Thursday, June 20, 2024

Antidote (2024) Tribeca 2024


Chilling portrait of several people hiding out from Vladimir Putin for speaking out and uncovering his crimes.

This film will scare you. This is the story of a monster running rampant across the globe and sending out hit squads to kill those who won't lick his boots. Its a film about the possible death of freedom and democracy.

Told like a thriller, because it is a kind of thriller, ANTIDOTE will make you go cold. That a bad man can get away with this nonsense is frightening, but sadly expected in today's world where former enemies like Putin are held in high regard  by presidential hopefuls who see a chance to do the same.

I couldn't look a way.

This is one of the best films at the fest. It is highly recommended both as a great film and as a dire warning.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

I'm Your Venus (2024) Tribeca 2024


Venus Xtravaganza, one of the stars of Paris Is Burning was murdered before the film was released. The killing was never solved. Decades later her biological brothers come together with her ballroom family to try and solve the crime and celebrate a woman who changed the life of generations.

Sad and bittersweet film is full of things unsaid and undone. Venus' brothers seem to have become saddled with guilt that they didn't do more and weren't more accepting of their sister. While it's clear they loved her they were lost in the times and didn't do enough, or so they seem to feel. You can feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.  It's a weight that is slowly lifted thanks to Venus' ballroom family.

I loved the arc of this film. I loved that the film doesn't go and do what we expect. There aren't answers for everything and its something that makes the film haunting.

After the first screenings of the press corps who attended as well as the festival staff were raving about the film. This is a film that rocked everyone of every spectrum of film fan.

I was moved too.

Highly recommended

Desire: The Carl Craig Story (2024) Tribeca 2024


Jean-Cosme Delaloye​'s portrait of DJ, composer and producer Carl Craig charting the course of his career through hi early days to his current status as a mater of Techno.

This is an excellent look at a man and music that needs to be heard big and loud. I should have put on the headphones watching this because there is so much music that I needed it downloaded into my soul.

This is a great film that shows us how great Craig is but also how instrumental he was in the growth of Techno.  We watch as he travels the world and spreads the word and then brings back things that he found on his travels.

If you have loved Tribeca's music docs in the past you are going to eat this up.

Recommended.

Brief thoughts on LIZA: A Truly Terrific Absolutely True Story (2024) Tribeca 2024


I'm at a loss about how this film flew under the radar at Tribeca. This is a truly great portrait of Liza  from the death of her mother onward to today. Full of incredible and probing interviews, including with Liza herself, it is a film that perfectly explains why Liza is an Icon and why she moved generations of people.

This film floored me. I went into the film expecting to like it and wander out with a enough for a couple of quick lines, instead I staggered out, jaw hanging open with too many words. I don't know what to say except see it.

How good is the film it was the source of two animated discussions about how the film doesn't have a buyer yet. No one could sort out why a film this good wasn't picked up and slotted for release.

A must see for fans and non fans.

SABBATH QUEEN (2024) Tribeca 2024


This is Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie's arc of a life as he finds a path to God as a gay man, occasional drag queen, rabbi, father and founder of Lab/Shul a god optional congregation where everyone is welcome.

This was one of the most moving films at this years Tribeca. It frequently reduced me to tears as we watch one man tries to find his own way to salvation. It's a journey with unexpected turns, some grumpy parts and where everything is full of love. Amichai is nothing if not full of god's love in a way that I have only seen in a handful of people. 

What makes the film so powerful is that there is no clear through line. We don't know where this is going or how it will end up. We are traveling with Amichai as he finds his place. It's a deeply moving journey because unlike in most other biographical docs we get a sense of the life off the screen. We know there is more than we are being told and that somehow makes us love him more. We also don't like him at times which makes him more fully human.

When the film ended I told several friends that they not only had to see the film but go to Lab/Shul because it appears to be the spiritual place they were looking for.

One of the great films of 2024.

DUST TO DUST (2024) Tribeca 2024


Portrait of designer Yuima Nakazato who traveled to Kenya to see what happens to clothing that is discarded. Shaken by the sheer amount he begins work on trying to find a way to recycle it.

A film of beauty and horror. There is beauty in all the images, even those of the mountain of waste, while at the same time the film hits hard in explaining why and how the clothing industry is the second biggest polluter behind the fossil fuel industry. Something has to be done and Nakazato is trying to do just that.

