Saturday, April 30, 2016
I couldn't work the film Special Correspondents into my schedule at Tribeca Film Festival, so was thrilled when it popped up on Netflix instant this week. This is the third TFF film I've seen since coming home. Two journalists are supposed to go to Ecuador to cover the situation and things go awry. There are lies, there are compromises, there are well intended missteps, there are egos, there are laughs. Funny stuff, I enjoyed this one.
Friday, April 29, 2016
A web of lies cover a murder, and identity theft pulls in an unwitting journalist in True Story. Desperation fuel both men. A pathological liar manipulates the journalist as he tries to avoid the death penalty. Based on a true story. Decent drama.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Films involving presidents are often serious, but the film Elvis & Nixon is refreshingly light-hearted. The historic meeting of Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon shows the behind the scenes quirks and strengths of two very famous, powerful men. The performances in this film are outstanding and I left the theater with a smile on my face.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
I missed the film Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon at Tribeca Film Festival last year, so finding the DVD in my mail when I can home was a nice treat. This film is a wealth of history and visuals from the legendary magazine. This is not a documentary you can just listen to. The wealth of art, drawings and photos from the pages of the magazine deserve your full attention. A fascinating chronicle of an important piece of satirical comedy. Irreverent as it was brilliant. Excellent documentary.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
I like a good crime thriller and, for me, A Kind of Murder was just that. Set in the 50s an unhappy man aspires to write murder mysteries. He researches real life murders for his stories and one hits close to home. As his equally unhappy wife spirals downward emotionally, he is distracted by that murder and a young club singer. There is murder, mystery, and deception in this film noir. I liked the story, I liked the style. I loved the costumes. This was a fine ending to the film festival for me. I was disappointed that there was no Q&A but 6 out of 7 ain't bad.
Waking up on my last day at Tribeca Film Festival I have a girl-on-a-mission feeling. I have one more film to see and I want to spend a little more time in the neighborhood. My first stop is lunch at the Tribeca Grill. This restaurant is a favorite stop in Tribeca. The food is good and folks very friendly. I make sure to tell the bartender to tell the powers that be that they do a great job. The day is sunny so a walk to the 9/11 Memorial Park is next on my agenda. The trees are starting to blossom and there is a serenity there that pleases me. Crossing the street to Brookfield Place, I find an art installation of inflated white rabbits called Intrude by Amanda Parer. There is a whimsy to this ambitious project and it makes me happy. Walking north through Rockefeller Park I enjoy the sights of the greening lawn, blossoming flowers and a flurry of activities of people of all ages. This is one of my favorite parks in NYC. My walk ends on a stool at The Palm where a glass of wine and the news of Prince's passing meets me. My sadness of the news is tempered by two women in their 70s enjoying Cosmopolitans down the bar. I mentally dub them Senior-Sex in the City. Back at the Regal Cinema for A Kind of Murder, I can feel the film festival winding down. I enjoyed the film, but was disappointed that there was no Q&A. Returning to Edward's, I finish my film festival week where I began. A bowl of soup sets me right for my final ride back to Brooklyn. Back in the hood, I stop in to Superfine for a happy hour cocktail, grab a few groceries and go home to the pups. The kids come home tonight and my film festival week ends. It has been amazing. Thanks to Tribeca Film Festival, the neighborhoods of NYC and all of the friends and family who made this week so much fun.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Among all the film I saw at Tribeca Film Festival I took a break to go a discussion panel with Francis Ford Coppola. I have seen most of his filmography and have consumed a fair amount of his wine. I think he was sincere when he invited everyone to the vineyard. He spoke of digital media (he predicted it and embraces it), long-form TV and serial film (he's writing one now) and bragged about his wife making her first film at the age of 82 (inspiring for women of any age). He talked a little bit about past projects, most references led to Apocalypse Now. He spoke of the difficulty, fear and expense of making those early films. ($39 million financed at 29% interest) It was obvious that the man loves his family and his home. He is still creating and works with students and academics on dramatic projects. At 77 years old he has a 5 year plan to take him into his 80s that he's happy with. I'm glad he shared it with us. What a nice afternoon.
