Friday, April 22, 2016

Our 2016 Tribeca Film Festival Experience

About a month ago, Chris and I began studying the Tribeca Film Festival Guide and selecting movies we wanted to see.  We narrowed it down to four films in the Spotlight section.  Then, we stumbled upon a list of highly anticipated releases and added a couple more bringing our total to six.

We had an awesome experience from start to finish.  We saw the world premiere of Custody on our first night of the Festival.  The director/writer and nearly all the cast members were there for an insightful Q&A session after the film.  SO awesome!  As newcomers to the Festival, we didn't realize that Q&A sessions following the film were a standard so we really thought we struck gold that first night.  Especially since we also got upgraded tickets at the door.  Talk about a cool experience!

Overall, the director/writer from four of the films and cast members from two films were on site after the screenings we watched.  It was really fun to learn about the making of the film and to hear directly from the cast members regarding their roles.  I can definitely say that I am more informed about the movie making business after this past week!  Chris and I have reviewed and rated each of the six films we were able to watch below.  Enjoy...


Synopsis via Tribeca Film Festival

James Lapine’s family courtroom drama stars Viola Davis, Hayden Panettiere, and Catalina Sandino Moreno as the key players in a custody case set against the backdrop of the myriad struggles at New York Family Court. In one corner, there’s Sara (Moreno), a young, single mother of two who suddenly finds herself embroiled in a custody battle when her son’s teacher calls the Administration for Children’s Services regarding a cut above his eye. Then there’s Martha Schulman (Davis), a beleaguered family court judge struggling through a 23-year marriage to Jason (Tony Shalhoub), and finding that it might not be possible to compartmentalize work and home. Recent law school graduate Alexandra Fisher (Panettiere) is assigned to Sara’s case, and finds it brings up haunting memories of her own. Hanging over it all is the recent death of a young girl whom the system failed. At the heart of Custody, the individual is locked in a dance with the institution and human error butts up against broken systems.

Andrea's Review: 4 stars

Touching movie that deals with a very serious and real topic - family court - and all the issues it brings to the table.  The cast was fantastic.  The story remarkably well told.  I would love to see this movie released.  Heavy stuff, but stuff that really matters.

Christopher's Review: 4.5 stars

A movie that touched on where I work was a must see. The most interesting part was showing not only the complex situation of a mother fighting to get back her children but how the lives of all involved affected their work. 

The Phenom

Synopsis via Tribeca Film Festival

Major-league rookie pitcher Hopper Gibson (Johnny Simmons) has lost his focus. After choking on the mound, he’s sent down to the minors and prescribed sessions with an unorthodox sports therapist (Paul Giamatti), who pushes him to uncover the origins of his anxiety. Beneath it all is his fraught relationship with his overbearing ex-con father (Ethan Hawke), whose tough love is the source of both his success and his paralysis. The Phenom is not your typical sports movie. Tribeca Film Festival alumnus Noah Buschel (Glass Chin) brings depth and complexity to this gripping psychological portrait of an athlete at a crossroads in the big-league sports grind.

Andrea's Review: 2 stars

I got restless toward the last part of this movie.  The concept was solid, but it was told in a very random and somewhat difficult to follow manner.  It needed a lot more work on the editing end to make it more fluid.  Or something.  The idea was a good one though.

Christopher's Review: 1.5 stars

Disappointing. There was a good story somewhere in there but the end product left a lot to be desired. There were some good parts, but the movie did not flow well or use the talents of the actors to the best of their ability.

A Kind of Murder

Synopsis via Tribeca Film Festival

Architect Walter Stackhouse (Patrick Wilson), crime novelist by night, is quite unhappily married to Clara (Jessica Biel), a successful real estate saleswoman. As Walter becomes fascinated by the case of Melchior Kimmel, a bookstore owner in New Jersey suspected of murdering his wife Helen, he begins to imagine what it might be like to murder his own wife. In this faithful adaptation of the 1960s suburban thriller, The Blunderer, written by Carol author Patricia Highsmith, the question of how we judge a person’s guilty conscience in the death of another plays a central theme. When Clara turns up dead, Walter starts to seem increasingly guilty as he finds himself at the unfortunate intersection of a conniving murderer and a resolute cop. A Kind of Murder seamlessly combines philosophical musings on culpability with edge-of-your-seat Hitchcockian noir.

