Review: ‘THE LATE BLOOMER’, Kevin Pollak’s directorial debut, is based on a true and hilarious story.

latebloomer_th_1sht_lr_proof_2_revSometimes, when you get really lucky, you get to be part of movie history. When Kevin Pollak got the call that he was going to direct a movie version of Ken Baker‘s Book, “The Late Bloomer: A Memoir of My Body”, I was in the room. We were just sitting down for a small roundtable interview for his Tribeca Film Festival Film documentary Misery Loves Comedy, when he got a call he had to take at the table. When Kevin Pollak needs to answer the phone, you sit politely and attempt to eavesdrop. There was no need, as he hung up the phone and eagerly explained that he’d be directing a comedy about a kid who doesn’t hit puberty until his 20’s… and that it was based on a true story.
lb_00146

The story of an adult male who, after the successful removal of a benign tumor resting against his pituitary gland, experiences all the changes and effects of puberty over a three-week period.

While the cast is beyond tremendous, sometimes the jokes just fall flat. The premise is outstanding so I leave it up to the audience this time to decide whether or not to catch this one. Check out the trailer below for a pretty fun preview.
lb_02201

THE LATE BLOOMER
In Select Theaters and On Demand / Digital HD: October 7, 2016
DIRECTOR: Kevin Pollak
WRITER: Screenplay By Joe Nussbaum, Mark Torgove, Paul A. Kaplan, Kyle Cooper, Austyn Jeffs, Story By Joe Nussbaum and Gary Rosen, From the Book “The Late Bloomer: A Memoir of My Body” by Ken Baker
CAST: Johnny Simmons, Maria Bello, Brittany Snow, Jane Lynch, J.K. Simmons, Kumail Nanjiani, Beck Bennett, Paul Wesley
GENRE: Comedy
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures

[FLASHBACK] Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Tumbledown_Press_1 TribecaRebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.tumbledownjasonsudeikisrebeccahall

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.jasonsudeikistumbledownrebeccahall


I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

Originally posted April 20, 2015

Shocking Tribeca doc ‘DREAM/KILLER’ finally gets released in theaters!

dream killer posterOne of the most acclaimed docs from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, dream/killer,  is being released in NY today and in LA next Friday, Dec 11th. Fans of the podcast Serial and HBO’s The Jinx, this film is right up your alley, I highly recommend  you seek it out!Ryan Ferguson dream killer

In the fall of 2005, 19-year-old Ryan Ferguson was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40-years in prison based on someone else’s dream.  Over the next ten years while Ryan languished in prison, his father Bill engaged in a tireless crusade to find justice.  dream/killer tells the story of this extraordinary father’s journey to free his son.Courtroom still dream killer

When Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt was brutally murdered in the newspaper’s parking lot, the crime went unsolved for two years, leaving the affluent college town desperate to bring home justice. At the time, it was the only unsolved murder in the city. A break in the case lead police to Chuck Erickson, who confessed to the crime, implicated Ferguson as an accomplice and left America with one of the country’s most outrageous miscarriages of justice.The Ferguson family dream killer

The documentary uses archival footage from when Ryan was first arrested, interviews with him in prison, and court hearings that reveal the strengths and the flaws of the American judicial system. The arguments of the ruthless prosecutor and Ryan’s brilliant defense attorney are also depicted to show how easily the system is influenced.  Interspersed with footage from the Ferguson family archive, dream/killer looks at the personal consequences of a wrongful conviction.

dream/killer – OFFICIAL TRAILER (2015) from Bloom Project on Vimeo.

You can check out my original review and listen to my exclusive interview with Ryan and Bill in the link below. This is one extraordinary story and family.

Review/Interview with ‘Dream/Killer’ subject Ryan and Bill Ferguson

Review & Interview: ‘APPLESAUCE’ writer/director talks total weirdness and hilarity.

Applesauce Poster

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Just one seemingly innocent question is the spark that ignites the entire rest of one quirky and fantastic film. Onur Tukel’s APPLESAUCE will get under your skin and inside your psyche. applesauce Dylan Baker

Synopsis:

 Every Tuesday night, radio talk show host Stevie Bricks invites his listeners to call in and share “the worst thing they’ve ever done.” Tonight, Ron Welz (writer/director Onur Tukel) is ready to share his story.  But soon after he confesses on the air, someone starts sending him severed body parts. Ron becomes paranoid, terrified. His life begins to unravel. His marriage begins to fall apart. He has no idea who’s tormenting him. Is it his insolent high school student? Is it his best friend? His own wife? In a city like New York, there are eight million suspects and each one could have a bone to pick with someone like Ron.

