody rampage by a killer nicknamed the Head Hunter who practices his art with a homemade garrote, and who the young lovers hope to track down before he can collect more gory trophies.

The Stendhal Syndrome (1996/113 mins/DCP)
Dad and daughter team together again in a deliciously warped psychological thriller that gets sleazy at the Uffizi, with Asia Argento as a police detective whose tracking of a serial murderer and rapist is complicated when she finds herself struck by a psychological affliction that renders her helpless in the presence of great art—a real Achilles’ heel when you’re on the job in Florence.

May Engagements at the Quad

May 2018
Upcoming engagements at the Quad include: Always at the Carlyle from filmmaker Matthew Miele (Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s), Xavier Beauvois' WWI drama The Guardians starring Nathalie Baye, the 70th anniversary restoration of Jean Cocteau's Les parents terribles and more!

The Guardians

Opens Fri May 4
Xavier Beauvois,138m, Switzerland/France, DCP
As the men of the French countryside leave to fight in WWI, matriarch Nathalie Baye assumes responsibility for the family farm. She enlists a teenage orphan to help, but emotions are stirred when the warriors return to the homefront. The latest from Beauvois (director of Le Petit Lieutenant and Of Gods and Men) is a stirring, intimate portrait of women’s work both physical and emotional, featuring gorgeous cinematography from Caroline Champetier and a score from the legendary Michel Legrand. A Music Box Films release

“Mr. Beauvois opens up this isolated world with stirring emotional force.”
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times



Ray Meets Helen

Opens Fri May 4—U.S. premiere theatrical engagement
Alan Rudolph, 100m, U.S., DCP
Rudolph’s newest film as writer/director is a drama with humor about the province of, as he says, “good chance,” accordingly reuniting him with Keith Carradine for their sixth movie together. Ray (Carradine) and Helen (Sondra Locke, in her first film in 17 years) are each burdened with money woes and life regrets. But when windfalls come their way, they each seize the day to reinvent themselves—and meet for the first time in their newly devised identities. With the always-excellent Samantha Mathis as a wealthy barfly. A Moonstone Entertainment release

With Alan Rudolph, Keith Carradine, and Samantha Mathis in person Fri May 4 at 6.30


Always at the Carlyle

Opens Fri May 11
Matthew Miele, 92m, U.S., DCP
Over its nearly 90 years, Manhattan’s Carlyle Hotel has become legendary for its sophistication and privacy, the go-to home-away-from-home for stars, athletes, and world leaders jetsetting to New York. In this endlessly watchable documentary from Matthew Miele (Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s), learn the juicy stories and secrets housed inside this Upper East Side institution, as told by its employees and regular guests, including George Clooney, Wes Anderson, Vera Wang, Sofia Coppola, Anthony Bourdain, Roger Federer, Naomi Campbell, and more. A Good Deed Entertainment release

Filmmaker Matthew Miele and special guests in person opening weekend


The Most Unknown

Opens Fri May 18—Exclusive New York engagement
Ian Cheney, U.S., 88m, DCP
A celebration of those who make science their vocation, this stunning documentary—with Werner Herzog no less serving as an advisor—brings together nine experts from a variety of disciplines who spend their lives pursuing the intangible dimensions of our planet and the universe beyond. From grappling with the revelations of cognitive research to the thrill of oceanography in the coral reefs of Costa Rica, director Cheney’s subjects each share the joy of the scientific process itself, even when the answers elude them. An Abramorama release

Official Selection: CPH: DOX, Opening Night

Filmmaker Ian Cheney and special guests in person opening weekend

Les parents terribles (The Storm Within)

Opens Fri May 25—U.S. premiere theatrical engagement | 70th anniversary restoration
Jean Cocteau, 1948, 105m, DCP, France
In one of the great unseen masterpieces of post-WWII French cinema, a sheltered 22-year-old man, living with his middle-aged parents and spinster aunt, falls for a young woman, who just so happens to be his father’s mistress. Adapting his own stage play, the legendary Jean Cocteau (The Blood of a Poet, Beauty and the Beast) films this incestuous melodrama on a single set, emphasizing the artifice and claustrophobia, and, in the process, delivers one of his most radical cinematic experiments. A Cohen Film Collection release. In French with English subtitles.

