As we move into spring (hello, warm weather!), I’m back again, this time discussing the best ways to navigate the biggest film festival of the season in North America (sorry SxSW) - the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF). I have alot of love for Tribeca since it was my very first festival I attended back in 2010. As many festivals have recognizable directors connected with them, Tribeca has people like writer/director/actor (and proud New Yorker) Edward Burns who has long been associated with this festival, premiering a film there every year for the last three years. Burns and Tribeca in general have recently adopted a strategy for film distribution more for the digital age. With the newly developed Tribeca Film distribution company, many of the best Tribeca films are released and accessed through VOD, Amazon, iTunes, and other digital formats in addition to those being picked up for theatrical release. This was a huge year for Tribeca Film as the 2012 festival selection War Witch (which won Best Narrative Feature there) became the first film of this distribution company to be nominated for an Oscar. Plans for the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival are in full swing with both the feature film and short film lineups already announced. If you ever wanted to attend Tribeca, are attending Tribeca this year, and/or have the possibility of attending in the future, here is a guide with information on Tribeca’s beginnings and advice on how to best experience all Tribeca has to offer.
Yesterday, I presented the beginnings of my list of movies to see at this year’s festival, and today is the rest of my list as the last of the announcements have been made. The following movies are films that caught my eye from the 33 films of the Spotlight section, as well as the 6 films of the Special Screenings and the 7 films of the Midnight lineup. I think these have some solid potential:
In this modern-day drama, Oscar®-winner Melissa Leo beautifully conveys the heart-wrenching struggle that comes with loving an addict. Complaining of back pain months after a car accident, Sylvie’s (Marin Ireland) addiction to painkillers is clear to everyone except her mother, Faye (Leo). A promising solution appears in Becket (Josh Hamilton), but relationships and loyalty are soon tested when his feelings fall in an unexpected place.Why I’m interested: …so I’m guessing that old Becks starts digging on the mother? That’s something I would normally pass on this but with seeing movies that have dealt with addiction recently (i.e. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Smashed), I’m kinda interested in more exploration of this topic. Plus, Marin Ireland is on my radar from her turn in Argo and the underappreciated 2012 Sundance film 28 Hotel Rooms, so I’m interested to see what she’ll do.
“A Case of You”
A young writer (Justin Long) woos a cute and quirky barista (Evan Rachel Wood) by creating an embellished online profile. When she falls for his alter ego, he must keep up the act or lose his dream girl. Directed by TFF alumna Kat Coiro and featuring a cast of hilarious cameo performers including Peter Dinklage, Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn and Sienna Miller, A Case of You is a winning romantic comedy for the social media age. Why I’m interested: Would you believe that Justin Long wrote this screenplay? I’m not too confident that it will be good (did I mention that Long wrote this?) since it looks like a re-imagined dramatization of Catfish, but Sam Rockwell is in it so I have some hope in it.
New York City is about to see me again very soon… Yesterday, Tribeca Film Festival made their first of two announcements of the films slated for this year’s festival. The first one always includes the 12 films in the World Narrative Competition, 12 films in World Documentary Competition, and 22 films in the out-of-competition Viewpoints section. I wanted to list the films from these 46 that are on my radar. You may not be able to get to Tribeca, but as always, these are some of the movies with a great chance to make it to your nearest theater or to you by way of VOD in the next year or so:
On a freezing January evening, school bus driver Lesley (Amy Morton) completes her route, but her final inspection abruptly ends when a bluebird comes into view. What happens next shakes her small Maine logging town, proving that even the slightest actions have enormous consequences. Co-starring Adam Driver, Margo Martindale, John Slattery, Louisa Krause and Emily Meade, Lance Edmands’s absorbing feature debut is a perfect encapsulation of the interconnectedness of life.Why I’m interested: Curiosity about Adam Driver’s (Girls) involvement. The dude has charmed me as of late. Also, John Slattery (Mad Men) also seems to pick interesting indie projects.