Applesauce still, Onur, copsOnur takes upon the role of Ron with hilarious gusto. After he answers “the question”, someone begins to torment him by sending him “gifts” that remind him of what he did. The question not only effects him but his wife and their best couple friends, when they answer the question, as well. Everyone is angry but each is guilty of being haunted by their own past. The fallout spreads like a virus, spoiling the sanity of these four individuals. The circumstances get weirder and weirder, but you’re already along for the ride. This cast clicks and whirs like a well oiled machine. Tukel’s script is filled with pop culture digs and the realities of intimate relationships. It’s a crazy give and take between bizarro land and total nonchalance. I was all in from the beginning. APPLESAUCE_web_1


I had the pleasure of interviewing this multifaceted artist about this truly unique indie. Enjoy.


Liz: Firstly, this is some wacky and wonderful stuff. I’m gonna need more asap. Just throwing that out there. What in the world was the inspiration for this unique story?

Onur: The inspiration was a true story that happened to a friend of mine in college.  We were at a party together and he accidentally cut a stranger’s finger off.  He was haunted by this event for years.  We’ve visited this story dozens of times – over dinners, at parties, at various social gatherings – and it always captivates whoever’s listening.  We always wondered whatever happened to the injured person, how it changed his life. My friend and I also agreed that having a character tell the story over dinner would make a terrific starting point for a film. This was, indeed, the lynch-pin. I started with that and the script wrote itself.

Liz: You wear a ton of hats in making your films. Do you find that’s been a necessity or for the love of the project?

Onur: When you make a really low-budget film, yeah, you have to wear a lot of hats.  I was the costumer, the production designer, co-editor, writer, co-actor, and co-producer.  The DP was also the operator, best boy, gaffer, and grip.  The producers are handling props and also working on production design and script supervising. The PA is doing the work of six people. Everyone’s wearing a lot of hats. You have no choice! Of course, love factors into the whole process. But when people get over-extended, it becomes stressful, and that sucks. Still, when that camera rolls and you get a take that really pops, it’s all worth it. Then, in the editing room, when you start piecing it together like a puzzle and it starts to come to life, it’s magic. On the next one, I hope to have a bigger budget and crew so I can focus exclusively on the writing, directing and editing. This will give the other crew members a chance to focus on fewer things, as well.

Liz: For Applesauce, specifically, what was the length of time from page to production? Shooting to wrap?

Onur: I finished the first draft of the script in August of 2014 and rewrote it over several months. We went into production in November and wrapped on December 31, 2014.   Just four months later, it premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in April.  The schedule was nuts: fast-paced, chaotic, exhilarating and at times, infuriating.   I made a vampire movie when I was 26 in Wilmington, NC and we were rushed into production, much like we did on Applesauce.  The entire crew of six decided to abandon the movie because they thought we weren’t ready.  I recruited the camera operator Bryan Kupko and asked him if he wanted to make the movie with just a two-person crew.  He shrugged and said, “Sure.”  And that was all I needed to hear.  I just wanted a camera rolling; wanted to hear that purr of the film threading throughout the CP-16 as it burned itself up at 24 frames per second.  The crew eventually came back on board and we dug in and got the movie made, but I was ready to go with one person.  I feel alive on a film set.  A group of creative people working together to make a movie is a beautiful battlefield.  Even when it seems like films may be losing their cultural significance, it’s an honor to be called a director.

Liz: The dialogue is delicious. Super natural, which leads me to think there was a lot of improv involved?

Onur: Delicious. Super natural. You’re delicious and super natural, Liz. Hope that doesn’t sound creepy. Yes, there’s always improvisation in my movies, but it’s always very scripted at the beginning.  We will improv a scene if the words don’t sound real or the dialogue feels flat.  I always want the scene to have life and that usually means severing a sentence or two, rearranging some lines, or tossing the dialogue out all together. Sometimes we’ll use 100% of the dialogue. Sometimes 70%. Sometimes none. Plus, I’m rewriting the script during production, so it’s always changing.  I just want it to feel real, whatever it takes.  If what I’ve written works, great.  If it doesn’t, the hell with it!

Liz: Loved the structural choice to use Stevie Bricks as a transitional catalyst. It made for some quick relief from the adult realness (even as those scenes funny as hell) You totally could have gotten away with just having him as the opener. Talk about utilizing that character throughout, if you would.

Onur: The brilliant Dylan Baker gives such a great performance. I used him like a one-night stand. Literally. We had him for eight hours. I squeezed as much as I could out of him during that time, knowing we would edit him into the movie as much as possible.  He was very busy working on another project and I gave him maybe 10 pages of dialogue the night before his shoot.  He came in and nailed it.  I just sat back and watched.  I threw in a couple suggestions here and there to feel like I was a big shot and so I could tell people, “I directed Dylan Baker,” but I didn’t do a thing.  I didn’t really direct anyone in the movie.  That’s why it’s pretty good!

Liz: How does casting generally work for you? Do you have people in mind while writing or do you use a more traditional route with casting directors?

