Movies To Catch At The Tribeca Film Festival
A quarter of a century into its existence, the Tribeca Festival may have dropped the "film" part of its name—it wants to rebrand itself as something that encompasses everything from television shows to video games to technology, and apparently, that means not associating itself with movies per se. That being said, we're still referring to it as a film festival. There's still, however, that little thing we old people call "cinema (when we're not yelling at clouds, I suppose)" and once the downtown NYC festival gets going on June 9th and runs through June 26th, there's enough to see.
This year's festival has a wide variety of competitions and sidebars, and we've whittled it down to a lucky 13 that are worth your time and attention: music documentaries, profiles of Rudy Giuliani and Al Sharpton, a sitcom star's directorial debut, a famous Bronx resident's take on her multifaceted show business career, and more. The Tribeca Film Festival has a wide variety of virtual premieres and offerings that can be viewed at home. (Tribeca At Home platform) You must, however, refer to them as "films."
It's subtitled The Songs of Marc Bolan and T. Rex, and this look back at the late glam superstar wants you to pay particular attention to his abilities as a songwriter, which tends to receive short shrift in light of what we generally speak about when we talk about Bolan (fashion, flirtations with sexual fluidity, the outré banging of 1970s rock-star gongs). A look at how a kid from Hackney inspired everyone from Bowie to Elton John to go crazy big or go the fuck home, and how his death in 1977 cut short an amazing career; and a glimpse at producer Hal Willner putting together his tribute album to Bolan and getting U2, Nick Cave, Lucinda Williams, Macy Gray and other artists to cover great T. Rex songs. A heartbreaking truth about this picture is that it will be Willner's last before he passed away in 2020.
This filmmaker is one of the most underappreciated in the industry right now. You should see Mother of George (2013) and Where Is Kyra? (2017) as soon as you can. In the early 1980s, a teenage singer named Beauty (Gracie Marie Bradley) is on the verge of becoming the Next Big Thing. Andrew Dosunmu returns with this drama. If she wants to break into the music industry, she'll have to keep her long-term partner (Aleyse Shannon) a secret. We assume that any resemblance to other well-known vocalists from that time period, whether alive or deceased, is purely accidental. Beauty's parents, played by Giancarlo Esposito and Niecey Nash, are ardent Catholics played by Lena Waithe and Sharon Stone, respectively. This one has our full support.
The history of West Coast hip-hop would be incomplete without including Tracy Curry, a.k.a. the D.O.C. Tracy Curry, When Dr. Dre asked him to help compose the debut N.W.A record in Los Angeles, he accepted. “Nobody Can Do It Better” established him as the man who would take Cali hip-hop to new heights with his first album release. Car accident destroyed his larynx and ended his career as an artist; instead, he contributed to iconic albums like “The Chronic” and “Doggy Style”, using what a peer calls the deadliest pen in hip-hop for decades. In Dave Caplan's film, D.O.C.'s influence and lyrics are discussed by the likes of Dre, Eminem, and Too Short, as Curry himself discusses an experimental procedure that might perhaps return most of his voice—but profoundly change his life anew.
God Said Give 'Em Drum Machines:
The origins of techno music are traced back to Detroit, Chicago, London, and Berlin, where a few of DJs and creative types using drum machines helped develop dance music into something far larger than a few dispersed regional scenes. As a history lesson and a correction to the mythology that has grown up around techno's inception as a billion-dollar industry, it underlines the role played by Black musicians at the fore of this art form.
A look behind the curtain at the woman we name J-Lo, as one Jennifer Lopez waxes forth on acting, music, family, legacy, superstardom, being a Latinx artist, playing at the recent Presidential inauguration and, per the title, the Super Bowl halftime show, opens this year's Tribeca event. For one thing, Lopez argues that all of her accomplishments thus far have just served to prepare her for the next phase of her career. It's a chance for fans to get to know the Renaissance woman. Detractors will be able to see a tremendous personality on show. Everybody's happy now, isn't there?
Al Sharpton is a topic on which everyone has an opinion. His reputation as a modern-day Civil Rights crusader extends far beyond the five boroughs, and you don't even have to be a New Yorker to have feelings about his work as an activist, provocateur, public figure, preacher who has treated social justice like gospel, or some combination of all of the above. As a documentary, Josh Alexander's film seeks to examine the different aspects of Sharpton's persona and come up with an image that takes into consideration his decades-long effort to rectify wrongs both on a local and national level. When it comes to its title, it's a film that deserves it.
In Blue Velvet (1986), Isabella Rossellini's character, Dorothy, isn't just named after the Wizard of Oz because David Lynch is infatuated with it. Many components of the film have been lifted from it throughout the years, from the overtly obvious — such as the homage-filled Wild at Heart (1990)— to the more subtle. RS writer Amy Nicholson and John Waters are among the narrators of Alexandre O. Phillippe's latest cine-essay/meta-movie-documentary, which deconstructs and analyzes Lynch's use of this iconic Golden Age of Hollywood classic in his own work. This is a must-watch for fans of Lynch's work, as well as those who are curious as to why so many of his characters wear red shoes.
Ryan from The Office is a writer, producer, and artist. As part of this year's festival, podcaster-turned-director B.J. Novak will screen his directorial debut film, a suspense thriller about a young woman he only knew superficially and may have hooked up with on a few occasions. There is a lot going on here. The official cause of death was listed as an opioid overdose, but he suspects foul play and is looking into it. This is a great opportunity for him to get some terrific true-crime episodes. Blood Simple for Radiolab devotees. Dove Cameron, Boyd Holbrook, Ashton Kutcher and J-Smith Cameron all star in the film.