Archives for April 2016

Checking in with …. the 2016 TCM Film Festival

Sure, there is a full day and a half of programming to look forward to, but I had a little bit of downtime and I thought it was as good a time as any to check in and let you know I have been having an AWESOME time out here in Hollywood at the 7th Annual TCM Film Festival.

This year I really made it a mission of mine to more or less check out screenings for films I have not seen (big screen or small screen). So far the experience has been wonderful and I cannot wait to share with you some of my thoughts and commentary on films such as:

  • The Passion of Joan of Arc
  • One Potato, Two Potato
  • Los Tallos Amargos
  • Never Fear

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In the meantime, checkout my Twitter handle, @iluvcinema for periodic news, commentary and other good stuff!

Tribeca 2016 Preview (Short Film Programs)

I round out my prep for Tribeca 2016 with a look at some of the Shorts Programs playing. For the duration of a feature film you can see a few pieces, threaded together by a common theme. Here are a few programming blocks and a feature (or two) I think are of interest (N=Narrative D=Documentary):

 

New York Now Home-grown New York shorts

You Can Go (N):  A high school administrator talks down a troubled student.

The Mulberry Bush (N): Two men sit next to each other on an autumn day in Central Park. They make small talk about the weather and the joys of summer. When the conversation turns personal, however, it becomes clear that this is no random encounter, and they are headed toward a startling confrontation.

Wannabe (N): NYC, 1991. During a time of tremendous racial strife, a neurotic Jewish boy must win over his crush by first impressing her skeptical Jamaican family.

S. Epatha Merkerson as Mrs. Bryant in YOU CAN GO directed by Christine Turner. Photo credit: Marshall Stief

S. Epatha Merkerson as Mrs. Bryant in YOU CAN GO directed by
Christine Turner.
Photo credit: Marshall Stief

 

New York Then Human stories and New York’s past

Taylor and Ultra on the 60s, The Factory and Being a Warhol Superstar (D): Warhol superstar Ultra Violet (Isabelle Colin Dufresne) and Lower East Side icon Taylor Mead (poet/actor/artist) share their stories of Manhattan in the 1960s.

Dead Ringer (D): There are only four outdoor phone booths left in all of New York City—this is a late night conversation with one of them.

Mulberry (D): This cinematic portrait of Little Italy explores how a working class neighborhood of tenement buildings transformed into the third most expensive zip code in the United States. Part funny, part sad, the film investigates how gentrification and rent control are affecting the neighborhood’s long-term residents.

Starring Austin Pendleton (D): The most famous actor you’ve never heard of; Austin Pendleton reflects on his life and craft while his A-list peers discuss his vast influence and what it means to be an original in a celebrity-obsessed world. Includes interviews with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, Olympia Dukakis, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

The Carousel (D): In the small town of Binghamton, New York, there spins a 1925 carousel that once inspired Rod Serling and has since become a portal into the Twilight Zone.

Cortlandt Hull’s finished piece of Rod Serling and other works inspired by The Twilight Zone. Photo by Jonathan Napolitano

Cortlandt Hull’s finished piece of Rod Serling and other works inspired by The Twilight Zone. Photo by Jonathan Napolitano

 

Rock and a Hard Place Music-driven documentary shorts program

Let’s Dance: Bowie Down Under (D): The remarkable, forgotten story behind ‘Let’s Dance,’ David Bowie’s biggest hit record.

David Bowie and crew filming the music video for Let’s Dance in the Carinda Hotel, in remote, outback Australia. Photo credit: Smoking Bear Productions.

David Bowie and crew filming the music video for Let’s Dance in the Carinda Hotel, in remote, outback Australia. Photo credit: Smoking Bear Productions.

 

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for updates, tweets and some reviews!

 

 

Tribeca 2016 (Special Programs)

An often overlooked aspect of many a film festival is the opportunity to experience things are adjacent to film that exclusive of simply going to the theater, watching a film and walking out to ponder what you just saw.

The 2016 Tribeca Film Festival has LOTS to offer in this regard.

Unfortunately, my current schedule means that I will probably miss out many of the events, but if you are able to, I would suggest checking out what you can (subject to availability). Synopses and photos sourced from Tribeca Film Festival website.