Onur: I wrote the role of Kate for Jennifer Prediger.  She’s a dear friend, but I was a fan or her work before I met her.  It’s easy to write for her because we kind of speak the same language.  We’re self-effacing, jokey, over-histrionic at times, charming when we need to be, yet self-aware when we’re both being sniveling little assholes. I was also friends with Trieste Kelly Dunn long before I cast her.  We both have connections to North Carolina, which might be one of the reasons we find the same things funny. North Carolinians can bullshit about anything.  I could probably talk to Trieste about a blade of grass for two hours.  I always have a blast in her company. The great Max Casella and wonderful Dylan Baker were brought on through a casting director named Stephanie Holbrook. The thought of making a movie now without her is terrifying. I won’t do it. She’s absolutely indispensable. She also happens to be a sweetheart. Lots of lovely people on Applesauce.

Liz: What advice can you give writers/artists in a world saturated with naysayers and Youtube clips/fleeting attention spans?

Onur: Read as many books as you can. The act of reading is creative. Whatever damage technology is doing to our attention spans can all be reversed with reading. Of course, this is easier said than done. Reading is a luxury for those with time. Outside of that, you better use your free time doing your art, whether it’s writing, drawing, recording music, playing music, making movies, etc. After all, if you ain’t doing that, you ain’t an artist.  If you are creating art, don’t be self-important. You’re not special and you’re probably not that good.  I have to tell myself this all the time. Every now and then, someone flatters me with praise. It’s nice to hear, but the day you start believing that stuff, you’re done. Before you know it, you’re lecturing people on how to make art like I’m doing now. I’m so ashamed.  I’m the last person who should be giving advice.  You should see my apartment. It’s like Hooverville for roaches in here.

Liz: I want to say THANK YOU for taking the time to chat with me. I cannot wait to see what’s next!

Onur: Thank you, Liz.  It’s an honor answering your great questions!

 
Starring Max Casella, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Jennifer Prediger, Onur Tukel, and Dylan Baker
The Disturbingly Riotous Tale of Secrets, Lies and Severed Body Parts Comes to VOD and EST Digital on November 24, 2015

Review: ‘TRANSFATTY LIVES’ makes living for something, everything.

filmbuff logo
Presents
Transfatty Lives posterSo many of us participated in “The Ice Bucket Challenge”. The real question is, how many of us took 60 seconds to Google why we were doing it? Patrick Sean O’Brien‘s inspirational documentary TRANSFATTY LIVES paints a stunning, incredibly raw picture of ALS.
TransFatty_Press_1 Tribeca

At 30, Patrick Sean O’Brien was TransFatty, a New York City DJ, Internet personality, and filmmaker. He spent his days as a beer-drinking creative force, making art films about perverts, vulnerable souls, and Howard Johnson’s restaurants. Then his legs started shaking.

Defying sentimentality, TRANSFATTY LIVES takes you on an emotional roller coaster from Patrick’s wild, fun-loving days into the dark heart of ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease). Given 2 to 5 years to live, Patrick first loses his ability to walk, then move his arms, then to swallow, and even to breathe. With the support of his bewildered friends and family Patrick braves the unthinkable and turns his camera onto himself.

As the director and star of his own documentary, Patrick films every step of his debilitating journey from first diagnosis through his current paralysis. Forcefully lacking self pity, he captures the emotion, humor, and absurdity of real life as he makes art, gets political, falls in love, fathers a son, and fights extreme depression and paranoia.

At 40, Patrick has completed this film by typing directions to his editors with the movements of his pupils. Miraculously, TRANSFATTY LIVES is not a movie about death. Because, while Patrick’s brain stopped being able to control his muscles, it remains brilliantly alive, allowing him to ask: “What if my diminishing physical abilities can be inversely proportional to my journey inward? And, more importantly, “will there be bacon and unicorns once I get there?”

Still 3 - TransFatty LivesPatrick’s film is moving, impactful, and funny. Narrated by Patrick, mostly through voice-to-text on his computer via eye movements, the structure of the film is high impact with footage from his previous quirky films, photographs of his adventures, and dairy entries starting from 2005, when he was diagnosed with ALS. Completely unafraid, what began as a film about Patrick’s love for Howard Johnson, soon becomes a film about his journey. His crew seem to become a huge part in his care-taking. Along with his family, they are totally immersed in Patrick’s world, as much as someone without ALS can possibly be. If you’re not crying half way through this doc, you may not actually have a soul. Patrick has created a lens through which the audience can begin to understand just how quickly this disease sucks the life out of you physically. Having Patrick as the center of this project is invaluable. Firstly, he’s intensely charming. Using humor and positivity, he is able to put us at ease. But, moments of extraordinary challenge break the surface at every turn, throwing reality back into our faces just as quickly. The film’s balance is sheer perfection. TRANSFATTY LIVES should be seriously considered as awards season ramps up in the coming weeks. Patrick Sean O’Brien is a brilliant filmmaker and one hell of a human being.