A two part film the first half is the trip to Kenya where Nakazato's eyes are opened. Buying some discarded clothes he returns home where he begins working on trying to find a way to recycle the clothes for his next show. He does it but makes discoveries along the way such as some of the polyester used in the clothing is so bad that it's nigh impossible to use for anything except cheap clothing.

This is a film that will rattle your cage in ways most other environmental films ever do.

In speaking with director  Kosai Sekine after the screening he said that Nakazato is going full on into trying to find away to recycle and has been use the materials he is creating in all his subsequent shows. He also said that the mountains of waste are not just in Kenya but around the world, and the efforts to film at some locations were thwarted by local authorities.

See this film.
The director, producer and translator

They All Came Out To Montreux (2024) Tribeca 2024


Portrait of Claude Nobs who was the mind behind the Montreux Jazz Fest.

This is a film that needs to be many more hours longer. Made up of clips from the Jazz fest (almost every performance has been recorded) this is a film that will make your jaw drop. There is so many great performances (Nina Simone, Prince)

It is also  a battle between Nobs story and the music. The music is excellent but it over powers the the story of Nobs and the Jazz Fest, which feels shoe horned in.  It's not fatal but you realize that 90 minutes is too short.

That said- you need to see this film for the music.

TRIBECA 2024 Short Takes: JAGO IN WHITE, ADULT BEST FRIENDS, SEARCHING FOR AMANI, MIRIAM'S DARKNESS, BIKE CHESS


JAGO INTO THE WHITE
A portrait of the artist Jago as he works on a pieta in his studio in Naples, this film is full of great images and wonderful discussions about the act of creating. I was moved and I ended up filling up my notebook with observations from Jago that sounded like wise advice.

Recommended


ADULT BEST FRIENDS
Delaney Buffett attempts to get out from her father's shadow by turning to filmmaking. The story of two life long friends whose relationship is rocked when one gets engaged has its potential ruined by unreal characters (Delaney's cocaine use is comical) and an uncertain tone. There is a seriousness here that is never addressed. I thought my feelings were the result of a fractured first viewing, but a second look made me realize that there are problems here that prevent it from really working.


SEARCHING FOR AMANI
13 year old aspiring journalist tries to figure out why his father was killed. His dad was a conservation officer working in a reserve being invaded by farmers wanting to graze their animals.  Intriguing look at the complex subject of land management during a drought, the film doesn't have any easy answers. It's a film that  you  have to engage with.  


DARKEST MIRIAM
A librarian has to heal with love and weird patrons, one of which is sending threatening letters. An off kilter romance is probably not for everyone, but if you click with it this is a delightful slice of life (what happens in the library are close to stories I've been told by actual librarians.)

Worth a look.


BIKE CHESS
Award winner for best International Feature at Tribeca, Bike Chess is the story of a reporter having issues with the government. Slackly paced and covering ground we've been over before, interest wanes rather quickly.  You'll be like me and have a pretty good idea where this is going.

Take a pass.

Alien Weaponry: Kua Tupu Te Ara (2024) Tribeca 2024


Portrait of the metal band Alien Weapory who who founded by two brothers when they were teenagers. We watch as they grow into a world recognized band go through personnel changes, stop touring with mom and dad and begin to grow up. They also sing in the Maori language.

Strangely under the radar film at this years Tribeca is one of the more entertaining and satisfying. A warts and all look at the band, we see how the guys are little kids at heart and being changed, perhaps not for the better, by the road. It's told with a frankness and a refusal to hide that is rare in music docs which tend to be purely puff pieces. 

While the music is heavy metal, it is better than you might think. I say this because we hear part of a performance they were trying to put together with a symphony orchestra and it sounds amazing.

Grossly under attended at the public screening I attended, this is a film that is going to develop a cult following. I suspect when the boys go into the stratosphere there are going to be thousands of people who say they were there when it premiered.

Highly recommended

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Deep Into The Forest (2024) Tribeca 2024


A promising athlete is pressured to compete even though he is severely injured.

This is a good drama about the pressures we face in one way or another. Why do we choose to do the things we do? Should we be doing some of them even if they are going to injure us?

One of the best shorts playing at Tribeca, it shines brighter because it's one of the few films that feels like it was made to tell the story not for some other reason. It was one of the few films playing that left me satisfied at the end.

Recommended

White Rabbit (2024) Tribeca 2024


A family moves into a new home and next to a mob guy. Certain she she sees a murder, the mother takes steps to protect her family.

