The 2010 Tribeca Film Festival was is in full swing this week. Consider this your guide to five of the most buzzworthy flicks of the weekend. No, you will not be finding Shreck 4 on this list…
Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives: For the most part, the title says it all. Though director Israel Luna‘s tongue is planted firmly in cheek, he clearly isn’t interested in pulling his punches when it comes to delivering on the grindhouse-style gore promised by the title. Sometimes the film plays like a parody of 70’s era whateversploitation flicks – simulated grainy film stock, “missing” reels – but it never becomes a full parody in the style of last year’s Black Dynamite. Instead, Trannies is more of a Tarantino-style homage to the grindhouse, with all of the blood and guts that suggests.
Trannies is fun throughout, but it’s at its best when the girls are given some space to banter. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments before the plot really gets going (girls with stage names like “Rachel Slur” and “Helluva Bottom-Carter”), but once it gets caught up in the details who’s trying to stab whom it starts to drag (no pun intended). The humor drops off in the second half, making it harder to stomach a fairly unconvincing villain. It’s hard to imagine that a guy who went to the Deliverance school of scary southern accents would be friends with a couple of Hispanic dudes, but whatever. This is a fun popcorn flick, and if Avatar taught us anything it’s that we don’t always need nuanced villains.
The Space Between: Obviously, Melissa Leo is amazing in this film, because Melissa Leo is amazing in every film. Ten year old Anthony Kevyan also impresses – it isn’t easy to steal scenes from an Academy Award nominee, but he manages more than once. The film itself is, well, hard to judge. Scenes of Leo dealing with a family tragedy feel emotionally sincere and real, and Kevyan is so convincing as a precocious but underprivileged Pakistani kid dealing with bullies and racism that it’s hard to imagine him in any other role (though I’m sure he can do it). The problem is that this is a 9-11 film, and it relies on imagery of the World Trade Center collapsing to provoke an emotional response from the audience. It’s not that filmmakers should never be allowed to use 9-11 as a plot device (though sometimes they really shouldn’t), it’s that using it with such a heavy hand is akin to calling your opponent in an argument Hitler. You may have a point, but you still lose.
Loose Cannons: The first thing you need to know about Loose Cannons is that it is NOT a buddy cop movie about partners on the beat who play by their own rules and don’t take no for an answer. Instead, it is an Italian language light drama about a man who tries to come out to his conservative family, only to have his older brother beat him to the punch. Could this be my favorite Tribeca selection so far? Everything about it works. The gorgeous Italian villa locale is shot like travelogue porn, the tense familial scenes are appropriately awkward, and this awkwardness is often mined for some great anxious comedy. The ending feels a bit out of place or perhaps overly convenient, but this is a minor quibble. Director Ferzan Ozpetek shows us that it’s not just about where you’re going, but how you get there.