Thursday, April 30, 2009


I have been reading about the film Moon for months. I'm not usually that into science fiction, but I was intrigued by the rave reviews that have been showering this film. I'm not going to say much about the plot, because the surprises make the film. A satisfying drama that looks at the futuristic aspect of energy mining on the moon. Nuff said. At the Q&A at Tribeca Film Festival, director Duncan Jones and star Sam Rockwell gave insight to the plot and performance. A film well worth seeing!

Throw Down Your Heart

I met Sascha Paladino and Bela Fleck at the Newport Film Festival in 2004. They were presenting the film Obstinato:Making Music for Two, which followed a tour of Fleck and Edgar Meyer. Fleck and Meyer performed after the film. It was an amazing experience, and I met these talented young men after the film. Two years ago, I ran into Paladino at Newport Film Festival again. He was serving as a juror. We had a nice chat, and he told me to keep an eye out for a film he was working on that he had filmed in Africa. I went to see Throw Down Your Heart at the IFC Film Center and was very impressed. The banjo originates in Africa, and Bela Fleck wanted to go back to these roots. He expresses such a joy in the music, the instrument and his collaborators. Beautiful camera work and enchanting music make this film a real pleasure. Thanks guys!

Tribeca 2009 Day Four

Had a bit of a lazy morning now that I'm on the last days of my vacation. By noon I was on the subway and headed to the west village. I happened on the Greenwich Village Bistro for lunch. Upon ordering a Bloody Mary, the barkeep told me that because of their proximity to a church they could not serve hard liquor. They had a tasty alternative though, the sake Bloody Mary was delicious (and had a bit of a kick). I went over to IFC Film Center to see the latest documentary from Sascha Paladino called Throw Down Your Heart. Wonderful documentary about Bela Fleck's excursion to Africa to explore the roots of the banjo. After the film I made my way back to Brooklyn to meet Liza. We stopped at the Smyth for a glass of wine then headed to the theater for a screening of Moon. Cool sci-fi flick about an astronaut working an energy mining station on the moon. Director Duncan Jones and Sam Rockwell conducted the Q&A. We ended up at Edward's for dinner, folks were out in force. Another good day of film, food and family in Tribeca.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Entre Nos

Entres Nos is a beautiful film that tells the story of a mother who immigrates to the US from Columbia with her two small children. In a short time, her husband abandons them with no money and no job. This is a tale of survival and strength. The filmmaker, Paola Mendoza plays her mother and co-wrote the film with Gloria La Morte. I saw this film at Tribeca Film Festival and got to meet these two women who told this inspiring story.

Tribeca 2009 Day Three

I spent the morning playing with my grandson Eli and repacking my stuff to head out to Brooklyn. The drive was uneventful, but when I reached Liza's hood, I drove around for 40 minutes and could not find a parking spot. I finally gave in to the local garage, so I could get in to Manhattan.

A quick subway ride took me to Washington Square Park where I met my friend Lucy for lunch at Knickerbocker Bar & Grille. We get together once a year to solve the problems of the world and see a film. After lunch we went to a screening of the film Entre Nos. Paola Mendoza, Gloria La Morte, Sebastian Villada and Laura Montana were in attendance and I got to meet them all! Did my friend Lucy like the film? She cried through most of it. An emotional story that really spoke to her. A poignant story of a mother's love and survival.

On the way back to Brooklyn I picked up treats at Insomnia Cookies. Nothing like riding the subway with warm cookies. Liza and Ryan were watching American Idol when I arrived, so I got my fix of pop culture for the day. Off to bed, more screenings tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Easy Virtue

I had high expectations going into Easy Virtue, because I had spotted it on a "best of summer films list". I was not disappointed. A young man brings his new bride home to meet his stuffy British family. The back stories come out gradually, everyone has baggage. Many moments are very funny. This Noel Coward play is well adapted to the screen. Stephan Elliot conducted a lively Q&A. Good film, good time.

Tribeca 2009 Day Two

This morning was a lovely time with Melanie and Eli. There was playing on the floor, a walk to Monster Sub for lunch and, for a change, I was the one getting on the bus, not my kid.

I was early for the film, so I wandered through Tribeca. The sun was out, school was out, the kids were out. Napping, riding bikes, tending gardens, a beautiful afternoon. A quick stop into The Palm for a drink, then to the theater to meet my friend Randi in line.

The film was Easy Virtue with an all star cast. The best question asked after was a woman who asked if Jessica Biel was British. The whole auditorium said "no" in unison. It was pretty funny.