 

4oth Anniversary Screening and Reunion: Taxi Driver (4/21)

In attendance: Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Robert DeNiro, Jodie Foster and Cybil Shepherd.

Iris, Jodie Foster & Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro © 1976, renewed 2004 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Iris, Jodie Foster & Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro
© 1976, renewed 2004 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


The Festival Hub

There is too much going on here to list in a comprehensive and way, so I recommend you just visit the website; highlights include the Games for Change – Games and Media Summit (4/18).


Special Screenings

The Man who Knew Infinity (Tribeca Talks After the Movie)

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In 1913, a self-taught mathematics prodigy Ramanujan (Dev Patel) traveled from his home in India to Trinity College in Cambridge to study with the esteemed professor GH Hardy (Jeremy Irons). Hardy fights for Ramanujan to be recognized as the two struggle with prejudice, illness, and culture on the road to perfecting the theorems that changed the course of history of math.

 

Relationship Status (Special Screening debuting alongside the Tribeca Digital Creators Market. Includes a post-screening conversation with the creators).

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Split between New York and LA, Relationship Status is an ensemble dramedy following an interweaving cast of 20 and 30 – somethings as they experience the highs and lows of dating in the digital age, all told through the lens of social storytelling. Featuring Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes, Gilmore Girls), Shawn Ashmore (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Emma Bell (The Walking Dead) and Brant Daugherty (Pretty Little Liars).

 

The Show of Shows: 100 Years of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals

BRENDA CONTORTIONIST. Photo Credit: National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield Library

BRENDA CONTORTIONIST. Photo Credit: National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield Library

Benedikt Erlingsson brings us a world of imagination with a compendium of wonderful unseen archival footage of circus performers, cabaret acts, and fairground attractions. The films are set to a haunting electronic score composed by members of Sigur Rós in collaboration with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson.


Tribeca Talks

Directors Series:

Storytellers:


Tribeca Tune In

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Hey it’s TV time! Taking the small screen to the big screen. Screenings and conversations with the creatives behind shows such as The Night Manager (4/15),  For the Love of Spock (4/18), Catastrophe (4/19) and Roots (4/21).

 

Check in tomorrow for my feature on the Short Film Programs!

In the meantime, happy festival-ing everyone!

 

tribeca film festival 2016

Tribeca 2016 Preview (Documentary)

Over the years and thanks to film festivals like Tribeca, my appreciation for the documentary format has increased ten -fold. Does that mean I like every documentary I have seen? Of course not. But there remains for me something fascinating about “telling” real like stories on the big screen.

So here is a set of feature-length docs that I am looking forward to over the course of the next 10-11 days. Those marked with an asterisk (*) have already been screened. Synopses courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival Film Guide.

 

LoveTrue

Directed by Alma Har’el

Blake & Young Blake in LoveTrue. Photographer: Alma Har'el

Blake & Young Blake in LoveTrue. Photographer: Alma Har’el

Alma Har’el, director and cinematographer of the 2011 TFF Best Documentary Feature Bombay Beach, returns with LoveTrue, a genre-bending documentary, demystifying the fantasy of true love. From an Alaskan strip club, a Hawaiian island, and the streets of NYC—revelatory stories emerge about a deeper definition of love.

 

The Last Laugh *

Directed by Ferne Pearlstein

When is comedy not funny? Some would argue, when it’s about the Holocaust. Through interviews and performances featuring people on either side of the issue—including Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Joan Rivers, Chris Rock, and Abe Foxman—as well as a portrait of a resilient survivor, The Last Laugh offers an intelligent and hilarious survey of what is and is not off-limits in comedy, from the Holocaust and beyond.

 

Bad Rap *

Awkwafina (Nora Lum)'s fans surround her before her show in Washington, D.C. Cinematographer: Salima Koroma

Awkwafina (Nora Lum)’s fans surround her before her show in Washington, D.C. Cinematographer: Salima Koroma

Directed by Salima Koroma

Bad Rap follows the lives and careers of four Asian-American rappers trying to break into a world that often treats them as outsiders. Sharing dynamic live performance footage and revealing interviews, these artists will make the most skeptical critics into believers. With humor and insight, the film paints a portrait of artistic passion in the face of an unsung struggle.

