Ed Budz is blogging the films he sees at the Tribeca Film Festival. To see his thoughts on the rest of the festival, clicking here.
DAY THREE, Films 7 – 11
Today more than makes up for yesterday’s weak showing! First off, Sons of Perdition, is a must-see. It is from the US and directed by Tyler Measom and Jennifer Merten is a hopeful doc about a heartbreaking subject – the teens, (mostly young men), who have courageously left their lives as members of Warren Jeffs’ FLDS, (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) cult. The film let’s these teens speak for themselves over the course of two years, and they prove wise and strong beyond their years as they struggle to live independently, though they feel deeply the loss of their families. Jeffs’ own recorded preaching interspersed throughout creates a chilling counterpoint. What’s so sad is that the families have bought into a belief system that would rather see their child dead than leave the church – for to do so means eternal damnation, despite the fact that every one of these kids would make any normal parent proud. The story of the young girl’s lives – kept as baby machines with no free will – is touched on, and as worthy as its own film.
Next up was pure fun – Clash, from Vietnam by Le Thanh Son. This action flick, with an operatic score, washed out look, and immensely likable (and sexy) heroes totally worked. The police and rival gangs are all after a laptop containing government secretes. There’s been a trend in martial arts scenes to be so fast paced and filled with impossible moves that your can’t keep track of what’s going on. Here, you manage to somehow follow every move. The little bits of humor are just enough to keep things from getting too heavy and the main characters convey a believable humanity.
Third was Feathered Cocaine, by Thorkell Hardarson and Orn Marino Armarson from Iceland – another compelling and well-crafted film, six years in the making. The film follows the story of a Mr. Parrot who once sold falcons to the Sheik’s and princes, but now has dedicated his life to saving what is becoming an endangered species. His unique access to the Arab world to preserve falcons has led him to draw some startling, exhaustively documented, conclusions. He makes a creditable case that Washington isn’t really interested in capturing Osama Bin Ladin. From the lucrative, (up to one million dollars per bird), but unsustainable black market practices of falcon trading, a trail is traced to the Arab falcon hunting camps where money is regularly funneled to terrorists and Bin Ladin is a frequent visitor, but many of the elite have long-held ties to our government.
Next, I watched Gainsbourg, Je T’Aime…Moi Non Plus by first time director/cartoonist Johan Star out of France. Gainsbourg was a French singer who kept reinventing himself musically and whose songs were huge for decades in France. He also was a womanizer and one of his lovers was Brigitte Bardot. I know this now. Despite never having heard of him before, this biopic, which starts during his childhood in Nazi occupied France and goes through the 70’s, sucks you in. Throughout the film, puppet-headed alter-egos of the protagonist – which only he can see – alternately taunt, jeer and cheer him on. So committed are the director and the actors to accepting this convention, that it adds rather than detracts to the film. Featuring great (albeit new to me) music and a brilliant performance by Eric Elmosnino.
Lastly, The Space Between by Travis Fine, from the US, is a different kind of road movie. A bitter flight attendant is given charge to mind a 10-year old Pakistani boy as he travels alone from NYC to LA. Something happens to put the airlines in turmoil and the woman is ‘stuck’ caring for the boy. She decides to bring him back to his father in NY, and along the way, musters up some compassion for him and some forgiveness for herself. The performances were fine and truthful as we get to know the woman through the eyes of the boy.
Catch the rest of Ed’s thoughts about the Tribeca Film Festival by clicking here