We had a tasty dinner at Roc. The place was packed, the food was great, the conversation lively. Always fun to catch up with friends. Randi gave me a ride back to the Port Authority and the bus had me home in 20 minutes. Great day!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Burning Down the House:The Story of CBGB

Mandy Stein presented the film Burning Down the House:The Story of CBGB at Tribeca Film Festival this year. Her mother, Linda Stein was the co-manager of The Ramones. The film follows the rise and fall of CBGB, a NYC performance venue for musicians from the 70s through it's closing in 2007. Before I left for the film, I asked my daughter if she had ever seen anyone perform there. She said she saw one of her friend's "crappy bands" play there. Interestingly, that was exactly the kind of band the venue catered to. Yes, many successful bands evolved out of CBGB, but it was intended to be a venue for all aspiring musicians. The documentary is still evolving, but even in it's present form it's pretty cool.

Tribeca 2009 Day One

With the weekend of family fun behind me, I dive headlong into Tribeca Film Festival in a new fashion. Instead of embedding myself at hotel in Tribeca, I have accepted my generous daughters' invitations, and will be working the commute into NYC this week.

Today I took the bus from Bloomfield, NJ to Port Authority. I found the subway *whew*, got on the train that went past the box office *damn*, turned around *whew*, trained back to the box office *no fare*, got all my tickets for the week *score*, navigated Canal Street in 80 degree heat *yuck*, trained up to Astor place *2 tries*, walked to the theater *steamy*, had time for a beer *yay* and saw an excellent documentary Burning Down the House:The Story of CBGB *awesome*.

After the film, I popped into The Watering Hole off Union Square, where I had a delicious BLT wrap with avocado, while chatting Twilight, gambling, swine flu, Big Bang Theory and celebrity sitings with the patrons and bartenders.

On the way back to the bus, I was nervous about finding my gate, but Ben Wagner's songs on my iPod as I walked trough Times Square, and a text from Melanie as I approached the gate, seemed to assure me that I was headed in the right direction. I found my way back to Bloomfield without incident. Now Gonzo is sleeping on my feet. I get to play with Eli in the morning and see another film tomorrow night.

Great start to the week!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 4/24/09

Though I will spend the weekend visiting family, then reveling in the films of Tribeca Film Festival, I can't help but notice the healthy crop of movies opening in RI theaters this week. The Soloist finally arrives. Not only does my love for Robert Downey Jr. fuel my interest in this story, but the true story of a journalist helping a mentally ill man is heartwarming. In art houses we've got Sin Nombre, Gamorra, Let the Right One In and Two Lovers. Fighting and Obsessed look weak but have lots of eye candy (if you like that kind of thing). For the nature lovers and families there's Disney's Earth and Monsters vs Aliens. Still in theaters are Adventureland, State of Play, I Love You Man, Observe and Report and Sunshine Cleaning. The best movie bargain in southern New England, the Patriot Cinema, boasts Oscar winners, Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt and The Reader. Have a great week, next posts will be from the Tribeca Film Festival, stay tuned .....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Poets, Puglists and Politics in DVD

To me, rappers are modern day poets. Biggie Smalls was one of the best, and his story is told in the film Notorious, out in DVD this week. Frost/Nixon is a cool depiction of David Frost's interviews with Richard Nixon following Nixon's resignation. Some of the best acting from 2008 film in this one. The Wrestler is out in DVD as well this week. One of the most heart wrenching, honest film of 2008. See it! There are no new releases in my que this week. Going for some TV in the series Life, and and few films I can take on vacation. Tribeca here I come!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Two Lovers

When Joaquin Phoenix made a bizarre appearance on The Late Show recently, I felt badly for the film he was supposed to be promoting. Two Lovers is an independent project. These films always need as much support as they can get, and count on the stars to promote them. I know that bad publicity is still publicity, but after that appearance, I'm guessing no one knew the name of the film. The shame of this is that Two Lovers is a good film. Phoenix is amazing (as usual) and Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw give excellent performances. The camera work is very creative. It's a strange story, Phoenix's character bounces between his two lovers like a ping pong ball. This film is worth a look, it will probably do well in DVD.

A little theater update, the Cable Car Cinema in Providence has new couches. This is a big deal, the place has received a face lift, and it looks great! Comfy too.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

State of Play

As the final credits rolled on State of Play, I thought of my friend's father who is a printer at our local newspaper. As print media takes a beating from online sources, there are people in the print trade who wonder every day about their jobs. Though this film is a political thriller, it is also a commentary on journalism. Print or online, investigative techniques, survival under corporate ownership. Interesting stuff. Performances in this film are outstanding. The tone is urgent and intense, the script is tight and makes sense. I liked this one.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 4/17/09

Kinda cute that 17 Again hits theaters on the 17th. I'm hoping that State of Play is worth my box office dollar. I enjoyed the first Crank film, could I be suckered into seeing Crank: High Voltage? At an 85 min. run time, maybe. Also in RI theaters are Slumdog Millionaire, Gran Torino, Duplicity, Adventureland, Sunshine Cleaning, Observe and Report and I Love You Man are worth a look. Revolutionary Road and Two Lovers are in art houses. You can take the kids to see Monsters vs Aliens, Hannah Montana: The Movie, and Race to Witch Mountain. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Filmic Vibe on TV

When the call went up from the LAMBlogathon to write about television that watches like film, I was in the throws of discovering Battlestar Galactica. Rich in characters, plot, drama, irony, humor, my inner geek is truly satisfied by this series. And all the women are so bad ass. On DVD, with no interruptions, it's like watching a good sci-fi film. So say we all.

