Tribeca kicks off today and there are so many films to pick from. Vimooz.com will introduce you tosome of the under-looked gems of the Tribeca Film Festival, going on April 21st to May 1st , 2011, in New York City. Please check out Francesca McCaffery’s picks for the Tribeca Film Festival this year so far…More great finds to come!
1. Rid of Me- This truly delightful indie comedy from the Portland producing-acting-directing duo of Katie O’Grady and James Westby deserves to be seen, and more than once. It may not be getting the press it deserves, but it is a truly hilarious, beautifully styled low-budget indie with a truly amazing amount of heart, and it will make you laugh out loud. Really. Katie O’Grady plays Maris, who turns into an alter-ego after her husband literally dumps her for his school friends when they move back to his hometown of Portland, and, lacking job skills, start working in a candy store. A story about finding yourself, discovering punk rock, and accessing your inner high school bad-ass, it’s a remarkably well made film, and even boasts Theresa Russell! The supporting cast is pitch perfect, and O’Grady definitely has an SNL career in her future. Westby is a director to watch, and truly has the creative chops of a young Wes Anderson.
2. Bombay Beach- Currently a genuine hit at the Tribeca Film Fest, Alma Har’el’s hauntingly gorgeous “Bombay Beach” really is as astounding as everyone says. Har’el’s sumptuous, color-saturated portrait of the wasted badlands of Salton Sea’s Bombay Beach and its inhabitants are at the tail-end of the American Dream, and she somehow manages to show them all as containing the heart ache, joy and conflicted souls of all Americans. It cannot be missed, and is a true turning point in how we see documentary film. It’s going to be a milestone. See it at Tribeca first!
3. Roadie – This tiny little film is almost meticulously acted by lead Ron Eldard (“E.R.”), and co-starring the wonderful Lois Smith as his aging mom he hasn’t seen in nearly twenty years, Eldard plays Jimmy Tetsagross, a life-long roadie of the band Blue Oyster Cult, who has just been canned by the band. Returning home to Queens, NY, he meets up with his old high school nemesis (Bobby Cannavale) who is now married to his one true high school love (Jill Hennessy.) Director Michael Cuesta and co-writer Gerald Cuesta have truly crafted a new and much needed genre for the new millennium- the coming-of-age film for the Kids of the ‘Eighties.
4. Grave Encounters – One of two US horror films premiering at the TFF, (along with “Bleeding House”) this “mockumentary” horror film is, actually, really well-done, and funny. Lead’s Ben Wilkinson’s dead-on performance as a Ryan Seacrest-like host of the show within-a-movie, “Grave Encounters,” is a serious pleasure to watch. The show’s premise is that the crew locks themselves tight into a supposedly haunted building. When they all get themselves locked into long Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, where unexplained phenomena have been reported for years, the fun really begins. Writer/director team The Vicious Brothers provide some really genuine and scary thrills and chills, with refreshingly little gore. Which is no mean feat, in today’s “horror porn”-laden film market. Kudos to them. This film is terrific fun, and, genuinely, scary!
5. Treatment – A really sweet and humorous drama from indie darlings Steven Schardt and Sean Nelson. Josh Leonard stars as Leonard, a Hollywood slacker with tremendous ambitions of cinematic greatness, but less than zero work ethic. He cons his best friend into giving him $15,000 to enter rehab, where he knows a famous film star is being treated, in order to pitch to him his latest brilliant storyline. Much like “Roadie” in its desire to explore the unexamined dreams and desperate hopes of its generation, “Treatment” is a sweet wake-up call to those lost in artistic reverie, without the mental locomotion to make their dreams a reality.
6. Go for these performances: Although we weren’t totally mad about the films “Last Night” and “The High Cost of Living,” there are two performances in each that is definitely worth seeing: French film star Guillame Canet’s graces “Last Night,” a performance which could make him a star in the US, as he smolders for ex-flame Kiera Knightly, and former funny guy Zach Braff, playing a drug dealer (very convincingly) in “The High Cost of Living.” Both films are by first-time female directors, and they did a lovely job for their first effort, but these performances far outshine their respective films. (Braff’s performance is actually so unexpectedly revelatory, it’s a very pleasant surprise.)