Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tribeca Film Festival 2013 Day Four

I woke up to another beautiful sunrise on my last day in NYC. First order of the day was taking the dogs for a walk. After a quick lunch I headed to the subway only to learn that there was no F train. Got on an A and made a few wrong turns on the streets and had to hustle to the theater. A Single Shot was my final film of the festival. A taught thriller I enjoyed, and the film maker and it's star were in attendance. After an up close and personal encounter with Rockwell and Rosenthal I ducked into Heartland Brewery for a beer to settle my jangled  nerves. I navigated the subway better on my return to Brooklyn and swung by Smorgasberg to pick up some jerky for the kids. On the way home, I bought a box of Brooklyn Cupcakes for my house sitter and brought a lasagna back to the apartment for dinner. Packing up while the pups watched, was kind of sad. The ride home was uneventful, though I was puzzled by road work in CT late on a Sunday night. Arriving home, I had the after vacation feeling of bliss. It has been an amazing week with a lot of fun people and wonderful film. Thanks NYC. Thanks Tribeca Film Festival. Thanks Liza & Ryan. Thanks to all the friends who joined me. What a blast! Can't wait for Tribeca Film Festival 2014!!

A Single Shot

A strong cast led me to check out A Single Shot on my final day at Tribeca Film Festival. A closed subway and a few missteps had me arriving at the theater sweaty and out of breath. Fortunately, there was an empty seat in the center of the sixth row. Perfect. The film is a thriller that complicates a man's life after a single shot of his rifle. The film is intense and tight with wonderful performances. After the film they brought out the director, David Rosenthal, who introduced the writer of the novel and screenplay, Matthew Jones and the star, Sam Rockwell. It was a thrill and the third time I've seen Rockwell live. The Q&A was interesting and people surrounded the men as the discussion ended. After checking the messages on my phone, I started to walk out of the theater. Two men were walking beside me. Looking to my left, I realized that one was Sam Rockwell. I blubbered an awkward "I love your work." He was sweet and we chatted for a moment. Walking away from him, as I passed the other exit of the theater, David Rosenthal almost bumped into me. We did the obligatory "excuse me", and I complimented his work as well ( loved Janie Jones). As I was walking down the street to find the subway, I realized I was shaking. My encounter with these wonderful film makers had rattled me. It was very cool that they were so nice. An Irish red ale at Heartland Brewery settled my nerves and I was so grateful for this run in. My last film at Tribeca Film Festival was wonderful.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tribeca Film Festival 2013 Day Three

On Saturday I wake to another beautiful sunrise and the promise of a beautiful spring day in NYC. A nice walk around the hood with the pups and I'm on an A Train heading into Tribeca. With a half hour to kill before I meet a friend for lunch I head up Greenwich Street, navigating the Tribeca Film Festival Family Street Fair. Clowns, bands, games, food, beverage, Broadway music, you name it, both kids and adults were were enjoying this event. At the Moroccan restaurant Salya, I met a friend for a nice lunch. Panini and a Bloody Mary hit the spot. Back at the red carpet at BMCC I met another friend to get in line for Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story. 45 minutes before the film and the line was already down the block and around the corner onto Chambers Street. Having been in this theater the night before, I knew exactly where to sit. Front row, back section center. A perfect unobstructed view of the stage. The film was good. A love letter to Eastwood, his work and his directorial style from collaborators and friends. When the film ended the man took the stage with Darren Aronofsky and spent 40 minutes talking about his craft. He was genuine, funny, generous and SO Clint Eastwood. I left the theater with a spring in my step and a deep gratitude to Tribeca Film Festival for this event. A roundabout walk found us at the Tribeca Grand for a cocktail. A beautiful hotel, with a beautiful bar, serving beautiful cocktails. Mine was a cosmo. Cucina de Vino was our choice for dinner before I got back on the subway to return to the pups. I arrived back in Brooklyn tired and incredibly satisfied. The sadness of leaving tomorrow is starting to set in. Glad it was such a great day!

Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story

On Saturday of Tribeca Film Festival I headed out to BMCC to see the documentary Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story. it was to be followed by a talk with Clint Eastwood and Darren Aronofsky. I am a huge fan of Eastwood's work both on the screen and behind the camera. The opportunity to see the man in person was too good to pass up.

