Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TFF2014 Day 7: On Earth Day, 'Misconception' Gives the People a Voice and Platform

THE Earth can hold only so many people.

Few would disagree with this assertion. In fact, many believe that there are too many people on the planet right now. Of course, humans should stop reproducing. But how to go about it?

Jessica Yu's “Misconception” addresses these issues and more. It is fitting that the film has the second screening of its world premiere run at the “13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival” today, the 43rd Annual Earth Day.

There are a lot of good (and bad ideas) out there about population control. Various and sundry stakeholders are working toward the same goal but have vastly divergent ways of reaching that goal. This has caused myriad conflicts and stalemates. And it does not help the cause that decisionmakers seem incapable of articulating their vision in a way that results in coherent, translatable public policy.

JY, an Oscar-winning director (“Breathing Lessons"), doesn’t simply populate her documentary with policy wonks speaking from admirable — and sometimes laughably self-interested — positions, she goes to the grassroots. (See video at top).

In featuring regular folk in her examination of this very important matter, she brings the problem of overpopulation and population control down to Earth where it belongs.

Elsewhere, Roman Polanski weighs in with "Venus in Fur," an adaptation of David Ives’ Tony Award-winning play of the same name. In the film, making its North American premiere today, two artists with a capital A (played by Matthieu Almaric and Emmanuelle Seigner), set about transforming a Leopold von Sacher-Masoch novel into a work for the stage. (See video above).

Other films/events on today's TFF2014 schedule: “Shorts: Handle With Care,” "Ice Poison,” “Electric Slide,” “Indigenous, ”Love & Engineering,” “The Overnighters,” “Journey to the West,” “Venus in Fur” and “Loitering With Intent.”

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Monday, April 21, 2014

TFF2014 Day 6: 'The Search for General Tso' Takes Scenic Route and Several Detours

ANY Chinese restaurant in the United States worth its MSG or No MSG carries a certain dish on its menu.

That dish is General Tso Chicken. Ever wonder where it came from and who is General Tso? No? Well, Ian Cheney did.

The result of the director's culinary curiosity is “The Search for General Tso.” The film has its second screening today during its world premiere run at “The 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.” (See video above).

It is part travel guide, food tour and slice of Chinese American history. It is also deliciously delightful.

Other films/events on today's TFF2014 schedule: “Shorts: Before Long,” “Shorts: After Words,” “Zero Motivation,” “The Search for Michel Houelleberq,” “5 to 7,” “Starred Up,” “True Son,” “Karpotrotter” and "Manos Sucias."

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

TFF2014 Day 5: 'Slaying the Badger' and 'Bad Hair'

Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault on the "Tour" in "Slaying the Badger." Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

UNTIL a body begins to understand the “Tour de France” or any cycling race, it just looks like a bunch of guys (usually) leisurely riding bikes. Anybody can do that, right?

Of course, a body never forgets how to ride a bike. However, there is bike-riding, and there is BIKE-RIDING. The Tour de France&Co are the latter. Not only does a body have to be fitter than an iron man and have the willpower of an elephant, one has to have one's wits.

All of these elements come into play in John Dower's “Slaying the Badger.” The documentary makes its world premiere today at the The 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.

In “Slaying the Dragon,” Greg LeMond (now the only American to have legally won the Tour de France) reminisces about the 1986 race during which the reigning champion and GLeM teammate Bernard “The Badger” Hinault promises to help the Californian to victory.

In “Slaying the Dragon,” evidence suggests that The Badger didn't keep his word. Not so surprising in a sport that has more twists, turns and trauma than a winding French road. Except that the two men were teammates. GLeM looked up to BH.

There is trauma and drama in Mariana Rondon 's “Bad Hair” when 9-year-old Junior (Samuel Lange) makes an innocent enough request. Simply, the boy wants to straighten his beautiful mass of curls. Not forever, just for his yearbook photo.

His mother (Samatha Castillo) nearly has a cow, allowing her imagination to run far, far away with her. Imagine how this effects Junior? The film makes its U.S. premiere today. Watch and learn. (See video below).

Other films/events on today's TFF2014 schedule: “The Search for General Tso,” “Brides,” “Champs,” “Under the Brick: The Lego Documentary” and “Below Dreams.”

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

TFF2014 Day 4: Teacher and Pupil 'Keep on Keepin' On'

Justin Kauflin and Clark Terry at the piano in "Keep on Keepin' On. "Photo from "Keep on Keepin' On."

“KEEP on Keepin' On” is both a labor of love and testament to the fact that if you believe you can achieve.

The documentary from Alan Hicks follows over a four-year-period the teacher-student relationship between jazz master Clark Terry and blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin. It makes its world premiere today at the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.

“Keep on Keepin' On" is a love letter, master class and ode to current and future greatness all rolled into one. AH, a former student and band member of CT's, has confessed to knowing nothing about filmmaking when he decided to capture the special relationship between an old lion and a young club. Well done.

Other films/events on today's TFF2014 schedule: “5 to 7,” “Gabriel,” “Life Partners,” “Super Duper Alice Cooper,” “Point and Shoot,” “Regarding Susan Sontag” and “Ballet 422” (see video at right).

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Friday, April 18, 2014

TFF2014 Day 3:"Human Capital," & "I Won't Come Back

Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Fabrizio Gifuni in “Human Capital.” Photo by Loris Zampelli.

IMAGINE reading the end of a novel first and the beginning last.

Knowing the end does not necessarily have to be a spoiler. A case in point is “Human Capital” starring Valeria Golino, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi and Fabrizio Gifuni. It makes its international premiere today at the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival.