TRANSFATTY LIVES is opening in Los Angeles and On Demand on November 20th and in New York on December 25th.
 TRANSFATTY LIVES won the ‘Audience Award’ at The Tribeca Film Festival, Milano Film Festival, and American Film Festival in Poland. It was also a Top 20 Film at HotDocs International Film Festival.

Review: ‘MEADOWLAND’ drives Olivia Wilde to the brink.

Meadowland poster

How does one cope after the loss of a child? Do marriages survive? Can we be saved? These are all questions in an intense script lead by a masterful performance from Olivia Wilde. Sarah and Phil’s son goes missing, shattering their life together and forcing each to find their own way to cope. Cinematographer-turned-director Reed Morano presents a masterfully crafted contemplation on a relationship strained to the breaking point. Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson capture the unraveling emotions with remarkable power, alongside Kevin Corrigan, John Leguizamo, Elisabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, Juno Temple, and Merritt Wever. Read More →

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, and Joely Richardson star in ‘MAGGIE’ – a post-apocalyptic Zombie flick with Midwestern flare and some incredible acting.

Maggie PosterThere is no denying that most of us are fans of anything zombie genre. With The Walking Dead becoming a televised phenomenon, we got to see a story line based around the characters and not the infected. This is very much the scenario in Henry Hobson‘s new film Maggie. Wade has promised his late wife that he would  do anything to protect their daughter. Living in a world where an infection causes people to turn into cannibal zombies, the government have ordered that at 8 weeks into said infection, you must deliver your family member to the hospital quarantine wing… where they essentially wait to die. But how can you just give up? What if your loved one is different? What if you believe they can be saved?Maggie still Arnold and Abigail breslinArnold Schwarzenegger plays Wade with a love and affection that is altogether new for him. This legendary action star is gentle and protective, and any of us would be proud to  call him Dad. He is able to hold the screen in long quiet shots with complete ease and not much more than his pensive face. I would  love to him  in more roles like this, as he is clearly capable of giving us an entire range of real emotion without any slow motion explosions going off behind him. Joely Richardson is Caroline, Wade’s second wife and Maggie’s stepmother. After sending her two small children off to live with relatives one Maggie returns to the home, she is hesitant to fully trust Wade’s parenting decisions, as would anyone afraid of being attacked by a zombie. Supportive but always on edge, Richardson displays the same great acting talents we’ve come to know from The Tudors and Nip/TuckMaggie Still Babigail ArnoldThe real star of this film, hands down, is Abigail Breslin. To navigate as a teenager in a world where awkwardness is already the norm, then add in the inevitability of turning into a monster is quite the feat. Breslin is graceful and raw in her spiral both emotionally and physically. She is able to balance sadness, thoughtfulness, and a little bit of frightening all at once. I am truly impressed with her portrayal of Maggie and it should not go unnoticed by Hollywood. MaggieMaggie is Henry Hobson‘s first feature length film. He is known for his genius art direction with title sequences, ironically including The Walking Dead. Hobson’s experience is evident in the way he chooses to shoot in an almost kamikaze style. Indie films have smaller budgets and tight schedule, but his actors and crew trusted him so much that at the drop of a hat, the entire team would run from one location to another in order to fit in a shot to capture a perfect moment in time and its natural light. I see a great future for Henry Hobson if Maggie is any indication of what he is capable of. Joely Abigail Arnold Maggie stillDon’t expect massive actions scenes but do expect some phenomenal makeup effects and a truly lovely script by John Scott 3. For a first time screenwriter, he definitely knows his stuff about the genre and great family dynamics. Maggie is a slow burn, beautifully shot and scored, with one hell of an ending. It’s slightly outside the box for a zombie film and for Schwarzenegger, but totally worth your time. You can check out Maggie in theaters and On Demand today, May 8th.

Below you can find the audio from The Tribeca Film Festival press conference I attended for Maggie. Joely, Henry, and Arnold were in attendance. All three were completely gracious and articulate, it’s worth a listen for some  insider information on the production. Enjoy!

http://maggiethefilm.com/

Photos from the Red Carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival of ‘When I Live My Life Over Again’ ‘The Wolfpack’ ‘Maggie’ & ‘Anesthesia’

Gallery

This gallery contains 13 photos.

Check out When I Live My Life Over Again Check out The Wolfpack g Check out Anesthesia

Tribeca Film Festival review: ‘Man Up’ with Simon Pegg & Lake Bell will renew your faith in the rom-com

Jack (Simon Pegg) and Nancy (Lake Bell) in Ben Palmer’s Man UpMan Up – rush tickets available

Mistaken identity in a romantic comedy is far from new, but Man Up takes you on a different path with unbelievable chemistry and clever writing. Lake Bell (who you should know from her movie In A World on Netflix, WATCH NOW) plays a brit opposite Simon Pegg and from their very first meeting, you’re absolutely hooked.

