Director Tony Kaye (“American History X”) creates a unique and stylized portrait of the American education system seen through the eyes of substitute teacher Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody). Henry wanders in and out of students’ lives, imparting knowledge where he can in the short time he has with them. Then a new assignment places him at a failing public school run by Principal Dearden (Marcia Gay Harden) and alters his insular world. Henry’s stoic front is slowly chipped away by three women who impact his view on life: a student (newcomer Betty Kaye), a fellow teacher (Christina Hendricks), and a teenage runaway (Sami Gayle).
Kaye has molded a contemporary vision of people who become increasingly distant from others while still feeling the need to connect. He assembles an astounding ensemble cast that includes Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner, James Caan, Tim Blake Nelson, William Petersen, and Bryan Cranston, but it is Brody who carries the film on his able shoulders. He magnificently captures Henry’s complex psychology, using great nuance and intimacy to express the feeling of living in a world of people who either choose to ignore or are just ignored themselves. –David Kwok [Synopsis courtesy of The Tribeca Film Festival]
In Bodeen, Texas, Land Of The Dragon, an indie-rock loving misfit finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin.
Life after college graduation is not exactly going as planned for Will and Jillian who find themselves lost in a sea of increasingly strange jobs. But with help from their family, friends and coworkers they soon discover that the most important (and hilarious) adventures are the ones that we don’t see coming.
Elle, a onetime successful poet, abruptly breaks up with Olive, her girlfriend of four months. But before she gets a chance to get overly sentimental, her granddaughter, Sage, unexpectedly shows up with an emergency that requires money. With the clock ticking, the two set out in a vintage Dodge and drop in on Elle’s old friends and flames, asking for help but instead ending up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets. As they kick up a storm all over town, Elle’s tough front reveals she is still reeling over the loss of her longtime partner, Vi, who recently passed away. [Synopsis courtesy of Sundance Film Festival]
Miller’s Crossing is the Coen brothers’ first successful attempt at reaching a wider audience. They illustrate an atypical Mafia story that sways away from the typical films from the genre like The Godfather or Goodfellas. Taking place during Prohibition, this film is an incredible piece of work accompanied by superb acting performances.