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Tribeca Film Fest, Pt. 1!

05.01.2008

THE 2008 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL – Part 1

Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival celebrated its 7th birthday this year. Having personally enjoyed the entertaining films showcased in last year’s festival, I was thrilled at having a repeat opportunity to attend the ever growing festival for my second year. However, having screened a handful of films thus far, I sadly admit my disappointment in this year’s Indies as most were bereft of the unique and robust flavor sampled in last year’s creative platter. With the exception of one or two fresh surprises and buzz worthy flicks, 2008’s Tribeca films have paled in comparison to last year’s innovative line up so far. Here are the first few films I kicked off the festival with this past week.

TRUCKER

Written and Directed by: James Mottern
Starring: Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Fillion, Benjamin Bratt, Joey Lauren Adams, Jimmy Bennett

REVIEW: I will boldly declare that TRUCKER is by far one of my favorite fest-flicks of the year. Any film that makes a powerful impact and leaves an everlasting impression on me long after its finale, is a hands down winner in my book. The story is based on a tough, vibrant female truck driver Diane (Michelle Monaghan), who is forced to care for her 11-year-old estranged son (Jimmy Bennett) after her ex-husband (Benjamin Bratt) is hospitalized for colon cancer and his wife (Joey Lauren Adams) is bound to family obligations. Reluctantly, she learns to reassess her selfish, carefree, party- hard lifestyle, becoming acclimated to a foreign ‘we-world’ with the help and wisdom of her married, drinking pal Runner (Nathan Fillion).

What makes TRUCKER especially outstanding and memorable is its genuine storyline, exceptional cast and moving performances.

TRUCKER is set close to the freeways of a working class neighborhood in the outskirts of California. Making his directorial debut, James Mottern wisely selects fun, country-rock backbeats to compliment his use of soft, subdued colors while emphasizing the beautiful scenic backdrops to define and accentuate a carefree country vibe. The easy-flowing character-driven plot is led by a convincing, commanding and remarkable performance given by Monaghan. Incomparable to her past parts in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III, GONE BABY GONE and THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, she breaks out and delivers the lead role of Diane with great conviction. Equally impressive are Fillion, Bratt, Adams and Bennett who are all instrumental in illustrating an effortless on-screen chemistry with Monaghan. Even more extraordinary is the dysfunctional relationship between Diane and her son. Their minimal but unique dialogue often includes the use of “dude or “bitch” when referring to one another. In conclusion, TRUCKER is a heartwarming, tenacious, authentic and engaging film with an inspiringly fresh twist. If this film doesn’t generate an overall feel-good vibe, I don’t know what will!

SCORE: 8/10

BOY A

Directed by: John Crowley
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Peter Mullan

REVIEW: How long must you continue paying for your crime after doing your time?

BOY A is dark and poignant drama that questions and contemplates a reformed boy’s right to forgiveness and a second chance. An adaptation of Jonathan Trigell's novel, story is based on a young rehabilitated child murderer named Jack (Andrew Garfield), who is faced with the horrific challenge and grim reality of re-entering the outside world after spending most of his youth in prison. With the help and guidance of his caseworker Terry (Peter Mullan), an anxious Jack assimilates into society by assuming a new identity, getting a job, making new friends and experiencing love. Unfortunately, he is haunted by and condemned to an appalling past which is revealed through flashbacks as the plot unravels. Although unquestionably rehabilitated and harmless, this shy and endearing young man is tormented by his fear of being exposed and having his new life destroyed.

Garfield’s performance is unbelievably powerful and moving. He illustrates an innate ability to immerse the audience into a world of deep pain and dark burden torturing his soul. Equally captivating are his boyish innocence and sweet personality, which ultimately win over a very sympathetic audience. Mullen’s performance is also incredibly genuine. Their on-screen chemistry easily elucidates an honest and sincere father/son relationship lacking in both men’s lives. Stylistically, the film’s use of extreme close ups and bleak colors accentuate Jack’s sensitivity while encapsulating the haunting issues posed throughout the film. Although the plot was slow and depressing at times, it generally managed to hold my attention. Ultimately, I was moved to tears by Garfield’s heartfelt performance captured successfully by BOY A’s natural filming style.

SCORE: 7/10

THE CALLER

Directed by: Richard Ledes
Starring: Elliott Gould, Frank Langella

REVIEW: THE CALLER is based on a high powered executive Jimmy (Frank Langella) of an energy corporation who puts his life on the line after revealing the shady practices exercised by his firms. Well aware of the hit man ordered by his partners to knock him off, Jimmy secures the services of private detective Frank (Elliott Gould) to follow him around from a distance. Unfortunately, the film is rather vague and fails to reveal or clarify Jimmy’s motivation or purpose to have Frank follow him until the very end of the film (if you can hang on that long). Until then, THE CALLER only offers bits and pieces. There is a childhood connection established between the two men during a recurring flashback of two young boys surrounding a wounded man during WWII France.

Although both Langella and Gould are exceptional performers, the long, drawn-out, incomprehensible plot of this suspense crime drama left me bored and uninterested. Lacking in originality, the dialogue was weakened by its ambiguous attempts at corny euphemisms and stale references to classic noir. No real suspense was created in building up to Jimmy’s anticipated hit. Toboot, the hit was poorly orchestrated and dull. Also, the plot involving the little girl in the park could have had more depth. On a whole, I regretfully admit that the film failed to engage or stimulate me on any level.

Take my word for it, this is a call you don’t want to answer.

SCORE: 3/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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