#Tribeca 2015: Wars, Post-Apocalypses and Cults

04/20/2015 8:41 AM |

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Jackrabbit
Directed by Carleton Ranney

Jackrabbit is a film more filled with mystery than intrigue, a science-fiction puzzle that respects the intelligence of its audience (as Primer was) while offering little in the way of emotional catharsis or narrative revelations (as Primer did).

At some point in the future, a cataclysmic event has occurred, with civilization largely boiling down to one city. What’s beyond its guarded borders are a mystery, a mystery whose answer is hinted at in a series of cryptic messages left behind in a hard drive. Max, a hacker played by Ian Christopher Noel, leads the decoding investigation with Simon (Josh Caras), a gifted programmer who works for the mega-company that runs the city and is beginning to question his loyalties.

As a debut, Jackrabbit is impressive. Director Carleton Ranney manages the nifty trick of creating a wholly convincing world on what seems to have been a meager budget (techies will have fun identifying the hardware he reappropriates as props, including an old Nintendo controller). The production design and Ranney’s instincts towards concealment are both strong, though he promises more than he delivers, and the ending forces a predictable kind of ambiguity. But with a stronger script (Ranney co-wrote this one), he could show some real promise.

Upcoming Tribeca Film Festival screenings: Monday, April 20, 9pm; Wednesday, April 22, 3:15pm

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The Survivalist
Directed by Stephen Fingleton

The post-apocalypse has been making a comeback of late, with a number of books and films and TV shows set after some kind of global collapse. Stephen Fingleton’s The Survivalist suffers from its newfound competition; if you’re going to be another story of survivors scraping out a few extra months of life amid a hostile environment, you better bring something new to the table. The only unique thing that The Survivalist brings, really, is an unexpected abundance of nudity.

Martin McCann stars (as “Survivalist;” screenwriters, rest assured we’ve reached the point where the effectiveness of giving your leads symbolic names is tapped out) as a man barely getting by in a remote farm; he spends his days gardening and explicitly masturbating into soil (plantowners, does this serve a purpose?), when the unexpected arrival of Kathryn (Olwen Fouere) and her daughter (Nymphomaniac’s Mia Goth) changes the equation. He trades food for sex but is unwilling to let them stay with him. As usual, there are roving packs of threats and the potential for romance, but Fingleton doesn’t bring any new insights. One scene—you’ll know the one—suggests he’s content to throw extreme stuff on screen without thinking through why or what it means.

Upcoming Tribeca Film Festival screenings: Tuesday, April 21, 9pm; Saturday, April 25, 8:45pm