I can not say more than that. I can tell you it's good but because the film builds to a revelation I can't really discuss the film because everything hinges on the end.

Worth a look

When Everything Burns (2024) Tribeca 2024


A female firefighting volunteer gets in trouble for attacking the people she feels are responsible for the wild fires. 

This is a thoughtful look at the dangers of corporate greed and climate change. It's film with no real answers but lots of questions.,

It also feels like something that needs to become a feature. This film has a great deal to un pack and 12 minutes is nowhere near enough. 

That said this is worth a look.

Ariela Rubin has some brief thoughts on GRIFFIN IN SUMMER (2024) Tribeca 2024


Griffin in Summer is a coming of age movie about a 14 year old theater kid who wants to become a playwright. His mom hires an handyman/pool boy who Griffin winds up having a crush on (likely his first crush).

While Griffin isn’t the most likable character, I thought this movie was so cute and had several laugh out loud moments, and the ending was the sweetest! Recommended!

MADE IN ENGLAND: THE FILMS OF POWELL AND PRESBERGER (2024) Tribeca 2024

 


I am not a fan of Powell and Pressberger. Their films never fully worked for me. I admire them technically but I really don't put them on except when I need to reference something.  As such this was not a film I wanted to see but watched as an obligation. It was a film I was going to watch an hour of then jump to something else playing at the P&Is.

However once Martin Scorsese started to talk and I realized it was just going to be Marty talking for the better part of two and a half hours I was in for the duration. 

This is one of the great cinematic biographies. It not only tells you about a pair of filmmakers lives, but it explains why they matter and how they changed everything that followed. I was so entranced that I wanted to go out and rewatch their films.

This film is a glorious celebration you need to see

¡CASA BONITA MI AMOR! (2024) Tribeca 2024


This is the audience award winner for best documentary at Tribeca. While I would be lying if I said I agreed, I do think it's a really good film.

The film is the story of how Matt Stone and Trey Parker took some of the money they made with South Park and Book of Mormon and used it to buy their favorite childhood restaurant Casa Bonita, which is like a Mexican themed indoor theme park masquerading as a place to dine. They thought it would take around six million to buy it and fix it. They are now well over 40 million in the hole and it's still not full open.

This is a wild ride that goes in unexpected places and shows us unexpected things (They use the theme to the Alain Delon Zorro film as a music cue for reasons that elude me even if it delights me). Its a film that will make your mouth hang open as you try to figure out why. It's a film that will make you gasp at the insanity and smile at the delight Matt and Trey find in the whole thing. 

While I want to tell you everything that happens- I won't, because like the actual Casa Bonita, you just need to see it for yourself.

Recommended

MARS (2024) Tribceca 2024

 


Final project from The Whitest Kids You Know is a crowd funded animated film that ended up stalled for several years when Trevor Moore, the driving force to do the film, died not long after they recorded a radio show version of the story.  The film was to be the group's final project and a tribute to their fallen friend. 

The film is the story of a Richard Branson like billionaire who runs a Willie Wonka like contest to pick the people who are to go with him to Mars. Things don't go as planned and the group ends up trapped on the red planet.

This is a mixed bag film. While the basic plot is excellent the film frequently rambles into low brow humor that while funny, distracts from the main story. Not that the Whitest Kids care, they don't, this was a gift for their fans and they aren't looking to do more than please them. At the press screening I attended some of the audience was convulsed with laughter all the way through, while the rest of us smiled and wished it was tighter.

While it doesn't work completely there is still enough here that non-fans who aren't easily offended  may want to try the film.

I COULD DOM (2024) PALM SPRINGS SHORTS FEST


This is a sweet and lovely film that you need to see. It's the story of a non-assertive young woman who decides, after talking to her friends, to try to be dominatrix. Of course it goes sideways.

I really don't know what to say. This is a note perfect little film that sucks you in and carries you to the unexpected conclusion.  And I do think it's largely unexpected, because despite seeing a few similar films over the year I COULD DOM very much charts its own course.

That the film works is due entirely to the cast. Everyone is likable thanks to a group of actors who in no way phone in their performances.

Made with love and a wicked sense of humor and romance I COULD DOM is an absolute delight.

Highly recommended.