 

My Scientology Movie *

Directed by John Dower

Louis Filming being Filmed at Gold Base. © BBC/BBCWorldwide

Louis Filming being Filmed at Gold Base. © BBC/BBCWorldwide

BBC journalist Louis Theroux joins forces with director John Dower to explore the elusive Church of Scientology. With the help of a former high-ranking Scientologist, Theroux sets out to understand the furtive goings-on of the Church, armed with his irreverent humor and biting irony.

 

Reset (Releve)

Directed by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai

Benjamin Millepied. Copyright Emmanuel Guionet/Falabracks

Benjamin Millepied.
Copyright Emmanuel Guionet/Falabracks

Stunningly gorgeous and delicate in both subject and treatment, Reset depicts renowned choreographer and dancer Benjamin Millepied (also known for choreographing the dance sequences in Black Swan) as he attempts to rejuvenate the Paris Opera Ballet in his new position as director. With appearances by composer Nico Muhly, Opera alumna Aurélie Dupont, and designer Iris van Herpen, Reset is a delightfully aesthetic affair.

 

The Return

Directed by Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway

Shane Taylor in THE RETURN. Photographer: Todd Hido

Shane Taylor in THE RETURN. Photographer: Todd Hido

How does one reintegrate into society after making peace with a life sentence? California’s controversial and notoriously harsh three-strikes law was repealed in 2012, consequently releasing large numbers of convicts back into society. The Return presents an unbiased observation of the many issues with re-entry through the varied experiences of recently freed lifers.

 

Keepers of the Game

Directed by Judd Ehrlich

Jacelyn shoots. From KEEPERS OF THE GAME. Cinematographer: Peter Eliot Buntaine

Jacelyn shoots. From KEEPERS OF THE GAME. Cinematographer: Peter Eliot Buntaine

Lacrosse is a sacred game for Native Americans, traditionally reserved for men. When a women’s varsity team forms in upstate New York, they aim to be the first Native women’s team to take the championship title away from their rivals Massena High. With the indigenous community torn, they find that more than just the championship is on the line.

 

Obit

Directed by Vanessa Gould

Last remaining archivist Jeff Roth searches the New York Times morgue. Photographer: Ben Wolf

Last remaining archivist Jeff Roth searches the New York Times morgue.
Photographer: Ben Wolf

Within the storied walls of The New York Times, a team of writers is entrusted with reflecting upon the luminaries, icons, and world leaders of our day. Vanessa Gould’s fascinating documentary introduces us to those responsible for crafting the unequaled obituaries of the NYT. As we’re taken through their painstaking process, we learn about the pressures accompanying a career spent shaping the story of a life.

 

Next: Special Programs

 

tribeca film festival 2016

 

 

 

Tribeca 2016 Preview (Narrative)

Sorry in advance for the impending spam, but I am going to do what I should have been doing for the past several days. But work and screening a few of the films that are going to be mentioned here and in subsequent preview posts resulted in my falling a little behind.

Technically a “preview” although today is the official start of Tribeca 2016. Now in its 15th year, it is a celebration of film, New York style.

Over years of volunteering and covering this festival, I have reveled in the laid back, fun atmosphere. It is the main reason I keep coming back for more. That and it is one of my main hometown festivals.

Enough of that though – onto the films. This year I have decided to break out my previews by format: Narrative (this post), Documentary, Special Events and Short Film Programs. Anything that is marked with an asterisk (*) is something I have already seen and will likely have a pending review in the coming weeks. I say weeks because right after this festival is sealed, I head off Hollywood, CA for the TCM Film Festival (more on that later).

——

In the Narrative Category, here is a peek at what I am looking out for (all synopses provided courtesy of the wonderful TFF programmers from the Official Film Guide):

 

Adult Life Skills

Directed by Rachel Tunnard

Jodie Whittaker as Anna in the film ADULT LIFE SKILLS. Photographer: Jo Irvine

Jodie Whittaker as Anna in the film ADULT LIFE SKILLS. Photographer: Jo Irvine

Expanded from her BAFTA-nominated short, Rachel Tunnard’s striking feature debut is a dry-witted, charming, dark comedy that mixes dreamlike flourishes with dramatic action. Adult Life Skills is an off-beat comedy about a lost woman finding herself.

