Film Review

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X, or Where’s John Waters When You Need Him?

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is the brainchild of director Paul Bunnell, one he carried about for nine grueling years. The birth of the DVD, released last week, was not an easy one, but no one was surprised. There were warnings that the end result would be deplorably off-kilter. Some, who were in the room when Bunnell's fertilized idea was first sonogrammed -- in "Ghastly Scope," a vivid black and white, by the not untalented cinematographer Francisco Bulgarelli -- had high hopes; others hinted subtly, yet harshly, for a termination of the celluloid fetus.

Laurence Anyways or One Life to Live Two Ways

Watching Xavier Dolan’s nearly three-hour long Laurence Anyways is like being enveloped in a grand 500-page novel written by a master in the making. There are frequent moments of genius where you are rendered blissfully immobile by the onscreen carryings-on; uncountable witticisms you wish you yourself had dashed off; unbridled passions that hit the heavens and then bounce back harrowingly; several paeans to those filmmakers who’ve inspired him (e.g. Ken Russell); and now and then a slight unwieldiness that’s easy to sidestep.

Musical Relationships

Greetings from Tim Buckley

A promising young musician visits New York for a week to headline a tribute concert. He bonds with a young woman interning at the performance space, and they run around the city being chatty, artistic, and physically beautiful together. These would be the makings of a light and romantic film, except that the young man portrayed is musician Jeff Buckley in his early twenties and the concert he's been called for honors his father, prolific and renowned musician Tim Buckley, who breezed away from Jeff's mother before Jeff was born and died at age 28 without knowing his first child.

Tribeca Triumph: The Kill Team

In the documentary The Kill Team, Oscar-nominated director Dan Krauss tells the story of a young U.S. soldier who attempted to prevent the war crimes being committed by his platoon and was instead charged with those crimes. Without resorting to over-the-top propaganda, The Kill Team follows whistleblower Adam Winfield during his trial and simultaneously tells the story of the events that led up to that trial. Krauss uses footage taken by soldiers in Afghanistan to paint the landscape where it was possible for soldiers to kill Afghani civilians, plant guns on them, and call it a win for America.

Krauss encourages his subjects, who include Winfield as well as two soldiers who participated in murdering Afghani civilians, to speak freely.

Trio of Tribeca Documentaries

In God We Trust

What makes a hero? In God We Trust, a documentary profiling native New Yorker Eleanor Squillari, reminds us that heroism takes many forms. Squillari was personal secretary to the now-notorious Bernard Madoff for 25 years; since Madoff's 2008 arrest, she has distinguished herself as a hero for sure.