The Tribeca Film Festival begins today in New York. Here are 20 of our most anticipated movies.
2 Days in New York, directed by Julie Delpy
The saying goes that sequels aren’t as good as the original, but no one ever told Julie Delpy, who has already been involved in 2 of the greatest movie follow-ups ever made (White and Before Sunset). Now she’s back for a sequel to her beloved 2007 indie 2 Days in Paris, in which she’s traded France for Manhattan and Adam Goldberg for Chris Rock. Warmly received at Sundance, this feisty little metropolitan romance is exactly the sort of film that helps the TriBeCa Film Fest connect with local audiences / people who demand Vincent Gallo cameos.
As Luck Would Have It, directed by Álex de la Iglesia
So it turns out that the new movie by mildly deranged Spanish filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia (800 Bullets) is not the next installment of Lindsay Lohan’s wildly successful Just My Luck franchise, but in tough times like these it’s important to remember that any new de la Iglesia film is a good thing. As Luck Would Have It has been rapturously received in Spain, and with Salma Hayek in a lead role, this drama about an unemployed publicist who gets injured and tries to sell the story to the highest bidder could be the international breakout for which Iglesia has been waiting.
CatCam, directed by Seth Keal
Mr. Lee is an adapted stray cat who used to disappear from his South Carolina home for hours at a time. Mr. Lee’s owner, a German engineer named Juergen, wanted to know where his cat would go, the wonders he would see. So Juergen attached a small camera to Mr. Lee’s neck, and voilá -- Catcam. Despite clocking in at a mere 16 minutes, Catcam is already considered to be among the most important films of the 21st century. An extraordinary portrait of how the digital age is revealing previously invisible narratives, early reviews rave that Catcam is “Silly kitty!!!” and “So fluffy I wanna dieeeeeee!”
Chicken With Plums, directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi
Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi enjoyed enormous success with their first feature, the lushly animated and hauntingly biographical Persepolis, and for their next trick they’ve decided to bring their flair for the fantastic to the world of live-action. Chicken with Plums begins with an artist (Mathieu Amalric) suffering a personal crisis, as his wife has destroyed his beloved violin (just roll with it). He vows to kill himself after 8 days of reflection, and the film illustrates the pivotal moments of his life with oodles of lyrical detail (and flourishes of Satrapi’s unique animation). For those willing to indulge in a little navel-gazing, this could be a keeper.
Cut, directed by Amir Naderi
An homage to the greats of Japanese cinema by a veteran Iranian-born filmmaker in the form of a violent yakuza thriller... this sounds like exactly the kind of movie that film festivals need, and vice-versa. When a director is killed for not repaying the mafia loans he accepted in order to finance his films, his brother Shinji is left responsible for the debt, and begins accepting payment from random thugs to beat him senseless in return for some cash. Surprisingly, Cut won’t be the only Japanese-language film this year made by a great Iranian filmmaker, but it sounds like a doozy, and a brutal one at that.
Deadfall, directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky
I think I can safely speak for all audiences when I say that anyone who saw Stefan Ruzowitzky’s bracing 2007 Holocaust drama The Counterfeiters has been anxiously waiting for the director to come to America, take some major Hollywood stars, and riff on Reindeer Games. Well it took 5 years, but our collective prayers have finally been answered, as Deadfall finds Ruzowitzky behind the camera of a crime thriller starring Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde as siblings on the run in Quebec with a sack of loot from a botched casino heist. This frigid genre mash-up is premiering at TriBeCa, and could be the fest’s hottest ticket.
The Fourth Dimension, directed by Aleksey Fedorchenko, Harmony Korine, and Jan Kwiecinski
From V/H/S to Rome With Love, anthology films are totally in, these days, but only The Fourth Dimension stars Val Kilmer as Val Kilmer: Motivational Speaker. A serious blast of W/T/F cinema that’s supposedly inconsistent but occasionally thrilling, not unlike every other anthology film ever made. The three shorts are united by a shared interest of a place beyond space and time, which makes this seem like a golden opportunity to see what a Harmony Korine-directed episode of The Twilight Zone might be like. Only the brave (and / or slightly deranged) need apply.
Francophrenia, directed by Ian Olds
Remember that time James Franco guest-starred on “General Hospital” as a serial killer? Probably not, because you don’t obsessively chronicle everything that James Franco does (unless you do, whatever, not judging). You know who does do that? James Franco. Francophenia begins as a behind-the-scenes look into the world of a major soap opera, but soon devolves into a student-film slipstream of celebrity personas and the thin membranes mediating between them, eventually revealing itself to be a full-fledged psycho-thriller. Early buzz has been... vexed, but this might just be one of those things that you need to see for yourself.
The Giant Mechanical Man, directed by Lee Kirk
The Giant Mechanical Man had me at “Topher Grace with Fabio hair.” A quirky New York dramedy starring Pam from “The Office,” Kirk from “Gilmore Girls,” the stocky one from “Mad Men,” and Chris Messina from lots of other TriBeCa movies, The Giant Mechanical Man tells the whacky story of an unemployed woman who falls in love with one of those dudes who paints themselves metal and panhandles as a robot. So yeah, Lee Kirk’s directorial debut sounds like it could be pure nightmare fuel, but the trailer seems fun and suggests that the film has a firm command of its twee tone.
Headshot, directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Headshot takes everything you know about hit-man movies and flips it over -- literally. From the accomplished Thai filmmaker behind unconventional mindblowers like Last Life in the Universe comes this crime noir about an assassin whose world is turned upside down after he gets shot in the head (natch). High-concept to the extreme but draped in cool grey dread and a violent spiritualism that recalls the less explicitly Buddhist heist sagas of Jean-Pierre Melville, Headshot is silly and surprisingly familiar, but you’ll remember it for its occasional moments of grisly transcendence.