Tribeca 2024 Short Takes: SATISFIED, THE SHALLOW TALE OF A WRITER WHO DECIDED TO WRITE ABOUT A SERIAL KILLER, COLOR BOOK


SATISFIED 
Portrait of RenĂ©e Elise Goldsberry, who starred as Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton. It follows her as she prepares for her role as well as the struggles to have the family she always wanted.   This is a very good look at the actress and her life. It's a nice look at what it takes to be a mother and an actress.  If there is anything really bothersome about the film it's that things feel as if the filmmakers assume you know who she is and that she is someone on the order of Liza Minnelli or Luther Vandross or one of the other big names that are the subject of docs at Tribeca.  While I enjoyed the film, I'm not certain I needed to see this story


The Shallow Tale of a Writer Who Decided to Write about a Serial Killer
One of my favorite films at Tribeca is the story of a writer who gets hooked up with a retired serial killer. It's a glorious black comedy that results in some truly twisted and very funny moments.  It's an absolute delight of the highest order. I had so many wonderful discussions concerning the film.
I don't want to ruin it. Just see it.


COLOR BOOK
I'm not going say a great deal but this is a lovely small film that unfortunately has gotten lost at Tribeca. It's a stunning small jewel of a film about a father learning to connect to his son with Down's Syndrome.  It will move you. In the best way.
Because I want to revisit this down the road away from the 90 plus films I saw at Tribeca
Highly recommended.

Monday, June 17, 2024

BLACK TABLE (2024) Tribeca 2024


This is the excellent tale of the African American students, nominally the class of 1997, who tended to all sit together in the Yale dinning hall for meals. They came together for no other reason than their own company, you did not have to be black to sit there, but it was a safe place where they could just be.


This is one of the great films at Tribeca. It's a look at race and higher education that speaks volumes about how people of color are viewed and view each other and the rest of the society. It is a film whose quiet power comes from the very personal tales told as if to friends.

Its a stunner and a must see.

SKYWALKERS A LOVE STORY (2024) Tribeca 2024


Portrait of skywalkers (people who climb high objects and film themselves doing it) Angela Nikolau and Vanya Beerkus as they fall in love and make plans to climb the Merdeka 118 and take picture at the top of the spire.

The film is a mixture of footage shot by the subjects of their climbs coupled with footage shot on the ground and of their preparation for the Merdeka climb. The climbing footage is stunning. Seeing it on an IMAX screen it was somewhere beyond over whelming. Sure you've seen it on You Tube but odds are you have never seen it like this. You will get vertigo.

As over powering as the climbing footage is, the rest of the film is kind of bland. We never really learn much about either Angela or Vanya other than their love of climbing. The pair comes off as kind of vapid and looking simply to make a financial killing. The dash for cash is revealed by the fact that Merdeka climb has to happen so they can make needed money selling NFTs of the images. There is too many conversations about their business interests and as such no sense of doing it for any reason other than the cash. Worse their is no sense to the people at the center of the tale. There is no sense of friends or life or other interests other than Angela's grandmother (who got a standing ovation at the Tribeca IMAX screening)

Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the film but I didn't love it.

Worth a look for the images.

the skywalkers on the ground at the Tribeca IMAX screening

Thinking Game (2024) tribeca 2024


Portrait of Demis Hassabis who is head of the AI firm Deep Mind. Hassabis is working to make artificial intelligence a part of all our lives which he is certain will make things better.

Insanely myopic portrait of a very intelligent man who is selling his services and wants this film to assure us that AI i safe and will never be used for bad things. He says this because he said he has been told by people in authority that they have no intention of turning AI to the dark side.

Watching the film my jaw hung open in utter disbelief. It's such a sweet and saccharine portrait of its subject that it is impossible to buy his bullshit. While I admire Hassabis' enthusiasm, his myopia is troubling. He reminded me of all the truly brilliant genius track kids I knew in school who would chase these grand projects (some sort of exploding do dad) or to improve this or that in some weird way, completely unaware of the problems they were creating - sort of like the people referenced in Dr Ian Malcolms line in JURASSIC PARK to the effect they were so into the fact that they could recreate dinosaurs they never stopped to think if they should. Hassabis seems to be unaware that anything bad will ever happen with AI. If he is lying through his teeth and down playing the dangers he is not to be trusted. If he genuinely believes it then he is a fool and should be removed from the project. This is especially true since more and more we are getting reports of errors in AI generated materials.

While I know the genie is out of the bottle and AI is here to stay, I think having a blind portrait of a mad genius who loves AI that doesn't consider the dangers is a mistake. We need clear eyed discussions not a sales pitch for new toy that maybe blow up in our faces.

