Monday, April 22, 2013


It was Tribeca Film Festival time for the last 12 days!  New York City!
NYC was one of the most intimidating cities on my list.  I have traveled all over the country alone; Boston, Philly, Atlanta, and many more, but no city intimidated me more than NYC.  I was outside my box, but there were a few things that remain true to my personality and that was the way I traveled to NYC.   Most people would take a flight from O'Hare or Midway into JFK, grab a cab, and stay at a nearby local hotel in the trendy area of Tribeca for this film festival.  I'm not "most people."  I have always liked doing things a little out of order or in a different way and this film festival appeared to have been my norm of doing things.  First of all, I drove...from Chicago.  Why would I do that?  It's about 1000 miles! You see,  my mother turned 90 this weekend in my beautiful hometown of Mayville, NY.  How could I miss that momentus occasion.  Then fly on to NYC from Buffalo, right?  Nope.  No can do.  The flights go from Buffalo, back to Chicago for the most NONdirect route to NYC.  So I Poughkeepsie.  Yet another gorgeous place  I have lived and created cherished memories.  Put this on your list of summertime activities to do...walk across the Hudson River then have lunch or dinner at CRAVE.  Then it was on to the train (with a huge suitcase, or should I say suitcases as I am the queen of overpacking) to arrive in the Grand Central Station area and stay in my wonderful friends' parent's condo overlooking the East River and the United Nations!  Spectacular!

I have to say that NYC is an unbelievably friendly city; from the kind young man helping me put my BAS (Big Ass Suitcase) up on the rack to the kind gentlemen offering me directions and tips on "doing Tribeca." I was not overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the city, but by the kindness of it.  I felt not just safe, but welcomed here.  Men were chivalrous, women were friendly and helpful, and above all, everyone was polite.  Moms of NYC dwellers rest assured that you raised your kids right.  They remembered their manners even when they have flown the coop.

Now looking back on my too short of a trip of 5 days and my too-many-to-

count movies, beside needing a nap, I am thankful I "tackled" NYC.  This Tribeca Film Festival was so much more than a film festival.  Hindsight regarding anything is 20/20 and with other film festivals, I was so focused on cramming in so many movies that I had forgotten to stop and smell the roses.  I did smell the roses (and the Gerber Daisies and the tulips, etc)  in NYC and am so pleased that I had actually learned from my previous mistakes to do more than view films.  I have also realized that even having taken advantage of events outside of the film festival that fell into my lap, I must return to NYC to see all the things that I missed.

Films that I felt were worth seeing will be featured here in my full reviews, but to give you highlights of things to look forward to, I'll list them here along with some descriptions to entice you.

1.  "Hide Your Smiling Faces" was reminiscent of "Stand By Me" of years gone by.  Not exactly a "coming of age" movie for boys, but definitely a growing up movie about boys.  The theme consistently revolved around death and dying.  As two brothers and their intertwining friends coped with wills beyond their control, they explored not only the beautiful countryside, but their souls as well.  A beautifully depicted film, both cinematically and emotionally, "Hide Your Smiling Faces" will bring you back to your youth as it did mine in Upstate NY.  The end left me unfulfilled, but I'm venturing a guess (after speaking with males that saw this film), that men will relate more readily to it.

2.  "The Project" was not on my list, but fell into my schedule perfectly and I am so very glad that it did.  This documentary about the Somalian Pirates and the difficulties the US faced in trying to help the government of Somalian establish a credible and effective police force to combat the pirates was incredibly engaging.  From insider leaks, mutinies, and murder, the audience had first-hand experience into a life-style that most of us thought only happened in fictional movies starring Johnny Depp.

3.  "Mistaken For Strangers" was nothing like I had anticipated.  I had expected a typical documentary about an indie rock band called The National. (I'm not hip.  I'm not cool. I hadn't heard of them.  But I guarantee you I have them in my iTunes library now!)  This was anything but a band documentary.  This was a doc about two brothers who fill the yin-yang circle completely.  Tom and Matt Berninger were brothers.  One, Matt, the cool, hip indie rockster and the other, well, as another critic and I discussed, he reminded me of Jack Black in a not-very-cool way.  This was a movie about sibling relationships, reality, and loyalty as well as growing up...even at the age of 30 or 40 something.  It took so much courage for Tom to show the world his true self and how he could turn that into a learning experience and better himself.  Really, how many of us could truly look at ourselves for who we are.  I'm guessing that most of us would rather not.