Hysteria, directed by Tanya Wexler
Tanya Wexler (niece of legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler), returns with her first feature in over 10 years, a period piece about the invention of the vibrator. Once upon a time in 19th century England, sexually frustrated women were thought to be suffering from a chronic hysteria that could only be relieved by visiting a doctor for clinical stimulation, but Wexler’s film tells the story of how Hugh Dancy came along and changed all that. Hysteria is cute and suffocatingly schematic -- a sexual revolution has never been rendered so neatly, before. But there are warm chuckles to be had, and Maggie Gyllenhaal is great as a liberated woman ahead of her time.
Jack and Diane, directed by Bradley Rust Gray
A little ditty about Jack and Diane, two American kids whose budding lesbian romance is hampered by the sneaking suspicion that one of them might be a werewolf (or something). It’s like singing along to that John Cougar Mellancamp classic on dramamine, a “mumblegore” epic that was trying to get off the ground for years before it was finally green-lit with Juno Temple and Riley Keough as the leads. Featuring monster designs by the legendary Brothers Quay, Bradley Rust Gray’s first feature since The Exploding Girl is sure to be one of the most talked about films of this year’s fest.
Lola Versus, directed by Daryl Wein
The bad news is that the premise of Lola Versus will make you want to go back in time and murder Thomas Edison’s parents: A woman named Lola is dumped by her fiancée just three weeks before their wedding, and embarks on a series of adventures to help her adjust to life as a single woman. The good news is that Lola is played by Greta Gerwig, so the bad news doesn’t really matter. Directed by Breaking Upwards’ Daryl Wein and stuffed full of rising young actors (Joel Kinnaman, Hamish Linklater, Bill Pullman), Lola Versus could breathe new life into the kind of movie that Katherine Heigl has tried her best to kill.
Rubberneck, directed by Alex Karpovsky
Alex Karpovsky seems to be popping up everywhere these days, having delivered memorably droll performances in recent fare like Tiny Furniture, Sleepwalk With Me, and Lena Dunham’s new HBO show “Girls.” He’s been directing films for almost as long as he’s been acting in them, and in Rubberneck he does both, starring as a sour Boston scientist who’s a bit too infatuated with one of his co-workers. The movie is said to allow Karpovsky to tap into the feral energy that lurks beneath his hipster veneer, its abstractly confrontational aesthetic evoking psychological thrillers like One Hour Photo.
Side By Side, directed by Christopher Kenneally
Keanu Reeves has often made indirect cases for the importance of film preservation, providing valuable evidence to the cause with work like “Speed,” “Point Break,” and “That One Where He and Sandra Bullock Were Time Lord Homeowners Or Something.” Well now he’s decided to amp up his efforts, interviewing a smorgasbord of famous filmmakers to get their takes on the whole digital vs. film conversation, Reeves’ hope being that he might create a consensus as to how renowned filmmakers are navigating the digital age.
Sleepless Night, directed by Frédéric Jardin
Die Hard in a discotheque, Sleepless Night is a fun, frantic, and brilliantly detailed French beat-em-up that does more with a single location than any film since Russian Ark. When his son is kidnapped in the aftermath of a drug heist gone wrong, a crooked cop (Tomer Sisley) has to punch his way through the Parisian underworld to make things right. Ferociously clever and brutal as hell, Sleepless Night is the best action movie in years, bisected by an epic kitchen throw-down that makes the finale of The Raid look positively civil by comparison. Do not miss this.
Take This Waltz, directed by Sarah Polley
Actress Sarah Polley surprised the film world when she became director Sarah Polley with her moving 2006 feature Away From Her. It was immediately clear that was a confident filmmaker rather than merely a convenient one, and the wait for her follow-up effort has been a tough one. Take This Waltz finds Polley tackling another sensitive drama, but a cast including the likes of Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman suggests that this story of a happily married woman (Michelle Williams) falling in love with her artist neighbor won’t take itself too seriously. Reviews out of TIFF were mixed, but the folks who dug it did so with a passion.
Trishna, directed by Michael Winterbottom
Trishna is something unexpected from hyper-diverse British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom (The Killer Inside Me, all the good Steve Coogan movies). So, in other words, it’s exactly what you’d expect from hyper-diverse British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom. A contemporary adaptation of a classic Thomas Hardy novel, Freida Pinto stars as an Indian woman who falls in love with a visiting English businessman, only to find their budding love challenged by the pressures of industrial stratification. And if that doesn’t sound fun, just think of it as a high-brow excuse to stare at Freida Pinto’s face for 117 minutes.
While We Were Here, directed by Kat Coiro
Kate Bosworth stars in this block & white homage to the great Italian cinema of old, albeit one that’s shaped around a story more evocative of early Polanski more than anything else. A contemporary thing, While We Were Here finds Bosworth as a young bride in a dying marriage who travels to Naples for work with her husband. On a day-trip to a nearby island, she encounters a mysterious American man with whom she forms an emotional connection that’s both immediate and impossible. Lush monochromatic cinematography and taut performances could elevate Kat Cairo’s second feature beyond its obvious pleasures as travel porn.
Your Sister’s Sister, directed by Lynn Shelton
Mumblecore veteran Lynn Shelton (Humpday) takes things to the next level with Your Sister’s Sister, an intimate Seattle-set drama in which Emily Blunt gets a chance to show her somber side. Blunt plays a woman who invites her friend (Mark Duplass) to stay with her as he grieves over the death of his brother -- alcohol and unexpected romantic entanglements ensue. The film has absolutely slayed festival audiences since its world premiere last fall, and is poised to be one of the summer’s key indie releases. Unlock the mystery as to why it’s not just called: “You.”