Category Archives: Tribeca Film Festival 2014

“The Overnighters” at Tribeca Film Festival 2014

Pastor Jay Reinke in "The Overnighters"

Pastor Jay Reinke in “The Overnighters”

“No profanity, come to church, don’t spill coffee on the carpet,” are the rules laid down by Pastor Jay Reinke of the Concordia Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota.  He provides shelter and food to people who have come from all over the country to, hopefully, find employment in the oil industry. Hydraulic fracturing has resulted in a rich oil field, in or near Williston, and jobs are many. Those who show up are desperate for work. As one man, at the end of his rope, puts it, “I can’t afford to live.”

“The Overnighters” is a highly charged and engrossing documentary about one man trying to apply the concept of “Love Thy Neighbor” to floods of humanity, mostly men, who come to his church. At the center of it all is Pastor Reinke who, right from the start, is a very compelling character. As I’ve said many times in this column, even a documentary has to have great characters.  Reinke delivers. Read the rest of this entry

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“Chef” at Tribeca Film Festival 2014

Jon Favreau, Emjay Anthony and Scarlett Johansson in "Chef."

Jon Favreau, Emjay Anthony and Sofia Vergara in “Chef.”

Jon Favreau has written, directed and starred in a nice, but unchallenging story with likeable characters that, unfortunately lacks the one crucial element that all films need, conflict.

To be fair, “Chef” does have a promising start. Favreau plays Carl Casper, an idealistic chef who strikes out on his own to make the kind of food that he likes, as opposed to the tiresome menu that restaurant owner, and unfeeling boss, Dustin Hoffman wants him to make. Carl’s actions follow a quite funny online twitter feud with acerbic food critic Ramsey Michel, played by Oliver Platt. This makes for great conflict and I was hoping the film would have more with this. Twitter does play a prominent role in “Chef” as the internet unsavvy Carl learns the “ins” and “outs” of Twitter via his pre-adolscent son, Percy (nicely played by Emjay Anthony).

The bulk of “Chef” though concerns a long cross country trip with Carl, Percy and loyal co-chef buddy, Martin, played by John Leguizamo, driving a taco truck and “wowing” food oficionados along the way. Leguizamo, not exactly stretching here, plays, well, John Leguizamo, the funny, wise-cracking, “knows how to get the job done,” side kick, something which he does well.

“Chef” does have a game, energetic cast that also includes Sofia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey, Jr.

As fellow festival goers became impatient with the film’s nearly two hour running length and started to leave, I stuck it out, hoping that a second act crisis would kick things back into gear (much like the Twitter feud in the first act) but, outside of Carl having some squabbles with his son (which were easily patched up) none was delivered. The film’s conclusion is strictly “Deus Ex Machina.”

I think “Chef” could use a good trimming prior to a theatrical release.