Category Archives: Tribeca Film Festival 2021

REVIEW: “THE GOD COMMITTEE”(2021)

Finally wrapping up my Tribeca Film Festival coverage with what was the highlight film of the festival for me – “THE GOD COMMITTEE”. The film delves deep with a look into a very different type of ‘committee’, one that makes the tough decisions on life and death every day. It also has a compelling backstory within it of not only the people’s whose lives these very transplants can change, but the people making the decisions as well aka ‘The God Committee’.

As the film opens, a transplant patient dies just before their surgery is to begin, making a heart available, but with only an hour or so of viability to decide ‘The God Committee’, pits a group of doctors, nurses, specialists and yes, even a clergyman, against each other as they must decide who gets the heart from a pool of candidates. The Committee – which consists of: Father Dunbar (Colman Domingo), the lawyer turned clergyman; Dr. Allan Lau (Peter Y. Kim), the reticent one of the bunch who tries recusing himself from the decision; Nurse Wilkes (Patricia R. Floyd), probably the least biased one of the bunch; the aging, though hard-living chief surgeon Dr. Andre Boxer (Kelsey Grammar); the idealistic young doctor-with-a-secret Dr. Jordan Taylor (Julia Stiles), and lastly, the just lets-just-get-it-over-with bureaucratic hospital administrator, Dr. Valerie Gilroy (Janeane Garofalo). The crux of the story is the panel’s struggle on the decision making position process, taking us down a mean dive into the grimy and sometimes slimy world of unconditional ethics, along with the tension of the weighing of the needs of many, versus the needs of one. The debate here stems over whether to give a heart transplant to Trip (Maurizio Di Meo), a drug addict with a long history of recurring rehabs who coerced his girlfriend to terminate her pregnancy, or to Walter (Kyle Moore), a somewhat overweight doorman with a family to support or lastly, Janet Pike (Georgia Buchanan), an ornery, elderly woman who doesn’t like the idea of a transplant. The apparent no-brainer is complicated by the fact that Trip’s wealthy father Granger (Dan Hedaya), is dangling a $25 million donation for the hospital in front of the board if Trip is chosen. Well that and he also happens to be a potential investor in the heart surgeon’s Dr. Boxer’s private research.

As the committee members struggle with their literal life-or-death decision, previously unknown information regarding all the patients considered for the procedure and the committee members themselves, comes to light in ways that affect everyone involved in various ways. As the debate over the heart heats up, so does the tension of the room, the digs escalate and the ethics vs. the bribes clash almost to the point of no return. It leaves not just the committee members, but the audience as well, to question what’s more valuable when it comes to people’s lives – the morals of it or the money that can help it?

Writer-director Austin Stark applies a remarkable touch to his adaptation here, while crosscutting between two timelines that the film goes between. November 2014, the time of the actual committee meeting and decision making, and December 2021, when we find out what the research actually entailed. Along with a big twist, the future timeline exists seemingly to supply us with the ‘what if’s’, as it holds us in the back and forth that can twist the decision making. What was once thought of as a list that was first-come, first-serve, is truly anything but. And we the audience feel that along with the film mostly because of the stellar acting of the cast, most notably, Grammar and Stiles, who knock this one out of the park. Also a nice turn seeing Dan Hedaya back and Garofalo really steps up her game her doing the dramatic as well as she does comedic. While we see the outcome of the decision, the only downside to this film is it never tells us whether any of the characters from 2014 were able in 2021 to live with the decisions they all made seven years earlier.

And unlike the decisions made by ‘The God Committee’, the decision to watch this one is simple. Watch it.

Grade: A-

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Virtual screening courtesy of ~ Betsy Rudnick PR

“THE GOD COMMITTEE” IS IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND AS OF FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2021


TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “ALL MY FRIENDS HATE ME”

There can be a lot of worry and discomfort in the experience of reuniting with friends we haven’t seen in years. Questions can be worrisome like; What are they like now? Will we all get along? Are they the same or grownup versions of what once was? It’s all daunting to see those same friends years later would definitely induce nail-biting anxiety in many. Such is the thought behind director Andrew Gaynord’sALL MY FRIENDS HATE ME“.