The film was a lot of people Estwood has worked with giving their views on working with the man. Clips from his films and behind the scenes stills and footage was interspersed. It was an interesting film.

After the film Eastwood and Aronofsky took the stage for a conversation. When Eastwood directed the standing crowd to sit, they did. Immediately. All I could think was, when Eastwood directs, people listen. Aronofsky admitted to being nervous in the presence of the man. Eastwood chuckled and set the man at ease by saying, "what a thrill." For the next 40 minutes the men talked a little about Eastwood's career and the influence of Sergio Leone on his work, but for the most part they talked about his process. Eastwood said, "just tell the story." He also spoke to putting the actors and crew in a place where you get the most out of them. He compared it to having a "criminal mentality, be sneaky." He feels that making a film is collaborative, it works as an ensemble. Within the process, Eastwood talked about having realistic expectations.  He said, "if something doesn't work, just try it again." When asked if there was a benefit to being the director and actor on a film, he replied that he thought that actors like to work for an actor. On getting a specific performance out of an actor he said that sometimes you have to be an amateur psychiatrist. He gave examples of appealing to an actor's ego and keeping things calm to get that great scene. It was interesting to learn that he doesn't use the words "action" or "cut" very much, especially with kids and horses. Makes them nervous. He also likes to leave the camera rolling when the actors think the scene is over, "that's where you get more natural performances." When he was asked which of his films were his favorites, I was surprised to hear him say two of his most recent, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. As for the future? He said he is often looking at this next project while working on the current one. As to how long he'll make movies, he replied "Wouldn't it be great to be 105 and still making films?" It sure would.

Thanks to Tribeca Film Festival for this event and to Mr. Eastwood for his generosity and candor. What an amazing afternoon!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tribeca Film Festival 2013 Day Two

Waking up to a crisp, clear morning in Brooklyn, I decided that the pups needed a little exercise. We walked the waterfront and around the neighborhood. A little lunch at the apartment and then I'm off the the East Village. Giving myself time for a little desert at The Smith, I head to the AMC Village 7 for a screening of The Director. This documentary is the story of the creative director at Gucci, Frida Gianinni. With no q&A I have just enough time to hop on the subway and make my way to Tribeca. Passing City Hall there is a protest going on and construction has made a mess of Chambers Street. As I go into the theater at BMCC I realize it is 2 years since I was last here. It feels good to be back. Julianne Moore gave a quick introduction to The English Teacher, a comedy I enjoyed. Back in the subway I return to Brooklyn, feed the pups and realize that I have time to cross the street to reRun and catch the film Trash Dance. The Q&A with director Andrew Garrison and two of the men in the film turns into a friendly conversation. Nice people, great film. After the film I walked down the street to where they are filming Animal Rescue. I see lights, trucks and equipment, but no star sightings. Time for bed and the satisfaction of a wonderful day.

Trash Dance

The documentary Trash Dance started out with the vision for a piece by choreographer Allison Orr. In the end, it became a story of people and their work, their lives, their families and accomplishment. The Austin Sanitation Department are asked to participate in a dance performance involving the workers, their equipment and their talents. As they get to know the choreographer, and she them, it becomes a story of people working to their strengths. I saw this film at reRun in Brooklyn. The film maker Andrew Garrison, and two of the men in the film conducted a Q&A that became a lovely conversation. I loved this film, see it if you can.

The English Teacher

In The English Teacher a past student comes back to his home town after failing as a playwright in NYC. He lets his old English teacher read one of his plays and she sweeps him into producing the play at the high school. There are laughs, there is drama there is scandal. A strong cast brings a performance level that makes the characters interesting and funny. There is a narration that is used very well, and at the end, is used for excellent comedic effect. This was a World Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival and I was a little surprised that there was no Q&A after the film.

