Friday, May 12, 2006

Tribeca roundup

by Colin
My wife was busy with volunteering at the Festival, and I was busy making some final edits on publishing my latest legal article (about 55 pages), but we did manage to see 3 films at the Tribeca Film Festival.

I'm Reed Fish

Recent films about quarter-lifers returning to their small town roots such as Garden State, Elizabethtown, and Lonesome Jim have belied the argument that you can’t go home again. I’m Reed Fish turns this recent trend on its head, as small town DJ and go-to guy Reed Fish (Undeclared’s Jay Baruchel) has his life thrown into chaos when childhood chum Jill (Schuyler Fisk, Sissy Spacek’s daughter) returns from a 4 year stint at UT-Austin. That life includes his impending marriage to Kate (Gilmore Girl Alexis Bledel), with who he shares a childhood tragedy but not her enthusiasm for wedding planning.

In their feature debuts, director Zackary Adler and writer Reed Fish nail the nuances of small town life. Victor Rasuk plays Reed Fish’s goofy radio sidekick as basically the opposite of his cocksure character in The Lords of Dogtown, and DJ Qualls delivers another surprising performance after his terrific work in Hustle & Flow.

All in all, this is a sweet, little film with a very odd narrative choice in the middle that makes you question what your watching. Being a fan of Charlie Kaufman, I kind of dug it, but I could see a lot of people being perplexed by it. I would say that this one might be a good film to Netflix, but I’m not sure it’s worth the price of a ticket

Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig

Moulin Rouge often gets the credit for jump starting the recent resurgence of movie musicals that might have died with The Producers, but for my money Hedwig and the Angry Inch was the more memorable musical of 2001. Watching Katherine Linton’s compelling Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig, I soon realized why as composer Stephen Trask tells us that Sleatter Kinney, my favorite active band, was very much on his mind in creating the film’s iconic songs.
Follow My Voice tracks the recording of a Hedwig tribute album by the likes of Sleater Kinney, Jonathan Richman, Rufus Wainwright, Yoko Ono, and Cindy Lauper, to raise money for the Harvey Milk High School, the country’s first LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Tran, Queer) high school. Actually, that sort of reverses things, as the focus is primarily on four Harvey Milk students, with the recording of the songs underscoring their lives.

I commented to my wife that the doc was basically the best episode of MTV’s True Life ever. Angel Santiago is most similar to Hedwig, a transgendered teen battling with her parents, who refuse to acknowledge her chosen life as a woman. Rapheal Ramos is a gay teen who faced extreme homophobic violence before entering Harvey Milk, Mey Bun becomes a model, and Tenaja Jordan is a refugee from that wicked little town of Staten Island.

The bottom line is that if you enjoyed Hedwig, you should really dig this film. If you haven’t seen Hedwig, move it to the top of your Netflix queue.

The Treatment

In the 1990's Chris Eigeman made a procession of great films as an uber-neurotic New Yorker is classic films by Whit Stillman and Noah Baumbach. And while I would have loved to have seen Eigeman as, say, Jeff Daniels’ even more pretentious professor rival in The Squid and the Whale, I was more than happy to see him as a therapy-dependent high school teacher in the New York Narrative Award winning The Treatment.

Ian Holm plays his psychiatrist as sort of the id to his character in Garden State, and he constantly goes over the top with some really amusing comments that had the audience in stitches. Famke Janssen both looks great and delivers probably her best performance as the widow Eigeman’s character falls for.

The film is very much a New York film in the Woody Allen vein, making great use of Upper West Side locations. And the story is nicely scattershot, mixing in the previously mentioned relationship with some pretty good father-son stuff and even a Hoop Dreams-esque side story that, to a degree, informs the rest of the film. I’d label this one a must see if and when it gets a release.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, three more must-see films for the year. All sound great. Thanks!

In the meantime I'll look for an Hedwig import (might have to download). I've heard the soundtrack, liked it, but ain't seen the film.

- Nick

5/13/2006 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hedwig was unfairly championed as "the next Rocky Horror Picture Show." It could not have been a more different film.

I love Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Where RHPS was a silly sci-fi B musical filled with non-sequiturs, Hedwig was a very dark film that just happens to feature some up-beat rock songs. The music is great, the performances are quite good, and the overall package is just so different than anything else out there that it is really worth checking out.

Actually, maybe not so different than Velvet Goldmine. The two could be considered spiritual cousins. But I personally think Hedwig is a much better film.

5/15/2006 10:55:00 AM  

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