Stevie Van Zandt: Disciple (2024) Tribeca 2024


HBO documentary about Steve Van Zandt a partner in crime to Bruce Springsteen, a solo artist, actor, composer, producer and many other things.

This film is everything you ever wanted to know about Van Zandt and then some. Full of great muic and greater stories it's a film that will make you fall in love with Van Zandt and his body of work. Odds are even if you Van Zandt this film is going to tell you something new.

The problem with it is that it is wildly over long. Yes, there is a lot to tell, but making this film two and a half hours long works against it (I ran into several people who walked out of one of the public screenings because it was simply too much). This should have been shorter or what would have been better several hour long episodes. On the other hand since the film is premiering this weekend on HBO and MAX you can watch this in pieces.

Over length or no- this is a lot of fun and is recommended.


Bang Bang (2024) Tribeca 2024


Tim Blake Nelson plays a cranky ex-boxer who has to consider changing his ways when his grandson steps back into his life.

The reason to see this film is Nelson who gives a scene chewing performance. Big and loud and brash it is a hypnotic performance that is like a punch in the face. It is by far the best thing in this film which suffers from following the paths we have many times before.

At the same time that Nelson is the best thing in the film, he is also the reason the film doesn't work. He is so big and loud and above everything else he feels as though he is in another film. All the flaws of the film are revealed in his light. Worse he wobbles things so badly he breaks the film and nothing is believable. You don't care about anything other than him and the film collapses.

What a major disappointment.

Power of The Dream (2024) Tribeca 2024


This is a look at how the WNBA has stepped forward to speak out on social issues including women's rights, LGBT issues and Black Lives Matter.

This is a very good examination of how the women of the WNBA stepped up to speak their minds about the issues that affect their lives. Since the league is all women most of which are women of color and many of whom are queer they are simply speaking about the issues that directly impact their lives.

Told by the women who helped lead the discussions this is a film you fall into. It's a film that makes the heavy discussions more like talking to friends rather than being lectured. As such it's a film that wins your heart and makes you love the ladies more.

Recommended.

(Note: the run time at Tribeca was listed as 133 minutes. The actual run time was about 95 minutes)

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person (2023) opens Friday


Sasha is a young vampire who gets squeamish at the thought of killing anyone. When her family cuts her off and tells her to fend for herself she struggles to find a way to cope. Then she meets Paul who agrees to let her feast on him, but she has to help him do a couple of things first. Complications are of course heading their way.

I absolutely love this film. It is a glorious film full of great characters. You absolutely love everyone on screen.

In some ways we’ve seen variations of this story, but in other ways this is entirely new. There are some twists and turns here that are wonderful.  Actually what is even more wonderful is the characters and performances which create an entirely believable world where vampires for exist.

I can’t say enough good things about this film easily one of my most favorite films of 2023, HUMANISTIC VAMPIRE made me smile from ear to ear. I just sat there falling in love with the film in ways that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Finding a film like this is why I love the movies. The point I fell hopelessly in love with the film with the film was the scene with a Brenda Lee song. Watching the Paul and Sacha (I won’t suggest they are actors but simply the characters) was so magnificent I was getting misty. There was no real reason for it other than this marvelous moment between the two people on screen. I was lost for ever.

How good is this film? When I was done I was sending emails to all the writers covering Venice and Toronto to tell them to cover the film. I was sending emails to film directors to tell them to cover the film.

Yes it really is that good.

You need to see this film. This is the sort film that takes a story we might have seen before, adds some seasoning and makes it something new. It’s a film that is so full of humanity and truth it makes us reconnect with life.

Highly recommended

brief thoughts on MEMES AND NIGHTMARES (2024) Tribeca 2024


A filmmaker takes up with the best tweeter on the NBA Twitter ro track down where a certain meme disappeared to.

Goofy comedy  is amusing at times but is going to play best who live and breath twitter interaction and in particular NBA twitter interaction. Since I don't live on twitter and not well versed in anything NBA I was lost as the references flew by like deadlines.

The real problem with the film is that it's much too long. While I understand the film needed to be a feature for sales, the truth is that the film doesn't have enough here to support 90 minutes.  Yes there are laughs but this would have been better as a short.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

SOLDIERS OF SONG (2024) Tribeca 2024


I enjoyed being at the World Premiere of SOLDIERS OF SONG. Being in the room with people fighting for their country, listening to them sing and play music after the film was a deeply moving experience. It was something that made the war in Ukraine very real- and I got chills when the audience erupted in cheer for Ukraine. It was one of the most special evenings I've ever had at the movies.