Quickie-mart employee Melissa (Naomi Watts) and paraplegic Richie (Matt Dillon) are very much in love. Supported only by Melissa’s small hourly wage, they are nevertheless thrilled to learn that Melissa is pregnant. Then their situation deteriorates, and their tenuous financial situation threatens to bring their happy life crashing down. Norman Reedus also stars in this a moving romantic drama from Laurie Collyer, director of the Golden Globe-nominated Sherrybaby. Why I’m interested: Looks like Naomi Watts may have put on weight for the role from the photo? Interesting… Also the whole dynamic with this seemingly sympathetic couple has the potential to be really touching.
Are you thinking about attending Sundance, Tribeca or TIFF in 2013, but you’re not sure which one is the best? I decided to compare these festivals since I have attended them all. Here are my opinions on which are the best based on the experiences you would like to have and what is most important to you in a festival:
Best festival updates/twitter feed:Sundance. I follow all the official twitter feeds throughout the year for these three film festivals, and for me, the two official ones for Sundance are the best (@sundancefest, @sundancefestnow). For me, Sundance film festival gives you the best and most complete, all-access pass throughout the year to festival films and their progress from festival to theaters, background of Sundance Lab filmmakers and alums, the behind-the-scenes processes of bringing the festival to life, editorial and news on Sundance filmmakers, updates on what Sundance movies are playing in a theater near you, and lots more. During the festival, I think this feed a great resource, giving more updates on special events, ongoing filmmaker panels at the Filmmaker’s lodge and film screenings, give-aways, and up-to-the-minute news on your favorite actors and films. Following during the festival lets you know where you should be to have the best experience. What is also cool about Sundance is that they choose a few “guest tweeters” every festival, people in the industry (writers, directors, actors) who take control of the twitter feed for a day to give you a glimpse into what events that attend, who they meet and run into, and their film passions.
Best last minute option: Toronto. For the person that decides to fest late, I think Toronto is the best bet. From my experience, TIFF is probably one of the best kept secrets from the masses where film festivals are concerned. For whatever reason, between these three major festivals, this one is the least crowed. Plus, with individual tickets not going on sell until about 4-5 days before the festival without any ticket registration, those who decide at the last minute to attend can still get tickets for those popular movies that are screening.
Easier to get around:Tribeca. Tribeca wins hands down; it’s NYC after all. The majority of the festival is in Tribeca (that’s the TRiangle BElow CAnal street for all of you who are not aware) so if it’s not in walking distance, then it’s easy (and relatively cheap at $2.25 per ride) to hope all the extensive subway system. Sure, Toronto has a subway but it’s relatively more limited and a little more expensive ($3 per ride). For Sundance, you have to rely on the festival buses (in the cold and snow) which are great, but for me, does not beat the frequency of the subway.
Thanks to Lesya over at Eternity of Dream for continuing her “…In Genre” series. I’m glad to be one of the bloggers who gets to contribute. As a reminder, the object of this series is to recommend in a few sentences a movie about or set in the city in question in a film genre of your choosing. After everyone has submitted there recommendations, there will be one film for each genre for anyone in the mood for a film on that city. Last time, I did Music + Paris; this time it’s all about Drama + New York City. Here is my recommendation for the Spike Lee joint 25th Hour (2002):
When you think of a filmmaker who consistently revisits New York as inspiration for their movies, you most likely think Woody Allen. Some indie cinephiles may even think of Edward Burns. Let’s not forget about Spike Lee who has an uncanny knack for brilliantly using New York City as a backdrop to some of the most socially conscious, gritty, and humanistic films ever. One lesser known but equally powerful Spike Lee joint is 25th Hour, a film that depicts the last day of freedom for a drug dealer named Monty (Edward Norton) before he turns himself in to serve a seven-year prison term. What we learn from watching his last hours as a free man is that he is more complicated than we assume he is; he is both nice guy and bad guy. We see him re-examine his life, the choices that have brought him to this point, and his relationships with the dubious characters around him - his keen girlfriend (Rosario Dawson) who may or may not have ratted on him to the police, his teacher friend (Philip Seymour Hoffman) obsessed with a student (Anna Paquin), and his morally questionable friend on Wall Street (Barry Pepper). We question their influences on him as he does. We weigh his alternatives to prison as he does (does he go on the run? commit suicide?). And through this, we see Monty’s vision of New York as the action unfolds on the fast-paced city streets, inside the club culture, and finally, in a memorable movie ending, in the quiet suburbs.
