film review: THE EDUCATION OF CHARLIE BANKS

Directed by Fred Durst
Writen by Peter Elkoff
Edited by Eric L. Beason
Cinematography by Alex Nepomniaschy
Produced by Marisa Polvino
100 min

[Article originally appeared: http://www.rabbireport.com/archives/2007/05/tribeca-07-revi-2.htm]

To be honest when I heard that Fred Durst, front man for ‘Nu Metal’ band Limp Bizkit, had won the Made in NY Award at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival for his directorial debut “The Education of Charlie Banks”, I scoffed. This is the guy whose wrote all those sophomoric songs about… well, I don’t really know what his songs are about since I never read his lyrics but I assumed they were just about getting laid and smoking blunts. What could he possibly have to say in a feature length movie? Well, you know what happens when you assume… In short, I was wrong. Charlie Banks is a solid film. Not perfect but several notches above your standard festival fare. It’s a well made movie that I found thoroughly entertaining and engaging and I’ll admit, I seriously prejudged Durst.

According to the press notes, Durst only got into music in order to direct music videos. This, he figured, would be the shortest distance between his meager beginnings and becoming a film director. If that’s true, then Durst is smarter than the persona that’s portrayed in the media. Wouldn’t be the first time. Read more

film review: THE WORKSHOP

Directed by Jamie Morgan
Produced by Peter Martin, Cyril Megret, Piers Tempest
93 min.

[Article originally appeared: http://www.rabbireport.com/archives/2007/05/tribeca-07-revi-1.htm]

Meet Paul Lowe. British, silver haired and charismatic, he’s the founder and spiritual guru of the Workshop. There’s Ryan, yoga instructor to the stars, who seems to be the serial Workshop stud. Besides appearing in the buff for most of the film, he spends a great deal of time navigating between love interests. Later we learn he also happens to be Paul Lowe’s son-in-law. Then there’s the lovely Laurel and just as lovely Maddy. Both seem to be in love with Ryan and trying to come to terms with their feelings of jealousy and inadequacy. They’re naked too. Here comes Brian, a reserved British bloke who, while usually clothed, is in love with Laurel. Or was that Maddy he was in love with? Oh, who can remember?

These are just a few of the primary players in “The Workshop”, a provocative new documentary by British photographer Jamie Morgan, which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. His camera follows a group of Brits and Americans –and one memorable German– through the week long self-help retreat in Northern California. The individuals are there to find inner peace and shed the layers of falseness that one grows over time when trying to accommodate the expectations of a society built on conformity. Lowe rejects monogamy, for instance, referring to it as a social construct, a form of brain washing. By living authentically, the things you want in life will just come. Read more

film review: THE BALLAD OF ESEQUIEL HERNÁNDEZ

Directed by Kieran Fitzgerald
Produced by Brendan Fitzgerald
Written by Kieran Fitzgerald & Brendan Fitzgerald
Original Music by Bobby Flores
Edited by Brendan Fitzgerald, Kieran Fitzgerald & Shane Slattery-Quintanilla

On May 4th, 1970 four students were shot dead and nine more wounded at Kent State by poorly trained Ohio National Guard soldiers who clearly over reacted to a relatively small protest against the Nixon administration’s recent bombings in Cambodia. The response to the tragedy took the nation by storm and, one could argue, that event turned the tide of American involvement in Vietnam.

It would be twenty seven years until another American citizen is shot by the U.S. military, on U.S. soil, May 20, 1997. Only this time, the nation’s reaction was far less severe. Perhaps that’s because hardly anyone heard about it. An explanation for this may be found in the new documentary, “The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández”, which I was fortunate enough to catch at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.  “Ballad” is the first feature-length film by director Kieran Fitzgerald and his brother, producer Brendan Fitzgerald.  Kieran was 17 years old when Esequiel, a young Mexican-American was shot by the team leader of a four-man US Marine unit that was patrolling the border in search of drug traffickers. The 18 year-old Esequiel was herding goats close to his home when he was mistakenly taken for a hostile. The director heard about the incident for the first time in the fall of 2004 from actor & director TommyLee Jones who himself was preparing to shoot “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”. Jones’s narrative film was inspired by a number of real life border tragedies including the Hernandez shooting and Jones ended up providing the voice-over for the Fitzgeralds’ documentary. Read more