Tribeca Film Festival: Two Reviews

The joy of living in New York! The Tribeca Film Festival is one of my favorite New York things to do. This year, we were able to schedule screening of two very different films, a narrative and a documentary.

First-the narrative. While We Were Here is small budget, independent film starring Kate Bosworth. Written, directed, and produced by actress Kat Coiro, it also stars the voice of the estimable Claire Bloom. Bloom is the grandmother of Bosworth’s character, Jane. Jane has taped her grandmother’s stories, and is listening to them in order to write a book of her grandmother’s experiences. Jane and her husband Leonard are in Naples, Italy, where Leonard is rehearsing with a local orchestra for an upcoming concert. His days are consumed with practicing and reading scores, leaving Jane on her own.

While listening to her grandmother’s life stories, Jane takes the ferry to Ischia, the island in the Bay of Naples. She asks directions from what she presumes to be a local, but turns out to be an American teenager, Caleb,  drifting through Europe. He pursues Jane relentlessly. Lonely and unhappy in her marriage, Jane succumbs to his dubious charms.

This film was ponderous and took itself far too seriously. I kept hoping that on one of their excursions around Ischia, Jane or Caleb would try to murder the other, or at least have some kind of knock down, drag out fight. Or maybe Leonard and Jane would really fight. But no one so much as raises their voice.

Even the after-film Q and A with Coiro did not elicit any really interesting questions. The most interesting thing I learned is that Ischia was also the location for the filming of the original The Talented Mr. Ripley, known by the title Purple Noon. No wonder I kept waiting for a murder-I guess I had already seen one at the same place!

And for the documentary. Don’t Stop Believin’:Everyman’s Journey was entertaining, moving and inspiring. And if you are a fan of the band Journey, you’ll go crazy for this story.

In 2007, members of Journey were looking for a new lead singer. Finally, on YouTube, guitarist Neal Schon saw and heard Arnel Pineda.  The band arranged for Pineda to come from Manila to San Francisco for a week-long audition with the band. They offered Pineda the job, and he accepted.

Now a full-fledged member of Journey, Pineda began a grueling world tour with the band. Some Journey fans despised him for replacing the popular Steve Perry. But many fans adored him, particularly the Philipinos. Pineda’s personal story is fascinating. During his teen years Pineda was, mostly, homeless. As began to earn some money singing, he supported his family, but they were still very poor. When his best friend began uploading videos of Pineda’s  band onto YouTube, none of them even owned a computer. They used all their money to purchase computer time at an internet cafe. And due to the slow speed of the connection, each video took hours to uplaod.

This inspiring movie follows Pineda and Journey on tour. Pineda learns to cope with the emotional demands of rock stardom, and with the physical toll that touring takes on his body and his voice. When Journey travels to Manila to perform, we meet Pineda’s family.

If you ever get the chance to see Don’t Stop Believin’ you must see it.

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