NYC’s Tribeca Film Festival kicks off in just a few brief days, this Wednesday, April 16. The showcase not only highlights an overwhelming selection of films across many, many genres and, of course, countries, but also offers an array of supplementary events. Filmmaker panel discussions, interactive selections, Q&A sessions, awards ceremonies, concerts, and then some, are all on the docket for Tribeca 2014.
Over the next two weeks we’ll post regular updates on everything TFF. Our dispatches will cover standard bread-and-butter film reviews, but also, interviews with directors and actors.
To whet your appetite for what’s to come, we’ve compiled a list of films we believe worthy of particular anticipation. Check out our Films to Watch, and let us know which titles grab your interest!
Time is Illmatic –Illmatic, the debut CD from rapper Nas, turns 20 this year, a benchmark artist One9 commemorates in this documentary homage. From his home borough of Queens, to his jazz musician father, to the contemporary hip-hop scene, Nas pulled from a variety of sources to craft what is, today, popularly regarded as his magnum opus, and a genre classic. Very lucky fans with tickets to the Tribeca premiere (which also opens the festival) will enjoy a live performance by the maestro MC himself.
Bad Hair – A heartbreaker for anyone who has ever wished for better: Better parents, better looks, a better outcome for their dreams. Junior is a nine-year-old Venezuelan living in the slums of Caracas, whose dearest wish is to straighten his hair for his school photo. But Junior’s fixation sets off a homophobic panic in his unemployed and overtaxed mother. Their family dynamic gives the contentious clans of the Bible, or of cable TV, a run for their money.
Starred Up – Another filial relationship that ought to make you appreciate your parents. Teenage Eric has been deemed so dangerous by The System he is “starred up,” or placed in a maximum security prison for adults. Adjusting to his new surroundings proves tough for the pugilistic Eric, especially when it comes to dealing with one inmate in particular: dear old Dad.
Ne Me Quitte Pas – This French documentary plays like a fictional character study of two aging Belgian farmers. Marcel’s wife has left him for another man and Bob grows increasingly estranged from his adult son. Both are alcoholics in varying states of acceptance, both, it seems, have only the other to lean on. Funny in a sad kind of way, and sad in ways that are also very funny, Ne Me Quitte Pas is an odd duck, for which viewers should make way.
Venus in Fur – Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the Tony award-winning play. Writer-director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) is trying to cast his theatrical production of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s scandalous 19th-century novel (we derive our term “sadomasochism” from the author’s name) but can’t find a leading lady to satisfy his tastes. Enter the mysterious Vanda, a woman whose boorish exterior hides reserves of artistic talent. As the two bicker, rehearse, and then some, what is real and what is staged becomes increasingly difficult to discern… for the audience and Thomas alike.
Human Capital – This Italian offering plays fast and artsy with structure, approaching the death of a stranger from three different points of view, and beginning the story at its end. Two of Italy’s finest, Valeria Golino (Rain Man) and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (Munich), star in this adaptation of the Stephen Amidon novel, which begs the question: How much is a human life worth? (However much 21 Grams would bring in, we’re guessing.)
Match – A second stage-to-screen adaptation, Match stars Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard as a couple of academics interviewing a famed and now retired dancer (Patrick Stewart) for their dissertation. What starts off as a chummy chat, however, soon takes a turn for the unnerving, as the couple’s questions become increasingly personal, and throw into doubt the real reason for their visit.
Life Partners – Some might say the topic of immature twentysomethings, those who live their lives in a kind of emotional purgatory between the eschewal of responsibility and the acceptance of responsibility, has been played out, and they might be right. But that doesn’t mean one should skip over Life Partners, a trendy film full of pop-culture references and American Apparel that nonetheless tackles ageless themes of friendship and, yes, aging, with heart. Grab your high-school best friend or former college roommate for this one. (For maximum nostalgic impact, we suggest watching an episode or two of “The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl” prior to viewing – newlyweds Adam Brody and Leighton Meester star.)
About Alex – Billed as “The Big Chill for the social media age,” About Alex focuses on a group of former college friends who reunite when one among their number suffers a nervous breakdown. (Not coincidentally, “Alex” is the name of the friend whose suicide in 1983’s The Big Chill provides the reason for that film’s collection of pals, including Kevin Spacey, Glenn Close, and William Hurt, to reassemble.) Aubrey Plaza, Jason Ritter and Maggie Grace star.
Something Must Break –When gay Sebastian and straight Andreas meet, their bond forms quickly. But their friendship no sooner begins than it begins to deteriorate, as Sebastian’s determination to become the female “Ellie” grows, as does Andreas’ refusal to accept his attraction to Sebastian. The Swedish Something Must Break is a love story: love of friend, of lover and of self.
Zero Motivation – Israel is the only country that demands compulsory military service from both men and women. The latter are the subject of Zero Motivation, which follows its heroines as they combat boredom and each other’s opinions, biding their time until they can return to civilian life. Mean Girls meets Jarhead? We’ll bite.
The Overnighters – This slice of small-town American life takes the citizens of Williston, North Dakota, for its documentary subjects. Oil, and lots of it, was recently discovered in Williston, prompting hundreds of unemployed men to flood the town in search of their fortunes, or the ever elusive, ever alluring American Dream. A local pastor tries to provide spiritual guidance to these newcomers, even hosting several in his home, but the more he gives, the more he is called upon to sustain.
Every Secret Thing – Documentarian Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil) makes her fiction directorial debut helming this drama written by Enough Said’s Nicole Holofcener. In fact, the production as a whole is characterized by strong female artists: It also has Elizabeth Banks, Diane Lane and Dakota Fanning in starring roles. Based on the novel by Laura Lippman, Every Secret Thing follows the residents of a small town in which a child went missing several years ago, and another has just disappeared. Fanning was one of the girls convicted for the first disappearance and is among the prime suspects for taken 2.
Night Moves – Eco-activists plot to blow up a dam as a piece of political theatre intended to make a radical statement. But Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning find themselves in way over their heads when things do not, naturally, go according to plan in this moody drama directed and co-written by Kelly Reichardt.