Nancy (Lake Bell) in Ben Palmer’s Man Up

Nancy (Lake Bell) is inadvertently mistaken for Jack’s (Simon Pegg) blind date, and before she can even speak, she’s smitten (and so are we) and decides to see where it goes. The two go bowling and the rest, shall we say, is history.

Jack (Simon Pegg) and Nancy (Lake Bell) in Ben Palmer’s Man UpMy first hurdle was getting over Lake Bell with a british accent, but only because I know her as an American. Very soon that melted away and I couldn’t wait to see what this couple was up to next.

Luckily for everyone the movie releases to theaters May 29th.@@

 

Tribeca Film Festival reviews: Four Fabulous Films From Female Directors – ‘Bare’ ‘Being 14’ ‘Meadowland’ ‘Sworn Virgin’

Bare_Press_1 Tribeca

Bare – tickets available
Director: Natalia Leite

Sarah is a young girl on a path of normalcy and domesticity when she meets a woman who is far from both. Dianna Agron, in 1 of 2 Tribeca Film Festival performances (the other Tumbledown), plays Sarah with a moving innocence and curiosity.

What makes it so good is that it never explains Sarah’s actions at all. We’re merely a fly on the wall as Sarah strikes up a friendship with Pepper (Paz de la Huerta) and tries out a new persona. Is it curiosity? Boredom? A little of both?


Being 14  Tribeca

Being 14
Director: Hélène Zimmer

If you’re a girl and ever have a fantasy/nightmare of reliving the age of 14, then this is your movie. Told with shockingly intimate dialogue, you’ll think you’re watching a documentary. Showing that teenage girls are both innocent and evil, you’ll have a hard time shaking this off.


Meadowland_Press_1 TribecaMeadowland
Director: Reed Morano

Dark and deeply emotional, this story of a couple dealing with the loss of a child will weigh heavy on you. Olivia Wilde is virtually unrecognizable as a woman struggling to escape from her own mind.


Sworn Virgin  Tribeca

Sworn Virgin – tickets available
Director: Laura Bispuri

Transgender stories are slowly making their way into cinema and this one is introspective and revealing. Alba Rohrwacher, in 1 of 2 movies at the Tribeca Film Festival (other is Hungry Hearts), absolutely stuns as a woman living as a man to survive in her small village. Although it has a slow pace, the story captivates.

Tribeca Film Festival interview: Kevin Pollak talks his new doc ‘Misery Love Comedy’ with expected hilarity.

Misery Loves Comedy PosterSome of my fondest memories as a kid are family game nights, Sunday breakfasts, and dancing in the kitchen. All of these things we still do. We try to outplay each other. We make fun of the everyone’s ever changing diets. We choreograph the best and worst dance moves in the universe. Being the first of 4 children ignites a fire that never quite goes away. ‘Look At Me Syndrome” is something I live and die by. Young performers are like sponges. They listen to every word as a kid. They are bright and observant, perhaps not coming alive at that age, but letting it all seep into what shapes their humor. *And yes, I did just allude to how awesome I have always been. But enough about me.* Kevin Pollak has created one hell of a documentary to share with the planet, MISERY LOVES COMEDY. Rounding up over 60 comedians, both stand up or just plain funny people in the industry, including the likes of Amy Schumer, Tom Hanks, Judd Apatow, Kevin Smith, Christopher Guest, Lisa Kudrow, Bob Saget, Chris Hardwick, and  Kathleen Madigan, just to name a few. Pollak poses the question that performers know to be true; “Do you have to be miserable to be funny?” The answers comes in form of intimate sit down interviews with a cast only someone with Pollak’s clout could get to say yes so quickly. Filmed over the course of 4 weeks in L.A. and NYC, we are privy to family photos, childhood inspirations, and all the mess in between. Pollak even edited the film himself, sharing that experience was eye-opening and surprisingly enjoyable. This film is non-stop funny. I loved every moment of it. Jim Gaffigan sums up the need to entertain others perfectly, it’s a ‘Narcissists Fantasy’. Question it, accept it, then own it. I do. It’s the only way to live.

When Kevin Pollak offers to take a picture with you, you take a picture. Because Kevin  Pollak.

When Kevin Pollak offers to take a picture with you, you take a picture. Because Kevin Pollak.

In honor of the masterful director himself, and the over 600 hours of interviews he had conducted, in true Kevin Pollak Chat Show style, I give you the audio from our roundtable with this comic genius. Welcome to a slice of MISERY LOVES COMEDY.

 

Misery Loves Comedy is available on iTunes !! *Ps- it’s #1 right now* Opens today in NYC (IFC Center) with a national release to follow.

