Thursday, June 17, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: With/In

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

With/In Vol 1 and Vol 2
Various Directors
Movies PlusScreening Information

The pandemic has had an incredible effect on every industry, and that’s absolutely true of film and television, which in most cases had to shut down production for more than a year. While that has produced many delays of highly-anticipated projects and put actors and crew members out of work, it has also given birth to an unexpected creativity. Those with energy, ideas, and even a little bit of technology have been able make media that speaks to what’s brewing in their minds and showcases just some of what they’ve been experiencing during an increased period of time away from others.

This is a two-volume anthology collection comprised of shorts written and directed by actors and filmmakers. The subjects and styles vary greatly, though they all make distinct reference to what’s happening in the world around them and how things are definitely not normal. Among the standouts are a comedy about a one-night stand that turns into bathroom quarantine, two children driven crazy by their father’s obsession over strangers touching his fence, and two friends checking in virtually with each other every week.

What’s most fun about these shorts and differentiates them from some of the other pandemic filmmaking that’s emerged is that they mostly include families. It’s a delight to recognize married actors, like Alessandro Nivola and Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Marvel and Bill Camp, Morgan Spector and Rebecca Hall, Debra Winger and Arliss Howard, and Julianne Nicholson and Jonathan Cake, playing together on screen. When they include their children, the enjoyment level is only increased, and it’s nice to see that increased time together has only led to enhanced cooperation and productivity, at least in the finished product.

Like any anthology, the overall quality hinges on the strength of each specific short. The first volume includes just four films and runs 73 minutes, while the second includes nine and lasts 123 minutes. There isn’t any consistency to the lengths or themes, which makes for an uneven experience but one that has its high points. There are also performers who are clearly talented, like Carla Gugino and Adrianne Palicki, in truly strange and odd segments. Some take advantage of pandemic trends and turn them into waking nightmares, be it a loss of connectivity or an overindulgence in sourdough. The result is ultimately intriguing and occasionally involving, but it might have been more resounding with more purposeful structure and sequencing.


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