“Not only an astonishingly dynamic film, but melodrama of the highest order.”—Time Out (London)

Call for Submissions for the Inaugural Steel City Underground Film Festival

SODOM & CHIMERA PRODUCTIONS
LAUNCHES STEEL CITY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL
NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS 
FOR HORROR, ARTHOUSE & EXPERIMENTAL CINEMA
Linz, Austria - Sodom & Chimera Productions, known for their experimental features and short films, is inviting likeminded filmmakers to Europe this September with the inception of the Steel City Underground Film Festival (SCUFF). A celebration of horror, arthouse, experimental and weird cinema, SCUFF is curated and hosted by Sodom & Chimera's founder James Quinn (Flesh of the Void, Sulphur for Leviathan).   

SCUFF is looking for productions ranging from surreal expressionist works to polished and cinematic horror thrillers, with special consideration for visually interesting, grotesque, wildly unusual, incredibly artistic or just downright weird films.

The festival will take place over September 21 and 22 in Linz at the KAPU, an infamous punk rock venue and underground cinema with a long history that includes one of the earliest Nirvana concerts.

In a festival first, all selected features and shorts will be screened in 16mm, paid for by the submission fees.

Speaking of his vision for the festival, Quinn said, "The mission of SCUFF is not only to bring independent, international horror, arthouse and experimental films to an Austrian audience, but also to revive a screening format that is, unfortunately, fading from theaters and venues, which is 16mm film. The goal here is not only to give the viewers a unique experience, but to give filmmakers the chance to screen their film in a way they might otherwise never get the chance to, on film. Driven by passion, we want to give horror fans the chance to see some of the most infamous classics on beautiful prints.  We stand for horror, independent filmmaking, and the revival of celluloid."

Awards will be given out for Best Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Experimental/Arthouse and Best Weird/Extreme. Instead of a typical statuette or plaque, the winners will receive an HD scan of the 16mm print of their film, done by a professional lab in Vienna.
In addition to the official selections, SCUFF will host screenings of 16mm prints of iconic horror and experimental milestones such as Nosferatu(1922, with live music), Frankenstein (1931), Tod Browning's Freaks(1932), A Trip to the Moon (1902) and Un Chien Andalou (1929). Each of the classics will be preceded by a selected short.

To submit your feature film or short to the Steel City Underground Film Festival, go to: www.filmfreeway.com/steelcityundergroundfilmfestival  

For more information on the Steel City Underground Film Festival, please go to: www.sodomchimera.com/scuff  

