[The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.]
Fruitvale Station (formally Fruitvale, a name I actually prefer) did in fact make its debut at Sundance 2013, and I was there at the premiere among the brilliant cast, director (expecting great things from Ryan Cooglar in the future), press, and members of the Grant family as we witnessed something amazing on screen. I actually don’t think this trailer does the film justice; it is one of the most touching films I have ever seen and definitely will be on top of everyone’s mind come Oscar time. Here were my thoughts from Sundance after seeing the film:
I’m introducing a new music feature on this blog where I sort of create my own soundtrack for different movies I have watched recently. I came up with the idea a couple of days ago when I was listening to some of my favorite songs on my iPod and it reminded me are certain dramatic situations I have seen play out on the big screen or perfectly described a character’s motivations, feelings, or desires. So in my first edition of ‘Music Complements’, I present some songs that came to mind when I took a look back on my experience watching Terrance Malick’s To The Wonder.
Tribeca In Pictures (#2)
My experiences with the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 though my camera lens:
1. Sunday brunch at Southern Hospitality, a BBQ joint in Hell’s Kitchen co-owned by Justin Timberlake; 2. Sam Rockwell and his (odd) poses for the photogs before the premiere of A Case of You; 3. The cast of A Case of You at the post-screening discussion 4. Alice Eve and Neil LaBute discuss Some Velvet Morning; 5. Justin Long on the red carpet; 6. A glimpse at Kiefer Sutherland pre-screening of The Reluctant Fundamentalist; 7. Both Mira Nair (director) and Mohsin Hamid (novelist) discuss both mediums of The Reluctant Fundamentalist;; 8. Cast and director of The Reluctant Fundamentalist field questions from the audience; Kate Hudson looks great!
More of my photos from TFF 2013 -> Tribeca in Pictures (#1)
As I was by myself for the rest of the festival, much of my third day was spent walking around the city, particularly a trek between Tribeca and SoHo and back again. If I ever was fortunate enough to live in Manhattan (and I say that to mean ‘have alot of money’) I would definitely live in this area of the city. One thing to note though; independent bookstores in SoHo (and I really try and support these) sure don’t believe in plugs for your computer or free bathrooms. One charged 25 cents to use the restroom. True story.
One screening on this day, and that was this film which originally premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. Based on the Mohsin Hamid novel, the film is directed by Mira Nair, the filmmaker behind a similar book adaptation on the Eastern cultural experience in America - The Namesake. Set post-9/11, The Reluctant Fundamentalist opens with Pakistani-born Changez in his home country, a teacher at a local school who is being accused of being having dealings with a Islamic fundamentalist group who has recently kidnapped a fellow teacher. Changez is confronted by an American investigative journalist (Liev Schrieber) to divulge the extent of his involvement; he agrees to if he is willing to hear his whole story. From there we are taken back through the last 5 years or so of his life starting from his leaving from his home city of Lahore, Pakistan to being a golden boy at Princeton to being recruited to work on Wall Street as a financial analyst as the protege for a hot shot he longs to become (Kiefer Sutherland). The is the embodiment of the pursuit of the American dream. He meets photographer Erica (Kate Hudson), the liberal bohemian white woman he comes to have a relationship with and who comes to represent another step in the assimilation into American culture. Then 9/11 happens. And his world is rocked. And all of the external things and all the internal conflicts we would think would happen to a Middle Eastern-born Muslim happens. Even surprising revelations like Changez having a momentary feeling of awe at the site of the planes hitting the Twin Towers. And there begins not only a clash between where his alliances lie or whether a side truly has to be defined but really the idea of unwanted infiltration vs. peaceful assimilation.
