|Index||4 reviews in total|
The old adage "save the best for last" certainly applies to this year's
Tribeca Film Festival as the last screening I attended was the thought
provoking emotional journey Future Weather. I met its writer, director
and producer Jenny Deller at the Tribeca Press Reception where she gave
me the film's background and I'm happy to say it lived up to my
expectations. In fact, after watching it, it's hard to assess what this
triple threat filmmaker does best.
Obviously this is not the kind of story that utilizes car chases and explosions. Although, despite the fact that its main cast is all female, it's far from a chick flick. The basic plot deals with how a very bright and mature thirteen year old, recently abandoned by her not so bright and immature mother, uses her love of science to fill the gap of a normal family life. Lead actress Perla Haney-Jardine's "Laduree" carries the film with just the right amount of security for her age without seeming too much like a Juno-esque smart-aleck. Lili Taylor's portrayal of understanding teacher "Ms. Markovi" is quite different than many of her other roles and Amy Madigan's beer guzzling grandma "Greta" adds great comic relief.
What helps the characters drives the film is a great balance of dramatic emotion and knowledge. Environmental metaphors not only explain the premise but thanks to Deller's brilliant script they subtly bring together the duel storyline thereby giving it an intelligent, yet relatable perspective. In fact, trying to guess where and how the scientific symbolism will relate to our protagonist is part of the fun and makes watching both interesting and entertaining. In addition, once Deller lays out her characters nothing seems forced. Case in point, we know "Laduree" loves the environment so it seems natural that she would stop in the middle of the street and recycle a plastic bag.
Visually, Denner's direction certainly shows how the actual art of film can say plenty without too much or in some cases any dialogue. Consciously (or sub-consciously) her quick cuts in the right places accentuate humor, her wide singular shots signify loneliness and of course various close-ups show intensity. This versatility may seem like filmmaking 101 except for one thing as she indicated to me in a previous interview Deller never took filmmaking 101! Her self taught style is therefore all the more impressive.
Bottom line, if there's one filmmaker that should feel satisfaction from Tribeca 2012 it's Deller. Not only was this "never attended film school" female writer/director/producer's first outing in an A-List festival a feature length...but she combined a story very personal to her by utilizing a political issue very passionate to her. No doubt her creative vision could one day make her the next Nora Ephron, Penny Marshall or Kathryn Bigelow.
Wow, only one other person reviewed this? Why? I'm giving it an 8/10
because it finds the right balance between different extremes. It gives
us a few interesting and not always predictable characters - all of
whom have likable and not so likable features. Also (I'm biased here),
it's one of the few movies out there that show the scientific spirit in
an interesting and authentic way, from the point of view of a troubled
teenage girl who happens to like the natural world.
While a bit tense in certain ways, it's also an optimistic film in the end (maybe going a bit too far in the last minute), so for me it hit the right tone. More of these kinds of movies should be made and seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a curious Independent film, partly sponsored by Netflix and I
found it as a Netflix streaming movie. Some might see it and mistakenly
claim it is an environmental movie, perhaps even "preaching" about
environmental conservation. Such an analysis would be totally wrong.
Set in Illinois, the central character is Perla Haney-Jardine as Lauduree ('Rey' for short), a 13-yr-old girl with a flaky single mother and a realistic, but not very tactful grandmother. Rey is a serious girl and a good student, especially drawn to science. When she latches onto the idea that we humans are drawing down natural resources too fast, carelessly endangering the whole Earth, she finds herself on a mission, almost as if she has to single-handedly save the Earth. It is that burden the story examines.
Lili Taylor is her science teacher Ms. Markovi. Amy Madigan is her grandmother Greta. And Marin Ireland is her flaky mother Tanya, who runs off to California with visions of becoming a make-up artist for the stars.
Rey is unable to easily balance all in her life, her concern for the environment, wanting to finish her experiments to see if Loblolly Pine trees would do a superior job of reducing CO2, dealing with her mom's disappearance, and with her grandmother's intent to marry her boyfriend of 10 years and move to Florida. So the movie is mostly about Rey's survival and coming to terms with the realities of life.
The acting is uniformly fine throughout, I enjoyed the movie because the characters seemed real, their problems and solutions, or lack of, seemed plausible. And the young actress seems destined for more good roles.
William Sadler was good as the old boyfriend, Ed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie is about an intelligent poor white 13 year girl, who's mother
abandons her. The girl is smart , but unrealistic, and is curiously
obsessed with global warming. One gets the feeling it is the only
scientific issue the writers understand, or are even aware of .
The girl tries to live on her own for a while, which of course does not last. Her caustic , leather faced grandmother steps in and takes care of her, or tries to at least. Some have described the grandma character affectionately, but she impressed me as a foul mouthed old coot.
The acting is quite good, and the film gets points for realism. However, it fails in that it falls in line with the Hollywood mantra "women and kids can do whatever they want, men don't matter".
As she attempts to care for her granddaughter, grandma kicks the man who loves her to the curb, with less attention paid to her action than most would give a bad dog. "I'm breakin up with chew" is about it. In addition, whenever she talks about men, so much negativity, mistrust and hatred spews from her mouth you would think she was at war with the opposite sex. It doesn't sound too strange in the context of today's world, which is sad.
The old lady appears to have worked her whole life , but falls in line with another current convectional wisdom- that only youngsters matter, adults be damned (especially the males).
When the mother returns after failing to fulfill her dream of becoming a makeup artist , the young girl tells grandma to leave her and go to the man she dumped. It was an interesting twist, in that one would expect grandma and the kid to live happily ever after, so it goes from a 3 to a 4 star movie. But if there was such thing as a reverse Bechtel test, it would fail miserably.
Perhaps filmmakers should think about the fact that virtually everything they used to make the picture was invented , built and maintained by men (including the very roofs over their heads) , and realize that without men they would be performing live, or not at all because their would be nothing to film with.
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