THE 21st ANNUAL AMERICAN PAVILION EMERGING FILMMAKER SHOWCASE ANNOUNCES FILM LINEUP

Young filmmakers from across the U.S. and around the world will bring their shorts to The American Pavilion during the Cannes Film Festival
LOS ANGELES, CA (April 26, 2018) – Today, The American Pavilion proudly announced its 2018 lineup for the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase. The impressive program features 27 short documentary and narrative films by up-and-coming filmmakers from the U.S. and around the world, all of which will screen at The American Pavilion during the Cannes Film Festival.
More information about the showcase and links to view the films’ trailers are available at:http://www.ampav.com/index.php/student-programs/cannes-emerging-filmmaker-showcase/2018-finalists-emerging-filmmaker-showcase/
The showcase encompasses five sections, including: Student Short Films, Student Documentaries, Emerging Filmmaker Short Films, Emerging Filmmaker Documentaries, and Emerging Filmmaker LGBTQ Showcase films.
In a second year partnership with KCETLink Media Group, a leading national independent nonprofit public broadcast and digital network, three of the films from the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase will be featured in the FINE CUT broadcast television series, which will begin airing in the fall on [ http://www.kcet.org ] KCET independent public television in Southern California.
A flagship program for Los Angeles’ KCET public television since the late ‘90s, the Fine Cut festival was founded by actor Jack Larson, best known for his portrayal of photographer/reporter Jimmy Olsen in the 1952-1958 television series “Adventures of Superman,” on the idea that public television was an excellent platform for providing critical visibility to student and emerging filmmakers.
The films in this year’s Emerging Filmmaker Showcase focus on themes as diverse as the sexual violence, Alzheimer’s, bullying, holocaust, father/daughter stories, falling for Mr. Wrong, women entrepreneurs, online dating, coming to terms with sexual orientation, the impact of social media, werewolves and zombies to name a few. A variety of stars are featured, includingJamie McShane, Marlyne Barrett, Elizabeth Guest, Mary Kate Wiles, Maya Kazan,Charlotte Ritchie, Ed White, Shawn Ryan, Candi Milo, Scott Cooper Ryan, Bernard White, Meera Syal, Doug Tompos, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Petersen, Ido Samuel, James Babson, J. Michael Trautmann, Shani Atias, Leif Gantvoort, Bart McCarthy, Ioanna Meli, and more.
Female directors are once again well represented in The Showcase, with more than half of the films directed by women.
Student filmmakers hail from schools across the United States, including: School of Visual Arts, Santa Monica College, Chapman University Dodge College of Media Arts, USC, Yale School of Drama, Florida State University, UC Berkeley School of Journalism, Brooklyn Film College, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Art Center College of Design, AFI Directing Workshop for Women, and The Young Actors’ Theatre Camp.
“This year’s showcase promotes a wide selection of themes, cultural diversity amongst the films and filmmakers and I’m excited that again this year, more than half of the finalist films are directed by women,” said Monika Skerbelis, Programming Director.
Emerging showcase winners will be chosen by a jury that includes agents, managers, producers, and festival programmers and will be announced at The American Pavilion during this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Prize packages are sponsored by: KCET Media Group’s FINE CUT Festival of Films, Final Draft, Write Brothers Movie Magic Screenwriter, Jungle Software,International Documentary Association,Screening Services Group, Michael Wiese Productions Books, andESE Film Workshops Online.

ABOUT THE EMERGING FILMMAKER SHOWCASE
Since 1989, The American Pavilion has offered opportunities in Cannes to film students from around the world. The 2018 Emerging Filmmaker Showcase will provide an opportunity for emerging filmmakers to have their works seen by Cannes Festival and Film Market attendees. Prizes will be awarded to filmmakers and the top twenty-seven films will be screened in a special “Emerging Filmmaker” showcase at The American Pavilion in Cannes.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN PAVILION
The American Pavilion, celebrating its 30th year as the epicenter of American hospitality and communication at the Cannes International Film Festival, brings together both professional and emerging filmmakers along with industry executives from across the globe. A sought after destination for information, orientation, and recreation, it accommodates the needs of its members, guests and sponsors in a dynamic business environment. With its impressive array of amenities and services, AmPav provides an opportunity to relax in very comfortable surroundings.
The American Pavilion boasts the Roger Ebert Conference Series which offers insightful and provocative panel discussions and in-conversations with filmmakers, talent and top leaders; a restaurant and bar that provide fast service with a smile throughout the day and is open to all festival badge holders after 6:00pm most evenings; a coffee bar; free WiFi and charging stations; a media terrace with a panoramic view of the Riviera; the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase; the Culinary Program featuring chefs from across the US and Canada; The American Pavilion Worldwide Student Program; and public and private rental for parties and receptions.
For more information, please visit:
Website: www.ampav.com
Twitter: @AmPav
Instagram: The_American_Pavilion

STUDENT DOCUMENTARY