Unfortunately the film itself is mess and desperately needs to be recut. 

The film is a nominally a look at the men and women who are keeping morale up by playing music for the people of Ukraine on the front line and at home. We get to see lots of people playing music and we hear how some have fallen in battle.

The problem is the editing of the film is a mess. Cut like a thirty second music video/recruiting commercial the film is the wrong sort of propaganda. Forgive me for phrasing it like that, but it's true.  It's big and flashy and it wants to hook us and drag us along.  The problem is that the film never really gives us any sense of anyone on screen. The living are too busy either performing or trying to tell us something. The dead are eulogized as a fallen warrior but we get no real sense of the terrible loss. Everything is a montage of music and image but no details or anything that would give us a sense of the person we are seeing.

I've seen a couple of documentaries on people performing for the soldiers of Ukraine and we got a sense of the performers and the soldiers we meet, we never get that here.

Forgive me. While I am 100% for Ukraine (my family has roots there) the fighters and musicians on the front lines deserve better.

THE CRANES CALL (2024) Tribeca 2024


A look at Anya Neistat and Solomiia Stasiv as they investigate war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in real time in Ukraine. The pair wade into the war zone to build a case against the invaders, many of whom they had been tracking from other conflicts.

This is a good if weirdly bloodless look at how war crimes cases are put together. The pair, working for the Clooney Foundation, go about their work with zeal, interviewing victims, going to locations and most amazingly finding damning documents left behind by the Russians. 

The problem with the film is that it is rather matter of fact. We are mostly kept at a distance from anything disturbing. Having seen dozens of films on the conflict over the last two years this film is so lacking in a sense of war as to be an outlier. There is nothing wrong with it, except that it removes the sense of urgency that should be there.

Still the film is informative and a must see  if you want to know how war crimes are being investigated.

CROSSING (2024) Tribeca 2024


A woman leaves Georgia (the country) and goes to Turkey with the intention of finding her trans niece. With a young man who knew her niece in tow, she explores Istanbul.

CROSSING is a delightful bittersweet tale about the things we do for love and the times we find there. Its a film that doesn't move like a movie but more like real life.  Its a film where you can't see where it's going because things don't seem plotted but lived.

This was one of the films that I really wanted to see going into the festival. I have no idea why, but there was something about the write up that intrigued me. The film itself is did not disappoint. Its a look into places about which I know nothing. It introduced us to a group of people who won our hearts and we wanted to travel with.

If there is anything amiss in the film it's a late in the game turn, a flight of fantasy, that seems like a cheat in an otherwise very real film. It was out of place, not remotely fatal, just momentarily disappointing. (I can't tell you what it is for reasons you'll know when you see this film)

That minor moment aside CROSSING is a great film and highly recommended.

KILL (2023) Tribeca 2024


Largely plotless film has a special forces commando and his buddy traveling on a train so he can be with the woman he loves. Things go sideways when bandits attempt to rob the passengers en route and an endless battle up and down the train cars results.

Brutal, ugly and lacking completely in any suspense outside of whether our hero will be alive at the end, this film is pretty much a 90 minute fight scene.  It's full of blood and gore and gruesome kills.  There are no characters only fodder to be carved up. The result is a tale where I was never invested.

Yes the violence is nonstop andt there are some kills that make you react, but outside of that there isn't anything to keep our interest.

It doesn't help that the film takes the action film trope that the hero can't get hurt that bad to a ridiculous level as he's stabbed, slashed, knocked unconscious and beaten almost to death over and over again- more than any other action hero that I ever remember seeing - it never really affects him. Indeed some wounds, such as the slash to his hand as a knife blade  he was holding is pulled away are never referenced after they happen.

Yea it's kind of fun while it's on but mostly you're going to want something meatier and smarter when it's done.

A disappointment.

Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution (2024) Tribeca 2024

 


Soon to be on Netflix this documentary is a look at a night of LGBT+ comedy at the Hollywood  Bowl that spanned generations. It is also a history of gay performers in comedy.

This is a deeply moving film that has generations of performers talking about finding themselves, their humor and the people who helped  them find themselves. Its a film that makes it clear how important having a role model is as people talk about how important Lily Tomlin and Eddie Izzard were to the younger generation. Having someone to look up to gave them strength knowing they weren't alone.

