If there's a main difference between seeing a film screened theatrically at the Tribeca Film Festival and watching one streamed through the event's virtual player, it's that it's easier to "walk out" of the latter, especially given how many distractions there are on the internet. As far as "alternative distribution model" ventures go for film fests these days, I prefer the VOD option given that it's more like traditional home entertainment. The streaming web idea might be best suited for shorts and live coverage of red carpets and Q&As. And maybe for sitcom-ish movies like Elvis & Madonna, which can be broken up and watched intermittently over the course of the eight days it's available.
Initially I virtually walked out on this Rio-set rom-com about a lesbian photographer/pizza delivery "boy" named Elvis and a transgender (she calls herself a transvestite, but she has breast implants) hairstylist/showgirl named Madonna when it quickly became apparent that it was less Almodovar and more just the kind of broad, badly written comedy that only gets exposure because of its LGBT angle. The Tribeca film guide calls it "one of the most unique romantic comedies to emerge in years," but really it takes more than a plot involving a gay girl getting accidentally knocked up by her apparently-still-has-a-penis lover to be truly original these days. And having a weak subplot with a scary drug dealer/porn actor/ex-boyfriend is not that extra measure, either. Especially when the depiction of crime is quite cartoonish compared to what we're usually given with Brazilian cinema (and television, even) lately.
For some reason, as easily as I abandoned Elvis & Madonna, I kept virtually walking back in, mainly because I'm not good at just leaving films or TV series unfinished, especially if they're so easily returned to. It's the same reason I keep on watching Weeds on Netflix Instant two seasons after it stopped being worth it. At least with American television, though, I can put it on and only half pay attention while I do other things. I don't speak Portuguese, so in this case I kinda had to keep my eyes on the screen, reading the subtitles. Although, the story is predictable and the dialogue bland enough that you don't have to follow the subtitles too attentively to get what's going on.
Basically, Madonna dreams of putting on a big show, her bad-ass Predator-looking ex steals her savings, she meets Elvis after ordering a pizza one night, they fall in love, become mothers, Predator guy ends up in jail thanks to Elvis' fledgling freelance career as a photojournalist, there's an unsatisfying climax that you can easily surmise from this description and any familiarity with bad comedy thrillers, the end. Also, there's an awkward dinner scene at Elvis' parents house featuring a cursing granny and set to Strauss' "Blue Danube" waltz, which is paused, "record scratch"-like, when a certain confession comes out. I know I get too much in the habit of easily imagining a Hollywood adaptation for every terrible foreign comedy I see, but that just screamed remake.
Is the U.S. multiplex crowd ready for a transsexual rom-com? Or is Elvis & Madonna truly progressive? Well, there are plenty of supporting characters jokingly shocked and disapproving by the romance (including a confused and somewhat wacky OBGYN) that the concept is still too set apart to be viewed as any more groundbreaking than To Wong Foo... let alone Transamerica. Still, this may be the first time I've seen a nude sex scene with a transgender with "real" breasts, though I'm sure I could do a Google search and easily find some predecessors. I bet the Hollywood version would exclude that stuff. Well, maybe it could play so explicitly as a Showtime series.