Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TIFF 2008 Day One

I woke to the bustling street sounds of lower Manhattan. My hotel is at Chambers and West Broadway and the place looks different every time I come. There's a new building going up across the street, and the workers did not get the memo that I'm on vacation. "Yo Lou" were the shouts I awoke to. Better than the drunk at midnight, loudly swearing up a storm and folks on the street shouting "shut the f**k up!" Though I was annoyed, I smiled and thought, "Ahhh. New York!"

My daughter Melanie met me for an early lunch at Edwards, a quiet neighborhood restaurant. We chatted, babies (hers arrives in October), jobs (did I mention I'm on vacation?) and family. As we started to take a walk, the brisk breeze had us rethink our strategy and we sought refuge in the comfort of Church Restaurant in the Tribeca Grand Hotel. A lovely setting with comfortable couches, a handsome waiter with a charming accent, a Bloody Mary for me (did I mention I'm on vacation?) and warm chocolate cake for her, all is right with the world.

A quick subway ride uptown to meet my friend Lucy at the AMC 19. We had time for a drink at Sala, a charming Spanish tapas bar. Then back to the theater for the documentary Zoned In. The director and subject conducted a thorough Q&A. Down the street to Duke's for dinner. A down-home, southern themed restaurant, whose menu features comfort food (yay for meatloaf). Lucy and I had a great time, we parted ways in Union Square. My iPod ran out of battery on the ride home, so I ended my day the way it started.... with the sounds of the street.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TIFF 2008 Arrival

Tribeca Film Festival is in full swing, and today I arrived! After driving for 2 hours in the pouring rain, the skies cleared as I approached Manhattan. My first mission was to collect my tickets at the box office. A smooth exit off the FDR Highway at 23rd Street, and shortly I was in front of the AMC at 19th and Broadway. At the red light, we performed a little Chinese fire drill, I went to the box office, my daughter took the car into traffic. At the will-call window, they printed all the tickets I had ordered online, and I was on my way, took 5 minutes. Great new system! I called my daughter, who had rounded the block, and was back in the spot I had left her. I jumped in the car and we headed south, sweet! The rush hour traffic wasn't too bad, Liza navigated like a champ. Dropped the car at the parking garage and checked into the hotel. Liza's boyfriend, Ryan, met us at the Italian restaurant, Ecco!, for dinner *yum*. The kids headed back to Brooklyn and I took a walk down Chambers to see what was going on at the Performing Arts Center. Watched the red carpet for Finding Amanda, looked like most of the folks were in the press area. A big limo bus emptied out in front of me, but no one I recognized. Took a slow amble back to the hotel. Spoke with Melanie and Lucy and planned our rendezvous for tomorrow. Happy to be back in Tribeca, stay tuned .....

Monday, April 28, 2008

Paralysis, Partners and Pressure in DVD

One of my favorite films from 2007 is out in DVD this week. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a foreign film well worth a look, for an inspiring story. In 27 Dresses, an eternal bridesmaid gets a shot at romance in this romantic comedy. (filmed in RI, woo hoo!) The fantasy film The Golden Compass, is also available in DVD. The adventure and visuals make this one worth a look.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Young @ Heart

The Young @ Heart Chorus is an inspiration. This afternoon, I saw a screening of the new documentary Young @ Heart, and after the film, the chorus performed! In a word, it was amazing! The Young @ Heart Chorus is a group out of North Hampton, MA, comprised of 70 and 80 somethings. Despite the gray hair, gnarled fingers and bum hips and knees, these people have more spunk, heart, talent and energy than most people I know. They are internationally acclaimed and, oh, did I mention their set lists features cover songs from the Rolling Stones to Radiohead? The film is well done, but it had nothing on the performance. It was the first time the group had performed with the film. They sang over a dozen songs, and at one point a young man was enticed to get up on the stage and shake it down with the group during Walk on the Wild Side. It was great! I was sitting between a couple in their early 30s, on my left, rockin' to the tunes of Sonic Youth, and, on my right, a couple in their eighties, who's daughter in California had bought their tickets. The wife was singing along during Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark. There were many standing ovations, the Q&A was lively, and for me, this afternoon was true testimony to two old adages, "music is the universal language" and "age is only a number"! See this film when it comes to your town, it is inspiring!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

I loved Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. A funny, irreverent stoner movie with a heart. I'm always surprised by how much I enjoy these boys. Their return to the big screen in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay picks up at the preparations to go to Amsterdam. Things go very badly in transit, and the road trip is on. Ruder and cruder than the first, politically incorrect as it gets, and still very funny. Love still motivates the boys, but be prepared, even the 5 twenty-something guys sitting in front of me were grossed out more than once (as they laughed hysterically). Neil Patrick Harris is a comedic genius. Once again, playing himself as a character, he's offensive as all hell and funny as it gets (stay through the credits if you want to see more of him).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 4/25/08

I need to start by saying how intimidated I was this morning, to follow an interview with Maria Shriver, with Friday Flick Picks. *Yeesh* Gio and Kim got a great interview, she was amazing, loved it!