Tribeca Film Festival review: ‘Autism in Love’ puts faces to preconceived notions.

Autism In Love

Lindsey and Dave

Love is something we cannot explain. It is like magic. Isn’t is difficult enough to find love for two average people? What if you were not considered to be average? It can be torturous to express how we feel. What if you add autism into the mix? Autism is on a wide spectrum. Autistic adulthood is not a common topic of conversation. Director Matt Fuller brings us into the world of 4 extraordinary people; Lenny, Stephen, Lindsey and Dave in the new documentary Autism in Love. 

Autism in Love- Lenny

Lenny

Lenny is an unemployed young man, living with his immensely supportive mother. He has a fondness for video games and longing for a girlfriend. He is extremely aware of his autism and believes that it impedes him from finding love. Highly emotional, Lenny’s struggles have a visceral affect on even Fuller. In a moment of breaking the wall, even with the director out of sight, Lenny is visibly upset and tells Fuller not to cry. He says, “I would rather be a normal man than an autistic person with a million dollars.”

Geeta and Stephen

Geeta and Stephen

Stephen is a middle aged savant who knows every answer on Jeopardy before we’ve even finished reading the clue, makes hot dogs for his parents every Sunday, and has a distinct cadence reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Married to a lovely woman named Geeta, he has a routine that he lives by that has only recently been disrupted by the fact that after 17 years with Geeta, she has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. While Stephen’s autism is much more obvious, you can see the adoration in his eyes even if he is unable to express it verbally.

Dave and Lindsey

Dave and Lindsey

Lindsey and Dave have been dating for years. Labeled “High-functioning”, the two are an endearing match. Both are ready to take the next step, with Lindsey being the more verbal on the subject and Dave taking a seemingly more intellectual route. You instantly fall in love with this couple and cheer them on from the get go. The juxtaposition of these four individuals is a beautifully crafted story. The added struggle of being on the spectrum is something not many of us consider when searching for a mate. I think that Autism in Love is an important doc that let’s us gaze into a world often fraught with misconception, without gawking.

 

Here is a clip from Autism in Love

Tribeca Film Festival interview: ‘CROCODILE GENNADIY’ is a modern-day superhero story.

Crocdile Gennadiy poster Gennadiy Mokhnenko is a pastor in Mariupol, Ukraine. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, hundreds, if not thousands of children have become homeless and addicted to a deadly mixture of cold medicine and alcohol that they are injecting like herion. Gennadiy has taken it upon himself to rescue these children, small groups at a time and bring them to his rehabilitation center called Pilgrim Republic. An accomplished and eloquent orator, this strong headed and passionate pastor, sometimes forcibly removes children from sewers, or other filth ridden settings, to set them on the straight and narrow. His aim is to improve their alcohol recovery timeline, get these kids healthy and make them want to be functioning members of society. Confronting abusive parents and taking on the government, Gennadiy is a saint. He has 11 children, most of them adopted from the lot that he has saved over the years. He has a wit and charm that make him one of the most approachable men, and yet he has a tenacity that is also threatening when it needs to be.Crocodile Gennadiy image

This documentary from Steve Hooper is beautifully inter-cut with a Soviet animated TV show, Crocodile Gennadiy from which our pastor gets his nickname. The parrallels between Gennadiy and the cartoon are almost unbelievable. The methods this man uses are far from what would be acceptable for any church in the United States, and as far as I am concerned, we should be taking a page from his playbook when fighting for good. Croc Genn cartoon

I was able to sit down with Steve Hoover and producer Danny Yourd. Find out some of the crazy story behind the making of this film.

 

Crocodile Gennadiy Teaser from Crocodile Gennadiy Documentary on Vimeo.

You can still catch CROCODILE GENNADIY at this year’s festival:

8:00 PM – FRI 4/24  REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-3   –RUSH

Tribeca Film Festival reviews: Adult comedies ‘The Overnight’ ‘Dirty Weekend’ & ‘Sleeping With Other People’

Taylor Schilling (Emily) in a scene from THE OVERNIGHT. Photograph by John Guleserian

Taylor Schilling (Emily) in a scene from THE OVERNIGHT.
Photograph by John Guleserian

Let’s not dance around it – these are good, old-fashioned sex comedies. Remember those from the 80s? And they aren’t just about boobs anymore.

The Overnight – tickets available, also in theaters June 19th

In this hilarious tale of a wild night amongst parental couples, no topic is taboo. What starts out as an innocent dinner ends up in places you could never predict and yet it arrives there so organically that you can’t help but relate.

Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) have just moved to Los Angeles and are scouting for new friends when they meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) who invites them to dinner at his home with his wife, Judith Godrèche. Why end the night when the kids go to bed?

