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 ….

 

February 2016 (Sundance) Recap

Hi there!

After some technical difficulties (computer death/replacement) and just the overall craziness of the ole 9-5, I am back from my unplanned blogging hiatus to catch you up with my month in the movies.

For the past couple of years, my blog posts have usually been a series of recaps and reactions to my time out in lovely Park City, Utah. However, due to scheduling issues I was unable to attend the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. I could kick myself for missing out on seeing Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation (peep the release date). But alas, what is done is done and I hope to view and review that film later on this year.

In the meantime, have no fear – I was able to catch a couple of films pre-festival; some quick thoughts are below.

——–

The Fits – (Directed by Anna Rose Holmer. Written by Anna Rose Holmer, Saela Davis and Lisa Kjerulff. Running Time: 72 minutes).

Set in Cincinnati’s West End, this is a coming of age tale (of sorts), centered around 11-year-old Toni (newcomer Royalty Hightower) —a tomboy fascinated by the young women on a dance team that meet at the local recreation center where she and her brother practice boxing. Toni joins the squad in an attempt to gain acceptance with the seemingly confident and determined girls. As she jumps into this new adventure, a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells plagues the team and Toni’s desire for acceptance is tested and pushed to the limit. I will not reveal the source of what ails, but rest assured it is unironically something that we have seen in the news as of late.

ILC’s Quick Take: At points fully grounded in reality and at other times somewhat surreal, The Fits one stayed with me for a while after watching.

Note: The Fits has been picked up by Oscilloscope for distribution.

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How to Tell You’re a Douchebag – (Written/Directed by Tahir Jetter. Running Time: 80 minutes)

Ray Livingston (Charles Brice) is a Brooklyn-based blogger who has been having a tough time of it lately in the relationship department. A chance encounter with up and coming author Rochelle Marseille (DeWanda Wise), begins a process by which Ray finds himself confronted with wondering if he is indeed a douchebag.

ILC’s Quick Take: It is not without its flaws and in fact is a bit tropish, but I have to say I found it refreshing to be able to check out an alternative, “diverse” voice, especially in the romcom genre. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t chuckle a few times. So there is that.

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I have been away a while but I am curious – what have you been watching this past month? Let me know in the Comments section below.

 

 

Watch the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Presser Live Now! (Live Stream)

Seen at Tribeca (Post 3 of ?): Indian Point

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster several years ago, increased scrutiny has piled on the nuclear power industry. On a local level, residents, journalists and regulators alike are players in an increasingly complex environmental and regulatory space where there are raised concerns over the safety of the nation’s aging plants.. The heavily populated New York City metropolitan area is no exception. Check out this recent New York Times article for evidence; this is but one of several alarming pieces covering the 50+ year-old Indian Point nuclear facility on the otherwise picturesque Hudson River.

Director, Ivy Meeropol  Courtesy of Indian Point Film Productions, Inc.

Indian Point (Director, Ivy Meeropol)
Courtesy of Indian Point Film Productions, Inc.

Aptly titled Indian Point, the documentary, directed by Ivy Meeropol, features Indian Point employees, anti-nuke activists, environmental journalists and a host of other key players who have a stake in the long term outcome of the plant. Two points of interest on this front – a husband/wife tandem of anti nuclear activist and environmental journalist, and most notably, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, who by the account of the film was forced out of his position by a powerful and insular industry hell bent on growth amidst an increasingly alarmist court of public opinion.

In general, Indian Point is very much a paint by numbers documentary, not offering much in the way of ‘entertainment’, per se. But what makes it a watch of interest is that it provides some background information on the history of the facility and raises some questions as to the facility’s sustained viability amid the perceived imminent threat posed to the region.

 

Seen at Tribeca (Post 2 of ?): A Ballerina’s Tale

A Ballerina’s Tale is a “behind the curtain” look at world famous American Ballet Theater soloist Misty Copeland; Copeland is only the fourth African American to hold such a role in the company’s history.

Director Nelson George chronicles Copeland’s prodigious rise from her early days in California, her move to New York City in her teens and ultimately how she challenged people’s notions of what a “traditional” ballerina should look like. From here, the accounting of her life takes us up to the present day, with Copeland’s ascension as professional, including many of her triumphs (Firebird, Swan Lake) and setbacks (career threatening injuries). For me, the real treat of A Ballerina’s Tale, is how her career milestones are accented by the presence of her mentors, many of whom were trailblazing dancers in their own right; in fact, several make appearances in the film.

