Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mama Africa, Let the Bullets Fly and The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye or Tribeca starts in earnest

I was out of the house and on the train into Manhattan this morning for a day of movies on the first real days of screenings. reading my Press and Industry Book on the train I realized this festival is way too big. It's monstrous and the only way to do it justice would be to have three more full time people running about with me going to round tables, panels and of course screenings.

Apologies to anyone I may have run in circles from the promotional departments, I'm knee deep in the hoopla and I really didn't realize what it was going to take to do this festival.

My plans today have been in flux.I'm revising my plans as I go so at this point I don't know what I'll end up seeing. Basically I'm finding new combinations of films so I maybe playing fast and loose with a few things.

My first film today was a no brainer as to choice. Today would have been my mom's birthday and they were running a film on Miriam Mekeba one of my mom's favorite singers so that was my choice.

MAMA AFRICA is the a celebration of the life and times of South African singer and activist Miriam Mekeba. It's told via archival footage and interviews with friends and family. The film is like getting to know the feel of it's subject rather than a straight forward biography of her life. I think the best term would be tone poem, which considering the wall to wall and non-stop music is, I think apt. We watch how Miriam sings, gets involved in politics (though as she said "I never sing about politics, I only sing the truth"),raises a family and sings some more. Its a wonderful celebration of a life and of music.

I grew up on the music thanks to my moms (both of them) who loved the songs, so I was in heaven as long as the songs played. The trouble for me came about half way in when I realized that as good as an over view of the life the film is, it really isn't all that detailed. I mean once we get passed about 1964 any sense of time goes out the window (We learn of the death of her daughter and how it affected her only to jump back in time to talk about her and other things.) It's a quibble of a sort since the film is very entertaining and the sort of thing I'll get on DVD just so I can use the film as a sort of musical mix.

LET THE BULLETS FLY- take two
I reviewed this a while back when I saw it with out subtitles. I really liked it, then and I really liked it now. Being able to understand what is being said adds several layers to the film that just watching the action doesn't have. Seeing the film with subtitles I realized that the film is both funnier and darker than I had earlier thought. We'll be doing a full review down the road. Just know this is a must see. It's a great little epic.

My day was supposed to end there. I was supposed to be going out with my family for a dinner in my Mom's memory, but my brother couldn't get away from work in time so we changed plans up and decided that we were going to do take out. This left me with some extra time so I hung around and caught another film.

While I waited I watched the producers of the film Renee,a documentary about tennis pro Renee Richards, get ready for the big reveal. It was amusing watching the very serious producer try to make sure every detail was perfect while the expert and professional Tribeca staff assured him all would go perfectly (and I say that with a great deal of love- trust me boys and girls these people make the festival- seriously).

I also talked to several other members of the press about a variety of subjects including how good the film The Trip is (it's been described as a movie so funny as to send you to the bathroom by several people I've met), how it's getting tough to get to the end of a movie because of the lack of tolerance for anything other than a great film due to having too many other distractions, the growing annoyance of social media (one woman was annoyed that they need to be constantly checking a variety of outlets because no one just puts out a press release), and which film we should be seeing next (there were some heated arguments).

The last film of the day was The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye about Genesis P-Orridge and his wife Lady Jaye. He is one of the founders of the industrial music movement and the lead singer of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, not to mention an accomplished artist. The nominal focus of the film is on the relationship of Genesis and Jaye and how they began to merge not only psychically but physically, with both of them having surgery in order to look like each other. For me the film is a good film in some ways and a bad way in others. For me I liked the music and some of the sequences, but over all I don't know what the film was all about. While the film is titled to be about the two lovers, she is very much a cypher. yes she is in the film, but we never get to really know her. Granted she died a few years ago, but we never really get to know her even though she is on screen for much of the film. On the other hand the film does present a good portrait of Genesis. I'm mixed on the film but I kind of think this film would have been better either cut down by fifteen or twenty minutes or made tighter with more information on Lady Jaye.

After that I headed home to get ready for a long day in the trenches tomorrow (it's four or five films plus lunch with Mondocurry).

Keep reading over the weekend since there is a great deal to talk about including some that are among my favorites of the year)

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