With almost non-stop laughter, each character brings their own brand of humor to all kinds of uncomfortable situations. “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Dirty-Weekend_Press_1 Tribeca

Alice Eve & Matthew Broderick in ‘Dirty Weekend’

Dirty Weekend – tickets available

Part mystery, part comedy and part drama, this story had so much potential. Natalie (Alice Eve) and Les (Matthew Broderick) are work colleagues stuck in Albuquerque when their flight is delayed. Les mysteriously wants to separate to run some errands, but Natalie tags along.

Even with the sexual escapades, I had a hard time keeping interest with the slow pace and the forced dialogue. Matthew Broderick plays the seemingly innocent “aw shucks” type and it wears thin pretty quickly. Alice Eve ends up playing second fiddle and her character is nothing more than a few charactertures.

Sleeping With Other People_Press_1 Tribeca

Sleeping With Other People – only RUSH tickets available

This and The Overnight are tied for my favorite movies of the festival so far.

After losing their virginity to each other in college and having bad luck in love since, Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) run into each other and decide to keep their relationship completely platonic. Yes, we know what’s going to happen, but as with every good movie, it’s not necessary the destination, but the journey.

Filled with over-the-top sexual references, the first priority is always comedy. The dialogue is brutally funny and hilariously uncomfortable. Get out there and see it now!

Tribeca Film Festival review: Jennifer Connelly & Cillian Murphy as Mother & Son in ‘Aloft’

Cillian Murphy as Ivan Photo by Allen Fraser, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Cillian Murphy as Ivan
Photo by Allen Fraser, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

A woman, in search for a cure for her youngest son, discovers her own ability to heal others. However, a tragic accident prevents her from curing him and threatens to break up her family.

Mélanie Laurent as Ressmore Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Mélanie Laurent as Ressmore
Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Jennifer Connelly is cold and rigid as the young mother, but Cillian Murphy is bold and emotional as her oldest son in the bleak Aloft. Told through flashbacks mixed with present time, director and Academy Award®–nominee Claudia Llosa tells a complex story through the eyes of Ivan (Murphy), who travels with Jannia (Mélanie Laurent).

Left to right: Winta McGrath as Gully and Jennifer Connelly as Nana Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Left to right: Winta McGrath as Gully and Jennifer Connelly as Nana
Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Jennifer Connelly as Nana Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Jennifer Connelly as Nana
Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Left to right: Wiliam Shimell as Newman and Zen McGrath as Young Ivan Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Left to right: Wiliam Shimell as Newman and Zen McGrath as Young Ivan
Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The ice and snow provide a perfect backdrop to the chilling tale of how small decisions can have the largest impact. As the story progresses, it only gets colder and it can be hard to tell who you should be rooting for, but Ivan is the most heard. A heart-wrenching story of mother and child, you may have an opinion, but no one knows until it happens to them.

Releasing May 22nd in select theaters, one screening left at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Left to right: Jennifer Connelly and Director Claudia Llosa Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Left to right: Jennifer Connelly and Director Claudia Llosa
Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Tribeca Film Festival podcast: From screen to screen – Interview with ‘All Work All Play’ Director Patrick Creadon

All Work All Play_1

Director: Patrick Creadon, photo by Jeff Tomsic

 

 

There’s a huge following for the online game League of Legends, as over 67 million players MONTHLY play the game. Director Patrick Creadon focuses on both behind-the-scenes of setting up the tournaments and the some of the teams that are world champions in his new documentary, All Work All Play.

Patrick gives his thoughts on everything from how he learned about League of Legends to how documentary filmmaking has changed since his Sundance hit, Wordplay.

Check out the audio interview with the Cloud 9 team here.

In Case You Missed It: Tribeca Film Festival Reviews & Interviews so far

 

 

It’s only Tuesday of the festival and we’ve got so much coverage that I thought I’d give you a chance to catch up!
Tumbledown_Press_1 Tribeca

Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer…

1211556_BridgendTribeca Film Festival podcast: Liz has tea with Hannah Murray. They chat her new film BRIDGEND, Game Of Thrones fandom, and what’s up next!

FRANNY_press_1 TribecaTribeca Film review: Richard Gere gives and gives as ‘Franny’

Orion is his iconic eagle suit. Photo credit Sun Records

Orion is his iconic eagle suit. Photo credit Sun Records

3 docs you simply must see at the Tribeca Film Festival

Stephen Elliott (James Franco) and Neil Elliott (Ed Harris)Anna Kooris

Stephen Elliott (James Franco) and Neil Elliott (Ed Harris)Anna Kooris

Tribeca Film Festival interview: ‘THE ADDERALL DIARIES’ director Pamela Romanowsky talks fated moments in making the film.