The film follows Pete (Tom Stourton), who is reuniting with his college friends for his birthday. The reunion gets off to a rocky start when Pete arrives to an empty house and waits for hours for his friends to get back from a pub. As the reunion progresses, Pete begins to wonder if his friends actually dislike him. We watch Claire (Antonia Clarke), Fig (Georgina Campbell), George (Joshua McGuire), and Archie (Graham Dickson), have an easy, comfortable time together, the kind of time that Pete can’t seem to fall back into. Granted they are all from the ‘posh’ crowd or what we in the U.S. call “The Trust Fund Kids”. Ironically, it takes place in an old-fashioned aristocratic mansion out in the middle of the countryside, replete with pheasant hunting. To make matters worse, they seem to have picked up a stranger at the pub named Harry (Dustin Demri-Burns), who dominates the party with his mere presence while being mercilessly hostile to birthday boy Pete and oddly jotting ‘notes’ in a small notebook. The cherry on top is the presence of Claire (Antonia Clarke), Pete’s ex-girlfriend who, according to the group, had attempted suicide just after their breakup, something Pete was not aware of, and is not as okay as she seems.

Among so many unspoken things, mysterious notes and out-of-context information, is the fact that none of them except for Pete seems to have grown up in any way, shape or form, making it difficult for all to be able to tell what is really going on. On the other hand, the film truly captures the discomfort and sensitivity Pete has with overly-familiar Harry, who is intent on making Pete miserable and the butt of a lot of jokes. But there is a lack of something more that while hard to put your finger on completely, it prevents the movie from being great. It’s a more sedate type comedy, rather than a side-splitting, laugh out loud type.

With its fine thread throughout of confirming the game between the “juvenile” and “mature” that lasts the entire film, the story is filled with awkwardness more than it is humour as we wonder if Pete is correct or just being paranoid. While again, a very different type of humour, ultimately, there’s something charming in its oddness.

B-

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’All My Friends Hate Me” ~ courtesy of ID-PR

“ALL MY FRIENDS HATE ME” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL JUNE 2021

TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “BRIGHTON 4TH”

Winner of the Best International Narrative Feature at Tribeca Film Festival, “BRIGHTON 4TH” is noted as being a ‘Comedy/Drama’ which made me do a double take at that one. Drama – yes, in a big way, yet Comedy just didn’t seem to be it’s forte’ as what I watched from director Levan Koguashvili, truly left nothing comedic in it’s path.

It is however a long drawn out story of a former wrestling champion Kakhi (Levan Tediashvili – an actual former Olympic wrestler), who seemingly feels he needs to take on the responsibility for everyone around him and their problems. The story follows his long drawn out trek from his native Georgia to the well-known Russian enclave of Brighton Beach, where many of his fellow countrymen have immigrated to as well. His son Soso (Giorgi Tabidze), went to study medicine, but needs a green card and Khaki had given him $15,000 to do so and if necessary, pay Lena (Nadezhda Mikalkova) to marry him. Instead he is working as a mover and has gambled away the money plus an additional $14,000 he now owes to head of the gambling mob. Khaki finds him in a small room & board house ran by the wife of his best friend who also ended up gambling away his money. Now he seeks to find a solution to it all and while we go through a good hour plus of side stories that include: Kakhi taking a job helping out an elderly couple, and getting sexually propositioned by the wife; as well as a very lengthy deviation that involves Kahki in the midst of a plan to kidnap a man who’s been refusing to pay the Georgian women he hires as hotel maids. All these things relay nothing to the point of the film – what the main goal is – saving his son’s life from the mobsters he owes money to.

We finally get to the point in the final minutes of the film, as it has Khaki challenging the head mobster whom his son owes, to a wrestling match as even though Kakhi is in his 70’s and is at least 20 years older, he does it to take care of the debt his son owes. Oddly, it’s a surprisingly believable moment, even in it’s bleakness. While the acting here is mostly done by non-actors as well, they too are believable within reason. But it’s the length of time that it took to even get to the point here that made it too sluggish and weighed down, and while going through storylines that didn’t lead anywhere. Also, the fact of the oh-so-familiar mob-lines of Russian/Georgian immigrant community in Brighton Beach has a ‘been there – done that’ feel to it all. While the final moment is sweet in it’s own way, it’s the ‘getting there’ long windedness that just didn’t work as well for me as it clearly did for others.

‘C’

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’Brighton 4th” ~ courtesy of Susan Norget Film Promotion

“BRIGHTON 4TH” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL JUNE 2021

TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “FALSE POSITIVE” HULU

One of my tops to watch for Tribeca 2021 was “FALSE POSITIVE” and let me tell you how this slow-burn thriller did not disappoint – for the first hour. What started off semi-interesting, unfortunately took a spin into left field and went for ridiculous and non-sensical.