Spending the morning with the dogs and relaxing in DUMBO, I'm feeling the melancholy of my last days at Tribeca Film Festival. I make my way to Chelsea and find a stool at the bar at East of Eighth. Regular locals are chatting, the music on the bartender's iPhone is pleasant and the vibe is good. I order wine and french fries and have a nice chat with a woman named Stella. Crossing the street to the SVA Theater I am very excited about this afternoon's program. Jane Rosenthal takes the podium and the guest arrives. To say that seeing Francis Ford Coppola in person is impressive is an understatement. The man is calm, low-key and eloquent. He talked about working on films back in the day and the future of the medium. He predicted and embraces digital technology. He talked about his wineries and thanked the audience for buying his products. As the moderator wrapped the event, Coppola said, "that's it?" I think he would have enjoyed speaking longer. Leaving the theater, I head north to Times Square to buy a mini-poster of Fun Home for my collection. Arriving as the matinees are getting out is a nightmare. I swung by the stage door of Hamilton to see if I can see any of the performers, but a man comes out of the door and says that no one is coming out today. I get my poster and navigate Times Square shoulder to shoulder with the crowd to the subway. Stopping for a snack of chicken wings at Mudville 9 is a good end to another good day.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
The story of the kids in Sing Street is not new. Coming of age in the 80s in Ireland has the same struggles as anywhere else. A young boy has to change high schools and the typical feelings of alienation and bullying ensue. Then he meets a girl and forms a band to impress her. We are treated to a sweet story and a lot of good music. This is another soundtrack I will buy. Everything about this film makes it so nice. Creative, smart and funny with a lot of heart. I highly recommend this one!
I feel that the title of The Meddler is a bit off. I think that the term meddler comes from the daughter's perspective, where other characters in the film may have called her helpful. When a woman's husband passes away, she moves east coast to west to be near her daughter. The daughter is one huge eye-roll and voicemail box so the mother turns her energy to help others she meets. She is kind, she is funny, she is smart, she has resources. There is even a romantic interest. I liked this sweet, funny film a lot. Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne and Cecily Strong joined the director and producer for an interesting Q&A. The film was autobiographical for the director. Well done.
Caught an early train into the city to meet Meredith at the Angelika Cinema to see Sing Street at their first morning screening. What a delightful film! I especially loved the music. We walked around the corner to Il Buco for lunch outside. I had a soup that was spectacular! We caught up on life. Long uninterrupted conversation is such a luxury. I went back to Brooklyn, walked the pups and made some dinner. Back in Tribeca for a screening of The Meddler at BMCC. This is my last screening in this venue, so I make sure to say hi to the house manager, Charles, who has been with Tribeca Film Festival for 15 years. Such a lovely man. The film was wonderful and the director, one of the producers, Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne and Cecily Strong conducted the Q&A. I will admit to getting choked up when the last question came from a woman seeing the film with her daughter and who had just lost her mother. Poignant moment and made me miss my girls. Back in Brooklyn I think about how lucky I am to be able to come to this event. Another cool day.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Over the years I have become a big fan of Mike Birbiglia's work. His latest film Don't Think Twice is such a delight. The story of 6 friends in an improv troupe as they grow and change is poignant, sharp and very funny. At Tribeca Film Festival Birbiglia invited anyone who had anything to do with making the film come to the front of the theater. A group of about 25 people entertained a Q&A with many of the folks answering questions and many stories about the shooting were told. Ira Glass even shared a song he had recorded on his phone that was made up to tease Birbiglia. It is now on my phone. This screening was such a treat. I'd see this film again.
In All We Had we meet a woman who is a mother, yet she can barely take care of herself. Immaturity, dependence and addictions have her sabotaging her situation regularly. She and her daughter end up in a small town when their car breaks down and they have no money. The people who try to help them are compassionate and interesting. Eve Lindley gives an especially wonderful performance as the waitress Pam. Lindley and Katie Holmes, in her directorial debut, gave interesting insights to the making of the film. Holmes thanked her daughter Suri who was in the audience, and it turns out it's her 10th birthday.
A crisp day in Brooklyn starts with a dog walk around the hood. Pups seem happy to be out. Now that the weekend is over, the train schedule is back to normal. A ride into the village to wander Washington Square Park a bit, then south to Tribeca. I meet my friend Lucy at Walker's for a little rose, a sandwich and wonderful conversation. A walk to Regal Cinemas for the film All We Had is sunny and pleasant. Katie Holmes and Eve Lindley conduct the Q&A after the film. Holmes' daughter Suri is in the audience and it turns out it is her birthday! Cute mother-daughter moment. I return to Brooklyn to feed the dogs and grab a bite to eat myself. Then back to the Regal for a screening of Don't Think Twice. After the film Mike Birbiglia invites anyone who worked on the film to the stage for the Q&A. His joy, enthusiasm and inclusiveness was so sweet. It was cool to see Ira Glass and Keegan Michael Key there as well. They told many funny stories from the making of the film. What a treat! Walking back to the subway I pass The Palm. Looking in the window I notice a familiar face painted on the wall. Smiling back at me is a caricature of Randi's cousin Cathy! So cute. Another cool star sighting. What a fun day!
Sunday, April 17, 2016
There are more plot-lines in the film Custody than just a courtroom drama. When a woman's children are removed from her custody, we are immersed in her story and also those involved. Layered and well acted, I liked this film. At Tribeca Film Festival, they filled the stage with the cast for an interesting Q&A. Viola Davis rules the stage as she did the screen.
