Published by

Tribeca Film Festival: Faking It

Email a Friend

In one corner: you and your ragged, exhausted self. 

In the other corner: The Tribeca Film Festival

We say: skip the fight, have a drink, and use our handy review rundown to make everyone think you actually went.

1. “Shrek Forever After”

This is the movie that will start the conversation, so you should probably know a) that it kicked off the festival in 3D and b) that organizers rolled out a long, green carpet the color of radioactive vomit Shrek.

Review: Scott Weinberg’s “eh” take at Cinematical.

“For some bizarre reason, the Shrek Forever After screenwriters thought that the best way to end this monumentally popular series would be to deliver ... the It's a Wonderful Life concept. Employed countless times in sitcoms and cartoons, this is the pitch in which our main character says something to the effect of "Oh, I wish I was never born!" and {poof!} we're off to see how Shrek's world would look if he'd never met up with Donkey, Fiona, Puss in Boots, Gingy, Pinocchio, and all the other freaky fairy tale characters. So instead of one final adventure with all these colorful characters, we're offered an "alternate reality" Shrek who must reacquaint himself with all his old pals. Weird.”

2. Alex Gibney

Director Alex Gibney has three movies in the festival that work together like a well-balanced meal. The catch: The movie getting the best reviews is the one most akin to broccoli. “My Trip to Al-Qaeda” is outshining Gibney’s other two films, “Freakonomics” and an untitled documentary about sex-scandal-superstar Eliot Spitzer. When your friends ask, plug “Al Qaeda,” which is based on Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. If they want too many details, take your glasses off and say “that’s an interesting question. What do you think?” A college professor taught me that. Works every time.

Review: Stephen Holden’s bullish review in the New York Times.

“Don’t imagine that because its subject is 9/11, Alex Gibney’s documentary “My Trip to Al-Qaeda,” is merely the latest in a long list of depressing films about the aftermath of that catastrophe. “My Trip to Al-Qaeda,” which exemplifies the loftiest ambitions of the Tribeca Film Festival, beginning its ninth year on Wednesday, is an utterly compelling (dare I say entertaining?) personal history lesson, filled with insights that come as little jolts.”

3. Streaming Films/On Demand

Tribeca Film Festival might be streaming 18 shorts and eight feature films online, but it’s no YouTube — you have to buy a $45 pass to access the films. That said, some of the awkward conversations and pretty dresses from the red carpet premieres are free, and it’s a pretty innovative way of getting people into the festival, even if they can’t be in the audience. The festival will also release 12 feature films to cable distributors to show on demand, so you can feel a bit classier when you settle in on your couch with some boxed wine and Cheez-Its.
Review: Michelle Kung’s interview with Tribeca Chief Creative Officer Geoffrey Gilmore in the Wall Street Journal.

“While the phrase “alternative distribution model” may not sound sexy to the average film-goer, the issue is of game-changing concern to independent filmmakers, who are finding it near impossible to sell their movies to both major studios and their specialty divisions. And while most filmmakers are holding out hope to see their labors of love play out on a big screen, they’re also practical enough to realize that making a video-on-demand deal is the way to go; better that your film is available to Comcast’s millions of subscribers than just sitting on a shelf in your bedroom.”

4. The Transgendered Agenda

At least one film in the festival has the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation calling for its removal: the film “Ticked Off Trannies” features Quentin Tarantino-style violence mashed up with true stories of violence against transgendered women. “Spork” and the Brazilian film “Elvis and Madonna” feature characters with alternative sexualities that leave the spectacle and camp aside, the former a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old hermaphrodite, and the latter a romantic comedy involving a transgendered woman who falls in love with her son’s girlfriend. When you talk to your friends, mention those.

Review: Mike Hale's look at "Spork" and "Ticked-Off Trannies" in The New York Times.

“Spork,” written and directed by J. B. Ghuman Jr., is about a 14-year-old hermaphrodite, but her condition is window dressing — it’s an out-there way to make her an outcast. The film sets up the standard contrast between suburban soullessness and trailer-dwelling authenticity, and pits them against each other in a school dance contest; it’s “Step Up” or “Glee” or “High School Musical” with the sensibility of John Cameron Mitchell’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

5.  “The Two Escobars”

Much like ESPN funding a foreign documentary for an independent film festival, “The Two Escobars” unites two unlikely things under one name. It’s also probably the biggest confirmation of the two things that most Americans know about the country of Colombia: the name of cocaine powerhouse Pablo Escobar, and the fate of that guy that scored against his own team while playing in the 1994 U.S. World Cup (he was shot). The connection between Pablo and Andrés Escobar goes beyond the name — like most stories about Latin America, it’s waaaay more complicated. Your line on this one? “Latin Americans invented magical realism for a reason, you know.”

Review: Eric Kohn at IndieWire unpacks the complexities and critiques the melodrama.

“Given Pablo’s vested interest in the sport from a financial and personal standpoint, the connection never seems tenuous. Instead, the directors craft a unique rumination on the notion of national heroism - and, in its absence, the disruption of communal stability. With a seamless mixture of archival footage and talking heads, “The Two Escobars” depicts Colombia’s declining reputation on the world stage as its greatest tragedy of the last century.”