Gushing aside, here's what's in Rhode Island theaters this weekend. Baby Mama opens today. Funny comedy about a woman who can't conceive or adopt. There's a twist, there's great characters, there's laughs ... fun stuff! Another buddy comedy hits theaters with Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Irreverent, offensive and, I'm hoping, very funny. If you're not sure about this one, rent Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, then decide. The Visitor opens in theaters here, and Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden was held over a week at the Avon. Morgan Spurloc was another great interview on Giovanni and Kim in the morning this week. Horton Hears a Who! and the Stones, in Shine a Light, are still in theaters, check it out!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Baby Mama

I was fortunate enough to get invited to an early screening of the film Baby Mama (thanks Kim). Yes, I saw it the day before it had it's world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival! For some reason that gives me a thrill. This comedy, written by SNL alum Mike McCullers, and staring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler is light, funny and well done.

I met Tina Fey twice, at the Newport Film Festival here in Newport, RI. Once was a casual hello my first year as a volunteer in 2002. She was in town for an improv comedy show with the the Upright Citizen's Brigade, and was on a panel about comedy. She returned to perform again, in 2004. In a comic moment of panic, I ended up driving she, her husband and Rachel Dratch to diner from the show. She is funny, friendly and smart.

Baby Mama is about a woman who can't get pregnant or adopt, so she hires a surrogate agency. I was really taken by the dialogue and the characters. The story had an unexpected (by me) twist in the middle. It has been criticized for being predictable, the performances more than made up for that, for me. The audience cheered at the end of the film (love when that happens at a movie). The most common comment I heard, walking out of the theater, was, "that was a lot better than I expected." I liked this cool spring comedy. And, oh yeah, let Tribeca Film Festival begin ... I'll be there next week, woo hoo!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Politics, Parents and Predators in DVD

Out in DVD this week, Charlie Wilson's War, is a film depiction of Senator Charlie Wilson's involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Good movie, interesting story. Also out, The Savages, features adult siblings, who have detached from family, get sucked back into the fold by their father's decline. A sweet look at a difficult subject, aging parents. Cloverfield is a first-hand account of a monster destroying and terrorizing New York City. I really liked it in the theater, now I can rent it to see if the story holds up on a small screen. Emotional predators can be just as scary as big monsters. In Starting out in the Evening, an older writer enjoys the attentions of a young female student, but what does she really want? And then there are the predators of the mind. In The Orphanage, grief haunts a woman, from her past to the present. Well done. Good week for DVD releases, enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


My brother Bob loves to ski. When I saw the movie Steep was coming to theaters last fall, I got him a gift certificate to our local theater. Sadly, Steep never opened here, I was bummed. Then the Movie Mom, Nell Minow, posted a nice surprise. She had 3 DVDs of Steep to give away in a contest. I entered, I won! I was going to give the film to my brother, but of course I had to watch it first.

Extreme sports scare the crap out of me, but the athletes and film makers involved in this film won me over. From France to Alaska, they take on the thrill of gravity and snow. It is inspiring, even to a casual skier like me. Beautifully filmed, and wonderful stories, Steep is a compelling documentary. I hope my brother likes it, I sure did!
(By the way, I delivered the DVD to him yesterday!)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Jason Segal wrote Forgetting Sarah Marshall as a way of dealing with his own romantic breakup. Laughter can truly be the best medicine. The story opens with Sarah Marshall dumping Segal's character, Peter. He becomes a pathetic mess, and goes on vacation, in Hawaii, to console himself. Unfortunately, Sarah and her new, rock star boyfriend, are at the same resort. It's awkward, it's uncomfortable, it's funny. Peter tries to pull himself together, acts like a decent human being, follows his dream and gets the girl (not who you think). Performances from this young cast are excellent. Awkward situations, nudity, crazy sex and clever dialogue bring the laughs. A good romantic comedy.