4.  "Wadjda" focused upon a girl who dared to challenge the norms as a young student growing up in Ridayh, Saudi Arabia with her single mother.  Wadjda was constantly in trouble for acting like what we Americans would call a typical 10 year old.  But in this patriarchal society of Saudi Arabia, a girl wanting to ride a bike or not cover her face were grounds for punishment.  Wadjda and her mother both learn more about themselves and how to be happy.  This is a wonderful film that anyone from any culture can enjoy.

5.  "The English Teacher" starred Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear and Nathan Lane.  When an "indie film" utilizes known actors, it makes it less than "indie." "The English Teacher" was a completely predictable movie that was more fluff than substance.  I am sure, however, that this film will hit the theaters due to the mere fact that it has these three names in it.   It was cute.  I chuckled.  It was definitely a "chick flick."  I can see myself waiting for the DVD and having my friends over for wine and cheese and crackers (NYS XX Sharp Cheese, of course!)  and we would enjoy it.

6.  "A Single Shot" starred Sam Rockwell and William H. Macy.  I love these actors and even after hearing mediocre reviews about the film, I still wanted to see it for myself.  The reviews were correct.  Rockwell played a man down on his luck who ended up poaching out of season animals for food.  His deer hunting skills, also mediocre, landed him in a case of murder of a young woman.  The subsequent events spiraled ever so quickly into an abyss that you thought it was impossible to get out.  A great premise, but it focused too much on the violence and horror aspect that it lost me.  William H. Macy had too small of a role and this role was too cartoonish to be believable.

7.  "Bluebird" was on my list as I think Chicago claims Amy Morton as their own.  However, during the Q & A, the writer claimed her as NY's!  How dare he!  "Bluebird" was about a bus driver played by Morton, who was negligent in spotting a student left on her bus overnight in this cold New England town.  The subsequent events that occured  significantly affected all of their lives,  not only hers , but her husband and their teenage daughter's as well.  "Bluebird was a touching story, but not cohesive enough to make an impact at the box office.  Morton, of course, was outstanding.  I would expect nothing less.

8.  "Fresh Meat" was a horror fan's dream...or should I say nightmare?  Bumbling criminals break out one of their partners from an police transport.  In their efforts to escape the law, they happen upon an open garage in which to find refuge.  The foursome find their gruesome match in that house they have invaded.  "Fresh Meat" is equal parts disgusting bloody special effects and typical horror sequences which kept me on the edge of my seat.  It was really rather funny in parts as well.  The "gross-out" factor was too much for me.  I really needed an air sickness bag positioned in the seat pocket in front of me.

9.  "Some Velvet Morning" was recommended to me by another film critic.  I will be forever thankful for his guidance.  Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve starred in this film.  That's all who are on the screen.  This was a provocative film about a prostitute and her client whom she hasn't seen in many years.  Their relationship is more than client/provider and that is evident from the beginning.  It is also evident that their past relationship is less than a healthy one.  This was one of the biggest emotional roller coaster rides I have ever experienced in a film.  And then the train hit me head on.  I can't tell  you more than that.  See this one.

10 "Northwest" was a gritty, grimy look at the underworld of Copenhagen.  Two brothers were dragged further and further into crime until this life was more than they can handle.  This was an intense film depicting brutal mistakes that forever affected their lives.

In addition to these feature films, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to see short films and documentaries prior to the festival.  "The Genius of Marian" and "The Rider and the Storm" were two enlightening short docs that everyone should take the time to see.  I had the opportunity to interview both of these filmmakers and will post these interviews in the coming weeks.  Other fun shorts that I viewed included "The River," "The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars" (I apologize to the actor that I almost dropped my 50# backpack on as I was seated for "The English Teacher!  Glad you laughed with me!), "Lapse: Confessions of a Slot Machine Junkie,""Fool's Day," "Epilogue," "Zzzzz," and "Fortune House."

I started this blog by stating that the Tribeca Film Festival was much more than films; it was the experience in and around it.  I had the pleasure and opportunity to take part in the WIMMI (Women In Media Mentoring Initiative) program and attending a new comedy club and production called 'Mock My World' at The Stand Comedy Club and Restaurant.  I'm also a very food focused person and dining in NYC knocks the socks off any other city I've visited as every meal I had was not just good, but spectacular!  I was treated like royalty, not because I was with the press, but because I put it out there that I wasn't from NYC.  So my treatment went from fantastic to phenomenal as NY'ers seem to want out-of-towners to love NYC as much as they do.  Mission accomplished NY!  I LOVE NY!

Check back for detailed reviews of ALL the movies and events that I attended. 

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