Category Archives: Tribeca Film Festival 2017
Few of us have time, as we negotiate our busy lives, to consider our place in the cosmos, or speculate about the possibility of life on other worlds. When we humans, and the other beings with whom we share this living planet, flicker out of existence, who will be left to remember the cry of a child, the plaintive howl of a wolf, the intensity of an Indian raga, or the beautiful complexities of a Bach concerto?
The documentary “The Farthest” addresses this question by telling the remarkable story of the Voyager space missions, whose famous “Golden Records” are carrying our voices, our music, and the sounds of nature into the vastness of interstellar space as a means of preserving our legacy. Read the rest of this entry
“Flower” has a game cast anchored by a strong central performance by Erica Vandros, as Zoey Deutch, a rebellious adolescent from Hell. Interesting characters and moral conflicts abound, but ultimately the proceedings are wrapped up with a Deus Ex Machina ending which, although contrived, is actually quite disturbing, if one gives it some thought.
From left to right, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Francis Ford Coppola, James Caan, Al Pacino and Talia Shire at the “Godfather Reunion” at Radio City Music Hall, as part of the Tribeca Film Festival, 2017
April 30, 2017. On Saturday, April 29, the Tribeca Film Festival presented an incredible historical event at Radio City Music Hall. “The Godfather” (1972) and “The Godfather: Part II” (1974) were screened, followed by a reunion Q & A with the films’ director Francis Ford Coppola, actors Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Diane Keaton and Talia Shire (no relation, but I was thrilled to see my tickets next to hers at the “will call” window). The talk was moderated by movie director Taylor Hackford. The event began at 1:00 and went until about 9:30. Read the rest of this entry
April 26, 2017. Director Greg Kohs’ documentary “AlphaGo” is one of the best documentaries I have seen so far at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It is a story of the ancient world meeting the modern and possibly having a very strong effect on the future.Go is an ancient Chinese board game which is described as contemplative, hypnotic and akin to having one’s hand on the third rail of the universe. The game is played with two participants who have a collection of black and white stone-like pieces (one player takes white, the other black). While I do not understand the intricacies of Go, this is not important here. The filmmaker does convey the overall gist of the game, which, simply put, is about capturing territory on the Go board. Including this bit of information is a very smart move on Koh’s part. This small, but crucial, explanation gave me what I needed to ride the narrative of this movie. I have always maintained that a good documentary should be able to take a subject in which I have little, or no, interest and make it compelling. In this regard, “AlphaGo” certainly delivers.Enter Google’s DeepMind Team which has been developing Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and wants to put it to the test by having their Go software square off against Go world champion Lee Sedol, in South Korea. The idea is that A.I. could add to human intelligence, creating breakthroughs in the areas of art, medicine and science. The DeepMind team feels that this tournament, if their software is successful, will be a step toward reaching their objective.The makers of “AlphaGo” had an interesting problem which they have solved quite well. Film is a visual medium and Go is not the most visually interesting of games. It does not have recognizable game pieces (as in chess), or football players in colorful uniforms attempting to gain yardage. Kohs and his team get around this by intercutting the inevitable “human verses machine” face offs (five games) watched by millions online, with commentators analyzing the games as they happen, press conferences with Sedol and interviews with the DeepMind team. “AlphaGo” also raises fascinating philosophical questions as to what it means for humanity if a computer program can outthink a human? Is this just a matter of pride? Since A.I. is a human invention to begin with, could this contest really be a story of human verses human? Could machines cause humans to improve?“AlphaGo” is an engrossing, iconic, hi-tech, “John Henry” story. Henry, an African American folk hero, was a steel driver who famously competed against a steam powered steel driving machine, and won, but died in the process. “AlphaGo” is a philosophical, suspenseful and well paced story that wows us with the comp-lexities of what it means to “think,” be we humans or machines.