Wednesday
May012019

"GOOD POSTURE" // TRIBECA 2019 REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

Dolly Wells, fresh off of her co-starring role on Doll & Em (which she created with co-star Emily Mortimer) has branched out and created the understated GOOD POSTURE, a debut that's both warm and frustrating at the same time. Grace Van Patten stars as Lillian, a young girl who has just broken up with her boyfriend and has to find a new place to live. Her father (Norbert Leo Butz) has found her a place, by calling in a favor from two of his friends. Don (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and his wife Julia (Emily Mortimer) are friends of her father and are happy to lend their spare room for Lilian. Well, at least Don is. His wife, Julia is Julie Price, an esteemed novelist who has basically bunkered herself within the walls of her house. Julia doesn’t seem to care for Lillian, especially after Don leaves following a heated fight.

Julia communicates with Julia by leaving notes for her to find, and letting Lillian know what she can do to pay her back for the free room and board. Lillian’s father is more or less a ghost in her life; he’s in Paris with his much younger girlfriend and instead of reaching out sends money. All is going fairly well until Lillian runs into her ex’s new girlfriend and to impress them, says she’s doing a documentary on the notoriously shielded novelist Julia Price. And so, begins her journey of figuring out how to win over Julia, and how to make a documentary, since she really has no idea where to start.

 

Van Patten has a winning presence. She seems to radiate on screen, even when her character is not much more than a self-entitled, bored rich kid. Each time you feel bad for her, she does something terrible, like uses Julia’s toothbrush and not only is that not a big deal for her, she never apologizes. She’s a brat who doesn’t want to grow up, and in the end, kind of never does. Mortimer only appears in a few scenes, but she is a strong presence; always felt, even when she’s not seen. And when the duo does share a moment together on screen, their chemistry is great. And although the lack of growth in Lillian’s character may feel real, it’s also not that interesting and she makes it hard for you to root for her. Dolly Wells directs the film with a laid back, soothing style and much of it does work (a side character named George, played by Timm Sharp, is great), but in the end, the main character is too unlikable for me to care, at all really, with what happens to her. A story about Lillian’s life would have been far more fascinating.

VERDICT: SKIP IT
GRADE: C
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Dolly Wells STARRING Grace Van Patten, Emily Mortimer, Timm Sharp, John Early, Gary Richardson, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Norbert Leo Butz. Playing as part of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. For more information: http://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/good-posture-2019
Wednesday
May012019

"THE SHORT HISTORY OF THE LONG ROAD" // TRIBECA 2019 REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

THE SHORT HISTORY OF THE LONG ROAD is a quiet film. It’s a road movie, following a young girl’s journey to be found, to be accepted, while trying to find and accept herself. Sabrina Carpenter, who found fame on the Disney Channel series Girl Meets World and the Disney Channel remake of 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting. She is also well known by younger fans as a singer, releasing three full-length albums. However, she takes a hard-right turn here, muting down her entire persona for a quite and lovely indie film.

Carpenter plays Nola, a young teen who has been living on the road with her father Clint (Steven Ogg). They have been driving across the U.S. in an RV, camping out where they chose, moving where they chose. Her father repairs things for strangers along the way and makes money for the both of them, while Nola often picks through their drawers while they aren’t looking. They are a good team, and it’s clear the love that exists between the two of them. But you do feel the sense that perhaps Clint isn’t always looking out for Nola’s best interests. He’s decided that this is the way they live, so they do.

 

Tragedy strikes Nola when her father suddenly passes away, and she’s left all along. Desperate for a family of some kind, she heads back out to find her birth mother (Maggie Siff), who she barely remembers at all. And while she searches for her, she runs through several people’s lives, including a woman who seems very kind (Rusty Schwimmer) and a tough on the outside auto mechanic (Danny Trejo) who takes Nola under his wing. Carpenter turns in a winning performance here, understated and honest, and although her character is a lot to deal with, her life has been a bumpy path, so her search for a redemption of any kind feels real. Cinematographer Cailin Yatsko comes up with some beautiful imagery here, leaving you warm with the colors of the open road and the warmth of a young soul trying to find her place on it.

 

VERDICT: SEE IT

GRADE: B+
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Ani Simon-Kennedy STARRING Sabrina Carpenter, Steven Ogg, Danny Trejo, Maggie Siff, Rusty Schwimmer. Playing as part of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. For more information: http://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/short-history-of-the-long-road-2019
Wednesday
May012019

"KILL TEAM" // TRIBECA 2019 REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

Based on the 2013 documentary of the same name, THE KILL TEAM is a harrowing and cautionary tale of unbridled machismo, and a team of U.S. soldiers out of control. Writer-Director Dan Krauss’ retells his story for a feature, enlisting commanding performances by Alexander Skarsgård, playing a sociopathic squad leader, and Nat Wolff as the soldier whose point of view we see the world through. It’s not an easy watch, especially when you know it’s based on a true story, and if you’ve seen the documentary (which we reviewed HERE), then you know it’s sadly all true.

Wolff plays Andrew Briggman, a solider who’s completely taken aback by their new Staff Sergeant Deeks (Skarsgård). He’s not a warm type in the least. He’s worried about taking out anyone he deems a threat to him or his team, whether that person is on the enemy’s side or their own. Since Deeks is a calm, cool and collected he makes the awful things that he has his team do almost seem justified. Or perhaps it’s just the cost of war. He commends their actions with comments like, “Good hunting” and tells Briggman, “We kill people. That’s what we do.” Right and wrong start to mix, but there’s a constant nagging in the back of his head, telling him that the way they are treating the people in Afghanistan isn’t right, and the very dangerous and bloody ways that Deeks sees the world is something that has to be stopped.

 

The Kill Team is intense and horrible, but the filmmaking is fairly straight forward, so it doesn’t quite have the emotional impact that the documentary did. But it still does pack a punch, and just how the actual case created a real-life scandal, knowing that this behavior definitely exists is enough to make you sick. War is hell, and sometimes creates demons to do its bidding. This is the story of such a squad, and the disturbing turn of events that dug them out.

 

VERDICT: SEE IT
GRADE: B+
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Dan Krauss STARRING Nat Wolff, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Long, Jonathan Whitesell, Brian "Sene" Marc, Rob Morrow. Playing as part of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. For more information: http://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/kill-team-2019