Andrea's Review: 3 stars

I enjoyed the mysterious nature.  There was a lot of predictability though.  This could have been a bit better if it introduced a twist of some sort toward the end.  As it played, it reminded me of similar stories.  Nothing truly unique, but interesting characters.

Christopher's Review: 3 stars

Good, but predictable. Gave the impression that it would be a mystery, but you could see where it was going the whole time. Good acting, but like The Phenom it felt a bit disjointed.

Little Boxes

Synopsis via Tribeca Film Festival

It's the summer before 6th grade, and Clark is the new-in-town biracial kid in a sea of white. Discovering that to be cool he needs to act 'more black,' he fumbles to meet expectations, while his urban intellectual parents Mack and Gina also strive to adjust to small-town living. Equipped for the many inherent challenges of New York, the tight-knit family are ill prepared for the drastically different set of obstacles that their new community presents, and soon find themselves struggling to understand themselves and each other in this new suburban context.  Director Rob Meyer (A Birder's Guide to Everything) returns to Tribeca with his second feature, a poignant comedy about understanding identity, featuring a robust cast including Melanie Lynskey, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Oona Laurence, Janeane Garofalo, and Christine Taylor.

Andrea's Review: 4 stars

I really enjoyed this one.  Maybe because several parts of it were identifiable.  With a couple minor tweaks, this movie could be fantastic.  It covers a considerable amount of fairly heavy topics, but does so in an understandable and approachable manner.  I would love to see something like this released nationally.

Christopher's Review: 4 stars

Good story. I did spend some of the movie cringing, but that was more about the predicaments that the main characters had to go through. It gave me a lot to think about.


Synopsis via Tribeca Film Festival

Anthony Keller (Taylor John Smith) is the captain of his NYC high school basketball team, riding his way to Cornell on a sports scholarship. He is smart, well-liked, and confident. But he can only maintain his popular jock facade for so long, as his troubled father Lee (Michael Shannon) has a gambling addiction that threatens to derail his dreams both on and off the court.  Bart Freundlich’s powerfully directed drama features stand-out performances from its trio of leads—Shannon as the complex and compulsive Lee, Carla Gugino as Anthony’s well-meaning mother struggling to keep the fracturing family together, and newcomer Smith, who channels confidence and vulnerability as Anthony faces his first real adult decisions. Moving fluidly among the halls of affluent prep schools, the public courts of West 4th street, and tenements of the Lower East Side, Wolves is an emotionally-charged portrait of a boy becoming a man in New York City.

Andrea's Review: 5 stars

Loved this movie.  It was hands down the best we watched.  Wonderful characters that were portrayed in the perfect way.  Great story that kept my interest to the very end.  A must see for anyone.

Christopher's Review: 5 stars

Best movie that we saw. Phenomenal acting performances from all characters and great storytelling. A non-simplistic sports movie that I hope gets wider distribution.

My Blind Brother

Synopsis via Tribeca Film Festival

Robbie (Adam Scott) is a champion blind athlete and local sports hero doted on by the community and seemingly incapable of wrongdoing. His unassuming brother Bill (Nick Kroll) knows the real Robbie to be petulant and arrogant, but still runs every marathon by his side and never makes a peep when he doesn’t receive the same accolades. When Bill gets lucky with a charming lady (Jenny Slate), he thinks his karma might finally be coming due, until his brother introduces him to his own new paramour (the very same Jenny Slate). Now Bill must decide if he will put himself second again or finally stand up to his blind brother. With its original take on the love triangle and sibling rivalry stories, brimming with farcical humor and chemistry between its trio of leads, Sophie Goodhart has crafted a sharp and utterly delightful romantic comedy.

Andrea's Review: 3.5 stars

A fun comedy that had me laughing consistently.  Also, an unusual look at sibling rivalry and the bond between brothers.  Enjoyed the story from start to finish even if I didn't particularly love any of the characters involved.

Christopher's Review: 3.5 stars

Some of the characters that I thought we were supposed to like were unlikable. I probably had higher expectations due to some of the cast, but a fun story nonetheless.

Have you ever been to a film festival?

Andrea :)

1 comment:

  1. Ahh, that sounds so awesome. I told Charlie we have to plan a trip next year to coincide with the festival. And I love how you shared both your and Christopher's reviews. :) Custody sounds really interesting to me.