So those of you who are good at numbers and dates and figures have probably noticed that I haven't posted anything in here for about a month.
Those of you who aren't probably noticed as well.
But I have an excellent excuse this time! For ten days, ending this past Sunday, I was at the Tribeca Film Festival!
...I have no excuse for the time before the Tribeca Film Festival.
But you guys, TFF was amazing. Working there was legitimately fun! I met so many wonderful people! I got to network with fellow filmmakers!
And the thing I took advantage of the most: There were tons of really wonderful films there.
I saw sixteen of them.
Now, I'm not going to post about all of the films here because not only would that make for a disgustingly long blog post (that, frankly, I don't have the time to fully write during the half hour I have left of my lunch break at my day job) but also I just really want to highlight a few of the ones that really stood out to me. Which isn't to say that the others weren't wonderful! But here are a few of my favorites for which I really think you should be looking out.
Viaje was the first film I saw during the festival, and one of the most visually gorgeous. It was shot in black and white in the parks of Costa Rica, which seems ridiculous to say as that's a place that's known for its color, but the effect works perfectly. Especially for how intimate the film was, it meant that we could focus on the story and the characters instead of being overwhelmed by the environment. It was fairly small - almost the entire thing was just the two lead characters. But they got the intimacy of a non-traditional relationship down perfectly. The both of them had incredible chemistry together. And it's just lovely overall to watch.
We are Young. We are Strong.
You guys, this movie left me literally in hysterics at the end. Hysterics in that I couldn't stop crying I was so terrified. It wasn't a horror film, it was just based on true events. It takes place in the former East German city of Rostock in 1992, during the anti-immigrant riots. And it focuses on three storylines: That of a Vietnamese immigrant who wants to be a productive member of German society - she has a job, she's working towards her residency, etc. - but is still very much an immigrant; a politician who is trying to figure out how to deal with all of this anger and outcry from a political perspective; and his son, a teenager, who goes around the city with his friends... and they're all neo-Nazis. The thing this film does so terrifyingly well is that is shows the humanity of each of the characters. I honestly couldn't even tell you that the Nazi boys in this film are bad people because they're so real and the audience can see exactly where they're all coming from, even when they do awful things to other people. And it was upsettingly timely, too. I want everyone who has an opinion on the rioters in Baltimore to shut up and watch this film first. There are parts in the middle where it could've been cut a little, but the last act is so powerful I ended up just not even caring. It'll terrify you. Go watch it.
This one will probably be fairly easy for you to find, as it stars Ethan Hawke, January Jones, and Zoe Kravitz. So it'll get distributed. It's the only film I've ever so much as heard of telling the story of the soldiers who man the drones in the Middle East while safe here in the US, and the issues they deal with/the incredible PTSD that is inflicted upon them. Ethan Hawke is fantastic in this; subtle, truthful, and brutal. I desperately wish they had given the female characters more, though. January Jones was painfully underused because they just elected to focus more on Hawke's Manly Pain than tell anyone else's story. But overall it was satisfying, eye-opening, and very much worth the watch, especially if you enjoyed films like The Hurt Locker.
During the Q&A after the film, someone stood up and asked Lily Tomlin how it feels to be a goddess. And a lot of the audience was a little annoyed that this guy hadn't stood up and asked a more substantive question. But none of us could really disagree, either. This film is funny! And substantive! And human! And real! And not only does Lily Tomlin own it, but she brings out the best in everyone around her, too. The film is about a girl who needs money for an abortion, so she goes to her grandmother for help. But she doesn't have the money either, so the two of them go off on a journey to get it. And it's edgy and sharp and witty and wonderful. Not only did it make me think about humanity and relationships and why we bother getting into them/what do they mean about us as a species, but it also made me laugh and left me feeling good at the end. What more could you want in a film?
Sleeping With Other People
Here's another film that is going to get picked up; it's more a matter of "when" than "if." It stars Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie, and it's the single most feminist and sex-positive romcom I've ever seen. And I love romcoms with a passion. The director described it as "When Harry Met Sally for assholes" and it's exactly that, but funny in a modern, coarse way that Nora Ephron never really touched, giving the film its own flavor. I so desperately want this film to get really wide distribution, or to at least have a cult following. Because it was, by far, my favorite film of the festival.
There were parts of the pacing that were rough, character traits that I just straight up didnj't believe, and plot points that weren't really necessary and I don't care about any of that because the film was clever and funny. It's about a fifth grade teacher who falls apart when his wife leaves him, and how he then tries to use the school play to win her back. I do wish that they had discussed any of the women in the film more and, instead of just asking us to trust that they were worth loving, told us why. But the film overall was still an absolute delight because it had loads and loads of heart. Which is, I think, the most important thing this kind of film can have. Also, the kids who play the entire fifth grade class are amazing. They alone make the film worth seeing. And there's a whole lot more than them to make it worth it.
...I have to stop now because I literally have a minute to post this and finish eating before going back to work. But expect more posts soon about more things TFF! Because it's really an amazing festival.