Day 2 of my 2013 Tribeca Film Festival experience found me and my friend meeting up with some of her friends for Sunday brunch at Southern Hospitality, the BBQ place co-owned by none other than Justin Timberlake. You know with the resurgence of JT the performer (I choose to forgot that period of time there when he tried to act) it’s time to really care about him again. So I wanted to care about him while eating some good old BBQ brisket hash… and drinking mimosas (I’m grown). With the aid of alittle salt, it was actually really really good. And the eatery has a cool Southern BBQ joint feel to it. I do highly recommend it stopping in if you ever find yourself in the New York Times Square area.
I do admit I had alittle too much to drink (taking part in “bottomless” anything can be brutal; especially having the low tolerance for alcohol that I have) but after some needed time, coffee and some street fair perusal, I was in good enough shape enough to head into the late evening and night with two more film festival selections:
Some Velvet Morning. I have alittle experience with the work of the screenwriter/ playwright/ director Neil LaBute. I remember coming to New York five years or so ago and seeing his excellent stage play reasons to be pretty starring Marin Ireland (28 Hotel Rooms) as well as seeing his really underappreciated film The Shape of Things, based on a playand starring Rachel Weisz and Paul Rudd. I have come to love this transition between the two mediums of the stage play and the independent film in working with a sort of one central location/limited actors format. LaBute has a knack for this, and it shows in some of his better works (his lesser acclaimed works like Lakeview Terrace and Death at a Funeral proves that if he veers too far from this, it does not turn out well). This drew me to seeing Some Velvet Morning, that and the combination of premise and the dapper Mr. Stanley Tucci.
Tribeca In Pictures (#1)
My experiences with the Tribeca Film Festival 2013 though my camera lens:
1. Title screen for the Tribeca Film Festival which shows pre-screenings; 2. The beautiful ceiling of the BMCC screening auditorium portraying actors and movie scenes from classic film history; 3. Catching a glimpse of Matt Dillion on the red carpet at the Tribeca premiere of Sunlight Jr; 4. The main cast and crew of Sunlight Jr; 5. Zoe Kazan while she is interviewed on the red carpet before the premiere of The Pretty One; 6. Zoe Kazan poses with Frances Shaw who plays her BFF in The Pretty One; 7. Cast and director of The Pretty One on the red carpet at the premiere; 8. Post-screening panel with main cast and director.
New York City. Tribeca Film Festival. Fourth year. Let’s do this. My first day at Tribeca (Saturday of opening weekend) wasn’t really a full day (I flew in that afternoon) but it was one that had me exploring the place that it all started - the Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal Street) neighorhood that was the namesake of the festival and then heading to spend the evening in Chelsea. This year, my friend from DC was sharing the first couple of the days (and her first time at the festival) with me. I have come to love the idea of sharing these festival experiences with others so if you ever want to join me on the festival circuit, you’re always welcomed.
We first met up to eat at Zutto Japanese American pub in Tribeca (ramen noodle places being all the rage as my friend informs me; she keep on on the cusp of all that is trendy, that one). It was a cool little spot off of Hudson street that could stand in for a date spot on dim New York summer nights. I can’t say that I was actually too impressed with my ramen noodle selection, but if you’re ever in the area, their sweet buns are great enough for me to recommend a pop in. On to the screenings…
Sunlight Jr. The first movie on the schedule was Sunlight Jr, a film that I initially selected for both the director (Laurie Collyer, the filmmaker behind Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Sherrybaby) and thecast. In it is Naomi Watts, whose career I keep following mainly because I am still reeling from her performance in 21 Grams from a decade ago. Even though I have been less than thrilled some of her recent films to date (see: Two Mothers from Sundance 2013), I do think she does know how to see in the pocket of emotional scenes and milk them for all they are worth. Here she is a convenience store (called Sunlight Jr.) clerk with no college education or hopes to get out of her harsh situation. Matt Dillon is her boyfriend, a man in a wheelchair with no use of his legs and lacking the ability to provide for girlfriend he loves. The movie was presented as a look at the lives of these two people who are very much in love and very much in poverty. Needless to say, I knew these was was going to be a movie that left me feeling utterly dejected by the end. But sometimes those are the best ones.