Tribeca Turkeys: We See Movies So You Don't Have To

Every fest has its misses. This year's Tribeca is no exception.

Plan your festival-viewing schedule wisely by staying clear of these four films. Trust us. (We really wanted to like them, too.)

Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha

Anti-establishment poet, musician, and auteur Melvin Van Peebles is now 75, and to criticize the uncompromising passion project of a revolutionary black icon in his grandpa years seems a sacred-cow no-no. But really, anyone curious enough to shell out the money for the rare chance to see a new DIY cheapie by Mr. Sweet Sweetback himself will be enduring a public-access ugly, unintelligible, inconsequential adaptation of his quarter-century-old Broadway show, Waltz of the Stork. Exploiting every shitty digital filter on the HD camera—from stop-frame jerkiness to discordant superimpositions more half-assed than baadasssss—MVP makes the whole playful-but-unfunny experience more confounding by starring as a world wanderer from boyhood to middle age, love scenes and all. Watch for cameos from Realist editor Paul Krassner and son Mario as a random pirate—or, better yet, take my word and skip it altogether. Aaron Hillis


Seven Days Sunday

The title refers to the limbo lives of youthful dropouts, marking time without jobs or prospects. This is the existence of introvert Adam (Ludwig Trepte) and his idolized sociopath pal, Tommek (Martin Kiefer), wastoids bored enough that they stoke themselves up to a drunk game of Leopold and Loeb one night. The setting is a moribund outer Leipzig that looks as if the Allied bombers have only just laid off, graffiti tags the only paint jobs in recent memory. The architecture is either blankly modern or dankly medieval; the sparse local population is divided between grim seniors and roving teens. The boys' nihilistic act is set up through homo-crush nudges and images of gruesome Soviet-vintage block flats: First-time director Niels Laupert fills out this perilously slight (72 minutes!) venture into River's Edge territory with "walking the wasteland" interludes meant to telegraph soul-snuffing melancholy, about as original as shooting the Siberian steppes for vastness. Compared to the tough-minded humanity of Shane Meadows's Somers Town—which also gets its North American premiere at Tribeca and deals in nothing-to-do youth—Seven Days is all fetishized decay and "daring" press-kit stuffing. Nick Pinkerton


SqueezeBox!

Hey, did you hear about how incredibly fucking fun New York City used to be? Cold-water flats in the East Village were like $60 a month, nightlife was a blow-sprinkled omnisexual all-you-can-screw buffet—all before a hunched Puritan named Rudolph came along and hosed the good times off the streets. Well, here we go again: A new doc eulogizes SqueezeBox!, an institutional '90s downtown party/mosh-pit group-grope/drag-glam Theater of Cruelty for homo rock 'n' rollers. The nostalgia trip might have been just another innocuous scenester circle-jerk if it didn't insist on short-shrifting an immense queer legacy in underground music (Husker Dü, the Screamers, the Big Boys, the Dicks, the entire West Coast queercore scene . . . ) in order to sell this one get-together as "revolutionary." Screentime is instead devoted to KISS-style schlock provocation by disposable carny outfits like the Toilet Boys, as well as Kinderwhore flashbacks and starfucking guest-list roll calls. Give up, old timers—the kids are all right. Nick Pinkerton


Savage Grace

Julianne Moore, who has made a specialty of tight-lipped midcentury housewives, headlines Savage Grace as the social climber Barbara Baekeland. Unhappily married to the heir to a plastics fortune, she clings to her devoted 10-year-old son, Tony, asking him, "Will you still love me when my hair is gray and my tits are saggy?" These creepily incestuous "oh no, she didn't!" overtures increase as Tony shoots up into a lanky young man with a disturbingly flat affect and a penchant for seducing teenage boys; in an effort to cure him of his homosexuality, Barbara actually sleeps with him. The lurid plot, based on a very true story, isn't the problem here—rather, director Tom Kalin spends way too much effort filming the lush backgrounds of London, Paris, and Mallorca (perhaps in an effort to deflect our attention from screenwriter Howard Rodman's stilted dialogue), and not nearly enough coaxing Moore out of her habit of clenching her face at the camera. Julia Wallace

 
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