Today the Tribeca Film Festival announced many more films that will be featured during its 10th anniversary. Among them two of my favorite TFF film programming sections: “Cinemania” (eclectic, boundary pushing cinema) and “Spotlight” (festival favorites and highly anticipated new releases). The films in the World Narrative and Documentary Competition sections were announced last week, and I will definitely get into those closer to the festival. In the meantime, here are some thoughts on what came out today.
I have always felt that TFF was a great festival for docs. Last year I saw several (including “Monica and David,” “Budrus,” “”Freetime Machos” and “Sons of Perdition”), and this year looks not to disappoint as well. In addition to the previously announced “Swell Season” (which follows Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard post “Once” on a grueling musical tour that threatens their real life relationship) I am most interested in “Limelight.” As a former fixture of the NYC club in its final days, I am quite intrigued with the film, which takes an in depth look at the rise and fall of club owner Peter Gatien.
In the footsteps of “Valentino: the Last Emperor,” “The September Issue” and “Vidal Sassoon” we have “L’amour fou.” Following the death of Yves Saint Laurent, his partner decided to sell much of their art collection in what was called the “auction of the century.” Using that sale as a starting focal point, “L’amour fou” delves into the relationship between Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge’.
With three films in the fest last year, many people declared TFF 2010, the Alex Gibney festival. This year the Oscar winner has another entry “Catching Hell.” A look at sports fanaticism, this appears to be a different turn for Gibney. After personally being disappointed with all three of his entries last year (including “Client 9: the Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer”), this change in material has once again piqued my interest in Gibney’s work.
More docs of note include the follow up to “Who Killed the Electric Car:” “Revenge of the Electric Car. Also a look at the case that overturned anti-miscegenation (racial segregation for marriage), with “The Loving Story.” Continuing the latest trend of aging star (aka, Joan Rivers: a Piece of Work) docs we have,” “Carol Channing: Larger Than Life.” And finally, there is the world premiere of “God Bless Ozzy Osborne,” a film chronicling the trials and tribulations of the rock star, on his road to peace and sobriety, produced by his son Jack.
Horror and thrillers
Every year Tribeca hosts a few thriller/horror films. And occasionally (“Let the Right One In”) one even wins the top narrative prize. This year, there are four that seem personally exciting.
First there is “Rabies” a film touted as the first Israeli slasher flick. In the film, an escaped serial killer encounters unsuspecting teenagers in the woods. Similarly, we have, “Saint” another slasher film (from the Netherlands) this one centering on Frank, a teenager trying to save Amsterdam from Santa Claus who is re-imagined as an evil, murderous bishop fulfilling a prophecy.
In the faux-reality horror realm, we have “Grave Encounters.” This film follows a reality TV ghost hunting crew who lock themselves in a haunted house for a night in order to document the building’s ghostly happenings only to discover the house isn’t just haunted…it’s alive.
And finally, the film that looks to have the most promise in this category is “The Bleeding House.” The description is a bit vague, but brings to mind a bit of “Dogtooth” meets “Funny Games.” The secretive Smith family, keeps to themselves in the back roads of their small Mid-Western town, until a sweet talking Texan arrives at their doorstep with the goal of bleeding the family of their sins. Interesting, right?
Where stars go to stretch
More so in recent years, film festivals seem to have been invaded with star power, more specifically famous actors either “helping out” independent filmmakers or actors hoping to stretch themselves in roles they aren’t being asked to play in studio films.
Of these star-studded films, the one that most interests me is “Puncture.” In it, Chris Evans plays a drug addicted lawyer trying to clean up his act in order to lead a client to victory against a monopolizing medical supply company. Based on a true story, “Puncture” seems to be a far departure from “Fantastic Four” and the upcoming “Captain America.” Perhaps Evans will prove himself to be much more than charming matinee idol with great screen presence.
Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington star in “Last Night.” They play a happily married couple separated for one night, facing temptation that might lead them to choices that could forever change the fate of their relationship. It has been a while since Knightley has seriously been on my radar. For a couple of years, she was on quite a creative and successful roll. “Pride and Prejudice” gave her a well deserved (imho!) Oscar nomination, followed by the lead in the Best Picture nominated “Atonement” and then “The Duchess.” After last year’s disappointing “Never Let Me Go,” and “Clash of the Titans” I’m hoping for something great from both Knightley and Worthington (who to be honest has yet to impress me much at all.)
Tribeca’s special screening: “Everything Must Go,” based on Raymond Carver’s “Why Don’t You Dance” stars funny guy, Will Farrell. After he loses his job and wife on the same day, Farrell’s character moves his possessions…and himself…into his front yard. The film looks to be a smart move for Farrell. Loved him on “SNL.” Loved him in “Anchorman.” Sure. But one can only take so much “Will Farrell.” Though, still described as a funny (yet touching!) film, “Everything Must Go” looks to possibly (on paper at least) do for Farrell what “The Truman Show” did for Jim Carrey. Eh, maybe that’s a stretch…we will have to see.
Vera Farmiga definitely stretches herself with “Higher Ground,” (based on Carolyn S. Briggs’ memoir) not only starring, but also directing. Sure, it already screened at Sundance, but most of the people who attend Tribeca are locals or East Coasters who don’t necessarily have the ability/funds to make it up to Utah every year. I for one didn’t, and I am excited to now have the chance to see the film. The rest of the cast includes Oscar nominee John Hawkes (that still makes me happy to type!) and Broadway star, Donna Murphy.
I am equally excited about Kathleen Turner’s new film “The Perfect Family.” In the film, described as a “sweet family drama,” Turner’s character is up for the Catholic Woman of the Year prize. In order to win, she must present herself and her family in a light that would be deemed worthy of the church. I loved Turner in the 80s/90s (especially in films such as “Romancing the Stone” and “Serial Mom”) and after seeing her a few years ago on Broadway in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” I was reminded what a great actress she still is. Here’s hoping this film showcases that talent.
If you are interested in more information on these films or ones I haven’t mentioned you can always check out the website at http://www.tribecafilm.com/. The festival opens with the Cameron Crowe documentary, “The Union” on April 20th and runs until May 1st.