Thursday, April 21, 2011

FILM: My Top 15 Tribeca Film Festival Picks of 2011

It's that time of year again, when it's New York's turn to be flooded by indie auteurs and the puppets that spout their prose. If you find this year's list of 201 films/shorts/panels too cumbersome to go through, check out the 15 films I think are worth taking a look at during the festival (April 20 - May 1):

FOREIGN: Romantic/Comedy
Romantics Anonymous
Plot: "The story of Angélique Delange an unemployed but gifted chocolate-maker with a lifelong case of uncontrollable shyness that prevents her from properly sharing her confectionary talents. Jean-René Van Den Hugde suffers from a similar case of terminal abashment and runs a fledgling chocolate company in desperate need of a new direction. When Jean-René hires Angélique as the new sales associate, the two nervous Nellies must face their deepest fears. With the chocolate business hanging in the balance, they are forced to fess up to their hidden sweet affections for each other."
Why I Recommend It: Because it is about as adorable as a French romance can get.
> watch trailer <

FOREIGN: Drama/Comedy
Plot: "A fiery single mother and blue-collar worker loses her job when the local factory in her French seaside town closes down. Faced with having to support her three children, with no job prospects in sight, she enrolls herself in a housekeeper training program and lands a position cleaning and babysitting for a handsome but cocky power broker Steve. As they grow closer, it seems both of their minds may be opening to each other's worldviews—until she makes an unsettling discovery about him and events snowball toward a shocking dramatic finale."
Why I Recommend It: It's an interesting take on the current unemployment crisissort of giving insight to the employer and the employee on how the other lives and thinks, while adding a tumultuous romantic element to it.

FOREIGN: Action/Comedy
Let the Bullets Fly
Plot: "During the Warlord Era of the 1920s, a bunch of bandits, led by "Pocky" Zhang, hijack a train en route to Goose Town with its new governor on board. When the train crashes, its lone survivors are the governor's sleazy advisor and his wife. Zhang, an honorable outlaw, decides to pose as the new governor and share the fortune from the hijacking with the townspeople. But ruthless mobster Master Huang (Chow Yun-Fat) aims to stop Zhang's Robin Hood crusade, launching a battle of both wits and bullets."
Why I Recommend It: It would be interesting to see Chow Yun-Fat as a villain.
> watch the trailer <

FOREIGN: Crime Thriller
Neon Flesh
Plot: A high-energy crime thriller centered around Ricky and the underground world that he lives in. His prostitute mother, Pura, abandoned him when he was 12. Now a young man, he wants to honor her by opening up a brothel when she is released from prison. For help, he enlists a pimp, his junkie girlfriend, and a transsexual who believes that she's royalty, but when he finally picks Mom up from the hospital, she is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's and not too impressed with his gift. Worse, the location Ricky chose for the brothel encroaches on ruthless thug El Chino's domain….
Why I Recommend It: I'm a sucker for Spaniard films.
> watch the trailer <
(The film has an online streaming option.)

The Good Doctor
Plot: "Lonesome first-year medical resident Dr. Martin Blake (Orlando Bloom) is eager to impress his superiors, but a few missteps set him back, igniting his hidden insecurities. When he finally gets the respect he so desperately craves from an enchanting teenage patient—Diane (Elvis Presley's granddaughter Riley Keough from The Runaways), who is admitted with a kidney infection—he'll do anything to keep her under his care. But when the chief resident finally takes notice of him, Martin can't seem to catch a break: The head nurse has it in for him, and orderly Jimmy (Michael Peña from Crash) discovers Martin's secret budding relationship with Diane and blackmails him for prescription painkillers. Soon a desperate and paranoid Martin is no longer just fighting for respect, but also for his reputation and career."
Why I Recommend It: Because rarely does Bloom get to shine on a dramatic level, and Peña is always an amazing supporting actor.
Plot: "Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) is a talented young Houston lawyer and a functioning drug addict. Paul Danziger (co-director Mark Kassen), his longtime friend and partner, is the straight-laced and responsible yin to Mike's yang. Their mom-and-pop personal injury law firm is getting by, but things really get interesting when they decide to take on a case involving Vicky (Vinessa Shaw from 3:10 to Yuma), a local ER nurse, who is pricked by a contaminated needle on the job. As Weiss and Danziger dig deeper into the case, a health care and pharmaceutical conspiracy teeters on exposure and heavyweight attorneys move in on the defense. Out of their league but invested in their own principles, the mounting pressure of the case pushes the two underdog lawyers and their business to the breaking point."
Why I Recommend It: Because if The Lincoln Lawyer can revive Matthew McConaughey's career, maybe this unorthodox legal procedural can do the same for Evans, giving him street-cred before he dons the tights for Captain America.

L.A. Noire
Plot: This is actually a 60-min film that explains the back-story for the video game. The game's setting takes place in a violent crime thriller and the main avatar is an old-school detective. You'll get to "interrogate witnesses, search for clues, and chase down suspects as you struggle to find the truth in a city where everyone has something to hide."
Why I Recommend It: I've seen the posters all over the city and I've been thinking, I miss those classic noir films. That should be a real series or a movie. Wish granted.