Shia LaBeouf, Love True - Photo Credit: Natalie Samuel, Luna Rouge Pictures

Shia LaBeouf, Love True – Photo Credit: Natalie Samuel, Luna Rouge Pictures

Tribeca Red Carpet Photos: Shia LaBeouf looking angry & Director Alma Ha’rel at ‘LoveTrue’

James Franco - The Adderall Diaries - Photo Credit: Natalie Samuel, Luna Rouge Pictures

James Franco – The Adderall Diaries – Photo Credit: Natalie Samuel, Luna Rouge Pictures

Tribeca Red Carpet Photos: James Franco, Cynthia Nixon, Christian Slater, Amber Heard & Ed Harris in ‘The Adderall Diaries’

OVERNIGHT_Press_2 TribecaCan’t make it to the Tribeca Film Festival? These movies have distribution and will be available to watch soon!

TFF15-King-JackTribeca Film Festival review: ‘KING JACK’ astounds.

Among the Believers-00004 TribecaTribeca Film Festival review: ‘Among The Believers’ will test your faith.

Come Down Molly_Press_3 TribecaTribeca Film Festival review: ‘COME DOWN MOLLY’ is a drug induced introspection

Democrats stillTribeca Film Festival reviews: ‘DEMOCRATS’ and ‘VIAJE’. Both are sweet and sour for drastically different reasons

tribeca film festival 2015 logoTRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL begins tomorrow! RND has a few (40) recommendations

Tribeca Film Festival 4Tribeca Film Festival 2015 Has Begun! Drive-In Movies & Free Events!

When I Live My Life Over Again-00002 TribecaTribeca Film Festival Theme: New York Stories – National Lampoon, James Franco, Christopher Walken & More!

Tribeca Film Festival 2015 MarqueeGet 2 Free Tickets for the Tribeca Film Festival on Friday April 24th – Courtesy of AT&T’s Film For All Friday

Kurt Cobain3 Ways to View ‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’ – Tribeca Film Festival, Lincoln Center or HBO

BACKTOTHEFUTURE_web_1Free Screening of ‘Back to the Future’ and other Free Events of the Tribeca Film Festival

Tickets to the Tribeca Film Festival Now on Sale!

5 to 7 AntonBereniceVictor Levin’s ‘5 to 7′ brings Parisian romance to New York City.

TFF 2015: Tribeca Talks Free Events Starting In One Month!

MontyPythonandtheHolyGrail_Press_1Monty Python Cast to Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 1.40.57 PMTribeca Film Festival: Free Program Storyscapes

Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown_Press_1 Tribeca

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Rebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.


 

I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

You can still catch a screening of TUMBLEDOWN at the fest this Thursday!! I cannot imagine this film not getting distribution. We will most certainly keep you updated here at RND.

3:30 PM – THU 4/23  REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-11Icon-fg-map ADD $13.50
To find out more about TUMBLEDOWN in the Tribeca Film Guide 2015

Tribeca Film Festival review: ‘KING JACK’ astounds.

KingJack_press_1 Tribeca

Kids are cruel. No matter what socio-economic background they come from, children can be just as vindictive and creative in their torture of one another as grown adults. In Felix Thompson‘s new coming of age narrative KING JACK, we route for one boy in particular. Pushed around by school bullies and antagonized by his older brother, Jack is a typical teenager simply trying to find his place in the world like any other. When Jack’s aunt becomes ill, a cousin moves into the house, displacing any sense of privacy. Given the task of looking after his younger relative only lessens his already weak facade of coolness. Stalked by one serious older bully and his cronies, Jack must come to terms with the cycle of hereditary violence and find out what courage and manhood truly mean.

KingJack_press_2 Tribeca

Felix Thompson‘s does double duty as writer and director. Organically shot and tenderly written, Thompson brings real truth to a script that could have easily been formulaic. Moments of real fear and embarrassment come to life on screen. These are the moments that bring us back to a time that may not have been our favorite but were essential in shaping who we became as adults.

TFF15-King-JackYoung lead Charlie Plummer is a phenomenon. One would almost think this was a documentary with a performance so incredibly natural. It’s a gutsy role for an actor his age to take on, and he absolutely nails it. In fact, the entire cast is top notch. Not a single beat is missed. Again, a huge nod to Thompson’s ability to direct a cast mainly comprised of teens. Cory Nichols, as cousin Ben, gives a noteworthy performance. Cute, funny, and honest,  I hope we see much more of him in the future.

KING JACK is successful on so many levels. Though, admittedly, at moments it is hard to watch. The film will resonate with anyone who has come home crying, anyone who has been called names, anyone who has felt alone. What makes KING JACK difficult to watch is the very thing that makes it great. I highly recommend you take the entire family to see this feature. Parents: It’s a great insight into what your kids experience with the added complication of technology. Kids: You might just find that Mom and Dad can relate to your life in ways you never thought possible.

You can still catch two more screenings of KING JACK at the festival!!

7:30 PM – FRI 4/24 REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-9
2:30 PM – SUN 4/26 BOW TIE CINEMAS CHELSEA 8
To find out more about this film, check out the Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015