Come on now, what else did you expect me to say?
Seriously though, I had been planning this trip for a minute now. As a film buff (well, I like to watch movies so I guess that makes me a film buff), my goal for this year is to hit up as many major film festivals as I can. So far, I conquered Tribeca; next up is the American Black Film Festival. And hopefully in January, I will be heading to the Toronto or Sundance film festivals (it's really a toss-up at this point).
Of course, I, along with my friend Carla, didn't get to experience the entire Tribeca festival. In short: we were broke. So we decided to forgo the huge, (very) overpriced packages and buy our tickets a la carte. Of course, that was contingent on films being available and our determination to stand in long lines for the wait list for the films that were already gobbled up by those purchased the ticket packages (also known as the un-broke ones). So in the end, we only got to see about four out of the ten films we had on our list (and no, Beats, Rhymes and Life was not one of them) and our Tribeca film experience just turned into an excuse to hang out in New York City.
But still, we did manage to see a couple of gems and one film that can be considered overblown hype (which we unfortunately we did wait have to wait in a long line for almost 2 hours to see). But at least I got a dope tote bag out of it (see above).
So without further adieu, here are Carla and my thoughts on the Tribeca films:
A writer-director Steven Silver's drama, based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa.
What we thought of it: Well...
...hard to empathize with characters, who were very underdeveloped. And so was the plot. Also the out of place sex scene and romance were really distracting and the film definitely needed subtitles.
This was definitely a white’s man world view of the world type of film. Although the story took place in a predominately black country, the actual blacks - and their struggle to gain independence - were mere background and side issues to the overall film's theme. At no point was there a clear explanation of the conflict between Kaffas and Zulus, the two tribes fighting against each other prior to South Africa's liberation. Nor was there much reference to the part that white South Africans, as well as foreign entities, played in the chaos. We, as moviegoers, were just plopped down into the conflict and made to figure it out for ourselves.
Not to mention that black characters were mere stereotypical and bordered on the line of being offensive. In fact, beyond the one-liners they painstaking gave, most of the black characters look like caricatures of themselves as oppose to real people. In one scene, in which the photographer Greg Marinovich (who the film is based upon) managed to find himself surrounded by a bunch of Zulus (or Kaffas - I couldn't tell) in a dangerous part of town after a merciful killing of a young boy. As he leader of the tribe explain why they killed the boy (again, that was not clear), the other tribe members decided to break out into song and dance, including the chucking of spears (seriously), while our hero photographer clicked away. You realize that there was more to that particular situation, unfortunately you never get it.
Subject matter aside (if you are able to put it aside), the film had potential as it was interesting to see what motivates journalist to want to embed themselves into chaos and conflict, just for a picture or a story. And the film did manage to raise many fascinating moral and ethical questions. However, the film was so sloppily done that we never feel the danger of being in the photographers' shoes or their internal conflict of balancing "reporting the news" and "being exploitative."
Out of five stars, a 2.5 is a fair and quite possibly generous rating.
Following his country’s economic meltdown, acerbic Icelandic comedian Jon Gnarr launches his own political party, The Best Party. His platform? Free trips to Disneyland, more polar bears at the zoo, and refusing to work with anyone who doesn’t watch The Wire. But when support for Gnarr’s wacky mayoral bid surprisingly snowballs, what started out as a joke quickly captures the imagination of a nation desperate for a change.
What we thought of it: This review will be courtesy of Carla because somewhere between his first debate and the ending credits, I feel asleep. I think it had to do with the deadly combination of walking all those damn blocks through Chelsea to find the theater in the most uncomfortable shoes, along with all that guacamole I had at Chipotle, along with the reclining seat and dark theater, which all created a perfect storm of sleepiness.
However, Carla thinks it was alright. Much better than the bang, bang, club. She thought that while the film was indeed humorous it also managed to show respect to its subject matter. She also liked the joke about the commonality of Gnarr and Barack Obama, in which he said that they both had whiteness in common. But the Carla said that the film fell apart when we he began to take his Best Party, a political organization started to mock the election process in Iceland, serious. Then, she said, it got boring.
Carla gives it 3 stars. I give it zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
She searched for a home, she searched for love. Confronted by Apartheid and a father who was Minister of censorship. With men like Jack Cope and Andre Brink she found much love, but no home. In his first speech to the South African Parliament Nelson Mandela read her poem "The Dead Child of Nyanga" and addresses her as one of the finest poets of South Africa. [IMDB]
What we thought of it: This was the U.S. premier of the film, which made Carla and I feel very special. However, somewhere during the first 40 minutes of the movie Carla leaned over and asked: "I wondering why we wanted to see this movie?"
It was an interesting question because usually I do not gravitate to romance or love stories. However, the film did a really good job of describing the complexity of love, without beating us to death with the romance. And it, and the real life person the movie was based upon, is actually was a compelling story. Ingrid Jonker, a poet, whose work I had never heard, but was very influential during the time period before South Africa's independence. While she was undoubtedly troubled – or as Carla calls her, “bed-hopping biopolar nutcase" - Ingrid also had a gift with words and imagery.
Despite the troubled and manic-depressant subject matter, the story flowed very well. There were a couple of kinks in the plot: I thought that the dude playing Ingrid's father was written with no subtly. And while I understand that her father is a racist asshole, I'm not quite sure that he was supposed to be a Nazi. So why did he sound like Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes? Also, I was sort of confused as to what I was suppose to be watching. While the description for the movie read a story about a woman, who used her poetry for activism, what we actually saw was a film, based on mostly on her personal demons - with the inclusion of one political poem. So again, we have another story about Europeans, where the real story about apartheid South Africa plays the background.
Other than that, it was a really good film. A little on the long end but the film, while not heavy on action, is very heavy on content, which made the 2 hours go by rather fast.
Carla gives it a 3.5; I give it a solid 4.
A David and Goliath law drama about a drug-addicted lawyer who takes on a health supply corporation while battling his own personal demons.
*****No Trailer Available*****
Why did we want to see this? Actually, we’re not quite sure what attracted us to this film. In fact, we kept having to refer to the film guide to remember what the film was about. We did know it was the quintessential David and Goliath-esque story.
What we thought of it: Carla has to sit out on this review because she feel asleep. Something about those reclining theater seats.
However, I thought that this film was one of the better ones that we (I) saw during our entire weekend. The characters were really well developed and so was the subject matter, which centered on the true life story of a drug addict attorney assisting a inventor with his fight against the medical supply industry, who were blocking his safety needle from getting into hospitals across the country. The film did draw out rather on the long winded and repetitious at times however the movie did a better job of taking the back story, which was about the actual case, and mixing it with the focus of the movie, which was the drug addict attorney. One of the things that I liked most about the movie was that it highlighted the fact that a huge part to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa is attributed to the reuse and recycling of disposal needles. I damn near cried when I learned that fact.
Also the film managed to transition nicely with its range of emotions - from sadness to anger to laughter – without missing a beat. I guess it helps that the screen play was written by drug addict attorney's (sorry, I can't remember his name) law partner. The ending was priceless twist. By the end of the movie, I was saying, thank god for lawyers and then I had to say “did I just say that?”
Carla gave this movie a 3; I gave it a 4.5
So there you have it folks, a small sampling of the Tribeca Film Festival experience. If you get a chance to, definitely go. There were so many other films, which we wish we had both the time and money to go see. Plus, you'll get a chance to hang out in NYC, where there is always something to do.
On a side note, I know I have been slacking with this blog lately. Mainly, its because I've been busy. But that doesn't mean that I haven't been working on content behind the scenes (I just haven't had time to post it), so be on the look-out for new stuff shortly (I hope :/