Sure, there are things I would have loved to see (a little more about her family life and background and the impact it had on her careers), but I will let this pass, given the documentary’s subject and importance. I am allowing myself, just for a moment, to reflect on what watching a film like this can mean for a young woman who has dreams, but feels that they will come to nothing (“so why bother?”). Fortunately, we get a brief hint of this in a scene where Misty meets a few of her younger fans. Moments like these resonate with me. In fact, it made me recall my own childhood days as a ballet/tap dancer. While I did not have great dancing ambitions, save for making it into pointe toes (that did not happen), I imagine if would have felt any different if the “rock star” of ballet during my time was someone I could relate to culturally.

In other words, I am confident that A Ballerina’s Tale can serve as a source of inspiration for others, much in the way that Sally Ride and Dr. Mae Jemison inspired me to want to become an astronaut.

And as we enter an age where appreciation for the various classical art forms is waning, Copeland stands heads above all as a beacon and ambassador that can (and hopefully will) inspire a new generation of dancers. This film is a good advertisement of that ability to transcend.

When Misty danced the solo role Gamzatti in American Ballet Theater’s 2012 production of La Bayadère, The New York Times praised her “worldly allure” and “complexity”. Photo by Oskar Landi

When Misty danced the solo role Gamzatti in American Ballet Theater’s 2012 production of La Bayadère, The New York Times praised her “worldly allure” and “complexity”.
Photo by Oskar Landi

Tribeca Recap (1 of ?); The Emperor’s New Clothes

Sorry for the delay, guys. Life at the movies has been rather hectic lately.

The dust has settled, giving me the opportunity to sit back and reflect on my latest Tribeca Film Festival experience.

First, a couple of observations:

  1. I LOVE the choice of the Regal Cinemas in Battery Park City being the hub this year. It is easily one of my favorite multiplexes in New York City and really showcases the beauty and spirit of Lower Manhattan.
  2. Sadly, due to the hectic nature of my schedule lately, I did not get the chance to see as many films as I wanted. Nevertheless, granted, what I did see is definitely noteworthy. I will be posting my recaps in multiple parts; but as indicated by my post’s title, the number of which is indeterminate at this posting’s time. Stay tuned!

 

I guess I will start when I finished the festival – with the Michael Winterbottom/Russell Brand collaboration of The Emperor’s New Clothes, an informative and irreverent account of the 2008 financial crisis and its ripple effect in the United Kingdom, the United States and around the world.

TENC_press_1

Now that I have had ample time to reflect on the film, I obviously have some thoughts – some things I was a bit “meh” about and others that I found worthy highlighting. Let’s get the “bad stuff” out of the way first:

PLEASE, papa don’t preach (too much): the retort is naturally What else should I have expected? In the end, I did not mind (read further down), but I could see where some could grow weary and wonder where this fella comes off talking about this stuff. To be fair, Brand seems at least minimally self-aware in realizing the interesting position he finds himself in, being part of that “1%” he is banging on about.

Pixelation = NOT okay: The overlaying pixelation of the graphics throughout the documentary was sometimes a bit off-putting, with on at least one occasion, leaving me to wonder if something had gone amiss with the digital projection in the theater. It made me kinda nervous and unsettled. Really it did – to the point where I was concerned that some less passive spectator would say something. Luckily that did not occur.

 

Those two matters are off my chest, time for some positivity:

It’s always easy to like something when you agree with the premise …: In general, I tend to keep clear of being overtly political in this space (I feel these types of discussions are best left for face-to-face chats). However, with this film, there is a very clear political agenda, forgive me in advance if my commentary veers a bit.

Framed by the Hans Christian Andersen tale and through a mixture of archival footage, anecdotal interviews, on-the-nose infographics, and the more than occasional Brand-ian quip, we are offered a balance of channels all driving home the same message – the farcical approach that has been taken in dealing with the financial/fiscal crisis and its direct effect on social well-being of everyday people. To personalize this message, Brand takes us to his hometown of Grays, Essex for an example of the impact to local communities. Even for individuals unfamiliar with the inner workings of the UK political, financial and social life, it is clear as crystal which side of the court our filmmakers are on. That said, a lot of the points do transcend national just the politics, with the reverberations of errant behavior of folks in London and New York; Winterbottom and Brand even hop across the pond where he examines the Occupy Movement; New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio even makes a brief appearance in the film.

Overall, I found myself either nodding in agreement or riled with anger and a feeling of helplessness/hopelessness of the state of the world as depicted in this documentary. I suspect many others had a similar experience. To their credit, the filmmakers do not leave the audience to stew in their emotions for too long, thanks to the comical interludes. In addition, as the film ends, the audience is presented with a framework for a call to action – some ideas are practical, some admittedly a little pie-in-the-sky – but it’s something. Only time will tell if there is any lasting impact.

One final note – timing is everything: in doing my background on this film, I saw that the UK release of The Emperor’s New Clothes took place on April 21 – just in time for the national Parliamentary elections (which take place this Thursday).

 

 

Image credit: Tribeca Film Festival/Studio Canal UK