We have just put to bed the best Tribeca Film Festival since its beginning. Kudos to programming chiefs Genna Terranova, Geoffrey Gilmore, and Frederic Boyer for taking a giant leap forward with all round quality programming. This year, we saw many films, some of which we will write about and let you know when you can see them. However, let me tip you on one now, Josh Fox’s Gasland 2. It moves from a place believing demos and pressure on politicians can bring change in stopping fracking to extract gas to a call for immediate civil disobedience by the good citizens of the planet to save the earth for future generations. It is a heady journey full of ordinary people telling their shocking stories. Josh and Yoko simply say, “Don’t FRACK me …or my monkey to those politicians; be they local like Christine Quinn or in the White House.” Gasland 2 is full of good Americans waking up to the Wall Street money hurricane that swept over Congress and drenched the elected with so much lobbyist money that they abandoned their constituents and took the money and ran from the future consequences of their greedy actions.
Let’s Go To The Movies
The Reluctant Fundamentalist dir Mira Nair
Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist throws light onto the dark room where the elephant is not asleep. Mair dares to give an answer to why good people are bruised by the racism that talk radio and the Murdoch media empire spits out foolishly as a self esteem survival choice in moving to an Anti-American position. This was the most important film at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival because it takes headlines and internet chatter and examines and puts a context to what can result from ugly rabble rousing on either side.
The lead character Changez played by Riz Ahmed is sent from Pakistan to the US by his progressive parents to be educated. He studies hard and becomes one of the Golden Boys of Wall Street with all the conspicuous consumption and social lifestyle that any young Wall Street whiz kid enjoyed in the late ’90s until 9/11/2001. Despite still reeling from the events of that day, because of his language skills and ethnic cache, Changez is sent to broker a huge multi-national money deal in Pakistan. There, he becomes caught up in the politics of suspicion and learns how his skin color is the real litmus test of how people see him both at his brokerage firm and on the streets of Pakistan.
Liev Schreiber plays the CIA operative masked as a journalist who pursues him. He gives depth to what has almost become a cliché in the terror genre. Kate Hudson plays a privileged child of NYC wealth and is like so many of her privileged progeny class, a photographer with artistic pretension. She shoots him by accident on the street and becomes smitten with this exotic financier. Hudson surprises with a balanced study of how class privilege both assumes power and undermines authentic compassion. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is not propaganda. Mair, as in her previous work, Amelia, Namesake , Monsoon Wedding , Salaam Bombay and Vanity Fair mixes a scrumptious swirl of color and shadows that takes a serious subject and uses cinematic heat to reveal and confront how individuals can become lost and redemption perhaps found.
Is The Reluctant Fundamentalist a reply to Kathryn Bigelow’s 30 Dark Zero and Hurt Locker? Or is it simply a cinematic conversation between two master directors?
Love Is All You Need dir Susanne Brier
Susanne Brier is one of the most important film directors at work today. She does not make films in Hollywood but from her home base in Denmark. Her previous work, Brothers (Sundance Audience award winner), Next Time the Fire, and In A Better World have been recognized worldwide and honored both by the Academy Awards and Sundance. Starting out as a DOGMA film maker, she quickly expanded her cinematic tools to explore serious questions that confront people emotionally everywhere today. While always rooted in relationships, her storytelling never stays simply in the private world of intimacy. Love Is All You Need is a new turn for her, a romantic comedy. Yet in no way is it predictable. Her casting instinct has always been character perfect. Her romance is about two people. Pierce Brosnan and esteemed Danish actress Trine Dyrholm (Troubled Water, the Celebration, In A Better World) are in their 40s with grown up children when circumstances throw them together when neither are seeking new love. The happenstance of their encounter is Woody Allen like and allows Breir to explore the boundaries of romantic comedy. Yes she still asks serious questions about who we think we are and how our hearts and desires also contradict. Brosnan again turns in a pitch perfect performance and his interaction with Trine Dyrholm will literally leave the audience breathless.
Brier demonstrates that she is not only the master of high dramatic, relationship driven, political storytelling but can use her sensitivity and humanity to have fun and drape her ever present serious observations in a film that Rock Hudson and Doris Day only wish they could have made. What serious fun!
We Steal Secrets: the story of Wikileaks dir Alex Gibney
The unstoppable and prolific Gibney wades deep into the media spin to discover, despite all their contradictions, the two best known warriors for truth and transparency today. Gibney being Gibney genuflects at no altar of political correctness. What he does is to give us two portraits of courage despite the very human complexity of both Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. His distancing from myth making has always been Gibney’s strength in his documentary film making. Taxi to the Dark Side, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room all reveal a cunning intelligence at play to discover what are the core motivates of these seemingly larger than life subjects. We Steal Secrets strips away the public arrogance and defensive narcissism of Julian Assange to find this lonely computer geek who deeply enjoyed digitally searing the mask of lies and secrets international politics wears and the greed and a moral business practices of free market capitalism at its most naked in corporate practice. In comparison, Gibney seems to consider Manning a true hero. Yes the Assange sex scandals are revealed in a way that gives no simple cable news sound bite analysis. A must see if transparency in government and business is important to you. If not, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks makes a strong case why, despite the personalities involved, you should be concerned.
Two films to be on the watch for:
Greetings from Tim Buckley dir Dan Algrant
This is not a bio of the two well known singers Tim Buckley and his son Jeff, both deceased. For people familiar with their music it is a must see and hear. Equally important is the father-son lost relationship. This imagined storytelling explores how a child is impacted growing up not knowing his father personally despite his father being a legendary cult singer. The son looks like his dad and is too a musician. I knew both Tim and Jeff and actually don’t like bio movies about people I know because so much is incorrect. Director Dan Algrant has taken enough liberties with the actual Buckley story that I found myself more concerned about the beautiful songs in the film and the coming to terms with the emotional meaning of an absent father that others will tell you they knew than what is wrong with this portrait. Well done.
Available on VOD and in Theatres in May.
Augustine dir Alice Winovour
I wrote previously about this important film on women and hysteria when it played the French Rendezvous at Lincoln Center last December. It is now having a theatrical release and you simply shouldn’t miss Alice Winovour’s small masterpiece with a heart stopping performance from Sako as Augustine.
(cc) Jim Fourat 4/24/2013