Tribeca '08

See these movies

Simple Things
Directed by Aleksei Popogrebski
April 26, 28, 30; May 1, 2

Aleksei Popogrebski's solo directorial debut tells the story of a handsome but bumbling Russian anesthesiologist (theater director Sergei Puskepalis, strikingly Clooneyesque in face and bearing) who just can't seem to get anything right. His teenage daughter has run away with a lout (though he's curiously blasé about this development), his mistress is mad at him, and his wife is newly pregnant. Hurting for money, he takes a second job shooting up an elderly actor with pain meds. Despite the circumstances, there's nothing flashy here: Popogrebski, a former psychologist, is patient and loving with his characters, and perfectly attuned to the rhythms of everyday life. Julia Wallace

Somers Town
Directed by Shane Meadows
April 24, 26, 28; May 1, 3

Director Shane Meadows is of a rare breed, touching headline issues in his films without ever putting human interplay at the service of some message. His Somers Town details an inter-dialect friendship between an adolescent Midlands runaway (wizened Thomas Turgoose, who also starred in Meadows's This Is England) and a young Polish immigrant (Piotr Jagiello), a big, uneasy kid with an incongruously piping voice and photography hobby that makes him stand out amid the jostling biceps of his father's construction-worker buddies. The slight runtime is mostly devoted to deadpan anecdotage—the outfits Turgoose improvises after getting his bag nicked, or the hustling he endures from a neighborhood crap vendor (Perry Benson). Cinematographer Natasha Braier's ringing silver-and-black London is enough to refute the tenacious idea that visual articulacy somehow contradicts honesty. The ending coda, something like a Scopitone set to a lullaby-soft song, is a dream of trans-European goodwill . . . and the film's actually worthy of the sentimental indulgence. Nick Pinkerton

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