Wednesday, May 03, 2006

King Of The World

Florence and Papa
Florence and Papa looking as happy as I've ever seen him.

This is the happiest I think I have ever seen my father. Not only is he sitting next to Florence Faivre, one of the most beautiful Thai/French women in the world and female lead in my brother's feature film debut The Elephant King, but he is also a little drunk, not just on the Santori Whiskey he was drinking but also on the after-effects of just having seen a screening of his son's movie at the Tribeca Film Festival. And what an excellent film it was. Consisting of about 50% reality, 50% imagination, the movie follows the travels and travails of two brothers on an adventure through the seedy underbelly of urban Thailand. The film also highlights some of Thailand's more scenic features, such as beautiful temples and dense jungle, through the relationship between Florence's character Lek and Tate Ellington's character Oliver. Jonno Roberts, as anthropology student and Oliver's older brother Jake, also explores some of the more beautiful areas in Thailand, visiting waterfalls and hill tribe villages. But Jake's depravity, which causes his ultimate downfall, draws him into the darker side of Thailand; including visits to "massage parlors", dingy bars, dance clubs, throwing Thai boxing matches, and indulging in drinking and drug use. Jake draws Oliver into this world with him, but Oliver ultimately escapes and is redeemed. This film is the moral tale of two brothers' depravity and redemption, revealed through their relationship with one another, their parents, Lek, and Thailand (which can be considered one of the main characters). I know I am very close to this movie which makes it difficult for me to stay objective, but I feel that this is a masterpiece of a movie that everyone should see and bring at least two people with them.

Mos Def, Alice Braga, Brendan Fraser, Scott Glenn, and Eric Eason
From L to R: Mos Def, Alice Braga, Brendan Fraser, Scott Glenn, and Eric Eason.

I saw two other movies at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, Journey to the End of the Night and Pittsburgh. Journey to the End of the Night stars Brendan Fraser in a strange twist as the villain of the movie, Paul. It also stars Scott Glenn as Paul's nefarious pimp father, Sinatra, Mos Def as a Nigerian dishwasher named Wemba, and Alice Braga as Monique, a runaway on a downward spiral. The movie's gratuitous violence distracts from the excellent acting and cinematography and washes out any beauty that the Brasilian metropolis of Sao Paolo possibly possesses. Writer/director Eric Eason may have been trying a little too hard for the "edgy" label with this film (a label that has been over-used recently, causing it to lose its impact). In an interesting twist, the main character of the film, Brendan Fraser as Paul, is the antagonist and a secondary character, Mos Def's Wemba, is the protagonist and the person who the audience is (I guess) supposed to identify with. The audiences' reaction was one of the most interesting parts of this movie, with unexpected laughter at tense scenes and at the climax of the film, which comes completely out of left field. There was tepid applause at the end of the film and it seemed as if the cast and director were not going to come out for the Q&A at the end of the premiere. I had to admire Mos Def's choice of attire, however. He was clad in a pair of Limited Ed. Nike P-Rod Zoom Air Elite SB "Día de Los Muertos" kicks. Classic.

Illeana Douglas, Jeff Goldblum and Chris Bradley
From L to R: Illeana Douglas, Jeff Goldblum and Chris Bradley.

Other than The Elephant King (of course), the best movie that I saw at Tribeca this year was Pittsburgh. Produced by Jeff Goldblum, Pittsburgh blurs the line between documentary and mockumentary. This story of real "people", (Jeff Goldblum, Catherine Wreford, Illeana Douglas, Ed Begley Jr.) acting in a small playhouse production of The Music Man in Pittsburgh in order for Jeff Goldblum's girlfriend Catherine Wreford to maintain her work visa to stay in the United States, is a definite side-splitter. I laughed the whole way through the movie. It is difficult to determine what is real and what was scripted for this movie, but that is part of its mystique. It was nice to see the city of Pittsburgh, also, which I haven't seen since I was a student there at Carnegie Mellon University.

Seth and Jeff Garlin
Seth and a slightly confused Jeff Garlin.

Other than the screening of The Elephant King and the premieres of Journey to the End of the Night and Pittsburgh, the highlights of the trip were hanging out at the Tribeca Grand for free drinks where Lucy Liu walked within spittin' distance of where I was sitting, taking the above picture of Seth with Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm at the premiere of Journey to the End of the Night (Seth asked if they should kiss on the lips right before I took the picture), seeing Jane Lynch outside of the premiere of Pittsburgh, eating wonderful Italian food at John's in Little Italy the East Village, and the after-party for The Elephant King at Doug's apartment in Tribeca. What a whirlwind of a weekend. I felt like a hickory stick in a hurricane.

1 comment:

Gigi Lee said...

John's is in the East Village, not Little Italy. A boy can dream though, can't he? Just want to make sure you have your facts straight so no one will question the authenticity of other anecdotes in your posting.