The Guard
Plot: "An unorthodox Irish policeman (Brendan Gleeson from In Bruges) with a confrontational personality is teamed up with an uptight FBI agent (Don Cheadle) to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring."
Why I Recommend It: Buddy cop films always boil down to the chemistry between the lead characters, and it'll be interesting to see how Gleeson and Cheadle work together, after seeing how Gleeson worked so well with Colin Farrell in In Bruges.
> watch the trailer < 

Plot: "When you get married, you're not just getting a husband or wife—you get the family, the friends, even the exes. Buzzy (Edward Burns) and Katy (Caitlin FitzGerald from It's Complicated) are newlyweds. Katy's meddlesome sister Marcia has been married to Buzzy's friend Max for 18 years. As Marcia and Max's marriage is crumbling under the weight of life together as empty-nesters, Buzzy and Katy's honeymoon period is upended when Buzzy's wild-child baby sister (Kerry Bishe from "Scrubs") shows up at the couple's TriBeCa apartment with more than a little baggage."
Why I Recommend It: It's always interesting to see an actor-director's work.

The Perfect Family
Plot: "Suburban mother and devout Catholic Eileen Cleary (Kathleen Turner) has always kept up appearances. When she runs for the Catholic Woman of the Year title at her local parish—an award she has coveted for years—her final test is introducing her family to the board for the seal of approval. Now she must finally face the nonconformist family she has been glossing over for years. Her gay daughter, Shannon (Emily Deschanel from "Bones"), a successful lawyer, is about to marry her life partner Angela (Angelique Cabral). Her unhappily married son Frank Jr. (Jason Ritter) is cheating on his wife with the local manicurist. And Eileen's own marriage to a recovered alcoholic is pulling at the seams…."
Why I Recommend It: Because Ritter gets better with every film.

Jesus Henry Christ
Plot: "This colorful, modern family comedy revolves around 10-year-old boy genius Henry James Herman (Jason Spevack from Ramona and Beezus) and his fervently left-wing single mother Patricia (Toni Collette), who works at the local university's cafeteria. A misfit from birth, Henry's precocious, rabble-rousing ways catch up with him when he gets kicked out of school for writing "Manifestos on the Nature of Truth." Meanwhile, 12-year-old Audrey (Samantha Weinstein from The Rocker) has her own problems because of her single father, university professor Dr. Slavkin O'Hara (Michael Sheen), who used her as the test subject for his best-selling book Born Gay or Made that Way? Needless to say, she gets a not-so-nice nickname from her classmates. When Henry scores a scholarship to the university as a child prodigy, the two families cross paths and everything they knew about their lives is thrown to the wind."
Why I Recommend It: Because we rarely get to see Sheen in a comedic role and he did a surprisingly good job on "30 Rock" last year.

Janie Jones
Plot: "Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola) and his band are on the comeback trail when a former flame (Elisabeth Shue) drops a bomb in his lap: their 13-year-old daughter, Janie Jones (Abigail Breslin). Ethan refuses to believe Janie is his kid, but when her mom suddenly leaves for rehab, the child has no place to go but into the tour bus and on the road with the band. With no inclination toward fatherhood, Ethan continues his hard-living ways, leaving Janie to fend for herself in the dive bars and sleazy motels along the way. As Ethan's self-destructive spiral threatens to derail the tour, Janie uses her own surprising musical talents to help guide him down the rocky road to redemption."
Why I Recommend It: It's like the musical version of Somewhere.

Stuck Between Stations
Plot: "Casper is a young soldier home from Afghanistan on bereavement leave after the death of his father. On his last night in town, a near-miss bar fight in the old neighborhood leads to a chance run-in with his childhood crush Rebecca, now a grad student coping with a floundering academic career and a fraught relationship with her married academic advisor. Over the course of a single night, the two traverse a striking Minnesota cityscape, growing closer but knowing they will inevitably have to part ways at dawn. As the pair muse on the nature of life, fear, youth, and disappointment, at turns falling in love and falling apart, their journey mirrors that of a generation experiencing a collective quarter-life crisis."
Why I Recommend It: I'm a fan of love stories that take place in one day/night, when they're done right (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist), as well as coming-of-age stories that involve current events, like a generation of soldiers and quarter-life indecisiveness.
> watch the trailer <

Plot: "The Furlong men all were blessed or cursed with unique abilities. Ten-year-old James Furlong's father was able to shut off all electricity around him when he was scared, and his grandfather went temporarily blind when he thought about sex. James' mother died while giving birth to him, and as he experiments to figure out what his ability is, he unintentionally causes the death of his father and grandmother. Then, when he's sent to a reformatory school and sparks a strange illness that wipes out all the children who bullied him, James flees to a cottage in the woods to live a life of isolation. Years later, as a young man, James is discovered by Mae, a young cancer patient who escapes from the nearby hospital. As their special relationship blossoms, both learn to live with the curses—and blessings—they inherit."
Why I Recommend It: It's a unique approach to teaching this lesson, and it could present an interesting perspective.

Plot: "One name—two brothers. Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko have both been world champion heavyweight boxers, they both hold PhDs in Sports Science, and they both refuse to fight one another. Director Sebastian Dehnhardt's comprehensive portrait of the brothers is an insightful and personal look at the lives of two boys from the Ukraine who would become international sports stars."
Why I Recommend It: If you love boxing characters, there's nothing better than seeing the real thing. These men are 6ft 7in and they've won 95% of their matches, 85% by K-Os. You have to wonder what rattles around their mind, and what drives them. And if you're a gossip monger, then you'll get to know Hayden Panettiere's boyfriend (the one on the right), who is 18 years older than her. smh

1 comment:

  1. Hey Good list, good reviews..I like it