Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tribeca '09 - LOVE THE BEAST a Must-See

Last night I saw a film that reminded me why film festivals are so great.

"Love the Beast," actor Eric Bana's directorial debut, simply blew me away. The film is part love letter to his beloved Ford Falcon GT Coupe, part tribute to loyalty, family and friendship, and a little bit of a psyche profile. It's relaxed and refreshingly random in how it jumps from his younger days to the present day, where he's an actor thisclose to superstardom.

Bana mixes in incredible home movie footage from his formative days as a gearhead Aussie teenager. We actually see him and his buddies (they are all still friends today, BTW) working on the car, the first one he ever owned. As he says during an early part of the film (Bana serves as narrator), the car - and the garage at his parents' house where they worked on it - was like the campfire his buddies gathered around.

You know when you get together with old friends you haven't seen in years, either for dinner or for a few beers? The parade of memories and stories and ball-busting jokes that inevitably spill out? Those moments become rarer as we get older, due to distance and adult responsibilities. Sometimes though, friends drift apart because the things they had in common as kids change, until one day you all realize you've taken completely different paths into adulthood.

I imagine that happens alot with people who became famous athletes/musicians/actors. For Bana, the car provided a chance to have one more 'night out with the boys.' Except this one lasted a bit longer. They rebuilt the car - AGAIN - to race it in The Targa Tasmania Rally, one of the most grueling road races in the world.

The footage of Bana in the race is riveting, but the race isn't what this is about. It's about his friends, and holding on to something that has been a part of his life for 25 years, about tradition.

On another note, seeing Bana as a youth in those home movies not only helped me understand his passion for cars at an early age, but it made me wish my parents would have had the foresight to get a video camera and tape some of the day-to-day of my younger days.

Another highlight: Bana's conversation with fellow car nut Jay Leno. Listening to these two talk about their wheels with such ... affection .... gives true insight into the mind of a 'car guy.'

Now I'm not a car guy. I live in NYC. I don't even own a car anymore. Even when I lived in Miami, a car was just a means to an end, an appliance that took me to work, to the beach, to the movies. It never meant more than that to me.

Watching "Love the Beast" helped me understand why to some people, four wheels and fuel-injected engines mean so very much.

The film debuts Tuesday @ Tribeca. We have Bana coming in for an in-studio interview about it that will air next week on REEL TALK. I'll post a link to it here afterward.

Talk about a busy summer. Not only is Bana making his directorial debut with this doc, he's also co-starring in "Star Trek", Judd Apatow's "Funny People" and "The Time Traveler's Wife." WHEW!

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