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Day One: Whatever Works
The programmers were spot on by opening Tribeca with the premier of New York lifer and filmmaker Woody Allen’s Whatever Works. As expected, the media descended on the Red Carpet like bees to honey and we were reminded that although this Festival is international, it loves its New Yorkers.
My Take: Worth the price of admission, but doesn’t entirely work for me.
Screenwriter: Woody Allen
Director: Woody Allen
Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum
Whatever Works is quintessential Woody Allen - an older eccentric man meets naive younger woman and an almost creepy or maybe just creepy complex love story evolves, with Manhattan as the backdrop stealing many of the scenes. It’s a well written script and the acting stellar with Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood and Ed Begley, Jr. bringing Allen’s words to life in believable fashion. And, although this recurring “Allenesque” theme was dusted off once again, its worth the price of admission. No doubt you’ll leave the theater asking yourself whether your “whatever” is working.
Day 2: Be Yourself, No Matter What they Say
The New York beat went on as I hit An Englishman in New York on Day 2 which may have been subconsciously inspired by a spirited conversation I had with an actual Englishman in New York the night prior to the screening.
An Englishman in New York
My Take: Watch with an open heart and mind. Will remind you to always be yourself and brings to life the meaning of Sting’s hit song with the same title.
Director: Richard Laxton
Screenwriter: Brian Fillis
Producer: Amanda Jenks
With: John Hurt, Cynthia Nixon, Denis O’Hare, Jonathan Tucker, Swoosie Kurtz
An Englishman in New York profiles the later years of Quentin Crisp, an openly gay Brit from his formative years in the 1930’s until the day he died. He celebrated this true inner self with an extravagant wardrobe and colorful make up on the outside. After penning his memoir The Naked Civil Servant he rose to iconic stardom, particularly amongst the gay community and his success in London led him to New York City at age 72. Sometime after he arrived he declared, “The streets of New York are like Heaven on earth’” and he stayed there for almost two decades living a simple life, closely guarded by a few friends, with the goal of meeting as many New Yorkers as he could. Although somewhat “deified” by the gay community, he ostracized himself for a short period of time when he quipped, “AIDS is just a fad.” As time passed he managed to overcome this blip and kept himself very much in fashion until the early 90’s when he returned home to London to take his final bow.
This is the second time John Hurt has transformed himself into Mr. Crisp on the big screen and he does it flawlessly supported by an equally talented group of actors that include Cynthia Nixon, Denis O’Hare, Jonathan Tucker and Swoosie Kurtz.
An Englishman in New York is an Indie film that should make it out of the Festival, but with the recession and the niche topic, only time will tell if it’ll be showing on your neighborhood cinema’s big screen any time soon.
“Stay”ing Cool on the Red Carpet
Evening in Tribeca for the next 10 days means one thing – Red Carpet action. Stay Cool’s Red Carpet had a 5:15pm arrival time and a 6pm screening time. The movie’s big stars, Hillary duff, Chevy Chase and Winona Ryder all arrived on time, but the first to stop by for a quick chat with me were the brains behind the body of work, the Polish Brothers, identical twins who are becoming a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.
Michael, the director, not only brought his brother’s script to life, but also directed Mark as the lead role in the film. When asked what is was like directing his brother, he commented that it was the easiest part of filming since they know each other so well and because Mark also had a close relationship with the crew. When I asked him about working with legendary Chevy Chase, he said Chase was like “an icon to new students” and also felt the small, tight knit environment on set could have provoked nostalgia in Chase from his earlier days as an actor.
What’s of most interest to me is how stories are inspired and in this case there indeed was a muse. Years ago a female classmate of Mark inscribed, in indelible ink, in his yearbook, “Stay Cool. Call Me” and with that, a movie was born.
Other sound bites from the Stay Cool Red Carpet:
Journalist: “Should we ask Hillary Duff if Winona Ryder stole any scenes from her?”
Hillary Duff: “I really like this role. It was fun. I get to play a big flirt and that’s the opposite of who I really am.”
Stop by tomorrow for more of My Takes and sound bites from the press lounge including some insights from Geena Davis star of Australian filmmaker Andrew Lancaster’s Accidents Happen.
Annie Vinton Annie Vinton is a freelance writer and film critic living in NYC. You can read more about her and her writing at www.runavrun.blogspot.com or on Facebook.
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