The Playlist

Tribeca Review: 'Searching For Sugar Man' An Entertaining, Touching & Revealing Look At Forgotten Pop Singer Rodriguez

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • April 24, 2012 12:59 PM
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  • 1 Comment
If every Sundance film festival needs at least one documentary to remind white people of all the great music in the world they don’t know about, at least “Searching For Sugar Man” seems like 2012’s front-runner for the best one. A born crowd-pleaser whose central mystery begets a great triumph of grace and modesty, Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary about forgotten-before-he-was-known folk-pop singer Rodriguez is a hugely entertaining, emotionally touching, and musically revelatory experience.

Tribeca: Bradley Rust Gray & Riley Keough Talk Making 'Jack And Diane' & Working With The Famed Brothers Quay

  • By John Lichman
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  • April 24, 2012 11:59 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The heart of "Jack and Diane," the third film from Bradley Rust Gray, isn't about it being a monster movie. It's about looking at a love story and seeing that there's qualities that Gray brings to this relationship that perfectly reflect first love: bright and flighty Diane (Juno Temple) is visiting her aunt in New York and finds herself falling for Jack (Riley Keough), a rougher and more butch girl working in a skate shop. As their first night culminates in a kiss, Diane's feelings overtake her body, turning her into a snarling, grotesque beast with hair and wires snaking around her organs. Whether Diane's hiding a deadly fact about herself, or if it's just Gray playing with metaphor as their relationship evolves over a week, is entirely up to the audience.

Tribeca Review: Keanu Reeves Doc 'Side By Side' A Treat For Cinephiles On All Sides Of The Digital Debate

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • April 24, 2012 11:39 AM
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  • 6 Comments
Doing an impressive job of tracing the evolution of filmmaking technology (not just the cameras but the editing, post-production, distribution, exhibition, even the archiving aspects of it) from 1895 to the present day, “Side by Side” is an old school talking-head documentary on the subject of digital filmmaking vs. photochemical filmmaking. It sounds pretty dull as a logline, but stacked with gossipy, informal anecdotes and opinions from many of the most respected directors, cinematographers, editors, execs, VFX artists and digital wizards in the industry, it proves instead to be highly entertaining and informative, and by its close has presented a thoroughly diverting overview of the debate. Then again, we are massive geeks about this sort of thing.

Tribeca Review: 'Persepolis' Follow-Up 'Chicken With Plums' Is Amiable & Pretty, But Twee & Thin

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 24, 2012 10:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It can be difficult to shift from animation to live-action direction; the processes are very different, and even an accomplished animation helmer can sometimes be undone once they're faced with cameras, actors and the breakneck schedule of a feature film shoot, as opposed to the multi-year process that produces a feature cartoon. Some have managed it, Tim Burton being the most obvious example (at first, anyway...) and Pixar dons Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton are both hoping to make the leap in the next few months. But it's got to be even harder to go from working in graphic novels, to animation, to live-action, but that's been the path for Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud in the last few years.

Tribeca Review: The Deeply Insufferable 'Giant Mechanical Man' Is Quintessential Indie Film Hell

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2012 9:01 AM
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  • 25 Comments
There’s a special sort of Hell where films like “The Giant Mechanical Man” play, with the same ideas and tropes repeated around the clock, with the mistaken assumption that they’re endearing or, even worse, adorable. It’s the sort of picture that gives independent films a bad name, the type of film that invites jackholes coming out of “Transformers 7” to say, “I ain’t seeing that faggy indie shit!” In reality, there’s a very good chance “Transformers 7” could very well be less obnoxious than “The Giant Mechnical Man.”

Tribeca Review: 'Alekesam' Feels Less Like A Short Doc And More Like An Overlong Album Promo For Sal Masekela

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 23, 2012 6:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
At 35 minutes, "Alekesam" is a short documentary with a subject that could probably fill a Ken Burns-style PBS miniseries, full of political unrest, social uprisings, and jazz music: Hugh Masekela, a musician and activist who fought against apartheid (he was exiled from South Africa for more than 30 years), struggles to reconnect with his son Sal Masekela, a former ESPN commentator who is just now embarking on his own musical career. But while the doc tries to focus on the tenuous emotional connection between a distant father and a resistant son, it ends up coming across more as a fluffy promotional piece for Sal's new album than anything genuinely probing or insightful.

Tribeca Review: ESPN Doc ‘Benji’ Is A Tragic Portrait Of Promising Hoop Dreams Unfulfilled

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 23, 2012 4:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Something that all hardcore sports fans, but cinephiles may not be fully aware of: ESPN’s “30 For 30” series of documentaries on various touchstone moments in sports history are all by and large, riveting and dramatic pieces of work worth watching regardless if you’re a sports fan are not. While that particular series, which was by co-conceived by ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, is now over, the range of talent it secured, directors like Spike Lee, Richard Linklater, Barry Levinson, Steve James ("Hoop Dreams"), Peter Berg, Barry Levinson, was no joke (the Zimbalist brothers' "The Two Escobars,” being one of this writer’s absolute favorites; a terrifically gripping documentary).

Tribeca Review: 'Freaky Deaky' Is A 1970s-Set Farce Where The Afros Outnumber The Laughs

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 23, 2012 3:21 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Just when you thought filmmakers had milked every gag possible from setting a movie in the 1970s, along comes writer/director Charles Matthau to prove that theory correct in the moribund Elmore Leonard adaptation “Freaky Deaky.” Though the source material takes place in 1988, Matthau heard the call of polyester and fur and answered be relocating the film to the seventies, resulting in a film drowning in cornball aesthetics, extravagant living room furniture, funk music out of a bad porno and loud fashion under the guise of mise en scene.

Tribeca Review: 'Rubberneck' Is A True Crime Tale That's Truly Dull

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 23, 2012 3:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Chances are, if the movie doesn't feature a dolphin with a prosthetic tail on the poster, and it carries "inspired by true events" disclaimer, then it's going to be something about murder, mayhem, or the decades-long search for the Zodiac killer. So by announcing that your movie is inspired by true events, what could have been an unsettling reveal instead becomes a waiting game: who is going to get killed, how long is it going to take, and why have you never read about it before? It may add a slight bit of tension, but it's at the cost of almost everything else. Such is the case with "Rubberneck," written, directed, and starring Lena Dunham confederate Alex Kaprovsky, which has an intriguing-enough true crime premise but ends up coming across like something you'd stumble upon on Lifetime one Sunday afternoon (but without all the laughs of, say, "Drew Peterson: Untouchable").

Tribeca Review: 'Francophrenia' A Fascinating Doc/Fiction Profile Of James Franco As James Franco

  • By Brandon Harris
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  • April 23, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
James Franco's ongoing experimentation with the limits of his own celebrity are like little else popular culture has produced of late. While his hijinks within academia and beyond are well documented (he's working on a Film MFA at NYU and an English PhD from Yale, while being a movie star, reediting "My Own Private Idaho," writing essays for N+1 and occasionally doing some performance art with Laurel Nakadate), they come to a startling head in his "Francophrenia (Or: Don't Kill Me, I Know Where The Baby Is)," a daringly oddball collaboration with lauded documentarian Ian Olds, whose "The Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi" was a hit in Rotterdam in 2009.

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