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Viola's Speech

"If she'd said "We're a profession that celebrates what it means to live a life" instead of "the only profession" it would have been a truer, less self-aggrandizing statement. But what she said about exhuming stories from those who are dead - ordinary lives that should be illuminated on film - was powerful and is worth remembering" - Hustler

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Entries in Tribeca Film (37)

Wednesday
Apr292015

Tribeca: Suffer the Little Children

Here's Jason with a real pair of downers to conclude our Tribeca Coverage. Thanks for reading along. Next up in the festival game: Cannes...

Bridgend -- I'm a little perplexed about Bridgend winning half of the awards at the fest; besides a few arresting visuals I found the film moribund on arrival. The film fictionalizes the true-life story of a town in Wales where a mysterious rash of suicides has plagued the hills. Lead actress Hannah Murray (best known in the US as Gilly on A Game of Thrones, although I didn't recognize her once while watching the movie and I'm a big Thrones fan) gives us a vivid enough slide into Crucible light hysteria but I never really bought what the movie was selling - it skims over too many unreasonable plot holes in deference to its stifling mood, and at times is downright silly with trying too hard. A literally shitty sex-romp on a dirty mattress in the woods is somehow played straight, even as visions of Divine in Female Trouble flood our minds.

Meadlowlands -- Also suffering from all outward signs of Film Festival Depression, where people suffer beautifully, so beautifully, Meadlowlands does have a few nice performances even as it wrings every manipulative drop out of Dead Kid Grief it can. Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson play parents whose cookie-munching moppet gets snatched at the start of the first reel; the kid's never more than a plot device through which we can watch them suffer, and suffer they do, beautifully. Wilson gets the less overbearing arc to play which is good since he's an actor I appreciate for his low-key style; Wilde smartly under-plays her over-drawn hand (cutting and autistic kids, oh my) but man alive by the time the elephant shows up all I could think of was "Don't think about elephants."

OUR COMPLETE TRIBECA 2015 COVERAGE
18 reviews. A round of applause for Joe, Jason, and Abstew

 

Tuesday
Apr282015

Tribeca: "Anesthesia" and "When I Live My Life Over Again"

Pardon the onslaught but now that Tribeca has concluded we're wrapping up our coverage. Here's Abstew on two more star-heavy flicks. - Editor

Anesthesia 
Populated by familiar faces (Sam Waterston, Glenn Close, Kristen Stewart, and Gretchen Mol to name a few), actor turned writer/director Tim Blake Nelson (most recently seen as Kimmy Schmidt's bumbling stepfather on the Netflix comedy series) has assembled a multi-story film that revolves around a bloody mugging that happens in the first moments to Waterston's University Professor. As is usually the case with films that involved multiple storylines, not all of them are as compelling as others and some of them simply take too long to reveal how they connect to the main story. But Nelson, perhaps because he is an actor first, gives his fellow thespians meaty roles to play with such tough-hitting issues as drug addiction, self mutilation, infidelity, cancer, and even lose of virginity. But his hyper-intelligent dialogue often times threatens to overshadow the story he's telling (and sometimes reaches too far like a clunky bit that compares a character's wants to an everything bagel).

But it's the strong work of the actors that keep the story afloat...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr282015

Tribeca: Tastes Like Applesauce

With another dispatch from the Tribeca Film Festival here's Jason on a new lo-fi comedy.

I can remember it taking me halfway through writer-director Onur Tukel's previous outing, the hipster-vampire sex-comedy Summer of Blood (which showed at last year's festival; he's becoming a annual TFF figure), to find myself slipping over from a sort of sneering distaste for him as an on-screen presence - ahh yes, he plays his own main characters too! - to actually vibing on what he was doing: thankfully he does seem to get that he's the most annoying man in the room at any given time. 

With his new movie Applesauce (and I'll be damned if I know why it's called Applesauce, even after actively spending some time trying to suss out the title) it was like starting over from Square One again - am I gonna find my way to the joke again?... 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr282015

Tribeca: Men in the Desert

Our Tribeca coverage is wrapping up. Here's Abstew on two new features starring Oscar Isaac and Viggo Mortensen respectively...

 

Mojave
You have to admire a film that trusts its audience enough to not spell things out for them. Writer/director William Monahan (who won an Oscar for his screenplay for The Departed) allows his film Mojave to unfold like a crazy fever dream as two opposing men in the desert (Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac) wax on poetically about everything from Jesus' temptation to...god only knows what. As a drifter with a gravelly voice and tendency to call everyone brother, Isaac relishes the opportunity to play his unhinged character, making choices that are anything but safe. But Hedlund's straight man is overshadowed by Isaac's wild-eyed stalker, never making them feel evenly matched. And as the film plays out, it starts to feel like perhaps nothing has been spelled out for us because there's nothing actually happening - populated with indie movie eccentrics (Walter Goggins briefly shows up in his tightey whiteys to spout some random thoughts) and a story that can only be described as convoluted...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr272015

Tribeca: King Jack

Tribeca might be over but the Team has still got a few reviews for you. Here's Jason on one of the Audience Award winners.

