Tribeca Film Festival reviews: ‘Before Midnight,’ ‘Big Joy’ and ‘Lily’
Every seven years, filmmaker Michael Apted logs another entry in the “Up” documentaries, in which he visits the same group of people to catch up with and observe the passing of time in horrifying action. Richard Linklater appears to be doing the same thing, only with fictional characters. In “Before Midnight,” Celine and Jesse (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke), who met cute in 1995’s “Before Sunrise,” have been together, with twins, since 2004’s “Before Sunset.” [SPOILERS] No longer free to aimlessly gab, they wind up wasting an enforced “date night” — while traipsing about bankrupt Greece, symbolically — as tensions gradually build to an all-out barnstormer.
Like the “Up” series, the “Before”s have grown into a sobering look at time and disappointments. No longer able to idealize each other from afar, our once-doe-eyed lovers are confronted with the very real possibility that their affections were misplaced, combined with a fear of realizing this mistake in early middle age. As Jesse wearily clutches on to remaining sparks, Celine relentlessly points out the cracks he’s ignoring, their row becoming a trial that pits delusional romanticism against cold rationality. (Delpy has never been more hilariously caustic, which is saying something.) Our protagonists openly cite Roberto Rossellini’s similar “Voyage to Italy” (because of course they do). Hopefully it’s not sacrilege to confess this is the more accomplished, more devastating, more knowing look at a couple on the verge of termination but, perhaps tragically, unable to stay apart. Monday, April 22, 6pm at BMCC Tribeca PAC and Wednesday, April 24, 6:45 at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 8
‘Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton’
Avant-garde filmmaker James Broughton didn’t find peace until his latter years, but his films were always embodiments of the purest joy. His works, made from the 1940s through the ’80s concentrated on the body. “The Bed,” embraced by the hippies in the ‘60s, portrayed polyamorous frolicking, while others, like “The Golden Positions,” broke ground for casual, non-sexual nudity. Director Eric Slade doesn’t shy away from the dark side of Broughton’s free-love aesthetic. In the subject’s wake are hurt exes, including Pauline Kael, with whom he had a daughter — proof that the pursuit of happiness isn’t always clean. Monday, April 22, 4pm at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 5; Wednesday, April 24, 10:30pm at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 9; and Saturday, April 27, 12pm at AMC Loews Village 7.
Cancer tends to be a big, melodramatic deal on film, so Matt Creed’s debut gets points for focusing on the mundanity of living with, and then conquering, the disease. Amy Stantham — who co-wrote the movie based on her own experiences — plays a Manhattan woman on the other side of breast cancer treatment. This isn’t even the most debilitating part of her life: unemployed, she’s condescended to and ignored, even by her relentlessly chipper older husband. Stantham is hard on her character — a scene were she drinks too much at a dinner party isn’t pretty — but harder on others, such as the remote father who doesn’t even notice his sickly daughter. Though often astutely insightful, “Lily” can’t help but feel solipsistic. Monday, April 22, 8:30pm at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 4; Wednesday, April 24, 4pm at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 5; and Friday, April 26, 7pm at AMC Loews Village 7.