Tribeca Film Fest Mini-Reviews: Sleepless Night, Whola Lotta Sole, Mansome

Sleepless Night

Sleepless Night is a workmanlike action thriller from France that's so unfussily entertaining (and inexpensive to produce) that Hollywood's urge to remake it will be irresistible. It begins with two men in masks stealing a bag of cocaine, then spends most of its running time in a swanky club run by a gangster, Marciano (Serge Riaboukine), who is the rightful owner of that bag of cocaine. Our hero is Vincent (Tomer Sisley), a cop with ambiguous loyalties who must reunite Marciano with his cocaine before he harms Vincent's adolescent son (Samy Seghir). Vincent's partner, two internal affairs detectives, and a pair of Turks who are supposed to be buying the coke from Marciano are also involved, with all the major players carefully avoiding or strategically encountering one another during a busy Friday night at the club. Don't let the simplicity deceive you. What writer/director Frederic Jardin has done, ingeniously, is reduce the adrenaline ride to its most basic elements. Every character has a clear objective; most of these objectives are in opposition to someone else's objective; and all of these people are dropped into one location to hash it out. There are no explosions or helicopter crashes, no multi-car chases causing millions of dollars in collateral damage, just a winning combination of good old-fashioned fighting, shooting, and outsmarting. John McClane would be proud. Grade: B+

Whole Lotta Sole

Belfast-born filmmaker Terry George returns to his homeland with Whole Lotta Sole, a light-hearted crime comedy that -- oh, what? Did I lose you at "light-hearted crime comedy"? Yes, the man who directed and co-wrote heavy films like Hotel Rwanda and Reservation Road has taken the silly path for once, conjuring an unoriginal but fun caper that reads like something out of Elmore Leonard. The ensemble features Brendan Fraser as Maguire, the American cousin of a Belfast shopkeeper who has come to Ireland to lie low for a while, for undisclosed reasons. Through a series of random events and misunderstandings, Maguire gets into an ad hoc hostage situation controlled by a desperate young father named Jimbo (Martin McCann), who has robbed a fishmonger in order to pay back notorious local gangster Mad Dog Flynn (David O'Hara). Also involved are a couple of trailer-trash kids, an old-fashioned police inspector (Colm Meaney), and various colorful ne'er-do-wells. Maguire's hollow romance with another shopkeeper (Yaya DaCosta) rings false, and the screenplay (which George co-wrote with Thomas Gallagher) peels off more layers of mystery than it can handle. But the film is good-natured, jaunty and amusing, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, and consistently watchable. Grade: B-


With Mansome, Morgan Spurlock had the opportunity to make a fascinating documentary about men's grooming habits, and what it means to be "masculine" in the 21st century. Instead, he made a shallow, disposal trifle about beards and waxing: the People magazine version of anthropology. Mixed with fluffy vignettes about beard-growing competitions and hirsute professional wrestlers who have to shave their body hair are comments by celebrities like John Waters, Judd Apatow, and Zach Galifianakis, with interstitial scenes of Jason Bateman and Will Arnett riffing while they get spa treatments. And since nobody told Spurlock that he doesn't HAVE to do some kind of personal stunt for each movie, he shaves off his own facial hair ... which was thin, wispy, and light in color to begin with, so its absence is hardly noticeable. (That seems like an apt metaphor for the movie as a whole.) It reminded me most of those VH1 shows like "I Love the '90s": people crack jokes about the topic at hand, and you get a few laughs and zero insights. Grade: C