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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tribeca Film Festival Review: Split Second

Tribeca not only highlights independent feature films, but also short films. There are a compilation of short films that share a theme---split second--- at the 2008 festival. These short films feature a conflict with the protagonists that forces them to make a split second decision that could change their lives forever.

The films featured in "Split Second" were:

Being Human
Coffee Break
God Only Knows
Second Line

Dusk was about a hit and run accident that occurs in a Mexican desert.

Hesitation was about a middle-aged couple on vacation who encounters a little boy who is all too annoying and hesitation occurs when the boy is involved in an accident.

Roads is about a 13 year old Israeli boy and an ex-solider who connect and find themselves caught up with a drug lord who is seeking revenge.

Being Human us about two brothers contemplating on how to handle a medical miracle.

Coffee Break is about how far will a rookie police officer go to impress his partner.

God Only Knows is about a mother who is torn between love and a better life.

The best short films out of this bunch were Roads and Coffee Break. Roads had a deep rich plot that involved action and intensity as a young boy tries to escape the world of drugs and violence in his community. The solider who helps save him becomes a martyr in the quest to liberate himself from his past. Great cinematography and excellent pacing.
Coffee Break was a film that in some ways we can all relate too because at one point we have all tried to do something to impress others. In this case a rookie male cop is forced by his partner to cajole a female stranger into having intimate relations with him and the rookie cops takes it a step further by performing a simulated rape.

Then there was the worst film out of this bunch. As a viewer I left the theater upset because of the film Second Line. Second Line is about two cousins who search for work in post-Katrina New Orleans. They are promised $90.00 a day for the work and their foreman Henry picks them up and agrees to take them back home. The two men are African-American and they are hired by a Caucasian foreman and his wife to gut out the dilapidated house. Natt finds a peanut jar that has a wad of bills in it that equals out to be 300 bucks. MacArthur, his partner, decides to take the the high road and tell his boss Henry about the money.

Instead of rewarding MacArthur, he lies and says the money belongs to his wife and keeps it for himself.
All the while Henry has been drinking and poor MacArthur finds himself working in a dust-ridden house without a mask and instead has a piece of thin fabric to protect himself. He asks Henry repeatedly to provide him a proper mask, but Henry is dismissive. We eventually get the idea, that Henry has no intentions of giving a mask to his employee. Towards the end of the day Henry gives MacArthur a total of $90.00 for services rendered. MacArthur looks up at Henry puzzled and states that his partner Natt needs his $90.00 too. Henry states that the fee is for both and you get $45.00 each. At this point poor MacArthur decides to take the high road once again and gives Natt the full $90.00 without telling him that the fee was $90.00 between the BOTH of them. MacArthur soon reaches his boiling point and grabs an old machete that was hanging around the abandoned house and spontaneously charges at Henry with the weapon.

Henry's wife Bernie runs and screams for help. Natt immediately runs after Bernie, covers her mouth and nearly wrestles her to keep her from running away. MacArthur throws Henry into the trailer and Natt throws Bernie in there with them. We see the trailer close and only hear the cries of the victims and the scene fades to black. The last scene is macArthur upset and crying thinking about the event that just took place with a look of regret on his face.

The reason I gave a scene-by-scene synopsis of this short is because most of you will not see this movie. But if you do, feel free to give an opinion on your thoughts.
I didn't understand the point of this film and found it to be very offensive towards African-Americans. It feeds into stereotypes that whites perceive of blacks and I was quite disgusted at this film. ALSO, why would Tribeca screen a film like this?? Perhaps I am missing something. Perhaps I need some further clarification on the meaning behind the film's message. Becuz all I got out of it were two black men solving aggression and anger with violence towards a white couple. There was a Q&A session after the film featuring all directors of each short film and I was not a bit surprised when I saw the film's director was Caucasian. A sad disgusting display of racial stereotypes. There will be more films to see at Tribeca, but frankly this was a VERY disappointing display of celluloid and quite frankly one of the worst films I've seen at this festival. Blech!

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