Weekend in the City: Tribeca 2

Sorry this is a little late…just to cover off, Justtwomorethings came down for the last weekend of Tribeca–unfortunately, weather wasn’t quite as nice as previous weekend, but it wasn’t snowing so I’ll take it.

We went to this little Thai place by our hotel for dinner. Neither of us had actually been before, but it turned out to be pretty good–I had the softshell crab with papaya salad, and Justtwomorethings had the noodles. The Crab wasn’t quite as good as the one in Hong Kong–It was a little dry, but not greasy, and the papaya salad was the right amount of light sweetness to counterbalance.

The movie–Mojave–was all the way over in Battery Park. Again, I’ll leave the full review to my sister, but it was…weird. And this is the second time I’ve seen Oscar Isaacs abandon an animal, and the third time he’s played a deviant, so…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next day we returned to NJ to meet Justtwomorethings’s friend for lunch. We ate at the Committed Pig in Morristown–I actually pass by this place everyday on the way to work, so was intrigued and meaning to stop by. it does do pig products well–my bacon was yummy and so was justtwomorethings’s croque madame (though the latter was too heavy to finish)


Tribeca Film Festival Reviews

My third year going, entropyenator’s first.  The weather on the second weekend wasn’t quite as good, being a good deal chillier, but it wasn’t raining and it was decently sunny most of the time.  Entropyenator lucked out of having to stand in line under a miserable drizzle, so I suppose we’ll have to try again next year and see if we can properly introduce her to NYC rush lines.

Shorts: Be Yourself: Six short documentaries.  American Renaissance had probably the most non-traditional structure, impressionistic and grounded versus explanatory.  Live Fast, Draw Yung and All-American Family explore their subjects by focusing on internal family dynamics that then spiral out to the “hook” (child prodigy artist, Deaf culture).  Elder and Eternal Princess are basically monologues, although Elder was by far more emotionally resonant; Eternal Princess never rises above hagiography (also, super-awkward moment when everyone was asked to clap for each director as they were announced, and Katie Holmes got polite applause to the whoops of the others).  My Enemy, My Brother did some creative interpolation of flashback/reinactment that convey visually how PTSD bubbles up afresh every day for its subjects.

El Cinco: A very naturalistic, almost to the point of documentary, movie about an aging soccer player who decides to retire, and who has to figure out the second act of his life.  The nonjudgmental, nondramatic filming style suits the main characters, none of whom are particularly deep thinkers (the main character is, honestly, an asshole who loves well but loves tribally), but all of whom feel deeply and honestly.  If the camera was jump-cutting and using tricky angles to signal every dramatic development, I think it actually would have cheapened the emotion with the artificial setting.  Put in context, the conflicts in these characters’ lives are nothing new but they’re intimately relatable.  Also, although the movie revolves entirely around a man, the female lead is unusually well-developed and realistic in that her attempts to support him are sometimes misguided, often ineffective but well-intended, rather than some perfect pixie girl.  Which goes a long way towards making the sex scenes (including an aborted outdoor sex scene) playfully earthy rather than porn wish fulfillment.

Mojave: Really pretentious mangst about how a rich white guy in the entertainment business overcomes his inexplicably tortured psyche to become a better sociopath than a bonafide serial killer.  There are some overly cute and meta in-jokes about Hollywood and the movies and how they eat people alive (Mark Wahlberg shows up just long enough to prove he’s terrible at playing not badass).  Oscar Isaac appears to be having a ton of fun playing a cut-rate boogeyman, and lifts a couple of scenes to interesting all by his lonesome.  Otherwise, the lack of suspense here makes you nostalgic for the Scream franchise.

When I Live My Life Again: Dysfunctional child comes home to dysfunctional family and is forced to confront her childhood traumas.  There’s a through-line about songwriting and musical comebacks and evolution, but it’s got no ommph behind it (also, the song that the movie takes the title from, it’s a terrible Sinatra pastiche).  Every parallel about destructive parent begetting destructive child is drawn, every terrible decision that could be made by a character is made, and every dated assertion about selling out is tossed out there.  Christopher Walken and Ann Magnuson at least seem to be having a lot of fun, but Amber Heard is horribly grating as the self-righteous unlikable heroine who just seems to exist as somebody’s daddy issues mouthpiece.

Weekend in the City: Tribeca Film Festival

Aviary Photo_130740492826054495

Spring! And it actually felt and looked it!

Last weekend, Justtwomorethings and I were in the city for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

Aviary Photo_130740494564357013

I had just spent the last two weekends stressed out over a very important presentation, so I was ready to relax. The films we wanted to see were in the evenings, so that left most of the day free to walk around. Union Square is always a staple, though we resisted buying food at the Farmers Market so we wouldn’t have to carry it around (though I was tempted by the world’s tiniest radishes).

Aviary Photo_130740493045588737

Random street art (with felt pigeons) is always fun too.

