Friday, May 1, 2009

Tribeca Film Festival '09: complete coverage!

I realize that the title of this post might be a little misleading. Seriously, though, there are 85 films in the TFF this year -- and I'm only here for several days -- so would you really expect me to see every last one of them? No, the truth of the matter is that I only saw one. But I guaranty you that I saw absolutely all of it. And it was pretty darn good, too.

As is my custom when traveling, I celebrated my arrival at my destination by immediately taking ill. Given my destination was New York, the most appropriate malady during these panicky times would of course have been Swine Flu, but I was instead saddled with a considerably less sexy head cold. Still, in its defense, it's a really powerful head cold. Because of that I was forced to skip the late night screening of South Korean director Lee Yoon-Ki's My Dear Enemy that we had tickets for. But I did manage to catch a screening yesterday afternoon of The Eclipse.


I didn't see this movie.


Directed by Tony nominated playwright Conor McPherson, The Eclipse is described in the TFF program as being an "atmospheric drama" with vague supernatural overtones. This, combined with the film's focus on loss and renewal, lead me to expect something meditative, decidedly adult, and only subtly spooky. And this is what The Eclipse, to a great extent, delivers. But that description in no way prepared me for the considerable number of pants-wetting shock moments that the film also had in store. My impression of the film was that it was overall a thoughtful human drama that made effective use of some horror movie conventions, but I was surprised, during the post-screening Q&A, when McPherson listed as his primary influences Dawn of the Dead, The Exorcist and The Shining. In other words, this is what you can get when a writer with both a fine eye for character and the subtleties of human interaction and a heartfelt respect for the genre sets out to make a horror film. I'm afraid that I might have already spoiled The Eclipse, so I won't go any further in describing it, other than to say that the performances by leads Ciaran Hinds, Iben Hjejle and Aidan Quin are uniformly excellent -- oh, and that Ivan McCullough's cinematography is aces (though it's hard to go wrong when you have the breathtaking beauty of the film's Irish coastal setting to work with). As yet, the film doesn't have a distributor, but hopefully that situation won't stand for long. In the meantime, look out for it on the festival circuit.

Beyond that one trip to the cinema, I haven't done much else that's blog-worthy while in New York, but I'm happy to say that my diminished condition hasn't prevented me from catching up with those friends whose company was my primary reason for coming. I do hope to do some more movie-hunting before I leave, as so far I haven't had a chance to do much. I did find this, though:



I seriously considered gifting Keith with this as a commemoration of our shared love of chimpsploitation, but then it occurred to me that sometimes it really is the thought that counts.

10 comments:

houseinrlyeh said...

Sounds quite like something to my tastes (the film, not the head cold).
Want to bet how many years it will take until gets to see it outside of the festival circuit?

Todd said...

Yeah, I could definitely see marketing execs throwing up their hands over its refusal to settle comfortably within one genre. Plus there are no blandly attractive teenagers in it -- just yucky old middle aged people. Funky Monkey, on the other hand, is a movie that practically sells itself.

houseinrlyeh said...

The title Funky Monkey alone is pure marketing genius.

Todd said...

And almost descriptive, if a chimp were in fact a monkey.

memsaab said...

Feel better Todd...and I love Ciaran Hinds in anything...oh but I'm afraid of horror films, no matter how bad, they scare me...what to do??? I don't LIKE being scared.

Look forward to your Funky Monkey review (it really is the thought that counts).

Todd said...

Well, I might review the cover of the DVD, but it probably won't go any farther than that. Thanks for your kind wishes, Memsaab. Getting sick is turning out to be something I'm really good at lately. I'm thinking of giving up my stubbornly healthy lifestyle and living on nothing but bacon and gin for a while to see if that brings about any kind of change.

And as for The Eclipse, I don't know what to tell you. About 85% of it isn't scary, but the parts that are scary will scare the #@$%@!?! out of you.

Keith said...

To be fair to Funky Monkey...

Judging from the cover, it looks to have the same basic plot as The Tuxedo, only I bet Funky Monkey is better.

Hope you're healing up OK.

Keith said...

Oh man! It's got Matthew Modine in it! Jeffrey Tambor! FRED WARD!

And Amazon says if I like this, I'll love MXP: Most Xtreme Primate, which features a chimp on a snowboard.

Todd said...

Damn, I knew I should have bought it for you! Well, all I can say is: There's a place on 6th Ave. at 22nd that's selling it for $3.00.

Todd said...

And they have a LOT of copies.