Lucy (Ilana Glazer), plays a mom who is struggling with something that many have before, conceiving a child. Her husband Adrian (Justin Theroux), agrees they need to to a fertility clinic in attempt to get pregnant, and he conveniently knows of one ran by his old medical professor, Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan). It’s an odd place, with stepford like nurses in Nurse Rita (Sabine Gadecki) and most especially lead Nurse Dawn (Gretchen Mol). She conceives multiple babies, twin boys and a daughter she names “Wendy”. But the one fetus, the girl, is weak, and Lucy and Adrian have to make a choice about selective reduction: save the two males or save the female.

Replete with the evil fertility doctor played by Brosnan, and the thoroughly complicit husband played by Theroux, Ilana gets to play a mom, struggling with something that everybody, in this movie at least, keeps calling “mommy brain”. But it’s clearly much much more than whatever that ‘affliction’ might be. First her husband, then her friends, even the closest one from the ‘mommy group’ Corgan (Sophia Bush), seemingly start to turn on her as we see Lucy having all these random paranoid thoughts and dreams. But the absolute last straw is when the midwife she chose in secret and insists on using finally proclaims, “I am not your mystical negress.” How does that even come to be stated in a screenplay, one will never know. Anyway, what was actually intriguing and entertaining for the first 45 minutes, dramatically changes, but what puts you into the ‘really ick’ category is by what unfolds towards the end. It didn’t sit well with me at all. It was incredibly strange, cringey, and just in bad taste. I’m not even sure if the writers knew where they were going with this ending, most especially the last scene. None of this can be revealed as it’s something each person needs to see to decide for themselves what their ‘factor’ is. Plus it’s essentially the entire plot of the movie as well.

Taking all that under consideration, the acting was still quite good from all concerned, most especially Brosnan who took the creepy villain to heart here. But the whole dream sequence after dream sequence and with an ending that made me scream out WHY?? – just took what could have been a truly good creeper horror and made it almost into a joke – albeit a not so good one from this point of view.

C-

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’False Positive” ~ courtesy of ID PR

“FALSE POSITIVE” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL AND IS NOW PLAYING ON HULU

TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “CATCH THE FAIR ONE”

“CATCH THE FAIR ONE” is a bleak at times, but oh-so-powerful film that pulls no punches in its hard hitting revenge story of a Native American boxer searching for her missing little sister. Kaylee (Kali Reis) nicknamed “K.O.”, is a former boxer and addict who willfully infiltrates a sex trafficking ring in order to find her missing younger sister Weeta (Mainaku Borrero). Waitressing to get enough money to pay the “recruiter”, Lisa (Isabelle Chester), who helps find vulnerable and at-risk girls for a sex trafficking ring. The same ring might have something to do with her missing underage sister which we find out is KO’s motivation. We watch as first Kaylee trains for this like you would a mission, except this training mission involves sleeping with a razor blade in your mouth to be able to use as protection.

All this comes in handy when she is drugged and ‘sold’ to sex trafficker by boss Bobby (Daniel Henshall). But Kaylee surprises her captor, kills him, and then sets off on a ‘no holds barred’ mission to track down Weeta. This all out journey leads to a string of events that take her first to see Danny (Michael Drayer), then with his abused wife & child in tow, to Willie’s house (Kevin Dunn), who is the real main honcho of this sex trafficking ring.

All along she’s been dealing with her unsupportive mother Jaya (Kimberly Guerrero), who has never backed her and made her feel as though it should have been her versus her sister. Flashbacks of Kaylee’s violent times in the ring bring us into what her life once entailed as well. A story that contains a lot of really well done twists and turns, along with real-life middle-weight champion, Reis is impressive in her hunt for vengeance, her hostile expressions and sheer strengths strike fear into her opponents – both in and out of the ring. Summing it up, Kali Reis gives us a powerful breakthrough performance that knocked me out.

Unglamorous, chillingly brutal and all of it left me wanting more. “Catch the Fair One” captures the right mix of vulnerability and empowerment. Reis performed her own stunts and the film doesn’t go overboard with gratuitous action. The unexpected screenplay makes this the one most thrilling film I’ve seen in years with a definite point being made, Native American young girls are trafficked at whim, this is not a fake story line, and they are also less likely to be even looked for. All this is brought to the forefront and in a wildly stark, yet realistic way. It only adds to the brilliance of this film. But please take note of it. It’s important.

B+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’CATCH THE FAIR ONE’ ~ courtesy of Accolade PR

“CATCH THE FAIR ONE” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “CLEAN”

“CLEAN” from director Paul Solet, is the Tribeca Film Festival offering in the crime-action genre. It also gives us Adrien Brody as writer/lead and impressive as that is, I can’t say I’m rolling out the ‘Welcome’ mat to Brody as an action star from this one.

