Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Blow The Man Down’ is one of the year’s best films.

Blow The Man Down

While grieving for the loss of their mother, the Connolly Sisters suddenly find they have a crime to cover up, leading them deep into the underbelly of their salty Maine fishing village.

Growing up in a small New England town, I have a full appreciation for the glorious specificity in Blow The Man Down. From the regional slang to the understanding that everyone knows everyone else’s business, this film is filled with surprises and its very own version of a Greek chorus in Maine fisherman form. A completely femme-centric story boasts magnificent performances from the entire ensemble cast. June Squib, Annette O’Toole, Marceline Hugo, Margot Martindale, Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor, and Gayle Rankin. Co-directors and screenwriters Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy have created a suspenseful, funny, incredibly dark murder mystery. It’s only after walking away from the screening did I realize the small clues that were sprinkled along the way and but honestly had no idea what would happen from moment to moment. It was refreshing. Martindale plays the dominant town matriarch with the skill we’ve come to expect from her. Squib, O’Toole, and Hugo are a smart trio. They cleverly play their hand close to the chest and become the saving grace of our two young leads. Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor are fantastic foils as sisters. Their chemistry is spot on. Gayle Rankin’s emotional journey is much larger than it might first appear. She continues to be one to watch. Blow The Man Down is in my Top 3 films from the festival this year.

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Podcast Interview: Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella, and Brea Grant share all the gory and gorgeous details of ‘Something Else’.

Something Else Podcast

Something Else was one of the most unique selections in this year’s festival. Both a monster movie and a love story, the film’s deliberate structure is a standout all on its own. The writing is fresh and funny and the use of light makes it a joy to watch. There are brilliantly theatrical moments. I believe this film would actually translate incredibly well onstage! When you see it, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a complete compliment. I sat down with co-directors Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner (who also stars and wrote the script) and star Brea Grant to chat all things Something Else. How did the script come about? What in the world were they thinking with certain choices? What did Brea think the first time she read the script?  We talk favorite movie monsters, and how the filmmakers of one of my favorite films The Endless, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, got on board. You can read my full review of Something Else here, but give a listen to the awesome time we all had together. Be warned, when I walked into the room, Christian, Jeremy, and Brea had all been in the super cool bathroom of our interview room at The Roxy Hotel taking a photo, and I’m disappointed in myself for not getting in on the selfie action on my way out the door. Also, when you hear us refer/talk to “Ted”, we’re actually talking to We Are Still Here and Mohawk filmmaker Ted Geoghegan who just so happened to be in our presence. No big deal. Anyhow, without further ado, here is our podcast talking all things Tribeca, monsters, and Something Else.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella are the filmmakers behind the indie zombie film The Battery and survival comedy Tex Montana Will Survive! Lifelong friends, both directors were born and raised in Florida.

FILM INFO
  • Section:
    Midnight
  • Year:
    2019
  • Length:
    83 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Connect:
CAST & CREDITS
  • Director:
    Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella
  • Producer:
    David Lawson Jr., Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Arvind Harinath
  • Screenwriter:
    Jeremy Gardner
  • Cinematographer:
    Christian Stella
  • Editor:
    Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner
  • Executive Producer:
    Venu Kunnappilly
  • Cast:
    Jeremy Gardner. Brea Grant, Henry Zebrowski, Justin Benson, Ashley Song, Nicola Masciotra

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: SHORTS: WTF

SHORTS: WTF

These films were curated especially for late-night.

Playing in this program:
Twist

No choice but to walk home alone, Hannah (Helena Howard) sees an opportunity for a ride, but others see an opportunity in her.

With a well-built tension familiar to any young woman, Twist leaves much to the terrifying imagination, making it all the more frightening. Beautiful performances bring fear to life.

Whiteout

When a young couple (Sarah Tihany and David Call) encounters a strange old man (Patrick M. Walsh Jr.) wandering in a snowstorm, they must decide if he needs help, or if he has more sinister intentions.

A real “What would you do?” scenario set in the middle of the road on a snowy night. It begs the question, “Who’s the real monster?”

His Hands

Two men (Arron Blake and Philip Brisebois) of different ages meet for the strangest encounter of their lives.

While I’m not completely sure what was actually happening in this film, I know I was damn uncomfortable as a viewer. Performances are striking and I need to know more.

Momster

When notorious bank robber, the Momster (Amanda Plummer), catches her daughter Angel (Brianna Hildebrand) mid-gunfight, Angel thinks she’s being rescued… until she realizes she has to do the saving.

This short has a Robert Rodriguez/ QuentinTarantino Grindhouse feel with its quippy dialogue, vivid pops of color, and effective narration.

Hunting Season

Callie (Hannah Levien), a small town gas station attendant, has an unexpected encounter which will change the course of her life forever.

This short begins by utilizing the major trope of failing electricity to build up suspense. The sparse dialogue is meaningful enough to create an entire backstory and the perfect amount of dread, culminating in a magical ending no one will see coming.

11:50

In the pouring rain, a junkie (Jerry Chih-Wei Huang) takes the hotel key of a man that his car has accidentally killed. As he walks into the hotel and finds that room, he has to face a mysterious journey that will never have an end.

This cinematic little masterpiece is a proof of concept from heaven. Not only visually delicious but one hell of a reveal that will keep you wanting more.

Snaggletooth

An unusual girl (Jolie Ledford) needs to get her teeth fixed at midnight.

