Maybe it’s always more fun to cover a film festival in person! Thanks to an erratic schedule and a wide variety of films, 2023’s Tribeca Film Festival was one of the most fun for us to cover to date. Check out our full coverage of the lineup after the jump, including our personal top ten favorite films from the fest!



The Adults is in every way the stereotypical festival fare one would envision—pretentious and small-scale, with occasionally stellar performances. From the second the film begins, writer/director Dustin Guy Defa goes for a quirky vibe that attempts to emulate notable indie dramedies, such as The Skeleton Twins. Michael Cere plays Eric, a poker-obsessed weirdo who still refuses to acknowledge his mother’s death even five years later. His short trip back home keeps extending more and more in duration. He reforms his old poker crew, while accidentally rebuilding his relationship with his two equally bizarre sisters, Rachel (Hannah Gross) and Masgie (Sophia Lillis). They want to spend more time with Eric, rather than the “tiny breadcrumbs” of commitments he actually provides. One scene where Eric stutters and stumbles his way through a conversation over poker winnings, and another when he tearfully recounts Mufasa’s death in The Lion King are definite acting highlights for Cera. The rest range from close-up scenes that go on for way too long, and uncomfortably awkward weird voices and accents that constantly permeate the sibling relationship. To call these characters annoying would be an understatement. Topping the movie off with a total non-ending all but ensures it will be forgotten completely in a year’s time.


Full review at the link.


Determined to put the “slow” in “slow burn,” Blood for Dust is the festival’s big crime thriller. Starring Kit Harrington as drug-selling arms dealer Ricky, Scoot McNairy as a jobless traveling salesman in need of a new way to make money for his family, and a mild-mannered cartel leader played by Josh Lucas, the top-lining cast is admittedly pretty stacked. What feels like it’s missing in action is everything else. There are really only two or three brutally violent sequences competing for audience attention. A shocking opening scene seems to promise a grim, gritty thriller—aside from some excellent gore, Blood For Dust fails to live up to its potential.

Breaking the News

(Written by Allison Brown) While I respect the founders of the 19th and find their journalistic goals to be very valuable for society, I don’t find the documentary about their organization, titled Breaking the News, to be worth the time invested. The focus comes off as a rehash of all the topics from 2020 on that I never wanted to relive: the pandemic, Trump, the 2020 election and painful debates, the insurrection, and the fall of Roe v. Wade. Anyone who has interest in the subject matter at all is surely well informed about all these things and does not need a refresher. Co-directors Heather Courtney, Princess A. Hairston, and Chelsea Hernandez needed to include more of the timeless accomplishments along the way on 19th’s growth. Editor-at-large Errin Haines’ stunning achievement of being the first to interview Kamala Harris following her announcement as Biden’s running mate is noteworthy and fascinating. The print exclusive to break Breonna Taylor’s story and critical discussion as the story breaks is equally amazing! Topics like these, as well as more development on the organization itself, would have made for a much more compelling documentary.


Following an unfortunate trend for Tribeca this year, