Tribeca Film Festival 2014

2014 Tribeca Film Festival | Review | Something Must Break

 

SOMETHING MUST BREAK (Original Swedish title: Nanting Maste Ga Sonder) is an astonishing film.

 

It tracks the progression of a relationship between two unlikely individuals with a rigid honesty that is a little reminiscent of BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR. Sebastian works in the backrooms of a furniture store in Stockholm. Andreas comes from a more affluent background.

 

Publicity still for SOMETHING MUST BREAK

Publicity still for SOMETHING MUST BREAK

One day, as bullies taunting Sebastian for his androgynous looks are about to get violent, Andreas steps in to help. Gradually the two, both in their early twenties, start spending time together with the start and sputter rhythm of individuals not entirely sure of where they are headed. As the relationship progresses to something deeper and physical, Andreas is caught off guard, unable to reconcile the significance of this development with his otherwise traditional life. He doesn’t even consider himself gay. Long unmoored with regard gender identity and comfortable with it, Sebastian too suddenly finds himself starting to gravitate toward the possible emergence of a female persona of himself: Ellie. And the all-consuming connection between Andreas and Sebastian inevitably takes a dark turn. Think of this as a stark, spare version of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH.

 

This could have been a preachy film. But it has no interest in polemics or political statements. Like its central character, the film is not too concerned about labels that viewers may ascribe to it…too uncomfortable, too gay, too extreme. It simply tells this specific story without filter, without condescension, without judgment. Where most films, either out of tact or politeness, stop when a character closes the door, this one walks in behind the door with the character. Sebastian makes plenty of terrible choices and mistakes. The film (based on a novel of the same name) has no intention to edify Sebastian or turn this individual into some sort of role model, and in doing so actually humanizes him. I do not know that I have seen a better on-screen treatment of a person forging through a gender identity crisis. What is particularly commendable is that while Sebastian is the more atypical character, the film is as much interested in Andreas as it is in Sebastian. And one can argue as to which of the two goes through a greater transformation during the course of this story.

 

Publicity Still for SOMETHING MUST BREAK

Publicity Still for SOMETHING MUST BREAK

I give this film credit simply for being what it is about. And being in-your-face unapologetic about it. It may be a film about the first connection between a man who wants to be a woman and another man who starts to question what it is to be masculine. But in its honesty, it demonstrates the universal struggle of any person who learns to come into their own, and the pain as well as the grace of the process.

 

 

2014 Tribeca Film Festival | Review | Loitering With Intent

LOITERING WITH INTENT is a light-hearted lark of a film.

 

It is a film about film. If it comes off a bit lighter than expected, it is only because one expects a film with Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell, two of the more woefully underemployed actors in Hollywood, to be outright implosive. The film is going for a gentle, messy, wistful, stage comedy-like affect.

 

Publicity still from LOITERING WITH INTENT

Publicity still from LOITERING WITH INTENT

Directed by Adam Rapp, the film is about Dominic and Raphael, your prototypical out of work New York actors (played by Michael Godere and Ivan Martin) who head out to the countryside quiet of Upstate New York to churn out a script in ten days in order to get funding for the resulting film they can also star in. But silent respite is not theirs for the taking. Dominic’s force-of-nature sister (Marisa Tomei) descends upon the place licking her wounds from having separated from her unstable boyfriend. Other unexpected guests include a free-spirit bombshell (Isabelle McNally) and the said boyfriend (Sam Rockwell) who shows up with a buddy (Brian Geraghty, making good of the best lines from the script). And you know that this being a particular kind of film, old grievances will surface, new alliances will form, and everyone will get drunk one night and do things they will eventually regret. It is all out of the standard film script playbook. But these actors, seasoned and newcomers alike, are an inherently likeable lot and they keep the goings-on reasonably grounded. If anything I wish the film had a stronger, heftier emotional pull.

 

The script is ‘in the know’ about the New York film scene, and there are cinema references aplenty, and even though the writing is occasionally uneven, the whole enterprise makes for an engaging overall product. It’s the sort of film you watch with a smile on your face the entire time.

2014 Tribeca Film Festival Dispatch

 

One shows up at the Tribeca Fim Festival not knowing quite what to expect. And then like any other festival, one gets their bearings in the next couple of days.

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One finds out, for example, that none of the three venues where festival films are screened are actually in Tribeca (two are in Chelsea and a third in East Village). One expects the general sensibility of the festival to be like that of the city it is in, hectic and impatient, and no-nonsense and talky. But I am a bit surprised, if pleasantly, to find that the festival is actually rather laid-back and matter of fact. Without exception, the screenings occur like clockwork with nary a hitch. Nobody hyperventilates at the sight of celebrities, and the voices of filmmakers do not crack with nervous gratitude when introducing their product before the start of a screening. Maybe its just that New York crowds are so inured to celebrity run-ins that nothing would be more gauche than to get excited upon seeing Sophia Loren or Mark Ruffalo.

 

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by Robert DeNiro and producer Jane Rosenthal in 2002 at a time when Tribeca was an oft ignored neighborhood of the city. Things have come a ways in the thirteen years since during which more than 1500 films have been screened. Created initially as a salve to the 9/11 events and to foster recognition for the Tribeca area, the festival has now evolved into a full-fledged player in the big festivals film circuit.

 

I will be posting reviews of films I saw at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in the coming days.