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Tribeca Film Fest, Pt. 3!

05.09.2008

THE 2008 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL – Part 3

Celebrating a swift end to 2008’s Tribeca Film Festival, I regretfully concede having had only a minimal opportunity to screen a variety of Indies this year. However, I am thankful for the few chosen flicks, which I was able to squeeze into an insane schedule. Although somewhat less inspiring and stimulating than last year’s fest-flicks, there were a select few noteworthy creations, which undoubtedly roused my attention. Before bidding a final farewell to 2008’s Tribeca FF, I leave you with my last Indie reviews in completion to Part1 from last week.

BART GOT A ROOM

Written and Directed by: Brian Hecker
Starring: William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines

REVIEW: As exhausted and unoriginal another coming-of–age film based on a geeky teenager’s quest for a prom date sounds, writer-director Brian Hecker makes an honest effort with his feature film debut, BART GOT A ROOM. Inspired by his own anxious teenage years, the film is a heartfelt semi-autobiographical comedy of a dweeby, over-achieving Jewish boy’s angst-filled adventures leading up to the prom. Living in a Florida retirement community, Danny Stein (Steve Kaplan) embarks on a desperate quest for a prom date and a hotel room especially after discovering that Bart, the school’s biggest nerd, has already scored both. While deliberating on a variety of girls in his hot pursuit of the perfect date, he must also deal with his divorced parents’ (Cheryl Hines and William H. Macy) independent searches for a new romance. In exhausting his options and withstanding the blows of disappointment, Danny ultimately learns an important lesson about the very essence of life.

Somewhat reminiscent of horny teen Jim (Jason Biggs) of AMERICAN PIE, peer-pressured geek Danny appears to be more retro and genuine. Newcomer Kaplan reveals a sincere yet earnest desperation throughout the film, which can easily be discerned as endearing. Transformed by an unflattering, stereotypical Jew fro, Macy is amusing and remarkable as sexually charged dad Ernie who is eager to assist Danny with his sex life. Equally amazing and likewise disguised in a dark brown wig is Hines as mom Beth. She portrays a typically traditional, protective mom who is on the prowl for a new husband. As a first time writer and director, my props go out to Hecker for a clever, well-written adolescent comedy, which keeps it real. Moving at a good pace, Hecker’s choice of music and visual style take us back in time while maintaining the story’s modern vibe. Overall, I felt BART GOT A ROOM was a surprisingly comical, and genuinely heartwarming teenage flick filled with fresh twists and sweet surprises.

SCORE: 7/10

BAGHEAD

Directed by: The Duplass Brothers

REVIEW: What happens when four struggling actors retreat to a cabin in the woods to brainstorm and write the next hit screenplay? Spooky visions and good times. BAGHEAD is a “mumblecore” thriller-comedy, which follows four ambitious friends to a cabin at Big Bear Lake after being inspired by the success of a friend’s low-budget Indie flick. Among the four are handsome Matt (Ross Partridge) leading the pack, Matt’s mature on/off again girlfriend Catherine (Elise Muller), fresh LA import Michelle (Greta Gerwig), and chubby sidekick Chad (Steve Zissis). Michelle’s freaky encounter with a strange man one night wearing a bag over his head generates fear among the group while perpetrating a series of bizarre events and leaving a trail of unanswered questions.

Following in the footsteps of inspirational filmmaker John Cassavetes, the Duplass Brothers use the same “mumblecore” format to shoot their low budget film. The guerilla style production incorporates the use of hand-held cameras, self-improvised dialogue, no rehearsals and a family-style collaborative effort in making a film. Think BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Consequently, BAGHEAD’s picture is very shaky and nauseating at times. I personally don’t enjoy watching a film that appears to have been shot with an arthritis hand. Although I did appreciate the candid, improvised and natural dialogue among the cast, I thought it was stale at times. Appropriately cast as the film’s self-designated losers, Matt, Catherine, Michelle and Chad illustrate a dynamic chemistry and validate their credibility as no-name-wanna-be-stars. BAGHEAD is slow at times, but the comedy-thriller plot is generally refreshing and engaging with a well-rounded, satisfying conclusion. The overall lesson learnt by the group? Love and screenwriting don’t mix, especially in the woods.

SCORE: 5/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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