You can see the full list of recommendations for the entire gambit of genres here.
Filmmakers panel with Julie Delpy and Chris Rock following the screening of 2 Days in New York at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
My last day attending screenings at Tribeca was very interesting indeed. I decided to skip Free Samples, a mumblecore-type movie with Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Ritter on my Tribeca list, after I hearing some not some good things in title of reviews (I try not to read them in fear it would affect my opinion). Instead, I “rushed” for a showing of Deadfall, a thriller starring Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde, which I read better things about. Was that a mistake? I’m not sure yet but read my thoughts on the fill below. Later that evening, I attended a special screening of 2Days in New York, the followup to the 2007 film 2 Days in Paris. The writer/director/star Julie Delpy was in attendance as well as Chris Rock who also stars. Their after-film panel was great; I’m so glad that I finally got an opportunity to hear Julie Delpy, someone who is really well known in the independent film world, talk about her process.
Deadfall: I originally passed on this movie about a killer/robber Addison (Eric Bana) and his femme-fatale sister Liza (Olivia Wilde) who, after a casino robbery, split up to make a desperate dash in the cold northern US to the Canadian border. I think I did because I was afraid it was would be a run of the mill B-movie thriller with no grand standout moments. I was mostly right though the film did have some enjoyable moments to like. (SPOILERS) In the moment, we find the two main leads in a car accident that kills their partner-in-crime and getaway driver as well as any hopes of having a clean getaway. It appears to be the dead of winter, and to have the best chance of reaching the border, split the money and make plans to meet up after they have found means to get to Canada. Each experience things in their time apart that changes them. In the case of Addison, for the worst (he steals, kills, and loses a finger, people!) but for Liza it was maybe for the best (she flirts, seduces, and ultimately chooses to live a different kind of life). All in all, Bana says all the right crazy things and makes all the right irrational moves, but like his Alabama accent, it’s not totally believable. Wilde flaunted her sex appeal at all the right moments but her character didn’t have the emotional depth that would believe her change for the better in such a short time. What I did like about the film was the very sympathetic and misunderstood ex-boxer, ex-con Jay (Charlie Hunnam) who by coincidence, get pulled into the lives of the two crooks on the run due to his weakness for Liza. For me, Hunnam carries the film, first playing lover and friend to Wilde’s character, then the direct opposition to Addison, and finally savior to his parents who are taken hostage at the end of the film in a standoff the leaves Addison dead at the hands of his sister. The film did have some great cringeworthy moments needed for any good thriller and a very heavy brother-sister relationship that bordered on incest that I wished would have been explored more to give the film more complexity. My Grade: B-
2 Days in New York: I love Julie Delpy, mostly because she has given me (with Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater) two of my favorite movies of all time - Before Sunrise and Before Sunset - and my favorite on-screen couple. Because of this, I usually follow Delpy’s film projects closely. 2 Days in New York finds Marion (Delpy) broken up from Jack (Adam Goldberg), her funny, fast-talking boyfriend in the first film 2 Days in Paris and father of her son Lulu, and now in a relationship with the supportive and mild-mannered Mingus (Rock). When her father from Paris come into town, we witness the clash of cultures (French vs. American vs. American minority) and plain ol’ human decency. (SPOILERS) The movie swings from one wild moment to the other, much like its film predecessor - the hilarity that ensures from language barriers, the cat fights between Marion and her slutty sister (in French no less), the lack of boundaries of Marion’s family, Mingus conversations with a cardboard cut out of Obama - all framed as a story we discover Marion is telling her daughter, with the aid of puppets, on how she came into the world. The film does to me often rely too heavily on culture stereotypes for its laughs, and as in the past, I didn’t find Rock completely comfortable with scripted comedy. However, this is a worthy entry in the 2 Days series (can I call it that now?). My Grade: B-
Thank you goes out to the shorts filmmaker I met on the street who gave me his ticket; I got to sit in filmmaker’s row for the film screening which only amplified my experience!
