The best film in this week's Tribeca Film showcase is Brian Hill's fantastic Climate of Change, a sobering look at the havoc wreaked upon the planet as we race to harvest natural resources while simultaneously creating both nonbiodegradable refuse and staggering amounts of pollution. (The film focuses on the coal and timber industries but gains urgency against the backdrop of the BP oil disaster.) Tilda Swinton narrates a poetic script (penned by Armitage), as the film darts from India and Africa to Papua New Guinea, England and West Virginia. If Climate occasionally drifts into PSA mode, Armitage's images are frequently haunting (such as the massive storage building in the Arctic, which houses seeds for almost every known plant), and the facts he trots out are grim. But hope is provided in the forms of everyday people — a fiery, self-described hillbilly activist; an “ethical” PR woman in London; precocious school kids in India — who doggedly fight the power. Commingled issues of exploitation of the poor and manipulation of natural resources are also at the heart of Dev Bengal's genre-shuffling Indian film, Road, Movie.
The spoiled adult son of a businessman drives his uncle's jalopy truck (which houses tools to erect a makeshift cinema) across the country, ostensibly as a favor but really to escape family obligations. Along the way, he meets a central-casting stream of types (sassy street kid; rotund carnival guy; beautiful Gypsy widow; evil sheriff) and reluctantly learns about generosity, love and the power of classic films. The familiarity of it all goes down winningly thanks to solid ensemble acting, stunning images of the Indian countryside and a third act in which the film unblinkingly slides from comedy to action to musical to social drama and back again. Finally, writer-director Julian Kemp's sleek romantic comedy My Last Five Girlfriends is a guilty-pleasure popcorn flick that hits all genre notes. As sad-sack romantic Duncan (Brendan Patricks) tries to make sense of his failed love life by dissecting his most recent relationships, Kemp moves the film briskly, aided by a script marbled with wit and a few dead-on insights, and by a cast that includes Naomie Harris and Jane March. (Sunset 5)