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(Getty Images)When I got the chance to go to college in New York City, I rejoiced for a very selfish, non-academic reason: nearly all movies, especially foreign and indie movies, premiere here, and as an 18-year-old cinephile, this was extremely important. So now I still live here, nearly twenty years later, with a ridiculous bounty of movie choices available to me, especially when there are career retrospectives, special series and film festivals all year throughout the city. This year's Tribeca Film Festival is no exception, with an incredibly diverse selection of movies in all shapes (narrative, documentary, etc.) and sizes (there's a shorts program).Click through for the films I highly recommend you see--don't you want a glimpse of Alex Gibney's work-in-progress James Brown documentary? A film noir set in industrial China? Or the latest film with Toni Collette?
LUCKY THEM: Written and directed by Megan Griffiths, Lucky Them features Toni Collette as a music journalist tasked with finding out what happened to a rocker who disappeared at the peak of his fame. Oliver Platt stars as her editor and Thomas Haden Church is a documentarian who joins her on the journey, but I just really want to see Collette, who should really be in many more films.
BLACK COAL, THIN ICE: One of my favorite genres of film is film noir, so Black Coal, Thin Ice, is very high on my list of films to see. Set in northern China, a pair of detectives is on the hunt for a serial killer. The Hollywood Reporter praised writer-director Diao Yinan for this "exciting stylistic tour-de-force" and the film won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.
NIGHT MOVES: Writer-director Kelly Reichardt has earned praise for Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy, which showcased her "exquisite minimalism", so I'm very excited for Night Moves, which has been described as an eco-terrorism thriller. Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard star.
ART AND CRAFT: I love stories about con artists, which makes Art and Craft a must-see. The subject of the documentary is Mark Landis, who has forged paintings, like those by Matisse and Picasso for decades. But Landis never sold his work--he donated it to museums across the country. A 2011 NY Times article succinctly called him a "Prolific Art Forger". In fact, that article inspired co-directors Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman to make film.
FOOD CHAINS: We live in an incredibly food-obsessed time, which makes this Eva Longoria-executive produced documentary, Food Chains, highlighting farm laborers incredibly compelling. The filmmakers characterize the workers' plights as as "modern-day slavery" and Longoria has said, "There's more interest in food than ever before. Everyone is about organic and local and 'I don't eat gluten.' but no thought is put to the people who pick the food that feeds us all."
THE NEWBURGH STING: Back in 2009, a group of men were nabbed for plotting to bomb synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down planes at the National Guard in Newburgh, NY. The arrests were hailed in the War on Terror, but then there were accusations the suspects were set up (entrapment by fried chicken, if you will). So I'm very curious about the documentary The Newburgh Sting, which is a closer look at the suspects--now convicts serving long prison terms--and the case.
BEGIN AGAIN: I still think about John Carney's low-fi love story Once, about the Dublin busker and immigrant cleaning woman, because it was so achingly intimate and kind of perfect. So I'm hopeful that Begin Again will have some of the magic, though it's a bigger production with Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley and Adam Levine. Upside: It's filmed in New York.
KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON: Clark Terry is a jazz legend. He played in the Duke Ellington and Count Basie bands and mentored Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. The documentary Keep On Keepin' On follows his friendship with student Justin Kauflin, a talented blind 23-year-old pianist, as Terry battles health challenges and encourages to Justin to overcome his stage fright.After the April 19 world premiere, producer Quincy Jones and his friends will host a post-film performance by Justin Kauflin, four-time Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Dianne Reeves, trumpeteer Roy Hargrove and more. American Express Card Members have the exclusive opportunity to purchase tickets to the special event here.
UNTITLED JAMES BROWN DOCUMENTARY: There are many documentaries about musicians, like the festival opener Time Is Illmatic about Nas and Bjork: Biophila Live, but there's a chance to see Alex Gibney's work-in-progress film about James Brown. The film covers the R&B legend's life from his early years in South Carolina to his work in the civil rights movement.
EVERY SECRET THING: Every Secret Thing has a pedigree to swoon for: Produced by Frances McDormand and Anthony Bregman; written by writer-director Nicole Holofcener (who makes incredibly thoughtful films like Walking and Talking, Lovely and Amazing, last year's Enough Said), based on Laura Lippman's novel; directed by acclaimed documentarian Amy Berg, who is making her feature film debut; and starring Diane Lane, Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Banks.
ICE POISON: Crystal meth is becoming a plot point for more and more dramatic work. Breaking Bad started in 2008, Winter's Bone was in 2010 and now there are international interpretations about what the drug means. In Midi Z's Ice Poison, an impoverished farmer-turned-moped driver and a woman who has escaped an arranged marriage resort to selling crystal meth in Myanmar.
A BRONY TALE / BEYOND THE BRICK: My daughter is really into My Little Pony and I can name a few (Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, Flutter Shy) so I'm fascinated by the documentary A Brony Tale, about the male fans (ages 13-30) of My Little Pony. There's also another doc that taps into my inner child: Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary.
DIOR AND I: When John Galliano's anti-Semitic meltdown led to his dismissal as the creative force at Christian Dior, the House of Dior sought Raf Simons as the new head designer. Dior and I looks at Simons' first collection.
CHEF: As someone with a big appetite, I love movies about food. My favorites are Tampopo, Eat Drink Man Woman and Big Night, so I'm excited to see Jon Favreau's Chef, his take on our foodie culture and the food truck renaissance. Favreau, who wrote and directed the film, stars as chef Carl Casper who loses his job after a food blogger slams his skills. So Carl decides to start a food truck and goes on the road with his sous chef (John Leguizamo) and young son. The cast also includes Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Sedaris and Favreau's erstwhile Iron Man, Robert Downey, Jr.American Express Card Members have the exclusive opportunity to purchase tickets to the New York premiere on April 22. And here's a clip of Carl waging war on Twitter:
HUMAN VOICE: Screen legend Sophia Loren in a 23-minute short film, Human Voice, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti and based on a Jean Cocteau play. Need we say more?