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Tribeca 2005: Sheldrake follows up his interviews with reviews of BAD BLOOD and CONVENTIONEERS!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with Sheldrake again. He's pumping 'em out like the slutty jackrabbit vixen he is. He had interviews with the makers of both films reviewed below that are both a few stories below this one. Now he's back to tell you his thoughts on the actual product! We start with the Alan Cumming starring revenge short, BAD BLOOD! Enjoy!

BAD BLOOD

written and directed by Kyle Leydier

Sheldrake here in NYC at the Tribeca Film Festival. Most of the time, when we're betrayed, or, worse still, when we find that someone we've decided to love turns out to be someone whose character is different than we'd originally thought (and of course, for reason unknown to me, that always means worse, and not better), we simply sit down for a little chat, have a talk which amounts to little more than “get the hell away from me and stay away,” and move on.

The stakes go up when there are mortal consequences for our physical person—for example, a terminal and incurable disease. Then fatalism seems a less attractive option, somehow, and we long to settle the score before we saunter through the Big Door marked “Exit.”

Thus, Alan Cumming's character, DAVY, in BAD BLOOD is mighty angry a) that his girlfriend got raped b) that the guy fucked her had HIV and c) that now HE has HIV. And who the can blame him, really?

The other fellow, ALAN (the character not the actor), who lives in a musogynistic Hobbsian state of war of all-against-all, is willing to get a woman drunk or high whatever it takes...and of course, as I've been reminded recently, for some women (and, yes, some men too) this is just what the doctor ordered. Love unmixed with adventure and drama is, to the party folk, an unappealing cocktail.

Since her rape, the girl has issues with men and sex and works them out in the barroom. The girl is perfectly cast – she looks like the kind of girl you'd get drunk on beer and take home from a bar and fuck, as opposed to one you'd get drunk on wine and champagne and take home from a Park Avenue dinner party and fuck. ALAN is similarly well cast: these are people who base their lives around low-drinking and low-drinkers in nasty little bars.

The movie let's you know early on that there's a link between Davy and Alan, so it's not a spoiler to reveal that here: there's no suspense created by the story around that point. The kick for this movie is in it's beautiful narrative structure and the two endings to the movie, one that condemns Davy to hell, in terms of his appeal to the audience, and one which restores him to heaven. The ending may surprise you at first and you may wish for another, but I'd advise you to remember that in the morning, so long as we live, it's just as is often said: we need to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.

Go see this one, it's a nasty, dark little film with a small hint of human redemption at the end. Lovely job.

Sheldrake

NY, NY

Now he's back with a look at the first super mega boner feature flick of the festival so far, CONVENTIONEERS. It sounds like a ripe setting for an opposites attract love story. Here's the review!!!

CONVENTIONEERS

directed by Mora Stephens

written by Mora Stephens and Joel Viertel

Sheldrake here at Tribeca, writing my first major, major rave of the festival. Movies about political conventions always have a real what-if quality – what if things had gone the other way – you're watching the burn of the flame, and you live in the ashes of its fire. CONVENTIONEERS shows us the fire that burned here in New York in 1994 and the ashes that were left in the city and in the hearts of two people on different sides of a major battle in the American cultural war between those romantic about independence vs. those romantic about their conscience.

I've just seen the movie that made this festival for me, a comedy made in New York about a man and a woman falling in love at the Republican National Convention in 2004. So let me state this early on in the review: GO SEE THIS. Someone out there, for God's sake, distribute this great entertainment and let Americans see it. This movie is an art house natural. For a movie made on nothing, the production values are very good. It looks great. Mora Stephen's instinctive and delicate directing is transparent and unobtrusive to the story and perfect. The movie is completely accessible as a human comedy and has two fantastic lead performances. There are huge laughs and a lot of tears. One of the actors, MATTHEW MABE (I've capitalized no other actor's name during this festival, and won't), would be nominated for an Oscar if this were a bigger movie and he were a bigger name. If someone doesn't make him a major movie star, it's a waste of material; this is an early Nicholson performance done in Texas style, and his last scene goes home like a nail. Damn near every scene he does is tone-perfect. This man has a great career in front of him.

