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JoBlo does Tribeca #3

05.07.2007


by Jenny Karakaya

Things have finally wound down and the press screenings have ended. Looking back on the week, there wasn’t a dull moment or a good night’s rest for that matter. I’ve had my first taste of the film festival mayhem, and undoubtedly will be better prepared for the next (Cannes?). I checked out several cool films and met a few intriguing celebrities. However, the exhaustion and lack of sleep have finally caught up. Admittedly, I am beat and in desperate need of a vacation. Before retiring though, I leave you with my last two indie flick reviews. Check out my previous Tribeca Film Festival review here: PART 1 & PART 2.

THE GRAND
Directed by: Zak Penn
Starring:
Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines, Ray Romano

Taking reality poker to another, perhaps more riveting level is this extremely funny improvisational mockumentary with an all-star ensemble cast. THE GRAND is a comedic film starring Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines, Richard Kind, Ray Romano, Dennis Farina, Chris Parnell among many others. The film follows around six players that make it to the final table of the world’s most famous high stakes tournament. Harrelson is on a quest to win the Grand Championship of Poker to save his dead grandfather’s hotel-casino from the clutches of a high-end real estate developer. The story unfolds with an improvised dialogue between different personalities that gather around a poker table and get down to business in old Las Vegas .

Penn is a daring director who films the events and adlibbed conversations as they take place only to edit later on. It’s interesting to watch an unscripted conversation without limitations transpire between these comedic actors. In most cases it is very amusing and so are the up close shots of the actors’ facial expressions. Although the dialogue is improvised during the actual poker tournament, it is nonetheless captivating even with silly stretches by this talented ensemble cast. The fact that THE GRAND was one of the few Tribeca films to sell out weeks in advance, is as bold a statement as the film itself. Cameos and guest appearances made by professional poker players and other movie stars keep the intrigue alive especially for someone like me who doesn’t like gambling which, is an affirmation that anyone, poker player or not, will enjoy this funny flick. -- 8/10

CHARLIE BARTLETT
Directed by: John Poll
Starring:
Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis

Another funny, and inspiring film to hit Tribeca this year was Charlie Bartlett. Uplifting and very funny. This film about a fearless and innovative teenage boy named Charlie played by Anton Yelchin. Also starring the super talented Robert Downey Jr and Kate Davis, who are both magnificent in their roles as father/daughter. Charlie is a teenage boy in therapy who uses his knowledge and prescriptions to becomes the school’s heroic resident “psychiatrist,” setting up office in the boys washroom and transforming the lives of everyone around him. The film touches upon the many teenage problems that have plagued us all at one time or another. If only all high schools and teenagers were so lucky to have a friend or confidant like him.

The cast, young and new, is extremely talented, funny and delivers the script beautifully. Yelchin has an adorable innocence about him and carries his own weight opposite brilliant actor Downey Jr, who ironically lectures him about substance abuse, generating unanimous laughter in the theatre. The film’s photography and editing intensifies its comedic moments, especially in one scene that morphs into a Ritalin rave. In a time of violence and hatred, this film reflects a refreshing and positive twist to teenage angst in high school life. Definitely a cute film worth checking out! -- 7/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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