The Director

Drama in the fashion world is evident in The Director: An Evolution in Three Acts. This is a behind the scenes look at Frida Gianni and her work at Gucci. A smart woman who shares her vision. For me, this film was about collaboration and how to get results. The way she works with other designers, producers and models was interesting. Beautifully filmed and edited, I liked this documentary.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tribeca Film Festival 2013 Day One

After a lovely visit with my daughter and grandsons in NJ, I headed to Brooklyn to stay with my grand-dogs while the kids are on vacation. Since their vacation coincided with Tribeca Film Festival, this is a happy state of affairs. The pups were happy to see me, and after wrangling my car out, then back in to the parking garage (so frustrating). I took the F train to the East Village. I arrived in front of the AMC Village 7 at the same time as my friend, and were quickly seated for Stand Clear of the Closing Doors. The film about a teen with autism wandering off and spending a week in the subway system of NYC with his mother  desperately looking for him, told many stories. The director, Sam Flieschner conducted an interesting Q&A after the film. Coming out of the theater into the sunshine, we went across the street to the Penny Farthing for a bite to eat, a little wine and discussion of the film. Getting back on the subway to return to Brooklyn, NYPD was set up to inspect bags, a welcome sight considering all that went on in Boston last week.
Back in DUMBO, I realized that I had time to get my car out of the parking garage (street parking is preferred) , play with the dogs and walk across the street to see the film Gut Renovation at rerun. That's right, I'm staying across the street from a movie theater! Pretty cool. The film was an interesting history of the city's actions to change Williamsburg from a working neighborhood, to residential. Kind of sad in a way. The plan has no balance and long-time residents are being forced out. It's all about the money. Film maker Su Friederich conducted an informative and passionate Q&A after the film. After a little walk around the neighborhood, I returned to the pups and felt good about my first day at film festival.

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

Set in NYC in the throws of Hurricane Sandy, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is a drama of family, loss and special needs. A young boy with autism runs away, and spends days in the NYC subway system while his Mother searches for him. There were a lot of stories going on, I would have liked more development of a few of those. The filming is excellent, especially the footage shot in the subway. This film was finished last Wednesday and could use a little more editing. Some scenes are a touch too long. The director, Sam Flieschner conducted an interesting Q&A.

Gut Renovation

On my first day at Tribeca Film Festival, I decided to find another film to see after my festival film. I am staying in Brooklyn and the restaurant across the street, rebar, has a movie theater in the back that shows independent films. I made it back in time to catch the film Gut Renovation at rerun. This documentary chronicles the renovation of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. It talks about the people that have been displaced and the future of this neighborhood. A very interesting situation politically and financially. The film maker, Su Friedrich came in after the film and conducted a passionate Q&A. What a pleasant surprise!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines feels like 3 films. Small town life effects three men, their work and families. Desperation, crime, work, love, family, it's all there. Bad decisions and corruption take a front seat and we watch the consequences unfold.The third act falls apart a bit, but the performances are strong and so is the emotional punch.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dark City

On the recommendation of film critic Scott Weinberg, I rented the film Dark City. This film noir with a sci-fi twist, is well structured and well acted. It has beautiful visuals, special effects and music that works the story masterfully. There is a dream-like quality to the storytelling in this film. What is reality? What is memory? What is manipulated? And there's the brain battle. Loved this film. Watched it a second time with the Roger Ebert commentary. Poignant this week. Thanks Scott.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Ginger & Rosa

Friendship, family and politics get a little time under the microscope in Ginger & Rosa. The Cuban Missile Crisis is a cloud over London in the 60s and Ginger takes a heartfelt stab at advocacy. Her parents provide a distraction as they separate and her Father takes inappropriate action. A solid drama with outstanding performances.


The film Kids starts out feeling crude, rude and socially unacceptable. But as the main character's quest to deflower every girl in the neighborhood, an STD gives the film the feel of a thriller. Well done.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Spring Breakers

After listening to an interesting interview with Harmony Korine and James Franco, I decided to see Spring Breakers in the theater. On it's release, I thought I would rent it because I didn't want to be in a theater with a bunch of kids watching a movie about Spring Break. After 3 weeks in theaters, and a beautiful sunny spring afternoon the theater was empty. I saw the film the way I wanted to, alone. This film goes from scenes of the debaucherous behavior of spring break, to a crime spree with consequences. The visuals are intense. A gritty art film. Glad I saw it in the theater.