Check out the teaser trailer for this film below:
Post-Tribeca To Do List (continued): 6. Stop watching Eric Bana movies until he proves he can repeat his Munich performance 7. Watch out for more great roles from Charlie Hunnam 8. Brainstorm ways to make Julie Delpy my new best friend
I love second chances. Your Sister’s Sister was a movie that I initially kinda dismissed in seeing at this year’s Sundance festival as the synopsis didn’t jump out at me as being anything really new. But throughout the festival and after, I heard some good things about this film which delves into the relationships between three people - two sisters and one of the sister’s best friend. This led me to include this film on my list of what I wanted to see at Tribeca since it seems to be hitting the festival circuit and showed up as a Tribeca selection. I’m so glad I did. I loved Emily Blunt (Iris) in this; she’s plays her conflicted character nicely. I’m glad I got to Rose Dewitt (Hannah) as well as Mark Duplass (Jack) who is the standout, two actors I was not too familiar with. I really liked the pacing of the film, how we slowly began to understand the dynamics of between established relationships - the one between Iris and Hannah and also the one between Iris and Jack - and how that affected the new relationship we witness developed on screen between Hannah and Jack. Your Sister’s Sister (which I think it a very fitting and great choice of a title) ultimately becomes a sweet and sometimes funny tale of becoming unstuck from the past and moving forward. My Grade: B
(SPOILERS) The movie begins with the a memorial of sorts among friends in a living room, a one year commemoration of the lose of Tom. Tom, we learn is Iris’ ex who happens to also be Jack’s brother. We never really learn the circumstances around Tom’s death but that doesn’t really matter. Through the eyes of his friends, he was a martyr, someone who would give up his shirt for someone in need, or more aptly as the one of his friends recalled, his bed so his friend could have sex with a girl. Jack, though, had a different opinion of his late brother, that he was a flawed individual who was slightly manipulative and self-centered. Tom’s friends can’t believe he would bash his dead brother. Jack defends his stance but quickly and sweetly laments how his brother was still the best person he has ever know. This becomes only a tactic to bring down this perfect characterization of Tom, a ghost that he feels he can’t compete with. You see, Jack is in love with Iris, a fact that we infer throughout the movie and is confirmed at the end. Actually, Iris is also in love with Jack, but all this is unspoken and Tom’s ghosts seems to hover between them, keeping them apart.
And then other circumstances threaten to come between them in the form of Iris’ older sister Hannah. At the memorial, Iris, realizing the extent of Jack’s misery over his brother’s death, suggests that he goes up to her family’s cabin for some alone time. There he meets Hannah. While the movie could have revisit a been-there-done-that storyline of a traditional love triangle, it departs from it. Hannah is a lesbian and doesn’t have any real interest in Jack. But after a binge on tequila who they bond over their mutual heartbreak - for her the end of a long-term relationship, they have a (very funny) sexual encounter. Iris comes up to the cabin the next day, obviously in a plan to be alone with Jack and potentially tell him about her feelings. It is through the interactions between these three characters alone in this cabin, that all is reveal in a great stream of drama and emotion. Jack tells Hannah not to say anything about them having sex. Iris tells Hannah for her feelings for Jack, which Hannah never knew about. Jack discovers Hannah poked holes in the condom to get pregnant. Hannah tells Iris about her and Jack and then accidentally reveals Iris’ feelings to Jack. Iris finds out about Hannah’s scheming. Somewhere through all of that though, these three people make it through, demonstrate their great capacity for forgiveness, and discover a unique bond.
Check out the trailer for this film below:
Post-Tribeca To Do List (continued): 5. Watch the Mark Duplass’ (a fellow Louisianian!) film The Puffy Chair 6. Work on my British accent; it always sounds charming