The 11th Hour

The 11th Hour is an interesting documentary about the aging of the earth. It combines research and perspective from scientists, chemist, environmentalists and the like, with gorgeous shots of this planet we call home. I liked that the film offers practical advice to lifestyle and how to live responsibly when it comes to consumer issues that are effecting our world and its ecosystems. Good things to think about.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 4/18/08

It's all about the funny in Rhode Island theaters this weekend. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a risque comedy about a man trying to get over his girlfriend who just dumped him. The critics say skip the thriller 88 Minutes, but hey, it's Al Pacino, I'll take a chance. Smart People is worth a look. In art houses we've got Under the Same Moon, Red Eye and Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?. Shine a Light moves into more theaters this weekend, and Horton Hears a Who! and Nim's Island are still out there for family fun. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Screen Scenes : Tribeca Bound 2008

On Saturday, I got on the Tribeca Film Festival website, excited for the opening of ticket sales. I was ready. List in hand, laptop ready to go. As usual, the site crashed. As I kept clicking forward - back - refresh - your order cannot be taken at this time - sorry for the inconvenience - try again *arrrrgh* !!! I broke tradition when my daughter Liza called to say hi, and had to hear my annual "Tribeca film site is down - I'm trying to buy tickets" tirade, (this honor usually goes to Melaine). In the end I scored tickets to three films (got sold out of two) and the resolution that I'll be in New York City, whose movie theaters offer a film festival-like selection every day ..... I think I'll be OK! I'm off to NYC on April 29th, stay tuned ......

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eddie Izzard : Live!

In 2002, I saw the film, The Cat's Meow. I was familiar with most of the actors, except the British actor, Eddie Izzard. My daughter knew all about him, and introduced me to his stand up act. Smart, clever, insightful and hilarious, I fell in love with the man and his comedy. Over the years, I have enjoyed him on audio and DVD, he is a regular on my iPod. I have tried to see him live in New York several times, but could never score tickets. On a road trip a few weeks ago, when he came up in the shuffle,I had the wistful thought, "I'm probably never going to see Eddie Izzard live." Imagine how stunned I was, the next morning, when I saw an ad in the Rhode Island Sunday paper for Eddie Izzard : Live, here in Providence. I flew to the computer, handed over my money, and became the proud owner of 2 tickets to his show, I was psyched! For weeks now, I've been positively giddy about the prospects of seeing this brilliant comedian, live. I am just home from the show, and I was not disappointed. A funny moment, for me, was when he walked out on stage, and I almost said out loud, "hey, that's Eddie Izzard!" Almost like I was surprised, it was an odd feeling. The man who has been in my ears for so long, was now standing in front of me, what a thrill! He was hilarious, poked good natured fun at Rhode Island, and how to make it one (practical bloke), demonstrated the beauty of Wikipedia on his iPhone and ran through history in his rambling, conversational way. He went on for 2 hours, looked fantastic (kinda macho in jeans and blazer) and returned to the stage after a standing ovation. I now feel exhilarated, ecstatic, exhausted and entertained, I've seen Eddie Izzard live ..... bravo!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Baby, Blow-up and Blow-out in DVD

A film that got a lot of attention in 2007 was Juno. Rightfully so. The writing, the acting, the music, worthy of all the awards and nominations. Check it out in DVD this week. A quiet triumph on the screen was Lars and the Real Girl, also out in DVD. A sweet, poignant story of growth and acceptance, loved it. One of my favorites from 2007 was Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Intense, violent, disturbing and fantastic! A thriller that grabbed me from the opening scenes and never let go. Great films in DVD this week, enjoy!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Street Kings

Street Kings was my third mediocre movie of the weekend, what the ?!?!? A decent story with poor execution, poor overacting (are you listening Mr. Whitaker?) and poor resolution. The cinematography was pretty cool, and it was a bit mind bending to see Hugh Laurie as a cop instead of a doctor (though I got a chuckle out of his character's first appearance in the film in a hospital ER) . This will be a decent DVD rental, but I'd recommend you pass in the theater.

Reservation Road

Though I saw trailers for it back in the fall, I don't even remember Reservation Road being in theaters around here. A difficult story of a horrible accident, and unforgivable omission of the truth for way to long. A young boy dies in a hit and run accident, the film explores the agony of his family and the assailant. A film about grief, justice, conscience and consequence. A very intense film.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Smart People

The family drama, Smart People, has a lot to say. A widowed father and his two kids, deal with the issue of grief. The father is a brusque, college professor who is faced with the reality of his flaws. The kids are bright and interesting, but almost invisible to him. The performances are excellent, it's a brilliant cast. The film is a bit off balance, with a choppy structure, and editing. I forgave all this with the ending. The family dynamic, love and acceptance ring strong at the end.


