tribeca film festival: 8 movies we loved

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    by · April 24, 2015

    Photo courtesy of Head Gear Films

    The Tribeca Film Festival is over, and as is usually the case with film festivals, we only got to see a fraction of the movies we had hoped to. But of all the narratives, documentaries, and shorts we did manage to catch, here are eight that stood out.

    Photo courtesy of IFC Films

    Good Kill Although he hasn’t made a truly great film since 1997′s Gattaca, we had high hopes for director Andrew Niccol’s dark character about a drone pilot (Ethan Hawke) slowly coming apart. And although Good Kill wasn’t the heady exploration of moral ambiguity we were expecting, it’s still pretty damn fun to watch. Zoe Kravitz does good work as a newly recruited pilot, but this is Hawke’s movie from the beginning to end. Watching him increasingly struggle with the idea of killing faceless (maybe) enemies from thousands of miles away is prescient, wrenching stuff.—BEN BARNA

    Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

    Maggie We never thought we’d see the day when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin would star in a family drama about the zombie apocalypse, but that’s basically what this moving and entertaining film is. Ahnold’s appearance as a father dealing with his daughter’s terminal illness (zombie-itis?) is bound to throw some people off. This isn’t a kill-em-all actioner—instead it’s a surprisingly straightforward yet effective drama about daddy and his little (dead) girl.—BB

    Photo courtesy of tribeca film festival

    Future Relic 03 With numbers 01 and 02 (starring James Franco) completed, audiences at Tribeca were presented with Future Relic 03, a short that in its central scene sees a tearful Juliette Lewis talking to an owl. It’s a shot loaded with heft and stark beauty, one that doesn’t feel hokey at all but rather speaks to Arsham’s ability to make a dystopian saga about a missing “savior” seem sleek, understandable, and well-paced. A talented visual artist by trade, Arsham does well to fill scenes with his own work and smartly enlists Richard Chai as the film’s costumer.—MICKEY STANLEY

    Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

    Grandma In Paul Weitz’s new comedy, Lily Tomlin reminds us why she’s a national treasure as Elle, a lesbian poet trying to score some cash. She’s cut up all her credit cards and comes up short when her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) needs an abortion, like now. At the premiere earlier this week, Tomlin garnered raucous laughs from the audience at all the right beats, and thanks to Weitz’s whip-smart script, those jokes come fast and furiously. Judy Greer, Marcia Gay Harden, and Nat Wolff round out a stellar supporting cast.—MEREDITH ALLOWAY

    Photo courtesy of Head Gear Films

    Ashby Mickey Rourke and Nat Wolff—who’s rapidly becoming a star in his own right—form the unlikeliest pair in this twisted coming-of-age story. Rourke plays the titular aging assassin who finds out he has three months to live. Wolff plays Ed, Ashby’s new neighbor, who soon befriends him for a school report. Somehow Wolff’s endearing attempts to make the football team and win over the cute nerd, Eloise (Emma Roberts), blends in with the parallel plot about Rourke’s efforts to kill off some old enemies. It’s fresh, witty, and has roots, asking Big Questions about sex, death, and getting older, while managing to make us laugh.—MA

    Photo courtesy of IFC Films

    Sleeping With Other PeopleIf the name Lesyle Headland doesn’t ring a bell for you, then Bachelorette, a raunchy little movie she wrote and directed, should. Headland is back with her sophomore effort, the likeable Sleeping With Other People, a sex comedy that left Tribeca audiences smitten. After a brief affair in college, Lainey (Alison Brie) and Jake (Jason Sudeikis) run into each other as mildly dysfunctional adults. Given their grim relationship histories, they immediately decide to keep sex and romance out of their newfound friendship, which seems to work, for a while. Sleeping With Other People is not free of rom-com tropes, but the best moments in the film come when those tropes are balanced through Headland’s distinctly female eye and knack for everyday details and witty dialogue. Honorable mention goes comedy vet Jason Mantzoukas, who slays it as Jake’s business partner and best friend.—BUSRA ERKARA

    Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

    Les Bosquets Les Bosquets takes the already limiting “shorts” format and segments it further, cutting between wide shots of a broke-down tenement outside Paris (Les Bosquets) and documentary-style interviews with the building’s displaced residents. What’s more, there is a competing central narrative acted out in ballet (chiefly by the brilliant Lil B) and set against an striking original score composed by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Woodkid, and Ben Wallfisch. The thing must have cost a few million dollars, but it’s 17 minutes of bliss.—MS

    Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

    Anesthesia We love movies with multiple plots that weave in and out from one another to show how we’re all connected, and this thinker from director Tim Blake Nelson is just that. With connections that reveal themselves as the plot hurtles forward, the movie’s title refers to the ways in which we dull our senses to cope with life itself—for the characters in this movie that usually involves some kind of drug. Kristen Stewart shows up as a student who gets in a fight over a cafeteria chair, once again proving why she is one of our generation’s most interesting actors.—BB
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