What happens when you see too much of a person you know in a movie? I don't mean literally. Sadly I am not acquaintances on a first-name-basis or even a-polite-nod-in-the-hallway with Chris Evans, so when I finally see the new Avengers movie I'm not gonna be all, "God I just can't buy him as Captain America. That's Lil' Chrissy up there!" No what I mean by "seeing too much of a person you know in a movie" is when a character reminds you so much of a person from your life that it ultimately becomes distracting. You find yourself paying more attention to the ways that character interacts with their real-world counterpart, your friend or mother or whatever, than ever getting lost in the movie itself. As an outside example, Sandra Bullock was just straight-up playing my boyfriend's sister in The Blind Side - it was like at least three or four steps beyond uncanniness. It was impossible to take any of that movie seriously after that.

I had a bit of that going on with King Jack... 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr272015

Tribeca: "The Overnight"

Abstew continues our coverage of the just wrapped Tribeca Film Festival...

Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) are young parents that have recently moved from Seattle to the very different world of Los Angeles. Emily has thrown herself into her career, but Alex bemoans the fact that as an adult that spends his time at home with his young son, there's no easy way to make new friends. It's a very real question that most adults face, if you're no longer involved in institutions like school and business, where exactly do you make new friends? And while that might be the film's initial question, the resulting film has decidedly more adult intentions on its mind...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr262015

Tribeca: "Sleeping With Other People"

Tribeca ends tonight but we'll have a few more reviews for you as the team finishes up. Here's Joe Reid...

After the phenomenal success of Bachelorette (creatively if not commercially; I'm still fuming that it never got the promotional push it deserved), I expected Leslye Headland's follow-up film to have that same dark-heart-with-teeth approach to the tried and true "can men and women be friends" comedy. Intriguingly, a few things about that statement turned out to be not the case. The humor in Sleeping with Other People is still incredibly sharp, but where Bachelorette was as hard as nails when it came to female singlehood in a wedding-drenched world, Sleeping with Other People puts its beating heart on display.

Which isn't to say Headland has gone soft. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr232015

Tribeca: A Good Kill To Backtrack

Further reporting from the festival in Tribeca, here's Jason on a pair of disparate flicks about Sad-Eyed Men Doing Bad Things.

Good Kill -- If you've seen Andrew Niccol's modern sci-fi classic Gattaca (and I hope you have; do you think it will make the second half of TFE's sci-fi countdown?) then you can no doubt summon up that indelible image of Ethan & Uma wandering amid a field of shimmering solar panels at sunrise, a mirrored oasis in the desert. There's nothing that beautiful in Niccol's new film Good Kill, nor should there be - it's about the dirty science reality of the here and now, not a gleaming future vision - but it nonetheless occupies the same kind of space; removed, floating off the sand like morning evaporation. 

But the light is different now; harder - consider us then a vulture mid-flight, or more practically that of a military drone, lasering in on its target. Hawke (whose real-world surname reads as ironic now that I write it out in this context) is a pilot not allowed to fly anymore; whose military career's found itself confined to a metal crate in the Las Vegas desert marked "You Are Now Leaving The United States" where he plays life and death WarGames half a world away, incinerating "enemy combatants" (a term the movie purposefully broadens beyond any meaning) with the flick of his trigger finger.

The hardness that's settled around Ethan Hawke's eyes in the eighteen years since Gattaca comes in handy in this respect too - repetition and weariness are our subject now; the sunlight itself is diffused by death and destruction, the only thing raining down. A globe covered in sand, with one small sad patch of grass (a repeated shot of Hawke's backyard from above - one square in a patchwork of otherwise dusty browns) feeling more like a blight, an aberration, than either home or comfort.

Backtrack -- When I wrote up my take-down of the killer-bee move Stung yesterday I talked a bit about where Horror Movies stand these days; how a certain school of low-budget film-making (that Stung does not belong to) has found a nifty off-kilter vibe of dread to riff upon. Well Backtrack doesn't belong to that school either, but for other reasons - Backtrack, whatever it cost, feels costly, bloated, crammed with screaming CG ghosties that pop out at the screen screaming when the director needs to goose us. 

It also feels immediately dated - the specter of The Sixth Sense (the leather of psychiatry couches ripe spaces for afterlife confessionals) looms large, but it also feels like it was made ten years ago amid the J-Horror remake boom. It fits nicely right in alongside Jennifer Connelly's immediately forgettable Dark Water, for example. Needless to say what all that adds up to is a bunch of exposition endlessly reaching backwards for back-story under back-story under back-story, only intermittently remembering to throw some wild-eyed spook our way as it strains for purpose and/or substance.

And what a shame that this is how we're using the terrific Robin McLeavy! If you've never seen 2009's deeply darkly twisted Aussie romance The Loved Ones do yourself a favor; she's a real spark-plug. Robin shows up about halfway into Backtrack with her big dark eyes and the movie doesn't have anything for her to do - it actually goes out of its way to neuter her - and that's its scariest accomplishment of all.