My love for George Clooney, and his work is no secret. So, I was pretty psyched to see Leatherheads. The performances were great! The story of the early days of professional football, struggles between light and silly, to serious and political. If the editing had been tighter, this film might have worked. As it is, it languishes too long in scenes, and "the big game" is almost painfully boring to watch. In my opinion, my dear George should stick to political thrillers.

The Music Within

Richard Pimentel was instrumental in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Music Within is his story. This story is about not settling, the final scene is subtle and poignant. The characters are brave, the issue important, a wonderful film.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 4/11/08

From the reviews I've read, it looks like RI movie openings this week, fall in the land of mediocre. I'm looking forward to Street Kings and Smart People, but what I've read about both is very vanilla. The Bank Job and 21 are decent thrillers. Run Fatboy Run and Leatherheads fall in the date-night category. For the kids there's Nim's Island and Horton Hears a Who! The movie to see this weekend? I saw Shine a Light last week and loved it. If you like rock and roll, check it out! The art houses are stocked with films like Caramel, Starting Out in the Evening and The Counterfeiters, good stuff. Happy movie weekend!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Politics, Petrol, Puglists and Parody in DVD

All kinds of films out in DVD this week. Lions for Lambs is a subtle, thoughtful, political drama. The most impressive film of the year, There Will be Blood, is out in DVD as well. Intense, creative and startling, this period thriller within the oil business back in the day, is worth seeing. Resurrecting the Champ has a lot to say about ambition, drive and check your facts, when an old boxer seems to have reappeared. A parody of the music business, Walk Hard:The Dewey Cox Story is pretty funny stuff. Have a great movie week!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Shine a Light

I've said it before, I'm not a big Rolling Stones fan. The film magic of Martin Scorsese enticed me to the local IMAX theater to see Shine a Light. The intimacy of the concert film is done well, climbing right on stage with the band. Mick Jagger is an amazing performer. Engaging the audience, the band, the backup singers, while ignoring the camera. His energy is astounding to me. Keith Richards and Ron Wood show a true joy for their music and their jobs. Charlie Watts shows how much physical energy goes into a performance, by a mug at the camera after one of the songs. Cute, and pretty funny. The film has a very light vibe, laugh out loud moments are sprinkled throughout. The editing and sound mixing work well. I got a true sense of the band's long love affair with music, performing and life. The first Stones song I ever heard was a cover of Brown Sugar, by a high school garage band, at my first high school dance. It's one of the last songs in the film, and it took me back. I sat there in the dark grinning like a fool ..... come to think of it, I was grinning for about 2 hours. Cool film that I'd, gladly, see again.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Wristcutters : A Love Story

To start, all the characters in Wristcutters : A Love Story, are dead. Each of them a victim of suicide. One of them insists she's there by mistake, and needs to find "who's in charge", so she can go home. She meets a boy, who is smitten, a relationship develops. It becomes a sweet story of friendship and survival. I found this film endearing, quirky and very likable.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 4/4/08

There is joy in RI theaters this weekend, as Shine a Light opens at the IMAX theater (much as I love ya, move over U2)! Martin Scorsese brings the Rolling Stones to the very large screen, in a concert documentary from a show in NYC from 2006. I've seen trailers that look amazing, and Scorsese weaves his film magic around these rock icons. My man, George Clooney, presents a comedy in the film Leatherheads. Set in the 20's, a WWI vet tries to bring commercial success to professional football. Great date flick! Other comedies in theaters, Run Fatboy Run and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Drama can be found in 21 , The Counterfeiters and Stop-Loss. Nim's Island looks like a good family, adventure film. And finally, take those kids to see Horton Hears a Who!

Cure Kids Cancer : donate here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Run Fatboy Run

Run Fatboy Run has not done very well by the critics, but I have to say, my friends and I found this movie very entertaining. An out of shape loser, thinks he can win the girl by finishing a marathon. He has his supporters and his detractors. There are running gags, potty humor, bare asses and the cute kid to tug your heartstrings. The "message scene" is the only place the film lost me, but it didn't last long. Light, satisfying and funny, I liked this one.