The 50’s era sets, costumes, and lighting lead up to a visual shock that is both scary and delightful.

FILM INFO
  • Section:
    Shorts Program
  • Year:
    2019
  • Length:
    75 minutes
  • Premiere:
    New York

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Aamis’ serves up a shocking treat.

AAMIS (RAVENING)

Food and romance seem to go hand in hand. Think about the traditional date. It usually revolves around dinner or coffee. Food is the ultimate form of aphrodisiac. Though, both food and love can spoil quickly. In Aamis, Tribeca’s only Indian feature film this year,  married doctor Niri meets Sumon, a Ph.D. student studying regional meat-eating traditions in India. As their relationship moves swiftly past friendship, the idea of experiencing “forbidden” meat cuisine progresses into an infatuation beyond imagination. Set in the colorful backdrop of North Eastern India, the natural scenery combined with the rich prepared dishes gives the film a gorgeous visual pop. The actual act of eating in scenes is very sensual. No surprise seeing as how the senses are sparked when tasting something delicious and when falling in love. Food and sense memories are created throughout our lives. I can still remember meals based on specific dates with my husband, spanning the 14 years we’ve been together. Not to mention we actually lived in Southern India for a year in the very early years of our relationship. Experiencing new flavors and adventures with someone you care deeply for is invigorating. All that being said, this film takes it to an entirely new level; an intimacy that will either intrigue or distress you. The performances from our two leads are fantastic. It’s a tricky dynamic to navigate given the circumstances but their chemistry is very grounded and reads completely natural. The age difference is another added bit of fire. Aamis, the first film for Tribeca to feature the Assamese language, is an outstanding representation of emerging Indian cinema outside the realm of your typical Bollywood fare. It is bold and dark. I may go as far as to call it a tasty, genre-bending surprise. The things we do for love.
Married Niri (Lima Das) shares a forbidden passion with Sumon (Arghadeep Baruah), who introduces her to a world of fresh, wild, meat-based delicacies. But as their unconsummated desire mounts, the two are pushed inexorably towards transgression and taboo. A daring, intense drama that veers into very dark territory, Aamis is Tribeca 2019’s only Indian film, and the festival’s first-ever Assamese language film.

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘The Gasoline Thieves’

THE GASOLINE THIEVES

Poverty and puberty are a dangerous mix for young Lalo. Feeling overwhelming monetary pressure from family and ultimately to impress a girl at school, our young lead dives head first into the deadly game of gas siphoning for cash. Among the chaos of gas price protests and violence, Lalo has no idea the kind of shady dealings surround what he’s signed up for. This is a coming of age story set against extreme poverty and soaked in cartel-like chaos and vengeance. The handheld camera work is sheer perfection that heightens the intensity of Lalito’s plight. You can feel the pit of your stomach wrenching as the story progresses. Edgar Nito‘s direction is phenomenal, performances (especially Eduardo Banda) outstanding, and the film is amplified by its great soundtrack. The Gasoline Thieves does not pull any punches. It’s a solid piece of filmmaking and a captivating story.

THE GASOLINE THIEVES

Living with his mother and working as a farmhand in his hometown, fourteen-year-old Lalo (Eduardo Banda) sees buying a smartphone for his high-school crush the only surefire way into her heart. When his mother is forced to use his savings in order to pay for medical bills, Lalo decides to approach the local huachicoleros for help, who quickly enlist his aid in their business of illegally siphoning gas in order to take advantage of the country’s shortage and re-sell on the black market. As Lalo naively becomes more involved with the huachicoleros’ work, an uneasy air of violence begins to overtake the world around him, while investigators narrow their search for those responsible.

FILM INFO

 

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Come To Daddy’ is everything you’d want an Ant Timpson film to be.

COME TO DADDY

Elijah Wood plays an emotionally overwhelmed uber hipster attempting to reconnect with his estranged father. Summoned to a secluded home via a mysterious letter from his dad, he finds himself in an unexpected situation. Wood, as always, is vulnerable and funny. I’ll buy anything he’s selling. His body of work is so eclectic and wonderfully bizarre, what’s not to love? Now let’s talk about Ant Timpson‘s amazing directing. As a producer, The ABC’s Of Death is off the wall fun and don’t even get me started on the insanity that is The Greasy Strangler. Come To Daddy, Timpson’s directorial debut is a genre-bending funhouse. Tribeca’s Midnight section is the perfect slot for Timpson’s work and I do mean that as a compliment. This film takes a sharp turn at 30 minutes in, then hurtles from mysterious to funny, unsettling to WTF, and it is a delight. The camera work is top-notch. There is mayhem for days. Wonderfully timed plot treats fall into our laps like a busted piñata. I simply cannot express how damn fun this film is. You will not have any clue where this is going.

Norval’s (Elijah Wood) life has been, to put it lightly, difficult. Currently living home with his mother, the troubled young man is coming off alcohol-related struggles. So when he receives an unexpected letter from his estranged father requesting a visit, Norval catches a bus up to his dad’s secluded and scenic waterfront home. Maybe reconnecting with his father will give Norval the emotional fulfillment he’s been lacking. Before long, though, he notices something off about his dad, an uneasy feeling triggered by inappropriate comments and a possible over-dependence on booze. Norval quickly realizes that his hope of father/son bonding is doomed. Instead of a family reunion, he finds himself in waking nightmare.
FILM INFO