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Thoughts on Tribeca

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So far I’ve been to three screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival, including one fairly late last night; I’m going to another one tonight, and if time permits, one final one tomorrow (that is, if I can get tickets for it).

The three I’ve seen have been a particularly diverse sampling. Here are my cursory thoughts on each.

  • Tickets
    Aside from the fact that it was funny to hear the festival staff walking around saying “Is anyone buying tickets for ‘Tickets?'” this was a particularly intriguing entry: It consists of three “episodes,” connected, more or less, by peripheral characters, and by the fact that everyone is riding on the same train to Rome. Each of the three segments was directed by a different director; the first I didn’t especially care for, as it was kind of a mournful, sad story about a lusty old professor who had the hots for this woman with bad teeth–turns out he was married anyway, not to mention too chicken to actually say anything to her. The other two episodes, though, were quite funny–one about a mean old fat lady and the community service worker she drags around with her like some kind of slave (it’s funnier than it sounds), and the other about three Scottish soccer fans/supermarket workers on their way to a game. An interesting film, certainly, but nothing especially deep or heartwarming here–entertaining, though.

  • Mysterious Skin
    An utterly heartbreaking film from Gregg Araki, based on the novel of the same name by Scott Heim. It follows the story of two 8-year old boys who are both molested by their Little League baseball coach; ten years later, one is gay and makes a living as a hustler, while the other has become a withdrawn asexual bookworm who keeps a dream journal and believes he’s been abducted by aliens. The film follows Neil (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who I’ve been a fan of since 3rd Rock from the Sun) as he moves to NYC and goes through hell on earth, and Brian (Brady Corbet) as he seeks out Neil to find out what really happened to him ten years earlier. It’s hard to watch, heartbreaking and incredibly moving, and hopefully it’ll find the distribution that it badly deserves.

  • Puzzlehead
    Director James Bai’s literal debut, which looked far more expensive than he said it did (“Less than a million, but more than one dollar”). A science fiction thriller about a man in a bleak and violent future world (that looked a lot like Bushwick, Brooklyn) who builds a robotic clone of himself. The robot, named “Puzzlehead,” contains all of the memories and thoughts from his maker–his brain served as the “neural map”–and so both the robot and the maker fall for the same deli owner. A case of switched identity ensues, and ultimately machine triumphs over man in the end. It’s a dark and deliberately paced film that was edited on a flatbed (!), and certainly a triumph considering the seven years of post-production that it required.

So far I’m pleased with the films I’ve seen. Had I more time, I’d see more films, but with my semester ending in two weeks, the papers and assignments are beginning to pile up. Regardless, these movies have been welcome distractions and I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival.

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About Ryan Eanes