As good as that is, the film is a magnificent history of queerness in entertainment. I thought I had a sense of comedy history but this film revealed much I never knew.

Best of all this film will move you. Yes you will roar with laughter, but also it will make you cry at the sadness of those trapped in the closet and joy at finding your people.

One of the great films of Tribeca

Quad Gods (2024) Tribeca 2024

 


A look at some of then men who compete in computer games despite being quadriplegic and traveling around in motorized wheel chairs.

If you can take this film for what it is, a look at the three men trying to mae a life for themselves, and not get hung up on the video games, which keeps getting lost, this is a very good film.

You are going to fall in love with Richard, Blake and Prentice, three guys who are doing the thing they love and trying to live independent lives. It's a wonderful statement that just because you're injured you don't have to stop living.

What I loved was that we come to see how giving injured people games to play they can improve their condition. The repetitive motions and the games help rewire their brains and bodies.  Watching the men play you see them getting better.

The one problem with the film is it is put together to make you think the game tournament is going to play a larger role in the film than it is. It's there but it is never the focus.

Definitely worth a look. 



SOME RAIN MUST FALL (2024) Tribeca 2024

The same blank look on everyone's face makes it impossible to read any emotion

A woman accidentally injures the grandmother of her daughters less wealthy classmate. This sends her off in unexpected directions.

Pretentious art house film won a special jury award at Tribeca. I'm not sure how or why since this film was a dull endurance test of the worst sort.  It's a deliberately constructed and filmed story that leaves too much unsaid and too much off screen.  

It might have  been something but the film insists on keeping us on the outside of everything. Almost every shot is at a distance. We never really see anyone's face and when we do the faces are blank and emotionless. Too much isn't shown or doesn't make any  sense. For example the accident, involving a basketball tossed off screen, doesn't seem to have been possible with  the ball being gently thrown thrown, or at no least nowhere near hard enough to put anyone into a coma, and it was.thrown toward players on the court and not where spectators were. 

I struggled to finish the film.

Not worth your time

A thought I can't shake about I NEED YOUR LOVE (2024) Tribeca 2024


While I told the PR people I am not reviewing I NEED YOUR LOVE, for reasons I explained to them, three weeks on I find that there is something about it I can't shake - namely that had Camille Trust played it straight or at a lower volume, as she does in several scenes (particularly the one where she tries to record the jingle), this would have been an amazing series. In those lower key scenes she showed how good she is and why she should be a star.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Tribeca 2024 short takes: KNEECAPS, DEVIL'S BATH, LINDA PERRY LET IT DIE HERE, GROUP THERAPY, SHELF LIFE and BEACON

I saw a number of films that other people will be covering in full reviews. Because I scribble notes I've turned some of them into this piece.


KNEECAPS is trying to do too much. A fictionalized version about the stars, its a music film, a crime film, a polemic about the Irish National Language and a few other things. Its all over the place in a good way and a bad way It kind of just missed for me- then again it's rare that any film tries this hard to be its own thing- so is worth a look.


DEVIL"S BATH is a head scratcher. How the hell did this win awards? A great looking, but wholly form over content folk horror film about a cursed place, where little is explained, and even less makes sense. I spent most of the run time writing questions in my note book. It begins with an infant being tossed off a waterfall and then staggers on from there. It's a waste.


LINDA PERRY LET IT DIE HERE is a portrait of the performer and producer. It's a glorious look at hpw one woman has refused to follow the rules and in doing so broke barriers and opened up musical forms. A must.


GROUP THERAPY is a filmed group therapy session involving a bunch of comedians and Neil Patrick Harris as they talk about mental health and comedy.  It is both funny and emotionally raw. Another must see.


BOYS GO TO JUPITER did not work for me. A low fi computer animated film that looks like something out of the 1990's, the films deliberate look and mannered  script never clicked with me. (It took an animator I met at the fest multiple times before he liked it)


SHELF LIFE is a look at cheese via some very strange people who love it. I thought wine lovers were strange. Beginning with a man who speaks of cheese in frightening tones (including comparing it favorably to necrophilia in a way that will make you wonder how he knows) the film speeds off into other weird places. I was never a big cheese person, this film kind of turned me off to the subject.


BEACON didn't work for me. The story of a young woman who washes ashore on a remote island had me asking too many questions instead of being carried along by the story. While I like the low key, low budget take on things, I'm not sure the denouncement was worth the trip