Saturday, April 16, 2016
Junction 48 (2015) Tribeca 2016
This film is set in a city minutes from Tel Aviv airport that has been nick named Junction 48. It is a city that has both Israelis and Palestinians who keep an uneasy piece, The film focuses on a young man who wants to be the first Arab rapper, his family, his girl friend and the politics around him.
A great cast shines in a music filled film that plays like a Middle Eastern set American drama. Think about any film set in an American city where someone wants to be a rap star and you'll be in the ball park, except this film remains far from cliche despite using the tropes.
For most of the first hour the film manages to keep things moving along at a good clip. The plot unfolds reasonably well and except for the sudden twist of one character suddenly becoming a spiritualist/healer things are completely fine.
Then somewhere about half way in things begin to get less controled. The film begins to juggle too many things at once as rap gives way to politics, romance takes some odd turns, houses are destroyed, characters shot and we have a battle between the modern world and tradition. It would be fine had we had some run up to some of this but we don't. Some of the WTF moments are the result of the big moment building on a fleeting reference, an argument with a drug dealer is foreshadowed by drugs in the pigeon coop, mostly though the camera fades out in one scene and picks up somewhere or somewhere else. While I admire that the filmmakers trust their audience to get it the jumping around makes it hard to connect to the characters and events.
I won't get into the the way the film becomes a political polemic of sorts with twists of the story that seem to exist only to make a point (or seem that way because of the sudden jumping.)
To be honest watching the film, the first of the pre-festival screenings, I thought for all of the first half that Tribeca was going to start off with a bang. Sadly the film broke apart in the second half and while everything from the cast, to the music and the individual scenes were gangbusters the fact that the screenwriters couldn't keep it all connected together enough to be emotionally satisfying resulted in a major disappointment. Here is a film where top of the line ingredients made a less than perfect confection.
However now almost four weeks since I saw the film I find I'm haunted by it. What I thought was a disappointing film has actually become a film I can't shake. Now almost 50 films into Tribeca I find that I am thinking about the film much more than any of the others.
Yes the film is flawed, but at the same time it is haunting as all hell. The characters and situations stay with you and the film has become one of the must see films of the festival