12 films to watch at this year's Tribeca Film Festival
From "Before Midnight" to documentaries on Richard Pryor and fracking, this year's Tribeca Film Festival has something for any brand of cinephile.
The Tribeca Film Festival launched in 2002, in part as a way of revitalizing Lower Manhattan after the events of 9/11. Since then, it has grown in size and is now one of the city’s largest and biggest revenue generators of its kind. As ever, this year’s slate mixes up international imports with American indies and documentaries, including several profiles of artists and entertainers. Here are some titles to add to your calendar for this year. Tribeca runs through April 28. The complete lineup is here.
‘At Any Price’
Talented neo-neo-realist director Rahman Bahrani (“Man Push Cart,” “Goodbye Solo”) inevitably graduates to name-cast status, with Dennis Quaid as an ethics-challenged Iowa seed farmer and Zac Efron as his rebellious, self-destructive son (Heather Graham is in there, too.) Watch as a director most indebted to Roberto Rossellini navigates the straits of upper-class “indies,” and even busts out some surprisingly kinetic stock car-race sequences.
It’s becoming a tradition: Every nine years, filmmaker Richard Linklater catches up with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke’s Celine and Jesse, the fictional would-be (and sometimes actual) lovers who first met in 1995’s “Before Sunrise.” In the third installment, the pair have been together, with twins, since 2004’s “Before Sunset.” A nice couple’s night out goes from the series’ usual casual chit-chatting to an all-out barn burner. Sorry, kids, there is no such thing as love.
John Slattery surrenders his Stoli for the more modest digs of a regional-set indie, playing a grizzled Maine construction worker whose bus-driver wife (Amy Morton) accidentally nearly kills one of her young charges.
“Interview With a Vampire” director Neil Jordan returns to the bloodsucker world, this time with a focus on women. Saoirse (it’s pronounced “Serr-sha”) Ronan and Gemma Arterton play a mother-and-daughter duo who have been around for 200 years, trying to eke out a living while occasionally beheading scary men with scary blades.
‘Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me’
One of the many documentaries on performers in this year’s fest — see also: “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logi” and Whoopi Goldberg’s “I Got Somethin’ to Tell You,” about Moms Mabley — this portrait hangs with the Broadway and screen legend who, at 88, is moving away from New York City, her home for much of her life.
‘Gasland Part II’
Josh Fox’s Oscar-nominated documentary successfully made fracking a national concern, even as it acquired a lion’s share of critics. Fox heads back into the fray to bolster his claims and no doubt answer charges.
Darren Stein, of the “Heathers”-esque “Jawbreaker,” returns with another “Heathers”-esque satire, this one about the evolving position of gay kids in high school. After inadvertently outing himself, Tanner (Michael J. Willett) finds himself seized upon by the three of the most popular girls in school, who all want him as their gay bestie.
Stuntwoman Zoe Bell became a modest name after Quentin Tarantino allowed her to steal “Death Proof,” and she gets a headlining gig in this women-in-prison genre entry. Abducted by strangers, Bell is forced to fight other women for the delectation of an unseen audience (hint: maybe you, the viewers).
Charles Lane’s 1989 indie was doing the faux-silent thing long before “The Artist.” Newly restored, it stars Lane as a Chaplinesque street artist attempting, not unlike Chaplin in “The Kid,” to care for an abandoned toddler.
‘Mistaken for Strangers’
Brooklyn’s own The National blew up in the indie world with “High Violet,” with an ensuing tour large enough to necessitate a trailing documentary crew. In this case, the crew was led by lead singer Matt Berninger’s brother Tom, a metal and horror-movie nerd who surely puts a unique spin on the standard “Great Band” doc.
After a fairly inexplicable (if sometimes wonderful) stint making Hollywood comedies, David Gordon Green (“George Washington,” “Your Highness”) goes back to his Terrence Malick roots — sort of. Paul Rudd and a never-better Emile Hirsch play park workers bickering and bonding over a lonely summer.
It’s been far too long since Paul Verhoeven (“Robocop,” "Showgirls," etc.) made a film — since 2006’s “Black Book,” to be exact. This will have to do: a crowd-sourced film made for Dutch TV, overseen by Verhoeven. The director, who is wonderfully passionate in person (and DVD/Blu-ray commentary tracks), will be present for a post-film conversation.