>>> The YouTube Critic
By staff writer Harold Longfellow, Ph.D.
May 6, 2007

This week has been a high and a low for me. On the one hand, it’s been months since I’ve covered anything ending in the phrase “film festival.” On the other hand, this is Tribeca. Since I’m sure none of you have any idea of the significance of that, it’s time for a history lesson with Professor Longfellow. Don your learning caps, children.

Once, long ago, a group of people in the film community held the world’s first major film festival in Venice. Some revolutionary films were shown, awards (Golden Lions) were given out, and people soon began to realize it was a brilliant idea and started other film festivals throughout the world.

Enter Harold Longfellow. Once, in my prime, I was contracted by people with whom none of you would be familiar to write about film festivals like Cannes, Sundance, Rotterdam, and Berlin. It was glorious, and everyone rejoiced—the films were good, and I was great. Then came September 11, 2001. I won’t pontificate about the events of that day, since they are not the point. One of the results, however, was that a bunch of pompous, self-important movie stars and other Hollywood players (Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal at the forefront) took September 11 as an excuse to create a new film festival where they could show off their new movies and vanity projects while claiming that its purpose was to help New York recover.

I’ve stayed far away from Tribeca until now. That being said, these short films are the closest I’ve come to legitimacy since I started this column, so we’re all going to suffer through them together. Also, in case you’re confused, we’re using the Yahoo! Video player this week because it’s easier for me, and that’s what matters.

You’re probably all wondering who slipped acid into your drink, but worry not, it’s just art. Art is a lot like acid, except it’s respectable and doesn’t lead you to become a slobbering mongrel who contributes nothing to society except some amusement as he raves about the Aztec warriors by the side of the freeway.

Anyway, to start things off, we have a surprisingly complex piece that, though it takes a very traditional theme of the cycle of life, uses a very abstract style that makes it quite unique. The ability to take a generally overused theme and breathe some new life into it by creating this kind of a distinctive work is an amazing and underappreciated talent—for the sake of understanding, it would be like writing something brand new and refreshing on Points in Case about drinking, sex, or venereal diseases.

Generic trophies created by Robert De Niro for self-serving purposes: 4 (out of 4)

Next up, a film about rednecks fighting in a bar—don’t anyone ever dare say that I don’t try to appeal to my audience. Frankly, I am impressed by neither the animation nor the content, but I’m sure I couldn’t talk any of you out of liking a video with aliens, lasers, gratuitous violence, and midgets. Instead, I’ll just say that this seems to be perfectly representative of the quality of films that come out of Tribeca and be done with it.

Generic trophies created by Robert De Niro for self-serving purposes: 1.5 (out of 4)

Moving away from animation, we find ourselves in the classically overused premise of a wife forcing her husband to check out a noise while they’re both in bed. As it continues, it keeps the usual twist, as the man first discovering a cat, which he assumes is the cause of the noise, but is then confronted by a robber.

I won’t ruin the ending for you, but suffice to say it surprised even me, a callous, jaded shell of a man. While this feat in itself is impressive, I find the rest of the film to be lacking—the acting and camerawork both scream of mediocrity. Thus, I am left feeling about this film as utterly indifferent as all of you are to politics, global warming, and all the other things that are actually important in the world.

Generic trophies created by Robert De Niro for self-serving purposes: 2 (out of 4)

It seems psychedelic colors and unique styles are favorites among filmmakers this year, but this film’s use of those techniques is perhaps the most interesting among all of them. It is not just animation, but manipulations of normal photographic images of nature that give a different perspective on something not normally manipulated in this way.

Don’t worry, though, I won’t force you to read another sentence full of big words. You all probably appreciate this film more than I do, since you’re all incapable of taking a hiking trip that doesn’t involve mind-altering drugs.

One final note about this film before I release you back into the world—for all its wonderful images and visual techniques, I couldn’t possibly care less about anything its narrator has to say. He’s making a desperate attempt to offer some message about aging and changing perceptions, but it sounds like a redneck rambling about family trips to the woods. It’s sad really—he has an audience but nothing to say, while I put brilliance down onto my pages week after week and have no one to appreciate it. Oh well; at least I’m over my word count for the week already—it’s a short conclusion week.

Generic trophies created by Robert De Niro for self-serving purposes: 2 (out of 4)

Well, there you have it. Feel free to fill in your own lesson for this particular column, and come back next week for more of my fine commentary on the mediocrity of Tribeca.