Clean (Adrien Brody), seems to be just a simple salvage pick-up guy working the graveyard shifts and has a knack for fixing up items he picks up that can be repaired. Cool vintage stuff that actually brings in money and he has somewhat of a friendship with the pawn shop guy played by RZA. Then there is the random fact he always stops off to give a young girl Dianda (Chandler DuPont) lunch and make sure she gets to school. More like protecting her from the neighborhood, but we really aren’t clued in as to why.

On the other hand, we have the usual gaggle of Eastern European mobsters led by Michael (Glenn Fleshler), and he runs the neighborhood drug trade through his grandfathers old business, a fish market, smuggling the drugs in through fish. He’s also trying to teach his fresh out of jail, wanna-be gangsta rapper son Mikey (Richie Merritt), the trade, though things aren’t going well in that area.

To make a long story short and leave out the middle-man so to speak, we know from moment one that Clean is way more than a salvage man. We slowly find out his mobbed up background as he once was called ‘The Grim Reaper’ – I kid you not – as we also find him with a full tattoo of the Reaper on his back. This is right after we are slowly finding out why he is even protecting Dianda and her mother from harm as she it seems, reminds him of his daughter, whom has passed years earlier due to negligence on his part while being the Reaper. After he finds Mikey and his crew ready to take advantage of her and beats not only the whole crew to mere pulps, but Mikey to within a inch of his life. Of course his mobster dad isn’t pleased, and sends a gaggle of the mobsters after them all, which is where all of the ax/wrench/screwdriver/gun killings of dozens of people by only Clean himself all happen.

All in all, while not completely a mess, ‘Clean’ does fail to pass the spick and span test and is a messy story that we’ve seen all too many times before.

‘C-‘

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “DO NOT HESITATE”

The Dutch military mission in Afghanistan which had started in 2006 is coming to an end, though a redeployment task force would stay on to oversee the return of vehicles, military hardware and equipment to the Netherlands. This is the lead into one of the better foreign films of the Tribeca, “DO NOT HESITATE”. It is the second feature film by the Dutchman (originally from Venezuela) Sharif Korver, and with it, we find almost a character study of the absolute tricks of mind-play that war can do to you.

Written by Jolein Laarman, ‘Do Not Hesitate’ focuses on a trio of Dutch soldiers Erik (Joes Brauers),Thomas (Tobias Kersloot), and Roy (Spencer Bogaert), whom are separated from their unit when during a reconnaissance mission, their armored vehicle breaks down and they are tasked with staying back and ‘protecting the equipment’ while waiting for help in getting the vehicle and it’s expensive gunnery moved.

The three young soldiers, are not just bored, but you can see written all over them, how nervous and inexperienced they are. Throw in ‘paranoia’ to the mix, as anything can be a potential attack on them and all this leads one of them to ‘hear and see’ something to which it turns out, one accidentally kills a goat, which they in turn bury. Now this goat, well it’s probably the prime source of milk for a whole family, and if killed, would feed that family for a good portion of time. This isn’t at the top of their minds when a young boy, the goat’s owner/herder Khalil (Omar Alwan) shows up looking for his goat and upset by the death of his animal and demands restitution. While Khalil waits for his payment, Erik tries to be polite while Thomas spews racist words at him in Dutch. They are all frustrated by Khalil’s just screaming at the top of his little lungs at them, and though he is a teenager and he’s little, he’s determined to get more than the fifty American dollars they offer as compensation for his dead goat. Erik is the only one of the three to try to make amends and de-escalate the situation.

These three main characters have little in common besides being deployed as it’s apparent not just in the different dialects of Dutch they speak, but we see brief glimpses into who they were before being put in this most precarious of positions. So much mentally happens and it leads into a step by step tense by tense moment after moment, with the music by Juho Nurmela and Ella van der Woude‘s creeping piano and continuing drums throughout, keeps it and you on edge, to the earth shattering final act right before being rescued that can only have ended as it did. The ending, while it might shock you, you also realize it was always going to be this way because these boys are really far too young, and inexperienced in their own right to even be put in this type of predicament. No one should ever be and it’s that story with the ending showing it never ever will not effect them, that makes you think truly ask if the price of war is really worth it.

‘B+’

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’DO NOT HESITATE’ ~ courtesy of MPRM Communications

“DO NOT HESITATE” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL // TO BE RELEASED IN NETHERLANDS THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2021

Tribeca 2021 Review: “7 DAYS”

Adding into the mix of films featuring romance during Covid, Tribeca gives us what one is to presume, a fun comedic look at dating, but not regular dating, dating from the point of view of more the traditional arranged marriage ways with “7 DAYS”.