When it comes to quality television, I've found some real gems on cable and network programing through DVD. Shows like The Sopranos, Weeds, Entourage, Huff, Arrested Development and Lost are as well written, produced and acted as any film I've seen. Of these, I probably consumed The Sopranos most voraciously. Common threads to all of these are family, humor and creatvity. DVD is a fun way to consume TV series. For me, it puts them in a format that feels like film. Cool stuff.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Intrigue and Illiterate in DVD

It's a quiet week in DVD releases. The Reader hits shelves. Lust and life decisions have a deep effect on the characters in post-war Germany. Bit of a sad story. I've got The Caller in my que. Corporate corruption abounds. Check 'em out.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Observe and Report

Well acted, well written, well done. Observe and Report is a tale of a deranged mall security cop with dreams. Is the mall being robbed? Yes. Is there a disgusting flasher in the parking lot? Yes. Does Ronnie see these as opportunities for his career track? Yes. Are his methods unconventional, given his short comings? Yes. Do people he holds in esteem let him down? Yes. Does he persevere? Yes. Is it a bit shocking? Yes.
Not a light knee slapper, a good black comedy.

Bedtime Stories

I have one word for Bedtime Stories ... disappointing. Glad I didn't see it in the theater *yeesh*

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 4/10/09

It's probably silly to complain, because spring is a notoriously barren time in the film season, but the selection is RI theaters this weekend is pretty thin. Observe and Report is the only new film I'm interested in. Miley Cyrus is OK, but 102 minutes of Hannah Montana is not what I'm looking for. Two obscure films I may try to catch are Crossing Over and Two Lovers. Interestingly, Taken is still at the multiplex, along with Slumdog Millionaire, Gran Torino, The Reader and Duplicity. Adventureland, Sunshine Cleaning and I Love You Man are worth a look. Fast & Furious is raking in the box office cash, it just won't get mine. The kids will get a kick out of Monsters vs Aliens and Race to Witch Mountain. Enjoy the weekend and Happy Easter!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Crazy Que in DVD

This week, I've got the longest DVD rental que I can remember. Of all the DVD releases this week, the only one I've seen is Doubt. Wonderful drama. In my que are Yes Man, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Tale of Despereaux, I.O.U.S.A and Donkey Punch. *whew* that's a lot of time on the couch! But I'm up for it, it's all about pacing .... enjoy!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

Sunshine Cleaning is one of the first films of 2009 that made me smile every time I saw the trailer (Star Trek and Transformers fall in that category as well, in 2008 it was WALL-E). The story of a woman cleaning up after the mess of humanity at crime scenes, is an odd premise with all kinds of possibilities. Turns out this is a touching tale of self discovery, determination, heart, loyalty, family and friendship. If you can't tell,I liked this one. Well written, acted and directed. Winston was my favorite character. Worth a look.


Dave Walker is taking some time off from his appearances on Cort & Fatboy, but thanks to Twitter, I still get his movie recommendations. Special is the film he was Tweeting about last week. He saw it at Sundance in 2006 and it is out in DVD this week. A story of delusion, deception, desperation and dreams. A man thinks he is volunteering to test a drug that will give him superpowers. In no time the lines between reality and delusion become very blurry. Is he super or special? All he wants to do is help. An interesting tale.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Seven Pounds

Seven Pounds explores the power of love and remorse. The pain is raw, and the struggle for redemption feels desperate. A man is directly responsible for the death of seven people, and his effort to make it right is unusual. The less you know about the movie going in, the better. A bit melodramatic at times, but it is a story you can go with. A decent rental.


Advetureland is the story of young adult angst, dealing with post-college graduation reality. Crappy jobs at a crappy amusement park serve as the setting for folks who make bad decisions, good decisions and live with their decisions. A poignant story of love and life with a funny, quirky edge. Well written, well acted and true to the times. The story takes place in 1987, the characters drive Pacers and Dusters, there's not a lot of money to throw around. A good film that tells a good story, I liked this one.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 4/3/09

Advetureland is the only opening in RI theaters for me this week. Fast & Furious, not so much. Watchmen, I Love You Man, Knowing, Paul Blart:Mall Cop, Taken and Duplicity are worth a look in theaters. Monsters and Aliens and Race to Witch Mountain are out there for the kids. The leftovers from award season, still in theaters, are Gran Torino, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire. Two Lovers and Sunshine Cleaning are in art houses. Have a great movie weekend!