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Everything I got to see at Tribeca...homeless people and corporate sponsorship notwithstanding.
by Scott Weinberg

For my fifth and final film festival of the year, I was fortunate enough to attend DeNiro's Tribeca shindig. That my hotel was connected to the multiplex in which virtually ALL of the films were playing meant one good thing: I could spend a week in New York and not go outside ONCE! As far as the movies go, it's the same old tune: some solid, some not, a fun time overall. Here's what I got to see.

(Full reviews on several of these should be on their way if you're demanding it! Ha!)

Down with Love (4 stars out of 5) - A big colorful and undeniably fun 'throwback' romantic comedy. One need not be familiar with the Doris Day/Rock Hudson films to appreciate the humor here - but it might help a little. The entire cast is spot-on perfect and director Peyton Reed seems like a literate McG. Plus it's very very funny.

Whale Rider (4 out of 5) - Touching and only slightly cliched coming-of-age tale benefits greatly from an exotic New Zealand locale and a handful of excellent performances. Definitely worth a look.

In America (5 out of 5) - I. loved. this. movie. Period.

Milk and Honey (3.5 out of 5) - The director of Virgil Bliss presents another surprisingly engrossing tale: an estranged couple has a huge fight and spends the entire evening out on the town. Sort of a more gloomy version of After Hours by way of Eyes Wide Shut.

Speaking of Sex (1.5 out of 5) - James Spader. Jay Mohr. Bill Murray. Catherine O'Hara. Lara Flynn Boyle. Melora Walters. Megan Mullally. Directed by John (Mad Dog & Glory, Wild Things, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) McNaughton. All that and it's one of the worst comedies I've seen in years. Expect it to show up as some Artisan DVD within the next 8 months. And then avoid it.

Levelland (3 out of 5) - Alternately dull and somewhat insightful, this one focuses on a group of skateboarding young Texans and their obvious displeasure with the 'grown-up' world.

The Wannabes (3.5 out of 5) - Broad Aussie comedy about the world's most unemployable actor and his adventures with a crew of grumpy criminals. Some VERY funny moments throughout, though the flick sags noticably as it reaches the finish line. Still definitely worth a look.

Prey for Rock & Roll (3 out of 5) - Drea De Matteo and Gina Gershon deliver excellent performances in this generally familiar tale of aging girl rockers. Lori Petty is also on board, which is something you don't see everyday. Shelly Cole is an actress I didn't know much about, but her fantastic work here (as the beleaguered drummer) left me wanting more.

The Original Diner Guys (2 out of 5) - Dull and self-important documentary by Barry Levinson. Basically it's just video footage of him and all his old Baltimore buddies. Self-indulgent and not really all that interesting. Sure, they seem like nice enough guys - but so are my Uncle Harry and his poker buddies. But they don't deserve their own documentary.

The Lucky Ones (2.5 out of 5) - A gossip reporter has internal conflicts about fame and professional integrity. Not bad; doesn't leave much of an impression overall.

Justice (4 out of 5) - Disarmingly engaging comedy/drama about a NYC cartoonist who aims to create a new 'reality-based' superhero following the 9/11 tragedies. Not much more than a 'slice of life' multi-character study, but one that kept me interested throughout.

Just Another Story (3.5 out of 5) - Oddly likeable comedy/drama/musical about a young urban hip-hopper and his friends. Consistently turns cliches on their ear, and the trio of musical moments are a lot of fun.

Black Cadillac (3.5 out of 5) - Randy Quaid and director John Murlowski approach Joy Ride territory in this effective (if a bit nonsensical) "dark highway" thriller. Some clever humor and outlandish surprises along the way help out considerably. A fun cable/DTV flick.

Paper Chasers - (3 out of 5) - Documentary hoping to unearth the stories on various local rap artists goes to New Orleans, Atlanta, L.A., New York, and a few other places. Starts out fairly fascinating but get a bit redundant before the finish. Worthy of note is how the filmmakers were able to document the sudden and overwhelming popularity of one performer in particular (Ludacris).

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originally posted: 05/12/03 03:19:49
last updated: 01/03/04 16:36:47
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