I’d been too busy to make it to the 3rd annual Tribeca Film Festival, which is going on now. But since you would expect a New York movie blog to have some coverage, I made the trek downtown last night and caught Laura Smiles.

Read more…From this one experience, I can’t say it’s the best-run festival I’ve been to. There were plenty of volunteers, but many were standing around. All of the lines were organized outside of the building, and it happend to be an uber-windy, coldazz night. Me and my g.f. waited in the wrong line for 30 minutes because of bad directions.

That said, I still had a lot of fun and wish I had the time to hop movies all week long.

I don’t want to say much about Laura Smiles, since it’s sort of my unspoken policy not to bother with bad reviews of small films. And it wasn’t that bad, just cut deliberately slow without the sort of payoff that could justify its pacing. The main actress, Petra Wright, and the writer/director, Jason Ruscio, are clearly talented individuals (with a real-life on-again off-again relationship that sounds more interesting than their film). RKO Pictures deserves credit for supporting the filmmakers, since it’s a highly conceptual project with limited commercial potential. It’s nice to see the RKO name back in business.

UPDATE 5/11/2005: Variety has weighed in with a gushing review, comparing Laura Smiles to, of all things, American Beauty:

Sharp dialogue, idiosyncratic characters and a wickedly brilliant structure that subtly derails expectation make “Laura Smiles” a rarity among mellers. The most unjudgmental view of sex and the suburbs since Kim Novak sought solace from the nearest warm body in “Strangers When We Meet,” Jason Ruscio’s sophomore feature traces the quietly psycho, often hilarious disintegration of an American housewife (a Tippie Hedren-perfect Petra Wright). With strong critical backing and judicious handling, “Laura” could become an indie “American Beauty.”

Ruscio and cinematographer Sion Michel manage their limited resources well, using two different digital systems for past and present, deploying a hand-held, overexposed aesthetic to connote youthful spontaneity and a higher resolution, more formal palette to illumine the surface tension of bourgeois respectability.

I stand by my original opinion. All of Scheib’s Tribeca Film Fest reviews seem too glowing.

And, if I’m being really persnickety, I have to point out that the last part of the review is wrong. I know someone who worked on the camera crew for this movie and he told me they shot on 16mm and miniDV.