Every year since 2002, a relatively new film festival created in the aftermath of 9/11 has tried to make its mark on the movie world, and every year, the Tribeca Film Festival gets that much closer to doing so, by offering some of the biggest names in the movie business as well as some of the newest talent from around the world.
If there’s one word that can describe this year’s Tribeca roster it’s “variety,” because as in past years, it literally offers something for everyone in terms of content, whether you’re into action movies, horror, sci-fi, foreign films, indies or documentaries. The Tribeca line-up spans the world with movies from every country and in every language imaginable, and if you happen to be in New York City over the next couple of weeks, we have a couple suggestions of movies you may want to check out, even if it means lining up for the Rush Line, which may be the only way you can see some of them.
Unfortunately, this year’s Tribeca Film Festival conflicts with the exhibitors’ convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas, which we’re already committed to, but we’ll do our best to keep you apprised on the goings on, starting with this preview of a few dozen of the 89 movies at this year’s festival, which includes 50 World Premieres.
Things will kick off on Wednesday, April 18, with Nick Stoller’s The Five-Year Engagement (Universal – April 27), his follow-up to Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek), starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as a couple whose relationship is put to the test when they must move to Michigan for her job, forcing them to put their engagement on hold. Once again produced by comedy king Judd Apatow, it features funny supporting roles from Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt (“Parks and Recreation”) and Alison Brie (“Community”).
You may have also heard or read about a little movie called Marvel’s The Avengers (Disney – May 4), which will be this year’s Closing Night film at Tribeca, but it’s probably Nuff Said on that one?
A couple of movies we enjoyed out of Toronto are playing Tribeca before their theatrical releases with Sarah Polley’s second directing feature Take This Waltz (Magnolia – June 29), starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen as a married couple who go through a few obstacles when she meets a charismatic neighbor and toys with having an affair.
Humpday director Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister (IFC Films – June 15) stars Emily Blunt (her again!) and Mark Duplass as best friends trying to get over the death of their respective ex and brother, but when he sleeps with her older lesbian sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) after a night of drinking, they have to try to keep it a secret or destroy their respective relationships.
Another Mumblecore vet, Greta Gerwig, stars in Daryl (Breaking Upwards) Wein’s Lola Versus (Fox Searchlight June 8) as a woman dumped weeks before her wedding, as she tries to get her life back together living as a single woman in New York for the first time in eight years. Wein’s screenwriting partner Zoe Lister-Jones plays Lola’s best friend.
Rob Lowe stars in the world premiere of Oscar-winning doc director Bill Guttentag’s Knife Fight, playing political strategist Paul Turner, trying to keep his clients out of trouble, co-starring Richard Schiff (also from “The West Wing”), Carrie-Anne Moss, Jennifer Morrison, Julie Bowen and Eric McCormack.
For the past few years, Tribeca Film has released a number of the movies playing at the festival on Video on Demand so that those not able to make it to New York City could see some of the offerings. That continues this year with The Giant Mechanical Man (Tribeca Film), Lee Kirk’s comedy starring Jenna Fischer as an unemployed woman trying to find her way in life, something she finds in a street performer, played by Chris Messina. They’re also releasing Ian Fitzgibbons’ Death of a Superhero (Tribeca Film), which is based on Anthony McCarten’s novel about a talented teenage artist, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster (the voice of Ferb in “Phineas and Ferb”) who is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease forcing him to escape into a fantasy world. Andy Serkis plays his psychiatrist. Both of these are on VOD starting today.
Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna (IFC Films July 13) takes Tom Hardy’s “Tess of the D’urbervilles” and transplants it into Indie with Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) playing the title role of a young woman from the village of Rajasthan working at a resort who is pursued by Jay, the son of a developer who becomes the resort’s manager.
Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde star in Stefan (the Oscar winning The Counterfeiters) Ruzowitzy’s thriller Deadfall (Magnolia Pictures) as a heist man and his sister on the run in the Canadian wilderness trying to get to the U.S. border, and end up spending Thanksgiving with their ex-con brother (Charlie Hunnam) and parents (Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson).
Juno Temple and Riley Keough star in Jack and Diane (Magnolia Pictures), the new movie from Bradley Rust Gray (The Exploding Girl) about two girls who fall in love over the summer in New York City, but their relationship hits the skids when one of them must leave, and dark secrets emerge.
Sundance tends to be the festival where John Hawkes’ latest movies premiere, but The Playroom, by director Julia Dyer (Late Bloomers) and her screenwriting sister Gretchen (who passed away in 2009), this one being a family drama set in 70s suburbia and co-starring Molly Parker.
Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in New York (Magnolia – Aug. 10), her sequel to 2 Days in Paris, which we caught at Sundance earlier this year, co-stars Chris Rock as her new husband who must put up with her eccentric family when they come to visit.
