Much to the anticipation of all New York film fans, the Tribeca Film Festival kicks off tonight. With 217 shorts and features from all over the world and reasonable ticket prices (tickets are $16.00, and only $8.00 for matinees), Tribeca is one of the city’s yearly cultural highlights, and not to be missed. Here are five features to look out for – some of which you might be able to see soon even if you don’t live in the city.
1. The English Teacher:
In this comedy from Craig Zisk, longtime director and producer of Weeds and The United States of Tara, Julianne Moore plays a passionate high school teacher whose personal life is in something of a shambles. That's until one of her ex-students, a failed playwright played by Michael Angarano, comes back to town with a play begging to be produced, even if only by high school students. Moore has been flexing her comedic muscles recently (The Kids Are All Right, Crazy Stupid Love) and has proven herself equally adept at comedy as she is at drama, so it’s exciting to see her in this kind of lead role. With a cast that includes the likes of Nathan Lane and Greg Kinnear, what’s not to like? (Plus, the trailer looks great.)
The English Teacher premieres at Tribeca on April 26, but you can see it before then if you’re feeling impatient, or if you live outside of the city: along with several other films from this year's lineup and a couple favorites from last year the movie will be available on Video-On-Demand on April 16. (The festival is also putting some shorts and features up online; check them out here.)
If you aren’t vampired-out by now, the latest film from Neil Jordan (he of Interview with a Vampire and, most recently, the mermaid movie Ondine and TV show The Borgias) looks like irresistibly pulpy fun. Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan play mother-and-daughter vampires who must keep their true identities secret for fear of persecution — a task easier said than done, especially when Eleanor (Ronan) falls for a local human boy. The film also features Sam Riley and Jonny Lee Miller, and will be released by IFC Films on June 28 if you miss its Tribeca run starting on April 25.
3. Greetings From Tim Buckley:
Though this film only has one public screening at the festival, on April 25 (unless you’re an American Express cardholder, in which case you can also see it on the 23), this new Focus Features film is one of the most hotly anticipated of the festival — at least for the Gossip Girl set, who are no doubt wondering whether Penn Badgley can pull off tortured songwriter Jeff Buckley. The film is a father-son affair, following Jeff as he coordinates a tribute concert in honor of his late father (the Tim of the title), and flashing back to Tim's own youth. Here's hoping that Badgley's pipes hold a candle to Buckley's: you can hear a little soulful wobbling in the trailer above.
4. Almost Christmas:
Phil Morrison’s feature debut, Junebug, was one of the biggest indie critical darlings of 2005, and netted Amy Adams her first of four Oscar nominations. Morrison has finally followed up that movie with Almost Christmas, a dark comedy starring Paul Rudd and Paul Giamatti as a pair of French Canadian ne'er-do-wells who decide to try to make some easy money selling Christmas trees on a street corner in New York. Needless to say, things don’t go entirely as planned. With Morrison’s pedigree and the combined talents of Rudd, Giamatti, and the great Sally Hawkins, Almost Christmas is a must-see.
Though all of the film’s three screenings (on April 18, 21, and 24) are sold out, Tribeca has a great rush policy, so get out there 45 minutes before showtime and cross your fingers.
5. Before Midnight:
And finally, the biggest gem in the festival’s metaphorical crown: Richard Linklater’s follow-up to his now-legendary Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I don’t know much about this movie except that it takes place nine years after 2004’s Before Sunset, and revisits Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke), this time in Greece. I haven’t even watched the trailer: sometimes a movie is best experienced cold. I do know, though, that Before Midnight has already screened at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals to rapturous reviews: this is not one to miss. (Like Almost Christmas, its two screenings on the 22 and 24 are sold out, but there should be plenty of rush tickets available.)
Check back during the festival for reviews of all of these films, and more!