 

Little Boxes

Directed by Rob Meyer

Neslan Ellis as Mack Burns, Armani Jackson as Clark Burns, and Melanie Lynskey as Gina McNulty-Burns in LITTLE BOXES. Photo by: Mark Doyle

Neslan Ellis as Mack Burns, Armani Jackson as Clark Burns, and Melanie Lynskey as Gina McNulty-Burns in LITTLE BOXES. Photo by: Mark Doyle

It’s the summer before 6th grade, and Clark is the new-in-town biracial kid in a sea of white. Discovering that to be cool he needs to act ‘more black,’ he fumbles to meet expectations as rifts are exposed in his tight-knit family, his parents also striving to adjust. This poignant comedy about understanding identity is the second feature from TFF alumnus Rob Meyer.

 

Live Cargo (In Competition)

Directed by Logan Sandler

Dree Hemingway as Nadine in LIVE CARGO. Photo Credit: Daniella Nowitz

Dree Hemingway as Nadine in LIVE CARGO. Photo Credit: Daniella Nowitz

Nadine (Dree Hemingway) and Lewis (Keith Stanfield) visit a small Bahamian island hoping to restore their relationship in the wake of a tragedy, only to find the picturesque island torn in two: on one side a dangerous human trafficker and on the other an aging patriarch, struggling to maintain order.

 

Kicks

Directed by Justin Tipping

Film still from KICKS.

Film still from KICKS.

When his hard-earned kicks get snatched by a local hood, fifteen-year old Brandon and his two best friends go on an ill-advised mission across the Bay Area to retrieve the stolen sneakers. Featuring a soundtrack packed with hip-hop classics, Justin Tipping’s debut feature is an urban coming-of-age tale told with grit, humor, and surprising lyricism.

 

Custody

Directed by James Lapine

Catalina Sandino Moreno as Sara Diaz and Jaden Michael as David Diaz in the film CUSTODY. Photographer: Tom Concordia

Catalina Sandino Moreno as Sara Diaz and Jaden Michael as David Diaz in the film CUSTODY. Photographer: Tom Concordia

Legal and intimate family dynamics dovetail in Custody. Starring Viola Davis as an embattled family court judge with a fraught marriage of her own; Hayden Panettiere as a recent law-school grad flung into a custody case; and Catalina Sandino Moreno as the single mother at the center of the case who risks losing her two children over an ill-timed argument.

 

Mr. Church

Directed by Bruce Beresford

Eddie Murphy as Henry Joseph Church in MR.CHURCH. Photographer: Darren Michaels

When a dying mother hires a talented cook (Eddie Murphy) to help take care of her young daughter, a lifelong friendship blooms, in this tender coming-of-age family drama by Oscar-nominated director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy).

 

Equals

Directed by Drake Doremus

Kristen Stewart as Nia and Nicholas Hoult as Silas in the film EQUALS. Photo courtesy of A24.

Kristen Stewart as Nia and Nicholas Hoult as Silas in the film EQUALS. Photo courtesy of A24.

Set in a sleek and stylish future world, Drake Doremus’ sci-fi romance envisions an understated dystopia, where all human emotion is seen as a disease that must be treated and cured. Against this backdrop, coworkers Nia (Kristen Stewart) and Silas (Nicholas Hoult) begin to feel dangerous stirrings for one another.

 

High Rise

Directed by Ben Wheatley

Tom Hiddleston as Robert Laing in HIGH RISE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit: Aidan Monaghan

Tom Hiddleston as Robert Laing in HIGH RISE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit: Aidan Monaghan

Based on J.G. Ballard’s novel of the same name, High-Rise stars Tom Hiddleston as Dr. Robert Lang, a newcomer to a recently constructed complex in which the residents are stratified by social class. But when the power goes out, the tenuous hierarchy rapidly descends into chaos. Luke Evans, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, and Elisabeth Moss co-star.

 

Stay tuned for the Documentaries I am most looking forward to ….