Darren Aronofsky (#110 of 24)

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Review: Traitors

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Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Review: <em>Traitors</em>
Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Review: <em>Traitors</em>

The Arab Spring has many faces. Malika (a charismatic Chaimae Ben Acha), the lead singer of the eponymous all-girl punk rock band at the center of writer-director Sean Gullette's debut feature, Traitors, is a representative of the restless generation in the Moroccan port city of Tangiers. Inspired by the Clash hit, the Traitors practice a song with the refrain, “I'm so bored with Morocco, but what can I do?” To Malika's father, his daughter is a misfit because she's 25 years old and unmarried. She also doesn't seem very interested in holding on to her job at an international call center. Her only interest, it seems, is to perform with her band, and her only goal is to raise enough money so the group can rent a recording studio to cut a demo.

The Boston-born Gullette, best known for co-writing and starring in Darren Aronofsky's Pi, is currently based in Tangiers, his wife's hometown, and he clearly has empathy for his adopted city. In the first half of the film he reveals a skillful eye (and ear) for the quotidian in a portrait of middle-class life in urban Morocco and how an energetic young generation is effected by their familial relations. Take Malika, whose mother makes sure her two daughters get their breakfast before she heads out to clean apartments. Her father owns a garage, but seems to spend most of his time in coffee shops. So when the girl learns that her father's business is failing, and that he's neglected his family's finances as well, she feels she must help keep the roof above her family's heads in addition to trying to raise cash for her band.

Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Directing

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Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Directing
Oscar 2011 Winner Predictions: Directing

Six. That's the number of times the DGA winner has failed to win the Oscar. Advantage: Tom Hooper. Two thousand and three. That's the last time the DGA winner didn't seize the Oscar, which went to Roman Polanski instead of another Harvey Weinstein-backed newcomer, Rob Marshall. Advantage: David Fincher? Not exactly. Fincher, even though he's never roofee'd a girl in Jack Nicholson's Jacuzzi, doesn't have sentiment on his side. (Note to the chilly auteur: It's okay for the awards process to make you uncomfortable, just ask Danny Boyle, but at least pretend to want to be in its spotlight.) One clear advantage for Fincher was securing the support of the stiff upper lips who make up BAFTA's directors branch, but by how many votes did he best Hooper? More or less than the number of votes Hooper beat Fincher by for the DGA prize? And how many of those Fincher-favoring BAFTA directors will also cast Oscar votes? Enough to null Hooper's advantage once you consider all those TV directors who voted for the DGA (which didn't, by the way, reward Hooper for John Adams) are taken out of the equation? In the end, you don't have to have the mind of John Nash to come up with a formula that factors all of those scenarios, along with the prevailing mood of Oscar's non-director branches (we know how their respective guilds went down), and doesn't end with Hooper taking this in a walk. We know the Oscars have agreed with critics more than usual this past decade, making very respectable choices for Best Picture since Crash won the top prize, but with more than one critic hailing the The King's Speech the best film of the last decade, it really is looking like it's going to be a Ron Howard sort of year.

Will Win: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech

Could Win: David Fincher, The Social Network

Should Win: David Fincher, The Social Network