Paolo Virzì's film, based on the Stephen Amidon best-seller about an actual case, is further proof that all human life is not created equal. Someone dies but who should be/will be held accountable? Muddying the already murky waters, "Human Capital" is told from three different perspectives.

At the center of “I Won't Come Back” is an unlikely duo. A young woman (Polina Pushkaruk) and a girl (Victoria Lobacheva.) Leaving behind them painful episodes and in search of something better, they warily throw in together.

Ilmar Raag's, latest in its world premiere, is a buddy movie played out against the backdrop of an unforgiving Russian landscape. Hitchhiking adds another level of danger and derring-do.

Anya (Polina Pushkaruk) and Kristina (Vika Lobacheva) hit the road in "I Won't Come Back." Photo from Visit Films.

Other films/events on today's TFF2014 schedule: “Ice Poison,” “Beneath the Harvest Sky,” “Life Partners” and “Loitering With Intent.” At the TFF2014 Drive-In is “Splash.” And also making a world premiere is “All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State” (stay tuned for more about it ahead of its premiere on HBO on 28 April).

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Documentaries Steal Spotlight at Tribeca Film Festival 2014

Ann Richards was the first female governor of Texas. Photos courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.

“Poor George, he can't help it — he was born with a silver foot in his mouth,” Ann Richards famously observed about George W. Bush.

The political stalwart had a way with words and will be forever remembered by so many for that quip made during her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.

The late former governor of Texas was well-known for her quick wit, but there was much more to this trailblazer as revealed in “All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State” from Keith Patterson and Phillip Schopper.

The film has its world premiere at the 13th Annual Tribeca Film Festival on 18 April, the first of three screenings. TFF2014, which runs from 16 April to 27 April, opens with Time is Illmatic.

At TFF2014, the documentaries are the most interesting prospects. “Time is Illmatic” is One9’s dissertation on the hip hop artist Nas' 1994 seminal album, “Illmatic.”

Speaking of music, before Prince, Micheal Jackson and countless other reverent imitators there was "the hardest working man in show business" aka James Brown. In “Untitled James Brown Documentary” from director-writer Alex Gibney, is a portrait (1933-1974) of the legend and the man.

Another noteworthy documentary is Bert Marcus' “Champs.” Here is a behind-the-scenes look at how Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, among them, literally fought their way out of poverty. The two champs will be around to jaw after the screening.

James Brown at the Newport Jazz Festival.

Elsewhere at TFF2014, new sponsor AT&T makes a grand splash with Film for All Friday (visit http://www.tribecafilm.com to learn about ticket availability.) It debuts on 25 April when 35 films will have free screenings, including the aforementioned “Time is Illmatic.”

Also included in Film for All Friday is Gia Coppola's directorial debut, “Palo Alto,” starring James Franco and Emma Roberts. Based on Franco’s “Palo Alto: Stories,” it concerns teen angst in that California city.

Closing out TFF2014 is Begin Again, John Carney's comedic meditation on a chance meeting that spawns a beautiful relationship. It stars Keira Knightley, Adam Levine, Mark Ruffalo and Hailee Steinfeld.

Visit http://www.tribecafilm.com/festival to learn more about it and the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Enjoying, and Possibly Crying Over, 'The Bridges of Madison County'

Robert (Steven Pasquale) and Francesca (Kelli O'Hara )make a startling discovery in “The Bridges of Madison County.”


wonder how you wound up where you did?

In "The Bridges of Madison County," at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in an open run, the question may never have had to be asked but for a chance meeting.

Francesca (Kelli O'Hara) came to Iowa as a war bride from Naples. She married an American soldier, Bud (Hunter Foster), who soon exchanged his uniform for farmer's overalls. They settle into family life.

As the story opens, Bud and their two teenage children, Michael (Derek Klena) and Carolyn (Caitlin Kinnunen) are off the Indiana State Fair to show off Carolyn's prize steer.

Meanwhile, Robert Kincaid (Steven Pasquale) is on assignment for “National Geographic” to photograph the picturesque covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa. His work takes him to Francesca's driveway looking for directions to a bridge he has missed.

Francesca leads him to it. Afterward, she invites him to stay for supper. Unlike her friends, neighbors – and even her husband who all call her Franny – Robert calls her Francesca. He has recently shot a photo spread in Naples and he brings her a copy of the magazine. Robert reminds Francesca of home and she is homesick.

They talk, they laugh, they fall in love. (See video below).

The story, adapted by Marsha Norman from Robert James Waller's chick-lit novel, is pretty much 50 shades of rich color from blushing pink to deep purple. Jason Robert Brown has given it a lovely score and straight-ahead lyrics that support MN's book. In its musical adaptation, "The Bridges of Madison County" is as believable as, say, "Madame Butterfly" or "La Boheme."

If anyone can sell this "Bridges..." it is the players, KO'H, SP and HF. In an excellent cast and ensemble, directed by Bartlett Sher, there are also strong performances by Cass Morgan as Francesca's understanding neighbor, Marge, and Michael X. Martin as Marge's husband, Charlie.

JRB ventures off into country and torch songs, giving Whitney Bashor as Robert's ex-wife, Katie Klaus, as a state fair singer and the aforementioned CM show-stopping arias.

Michael Yeargan's scenery – with Iowa's flat country painted in the backdrop – is lovely and simple. The ensemble pulls and pushes furniture and fences into each scene change while window and roof frames fall gently from the eaves.

This iteration of "The Bridges of Madison County" is not as insufferably sentimental as its source material nor as schmaltzy as the film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. That's not to say, however, that "The Bridges of Madison County" the musical won't cause some to shed tears.

It is as much a pleasure to watch and hear as any musical theater work currently on the Great White Way.

Visit http://www.bridgesofmadisoncountymusical.com/ to learn more about "The Bridges of Madison County."
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