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To wrap up our 2007 Tribeca Film Festival coverage, I’ve got reviews of three movies that have nothing to do with one another: a sensitive, coming-of-age flick about revenge, a Reality TV satire gone too far and a wild romp involving demonic sheep.

Yeah, that last one caught your attention. Mine too.

Thanks for joining us for our third year covering the event on Cinema Blend. I wasn’t able to see nearly as many movies as I’d hoped (my cubicle took no pity on me) but Brendan saw more than enough drivel for both of us. Plus, we got to run our first-ever Tribeca interview and panel coverage. All in all, not a bad way to spend a couple of weeks in Manhattan.

For previous Tribeca reports, click here


The Education of Charlie Banks (Discovery: Drama)

Writer: Peter Elkoff
Director: Fred Durst
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Chris Marquette, Jason Ritter, Eva Amurri

“Everyone grows up with a boogeyman under their bed. Mine terrorized Greenwich Village and smoked Newports”

When Charlie (Jesse Eisenberg) sees Mick (Jason Ritter) beat two guys to a bloody pulp outside of a high school party, he brings the information to the cops. But then he realizes that having a guy like that on his bad side probably isn’t the shrewdest move, which leads him to rescind his testimony. Mick gets off home-free and Jesse gets to go on living without having “tattletale” etched on his record.

Or so he thinks. The Education Of Charlie Banks, which marks the directorial debut of Fred Durst (yes, that one), is about what happens when a little secret from your past sneaks up and taints your present. Charlie knows it’s bad news when Mick shows up at his dorm room to stay as a guest for an indefinite stretch of time. It’s not easy to watch him hang with his good friend Danny (Chris Marquette) or steal the object of his desire (Eva Amurri) out from under him. Except there’s not much he can do about it. Just wait and see. And wait some more.

Durst shows a surprisingly sensitive, nostalgic side in the film, which is set during the ‘70s and shot with a kind of colorful grit. But for all its strong points (good acting, good music, no sign of “Nookie”) Education lacks a crucial ingredient: credibility. Ritter plays Mick with a kind of menacing rock star quality, so watching him try to evolve into a scholarly yuppie (there’s actually a scene of him sitting on a lawn chair in a sweater vest reading The Great Gatsby--come on now) just doesn’t gel.

The film tries to take on very heavy themes--Can people really change? Will society allow them to?--but it’s not fleshed out or believable enough to reach its lofty goals. Despite an earnest effort, Education has nothing really new to teach you.

Live! (Discovery: Satire)

Writer/Director: Bill Guttentag
Cast: Eva Mendes, David Krumholtz, Andre Braugher

“Let’s get out of the fucking box, guys.”

Reality TV has become the ultimate joke in recent years--people will do anything, eat anything or say anything to get their faces on television. They don’t call it the boob tube for nothing.

Live!, a satirical black comedy by Bill Guttentag, takes the insanity of Reality TV just a step further. A ruthless producer (Eva Mendes) is determined to find the next-big-idea, and when she overhears one of her associates joking around about “russian roulette,” she has a shining “eureka!” moment. Why not launch a TV show where contestants put a partially loaded gun up to their head, and if they manage to dodge the bullet, so to speak, they walk away with $5 million a pop? That would be enough to send the Nielsens into a tailspin. Take that, Survivor.

This is, clearly, a preposterous idea that would never really happen … and yet, it seems possible enough to be more than a little frightening. Live! covers the landscape of Network whoring and provides some laughs (a few of which come from Numb3rs’ David Krumholtz, who is growing into himself rather nicely), but it’s also just outright disturbing. When they get around to airing the show-within-the-show, featuring desperate people chancing their lives for money, it’s no longer amusing. It’s pathetic, and you’ll feel a little pathetic for watching it.

To that effect, Live! does its job very well. The film aims to make a point about our culture and the sick things we’ll do for a little extra pocket change, often to disastrous results. It pushes the envelope in a daring way that is hard to shake. Just don’t go in expecting a comedy, or the joke’s on you.

Black Sheep (Midnight: Black Comedy/Horror)

Writer/Director: Jonathan King
Cast: Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Peter Feeney

”You hear that? Sounds like somebody's shearing.”

They just don’t make enough straight-up, ridiculous, campy movies anymore. When they do, a total of four people go to see them (Slither, Grindhouse).

That’s why when I heard that Black Sheep was going to be at Tribeca, and playing at Midnight no less, I just had to down an extra-large iced coffee and check it out. The temptation to see blood-thirsty, evil sheep could not be yielded. I’m only human.

Black Sheep, an import from New Zealander Jonathan King, is about a sheep-phobic boy named Henry (Nathan Meister) whose brother (Peter Feeney) decides to launch a genetic engineering program at the family farm. His experiment on the docile sheep goes horribly awry, naturally, and they wind up becoming vicious predators. Oh, and anyone who gets bitten by them turns into a ravenous, hoof-toting beast.

This film is a massive flock of ridiculousness, and somehow it never gets old watching an innocent-looking sheep lunge at a person’s face. What does get a bit old, however, is the storyline, which never really escalates beyond a one-note affair (regardless of the fact that it’s an amusing note). From their perspective, I guess, who needs a plot when you have wooly creatures committing mass homicide?

If you like Evil Dead and Dead Alive (and really, who doesn’t?), this will be right up your alley. It may not be as fantastic or outlandish as its predecessors, but it’s a silly, much-needed dose of fun. And in this day and age, a little laughter can go a long way.


Our Tribeca 2007 coverage is complete. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.