Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 3 Tribeca 2017: Been There Often, Done That in 'Thumper'; In 'For Ahkeem,' a Smart and Sensitive Portrait of a Girl With True Grit

Pablo Schreiber and Eliza Taylor in "Thumper."


undercover detective poses as a high schooler to infiltrate a stoner, drug-dealing clique to nail the cook whose whipping up the drugs that have led to the death of numerous youngsters.

"Thumper," which today continues its world premiere run at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, stars Eliza Taylor as the undercover operative. It is set in a small city in California but can be anywhere.

It is populated by familiar character types: the girl who may or may not be fast and loose, the drug-addicted girls one fix from prostitution, clueless teachers, good kids from bad homes. The police detective (Lena Headey) who pressures her operative to bust the bad guys yesterday.

The pusher (Pablo Schreiber), menacing and bullying, is a variation on the bad guy in that he is a war vet with a woe-is-me attitude. He is also peddling poisonous product containing mashed up match heads and only God knows what else.

Jordan Ross' film is reminiscent of "21 Jump Street." The performances are competent enough, but these characters elicit no sympathy.

This story has been told a million times. "Thumper" doesn't build on it, except to introduce waterboarding. There is no breakout performance or interesting hook or nuance.

And though it is clear from the outset how this is going to end - the bad guys are going down - there are no surprises along the way.

A happy surprise awaits the viewer in "For Ahkeem," which continues its North American premiere run on Sunday (23 April). Jeremy S. Levine and Landon Van Soest's  documentary brings us  Daje Shelton, 17, as she struggles to make her way in the world.

It is not often that stories about black girls in difficult circumstances are told with such humanity and multiple dimensions. Despite obstacles - a goodly number self-inflicted - Daje thrives.

Other films/events on today's 2017 Tribeca Film Festival schedule: "Tribeca Immersive," "Alphago," "The Public Image is Rotten," "Hondros," "Thirst Street," "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson," "Shadowman," "Flames," "The Divine Order," "Bobbi Jene," "The Family I Had," "The Endless," "Super Dark Times," "LA 92," "One Percent More Humid," "Flower," "Son of Sofia," "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, "When God Sleeps," "Holy Air," "Shorts: Disconnected"

Visit to learn more about it and the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, including tickets and schedule.

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