Screen Junkies » tribeca film festival 2011 Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:27:26 +0000 en hourly 1 Tribeca Review: The High Cost Of Living Mon, 25 Apr 2011 20:07:44 +0000 Fred Topel Now this is drama!

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Now this is drama! I watched the Tribeca Film Festival selection The High Cost of Living, and this is exactly what I’m looking for in a heavy story. Writer/director Deborah Chow just throws the most awful situation at her characters and watches them deal with it.

Henry (Zach Braff) is a prescription drug dealer. Nathalie (Isabelle Blais) is a pregnant woman neglected by her workaholic husband Michel (Patrick Labbe’). After a night of partying, Henry hits Nathalie with his car. But, this movie doesn’t just coast on the tragedy of a dead baby.

Nathalie survives but she has to keep the dead fetus in her womb until the hospital can schedule an operation. Can you imagine? Henry tries to check up on the accident, but since he committed hit and run he can’t be straightforward. It’s smart of Henry to check the newspaper for birth notices, hoping he can confirm that his victims made it out okay.

Henry gets his landlords’ kid Johnny (Julian Lo) involved, running errands to find Nathalie at the hospital or at her home, the spot of the accident. Trying to explain all the conditions Johnny has to follow so he doesn’t give Henry away is more drama.

Meanwhile, it’s still going to be more weeks before the doctors are willing to schedule Nathalie’s surgery. She has to go meet people with her belly, and they all assume it’s still a living baby. She can’t have a drink without people commenting that a pregnant mother shouldn’t drink. Nathalie should just blurt out, “I’m carrying a carcass inside me!”

That’s when Henry sees her and steps in. He doesn’t care if she drinks. He sees a pregnant tummy and thinks he’s off the hook. Then when she tells him, imagine going from “Whew, it all worked out” to “Oh my God, I’m a baby murderer” in an instant.

The whole situation is impossible. How could Henry make up for something so awful? Does he even have the right to try? Then Nathalie starts coming out of her shell thanks to his friendship, so he’s instrumental in both her trauma and recovery.

The film ultimately plays out in that familiar way. Henry’s about to confess but Nathalie reveals something else so he can’t drop the bomb anymore. The police investigation spirals until Johnny becomes the suspect.

Even with that structure, the depth of drama simmers throughout the film. It never feels like Oscar bait. The drama is the priority and the filmmakers and actors both fulfill their service. Now if Oscars happen to come their way, they’ll deserve them.

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Tribeca Review: Stuck Between Stations Mon, 25 Apr 2011 18:08:15 +0000 Fred Topel It definitely gets to a point where it says something unique, but I can’t say the entire movie does.

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I got a chance to see Stuck Between Stations in Los Angeles, while it’s playing at the Tribeca Film Festival this week. If you’re considering the remaining Monday or Thursday night showings, here’s a sense of what kind of movie it is.

Becky (Zoe Lister-Jones) reunites with Casper (Sam Rosen) one night when they’re both at a crossroads. Becky has been caught having an affair with her college advisor, and Casper is in town for his father’s funeral. They spend the night together reminiscing about their school days, visiting random late night establishments and getting really deep into each other’s problems.

Before Sunrise is an obvious comparison. They’re not strangers and it’s not lighthearted, but it’s a night of bonding. It feels like a very personal statement with some interesting faces performing it, albeit with all the typical first time filmmaker syndromes. Somber keyboard music, film school tricks and an emphasis on the “real” over the dramatic give director Brady Kiernan away.

The nature of the story is that small talk gives way to more revealing conversation. At first, Casper references a lot of movies (from Dances with Wolves to Lady and the Tramp) while Becky makes sure to announce that this is not a date. Those are both very real character types, so real that you want to tell them, “Just enjoy the moment and stop trying to control it.”

Some bigger names pop in to add a bit of street cred. Paddy (Josh Hartnett) shows up to challenge Casper’s politics, and take them to one of the more visually interesting stops of the night, a circus party. David (Michael Imperioli) is Becky’s advisor who illustrates what kind of company she foolishly keeps. They even end up at a public access TV studio and break into David’s house to give them things to do late at night.

The film has a point of view. Casper has a different take on the war. Becky mopes a lot but he calls her out on it. It builds the most raw and painful stories each character will share. That makes up for the script’s excessive use of profanity.

Stuck Between Stations moved well enough that I wanted to stay with it. It definitely gets to a point where it says something unique, but I can’t say the entire movie does. Most of it was just small talk until Becky and Casper got comfortable enough to reveal why they’re so defensive.

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