CONVENTIONEERS is an intense and true love story mixed in with some of the deepest issues any person in this country lives with every day.

The male character is Republican, from Texas. He's the there for the convention. His wife is back home. We hear the couple talking, we understand they're in love. Then later, we think maybe not so much, and in one phone call he has the (to me) familiar fearful conversation with a woman who drinks and goes out of control—we realize there are problems.

The female character is liberal, hangs out with a bunch of “sketchy” protestors, has an arty boyfriend. Hey, it's been two years, already—she's a little bored with him.

Turns out they know each other from Dartmouth, and they get together for a few drinks and a look at the old college yearbook..and things happen.

The two conflicts underlying this movie are irreconcilable conflict and trangression, mixed in with the eternal truth that opposites like to sleep together. The story telling is beautifully done: it starts off very small, just a couple of old friends running into each other, then expands, on the one hand, into the most difficult conflicts that go on between men and women; and, on the other hand, into the most important things going on in the most powerful and important country on the planet, and what is perhaps the more intense underlying debate: the person and the personal, vs the public and the citizen. You have to see all this work to believe how entertaining it can be.

Films that operate on the New York/Texas Axis have a particular pull on me, as I am a New Yorker whose family lives in Houston, and I understand both types intimately in a familial way.

The film's portrayal of MABE's character also fits in with everything I know about Texans, who have the softest, most generous hearts in the world. When you put poor people in front of a group of random strangers, it's the Texans who will get moving and feed them and house them, not the New Yorkers. The equation is simple: Texans like real estate, but love people. New Yorkers like people just fine, but they love real estate and money and power. People are simply the entities that exchange money, and who rent or buy the real estate. Neither set of values is truer than another, they're simply the operative rules in different venues based on the kind of contingent realities that Montesquieu first described as a political reality: mountainous nations, he posited, will have different kinds of governments than ones that exist on open plains, because they require different kinds of governing, and we should never be surprised or shocked to find that the different realities are dealt with...differently.

So it's natural that the visitor to New York is the one who changes, who begins to ask questions. Yet the ending of the film is also natural: no matter what period of enlightment, love and change we may experience, not matter how badly we need to change, or how deeply we feel love, fear and delusion will always drive certain types home to the fire they huddle around in the night—it's the only light they know, and it's perhaps too much to ask of them that they no longer mistake it for the sun.

The Big Scene at the end involves many coffins draped in flag held by the protestors and, if you're a human being, no matter what party you belong to, we must regret the dead; no matter for what cause or for what ideal, we must always regret the dead; the living demand it; the dead, who demand nothing and know nothing, do not.

Sheldrake

NY, NY


Readers Talkback
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  • April 25, 2005, 2:15 p.m. CST

    third

    by fun guy

    I made the third post.

  • April 25, 2005, 7:46 p.m. CST

    Soft-hearted Texans

    by curiousjosh

    While I agree with what Sheldrake says about New Yorkers, for the most part (like people, love real estate) I would take issue with his statement that Texans have softest hearts in the world (I'm from Iowa, live in nyc and have relatives in Houston) - it's just not true, at least not when compared with Iowans or folks from California (very warm-hearted folks) . . . Texan's hearts harden up real quick when it comes to homosexuals (Austin possibly being the exception) and other minorities, and bear in in mind that this state leads all others in putting people to death (a number which includes the retarded and under-aged offenders, even one grandma) which may be what Texans want from their government, but it's hardly soft-hearted. And let's not forget the Family Directives Act, a law put in to play in 1999 by then Governor Bush, which removes brain-dead patients from life support if families can't pay for it and the insurance has run out, regardless of whether or not the families want to pull the plug. In other words, if Terri Schiavo lived in Texas, she would have had the plug pulled a long time ago, even if her husband wanted her alive. Texans may have a lot of great qualities (I think they do) but soft-heartedness is not one of them.