At the start of the film, we meet Ravi (Karan Soni), and Rita (Geraldine Viswanathan). The two have been set up by their old-fashioned Indian parents and are on a pre-arranged date right at the start of the pandemic so they do meet in person, although masked etc. They both gave the idea over video chat, of being people whom it seems they really aren’t as the two of them have absolutely nothing in common. The whole afternoon progresses very awkwardly for both as these things get quite comedically revealed. But with the snap of our fingers, the COVID outbreak gets worse and Ravi can’t get home and must spend the next few days at Rita’s place as he can’t get a car or a hotel. We proceed to watch the unlikely bond that forms as the two spend their time together despite being completely different people.

While this debut film from Roshan Sethi is cute, it’s also quite short with a runtime of just 86 minutes. Yet somehow within this ‘7 Days’ and short runtime, they manage to meet, get serious Covid, be hospitalized, become best friends and find out every little factor within each others lives, including befriending each others parents. BUT, and are you ready for the BUT, one is also to be cured of the serious Covid they were taken by ambulance to the hospital for and .. take a deep breath.. walk out of the hospital no less. This isn’t just aggravating, but a slap in the face to all the people who spent months in the hospital, some never walking out. And it’s too bad because before it hits this part, it’s actually a very well acted, quite funny little comedy with fun moments, like when we discover Rita drinking beer and eating leftover chicken for breakfast despite claiming to be a vegetarian.

But such as it is, at least try and maybe have made it 17 Days or 27 Days, anything to have made it work on all levels without just blatantly being ridiculous.

“C-“

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Tribeca 2021 Review: “No Man of God”

It’s hard to like a film about a serial killer as ‘like’ might just be too inappropriate a word to use. With that being said, “NO MAN OF GOD” is a familiar, yet still an intriguing look at the psychological tug-of-war so to speak, that went on between Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) and FBI Agent Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood).

The film starts us in 1985, shortly after Bundy’s capture and conviction. The story told here is from a bit of a different perspective as the numerous others we have seen in the past, this one being from the view of analyst Agent Hagmaier, who is in the early days of what is now known as being a criminal profiler. Being an analyst in the early days meant going in and listening to hours upon hours of what Bundy did and how, in an attempt to learn more about the psyche of those who commit these heinous crimes. Most of what takes place is one on one, in an interrogation room with the religious Hagmaier being one of the few the Bundy will speak to.

This is essentially a movie about two people, and each gets almost equal focus. Wood plays Bill as the newbie who doesn’t really want to be there, but feels duty prone. Bundy, who was known for intensely disliking anyone in law enforcement or government, has turned down a TV special for $50,000, but Bill is convinced that he can be the one to get Bundy to open up. Bundy thinks the cops are all “liars in cheap suits.” and is playing them all hard at the end saying he has tantalizing tidbits to reveal about some unknown victims to avoid the death penalty. Despite numerous warnings like “when you get too close to a guy like this, you could lose your way,” Bill talks with Bundy year after year as his revolting in-detail, tales begin to overshadow into Bill’s home life. On the other hand, Kirby portrays Ted with a cool calculated indifference, an almost unnerving calm, that feels as though it reaches through the screen at you and carries a whole lot of intimidation along with it. As Bundy’s ‘friendship’ with Bill morphs into more, you begin to feel a layer of the almost filmy slime forming on your skin, the kind that makes you feel you need a shower. While I might be baffled a bit by the casting of Kirby though, as the impression was that Bundy had these beautiful blue eyes that made him so irresistible and helped lure in the women to him, it’s fair to also point out he could make his eyes almost black because yes, he was a very dark human being. Whichever it is, both acting portrayals here are top of the line, including the small supporting cast of Robert Patrick as Roger Depue, Bill’s boss, and Aleska Palladino as Carolyn Lieberman, Bundy’s death penalty lawyer who was rumoured to have been having a prison affair with him, though the film does clear this up once and for all.

Director Amber Sealy doesn’t take us into any new or unknown territory in ‘No Man of God’, it does give us probably the best acted and darkest Bundy to date. Oddly, I hope this is the last one as the obsession of serial killers being ‘all the rage’ of our society and the fame they achieve doing it, is not really something to be celebrated.

C+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Tribeca Virtual screening ~ courtesy of KWPR

NO MAN OF GOD” OPENS IN THEATERS AUGUST 27,2021