Speaking of France, Polish director Malgoska Szumowska’s drama Elles (Kino Lorber – April 27) stars France’s most popular actress, Juliet Binoche, as a journalist doing a story about college students working as prostitutes. It has thematic elements in common with the French film Polisse (Sundance Selects May 18), directed by the mysterious Maïwenn and starring Karin Viard (from last year’s Tribeca film My Piece of the Pie) as a photographer brought in to document the day-to-day of Paris’ Child Protection Unit which goes after child molesters and abusive parents.
Five years ago, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s animated memoir Persepolis was nominated for an Oscar, and they return with the live action fantasy-drama Chicken with Plums (Sony Pictures Classics), also based on a graphic novel by Satrapi and starring Mathieu Amalric as an Iranian violin player whose broken instrument sends him on a path to rediscover happiness. We saw this at the Toronto Film Festival last year and once again fell in love with unique voice and vision even though it’s very different from Persepolis.
Poker fans may want to check out All In, the new movie from Argentine filmmaker Daniel Burman (Lost Embrace), about a pro poker player who has been doing well with the ladies since his divorce and enjoying his freedom until he meets up with an old girlfriend from before his marriage.
Cedric Kahn’s A Better Life (not to be confused with the Chris Weitz movie from last year) stars Guillaume Canet as a chef who falls in love with a single mother and bonds with her son, who he suddenly finds himself caring for when his mother has to leave the country.
There are some great foreign genre films playing at this year’s festival including the Spanish crime-drama Unit 7 from director Alberto Rodriguez, which could be seen as “The Shield in Saville” as it follows four cops whose desire to stop the drug trade before the 1992 World Exhibition turns into a desire to make money selling drugs themselves.
There’s also the Thai crime thriller Headshot (Kino Lorber), not to be confused with the Walter Hill-Sly Stallone movie that went by that title for a minute, which follows an undercover police officer who is framed into working as a political assassin until he gets shot in the head and everything he sees is turned upside down.
Probably one of the strangest genre films at this year’s Tribeca would have to be Boris Rodriguez’s Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal, a horror-comedy starring Thure Lindhardt as a Danish artist who comes to the tiny town of Koda Lake, Canada where he’s paired with a semi-autistic man who happens to go on cannibalistic killing sprees while he sleeps. With the humor and gore of movies like FIDO and Shaun of the Dead, it’s one of the more surprising movies of the festival.
The Norwegian crime-thriller Jackpot, written by “Headhunters” author Jo Nesbe and directed by Magnus Martens, involves a man who wakes up under a dead body in the middle of a crime scene surrounded by corpses and is taken in by a detective, who tries to piece together what happened following the man winning the lottery.
Frédéric Jardin’s Sleepless Night (Tribeca Film – May 11) is another great crime thriller from France, this one about corrupt cop Vincent, who must save his son from a crimelord who has kidnapped him after Vincent and his partner are caught stealing cocaine from the mob.
The Last Circus director Alex de la Iglesia’s dark comedy As Luck Would Have It, getting its North American Premiere after debuting at Berlin, stars Spanish comic star José Mota as an unemployed man, married to Salma Hayek no less, who uses a freak accident to try to cash in on the impending media frenzy with his new agent.
One thing that’s almost guaranteed at Tribeca is that you’re going to get some of the best documentaries out there, and while there are way too many docs for us to see all of them, a few of them stand out as worth seeing.
We’re not sure if we should consider James Franco’s Francophenia (or Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is) a documentary. It was filmed on the set of Franco’s final episode of “General Hospital” where his character (a murderous artist also called Franco) is killed, but instead of just being a behind-the-scenes film, it’s narrated by a running commentary of Franco’s own thoughts about what he’s doing – it’s a far more experimental film than it is documentary.
One of the more interesting docs for cinephiles is Side by Side, produced by Keanu Reeves, which looks at the differences, benefits and drawbacks of filming digitally rather than using traditional celluloid film and the line-up of directors, cinematographers and editors that Keanu and director Chris Kenneally got to talk about their craft.
When we spoke with director Morgan Spurlock Super Size Me for his Comic-Con movie a few weeks back, he told us a bit about his next doc Mansome (Paladin – May 18) about male grooming, which features the likes of Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis.
Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story (Tribeca Fim) is a personal doc from Raymond de Felitta, whose City Island won the Audience Award a few years back. This is a follow-up to his father Frank de Felitta’s 1965 documentary in which he explored racism in the South and met a waiter named Booker Wight, whose life was deeply affected by his appearance in the movie.
We still haven’t seen the popular Sundance doc Searching for Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Classics) and sadly, we won’t be able to see it at Tribeca either for reasons mentioned above. A music doc we did see and impressed us immensely was Safinez Bousbia’s El Guston, which follows her quest to reassemble the roughly forty musicians in an Algerian chaabi orchestra, who were separated nearly fifty years earlier by the racial war.
That’s quite a bit of options right there, and we probably missed a couple of interesting movies, but look for our recap of the festival with some of our favorites sometime later this month.