Lunch was at Momofuku. I hadn’t eaten there before, but it’s an NYC attraction. The apple and bacon chutney thing was a little disappointing (decently good, but not a standout) but the Momofuku O.G. bowl and roast duck were very yummy. As was the Thai tea cake, though it could have used a little softening up. The tamarind top layer was nice and bright, balanced out by the smooth almond cheesecake-y base.

Justtwomorethings: Momofuku Ssam Bar.  Apple and bacon kimchi, actually, and the problem was that although the apple slices looked like they’d been kimchi’ed, in reality they didn’t taste the least bit like kimchi spice.  Great idea in theory (spicy heat playing off the sweet apple), poor execution.  And the Thai tea cake was just a little too chilled to sink a spoon into easily.  Roast duck, as always, was delish.

Our evenings, on the other hand, were spent in the theaters. Justtwomorethings is better at film reviews than me, so I’ll leave those to her. But I did get to see 4 famous people during my first TFF though, so that was cool. Alas, I did not get an autograph from any. We were too far away from Katie Holmes and Nadia Comaneci, Amber Heard was swamped, and Christopher Walken booked it to the door 😦

Justtwomorethings: For the record, the only autograph I would have been interested in was Christopher Walken (Nadia Comaneci is cool, but I’m not into gymnastics).

Tribeca Film Festival: Electric Slide, The Other One, Intramural

I finished up the festival with, basically, a bunch of empty visual calories.  The fun stuff.  The insane stuff.  The stuff you wonder what on earth were the programmers thinking when they let this in, what, I thought film festivals were all Serious and Arty and not at all about the drunken/baked college demographic (full disclosure: I was slightly buzzed when I saw all of these aside from Electric Slide, either from beer or from the exhaustion of running on four to six hours of sleep a night because I kept booking late-night screenings).  But hey, why not?  Sometimes you go for the six-course tasting meal, and sometimes you go for the fried everything basket.

Continue reading

Tribeca Film Festival: Shorts – Handle With Care, The Bachelor Weekend, Chef, Bright Days Ahead

i will admit that TFF’s $40 ticket package for matinees and late-night showings was more than worth the money, paying off after I redeemed four of the six tickets you get.  Would’ve been an even better deal if I’d been able to come for an additional weekday, but I do have to earn the paycheck.

If last weekend was (oddly, and totally unplanned) all documentaries, this one is shaping up to be nearly all narratives.

Continue reading

Tribeca Film Festival: Ballet 422, Shorts – Totally Twisted, 30 for 30, Beyond the Brick, Tomorrow We Disappear

I have to say that it was a gorgeous weekend in New York, so at least it looked good outside while I forgot my pre-printed tickets, struggled to get the hotel printer to work (by the way, Google, setting up Gmail to default to remembering you even if you log out is crap for shared terminals), and then ran across town to the first of three rush lines I was planning to hit (with a stop at Union Square for ramps, because RAMPS.  Finally.  Such a harsh winter).

Well, waste of effort for my first two films.  Nobody in the rush line even got in for the second.  I don’t know that I really buy the TFF pitch of being a film festival for all, considering how easy it is for people with passes costing upwards of $500 to block out people trying to get single tickets.  But anyway, what I did get into:

Continue reading

Tribeca Film Festival: Out of Print

Out of Print: The digitization of books and its ramifications. This is a hard documentary to evaluate.  It’s not innovative in format, but the juxtapositions of talking heads saying diametrically opposite things is well-done; this film chose articulate interviewees who effectively convey their passion as well as their point of view.  But it’s not an entry-level documentary at all.

This is going to seem like a harsh review, but…I have issues with this film. But the issues make me think, in a good way, and so ultimately, I think it was a good one. It just wasn’t what it was advertised to be.

Tribeca Film Festival: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, Fresh Mest

Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic: A straightforward, competent introductory biopic.  The editing was pretty good, switching off the talking heads generally when it needed to, and they collected a spectrum of testifiers including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  Overall, though, it was a pretty hagiographic nostalgia trip.

Biography Channel stuff

Tribeca Film Festival: Raze

Raze: This was an impulse pick.  We were coming off an earlier show and Raze was the last movie of the night that was available.  Also, somebody told me that it was similar to Battle Royale, and I think that that movie’s goriness (and timing coinciding with some infamous real-life school shootings) overshadowed some very sharp social commentary.

It’s not like Battle Royale. And ultimately, I don’t mean that in a good way

Tribeca Film Festival: Red Obsession

I am not a wine person. Half a glass of any kind of wine gives me a terrible headache within a half-hour of drinking it. But I am very much into Red Obsession.  This documentary starts out a bit slow and pompous, with some charming but rather inarticulate Bordeaux vintners trying to explain their passion for their craft, but after the first ten minutes or so it gets into the actual nuts-and-bolts marketing and distribution of Bordeaux wine and really hits its stride.  While the recession’s taken out the traditional customers of the wineries (the U.S.), it’s brought to lightning-fast prominence a huge new market: China.

Clash of cultures? Nothing so shallowly reductive, so read on to find out why