Saturday
Apr282018

"EGG" // TRIBECA 2018 REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

Words, as they can, can be sharper than knives. That’s certainly the case in EGG, the new film written by Risa Mickenberg and directed by Marianna Palka. The premise revolves around two couples who are joining together in a loft style apartment to welcome a child into the world. Once they all arrive, verbal daggers and veiled judgments surround them, mostly in real time. You alternately howl with laughter or tense up, and the ensemble cast crackles with venom, reminding you of a modern Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.

 

Tina and Wayne (Alysia Reiner and Gbenga Akinnagbe) are a married couple in New York who at first seem like a loving couple that simply accepts Tina’s success and understands Wayne’s aimlessness. The live in a huge “artist loft” and have invited Tina’s lifelong friend Karen (Christina Hendricks) and her husband Don (David Alan Basche). Karen is eight months pregnant and very excited for motherhood. Tina is very excited to tell her everything that’s wrong with having a baby. All four of them could not be any different. And…. they’re off.

 

One of the great that works in EGG is how the razor-sharp zingers don’t just come from the tongue of Tina, they come right back at her from Karen. No one here is a victim and everyone has their say. As they go back and forth, you wonder if this would play even better as an intimate Off-Broadway play, as much of the staging feels “theatre-esque.” Most of the dynamics of the characters work, and Alysia Reiner and Christina Hendricks are especially great. Gbenga Akinnagbe has some solid moments as well, but sadly you hate David Alan Basche immediately and you don’t stop. He’s the only character that felt like so much of a shit that you don’t understand why his wife would be married to him. He’s awful, and I suppose it’s a credit to Basche that he plays it right up. Anna Camp has a bit of a thankless role in a part that isn’t fully needed but nonetheless works. With firecracker dialogue by Mickenberg and assured directing by Palka, EGG grabs your throat and doesn’t let go.

 
 
VERDICT: SEE IT
 
WRITTEN BY Risa Mickenberg DIRECTED BY Marianna Palka STARRING Christina Hendricks, Anna Camp, Alysia Reiner, David Alan Basche, Gbenga Akinnagbe. Playing as part of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. https://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/egg-2018

 

Thursday
Apr262018

"BRAID" // TRIBECA 2018 REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

The experience of sitting back and watching Mitzi Peirone’s hypnotic horror thriller BRAID is about as close to fully tripping out without having to do any illegal drugs. Or even any legal ones. This hallucinogenic thrill ride is one of the craziest, trippiest, and most beautiful experiences at the festival this year. The style of the film is very intoxicating. The story is so bananas that you simply stop trying to keep up or make sense of anything because, quite simply, rarely any of it does make sense. Characters simply do things. Forget motivation. They’re going to just do them. But if you can throw your common sense out the window for a bit, you just may have one hell of a time.

 

Two friends, Petula and Tilda (Imogen Waterhouse and Sarah Hay) deal drugs in New York and are having a grand old time. But after a bust gone haywire, they must flee the town, elude the police, and escape their pissed off dealer. Their plan is simple: they end up heading to their childhood friend Daphne’s (Madeline Brewer) mansion of a house and steal everything she’s got. So, they can have enough to really skip town proper. But doing this ends up not being easy at all, as they are forced (well, kind of forced. They sort of just do it) into a twisted role-playing game that all three girls used to play as kids (these are three kids I am VERY glad I didn’t know growing up). The main rule is simple: last 48 hours and walk away with the money. And that’s really where it stops even sort of making sense.

 

The role playing takes a lot of gruesome twists and turns and why they don’t just kill her and run away with the money is never addressed. What is address is a lot of purple, pink, yellow, and bright and crazy hued scenes straight out of Wonderland. You are at the Mad Hatter’s tea party here and all three girls take turns being in charge, being a prisoner, and being screwed over. A lot of the actual “story” is maddening if you think about it. But the movie seems to know that and not care. This film is meant to be an “immersive, check your common sense at the door and come trip out with me” experience. And all of the actresses are game, giving fully crazed commitment. BRAID is certainly not for everyone. It’s not even for most people. But I guarantee that if you give it a shot, you haven’t ever seen anything quite like it.

VERDICT: SEE IT (With strong reservations if you're not 100% "in")

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Mitzi Peirone STARRING Madeline Brewer, Imogene Waterhouse, Sarah Hay, Scott Cohen. Playing as part of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

 

Thursday
Apr262018

"JONATHAN" // TRIBECA 2018 REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

There’s a lot to explore in JONATHAN, and a lot that I don’t want to give away. It’s a symbolism heavy, slow burn sci-fi thriller, one that has shades of many films that have come before it. And although you can’t fully call it a completely “original idea,” I truly enjoyed the route they took, the slower pace it traveled, and was hooked by Ansel Elgort’s lead performance. Here he plays Jonathan, a young man living a very ordinary, and some might even say boring, life. He doesn’t have any friends but has a successful career, enjoys his job and at the end of the night records a video for his roommate John. Which as we find out, is also played by Elgort. John is much more outgoing and not nearly as reserved as his roommate Jonathan. But why are they played as the same actor. Are they living in two different places? Are they twins? Is it two realities? I had a lot of these burning questions going through my head and the twisty and meaty script takes it time to answer it and when it does, the film explores them instead of answering them.

 

Does that sound confusing? It really isn’t, but this review may be as I try to stay spoiler free. Director Bill Oliver’s emotionally powerful film is a quiet gem, one that lets Elgort really show a great range. He’s backed up by some great supporting roles, filled out by Suki Waterhouse, Patricia Clarkson, and Matt Bomer in roles that…well I won’t quite reveal who they are, or how they interact with Jonathan or John. But the unraveling of who these two people are, why they never interact, and where their journey leads them is a graceful and thrilling ride and a sci-fi film that doesn’t rely on huge special effects. It instead relies on simple and troubled human emotions and digs deep into you as it does.

 

 

VERDICT: SEE IT

 

WRITTEN BY Peter Nickowitz, Bill Oliver, Gregory Davis. DIRECTED BY Bill Oliver. STARRING Ansel Elgort, Suki Waterhours, Patricia Clarkson, Matt Bomer. Playing as part of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. 

https://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/jonathan-2018