A man too young to be dissatisfied with his life is just that. In the film Dreamland we meet him in the rut that is his relationship and an empty job. He enters a taboo relationship and though the path is bumpy, the result is satisfying. The story is familiar, but the colorful cast of characters gives this film a fresh take. This film was directed by Robert Schwartzman who conducted an entertaining and informative Q&A after the film. I really liked this one.
Waking up in Brooklyn I am thrilled to see that the men of Colossal Media work weekends. They are hand painting a mural for a jazz festival on a building across the street. What a process, fascinating to watch. I take the dogs for a walk and head up to Chelsea for brunch at Americano. My friend Mary Catherine and I enjoy a tasty meal on their patio. As we are leaving Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are arriving with their family. They seemed relaxed and happy and returned my hello as we passed. With time to kill we walk the High Line for a bit, taking full advantage of the spring sunshine. Our film is Dreamland, a Mrs. Robinson themed story by Robert Schwartzman. He conducted an interesting Q&A after the film. Back into the sunshine I return to Dumbo to feed the dogs. A drink at Read Street Pub before the film Custody fits the bill. The cast of Custody filled the stage after the film. A strong drama I really enjoyed. Viola Davis is a force. On the way home I end up in conversation with a traveler from Amsterdam. It is her first time in NYC and she is checking off an item on her bucket list. Interesting person. Back in Brooklyn I feel happy with a very full day.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Dealing with our mortality is tricky. When a person is getting older and debilitated thoughts of checking out can be strong. In Youth in Oregon an 80 year old man with a heart condition has these thoughts. Because he owns property in Oregon he is eligible for their program to voluntarily end his life. His family comes at it from many angles. On a road trip we learn that his quest for end of life is more about the defects in his relationships than the defects in his body. Good film.
Arriving in DUMBO for the week, I am thrilled to see that Colossal Media is busy re-painting the billboard across the street. This is my view and watching these guys painstakingly paint a beautiful mural is one of my guilty pleasures. This will be the third one I've watched them create. Walking the dogs and hanging out with them until mid afternoon, I head to Tribeca for my first film of TFF. walking the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny spring Saturday was a challenge. Tourists were in strong numbers. A walk around the neighborhood takes me to Walker's to make reservations for Monday and I kill a little time at the bar at Edward's. I meet my friend Mary Catherine at BMCC for the premier screening of Youth in Oregon. An excellent film about the issues of voluntary end of life. Most of the cast, the director, writer and producers conduct a nice Q & A and at the end the director had anyone on the crew in the theater to stand up. It was a good sized group and I think they were all pleased with how well the film was received. Heading out into the neighborhood we make a stop in to Read Street Pub for a drink and discussion. When I go to the subway to go back to Brooklyn I learn that trains I need are not running, so I hoof it across the bridge. Not part of the plan, but it was ok. First day of TFF a success.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
More politics than sports, the science of brain injuries and its results are the subject of the film Concussion.We see the path taken to investigate the erratic and suicidal behavior of NFL veterans. It is complicated and political. The doctor's life story is woven in as well. This film is ambitious and the subject is controversial and disturbing. So are the statistics. Worth renting.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The shear desperation of the urban environment is what I see as the catalyst for many of the actions in the film Boyz N the Hood. High school aged youth in south central LA try to navigate their economics, relationships and hormones in a sometimes hostile setting. Decision making is not easy and tragedy rides along with triumph. Excellent performances. Good film.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Grief is an interesting subject in film. In Tumbledown a young widow is trying to protect the legacy of her late husband and her own emotional fragility mourning his sudden death. When a journalist invades her coping, he projects he own assumptions and emotions into her situation. Some is helpful, some is not. Well written and acted, this is a strong emotional drama with a touch of romance. Well done.
Saturday, April 09, 2016
As a sci-fi dramatic chase scene Midnight Special is excellent. The story of an unusual boy being chased has a lot of holes. The strengths of this film are the performances, the way it is shot and the music. These all save a pretty lame story. Not bad.
Thursday, April 07, 2016
A love story set in WWI and based on true lives, Testament of Youth is a powerful tale of relationships. Not only romantic, but of families. Guided by the strong and steady performance of Alicia Vikander, the virtues of love, loyalty, compassion and persistence guide her portrayal of author Vera Britton through the heartbreak of war and loss. I really liked this film.
Sunday, April 03, 2016
So much more than an Eye in the Sky, drone warfare is fascinating. From 4 locations on the globe a drone strike is negotiated and executed. Not a simple as it looks. So much tension, so much negotiation, so difficult. The setup in this film is efficient. The actual events are tense and dramatic. The end is heartbreaking yet satisfying. What a film. Well done.
Saturday, April 02, 2016
The story of twin brother gangsters Ron and Reggie Kray is told in the film Legend. A ruthless story of the volatile brothers' reign over organized crime in London in the 60s. The real reason to see this film is for the masterful work of Tom Hardy playing both brothers. Mesmerizing performances worthy of your time.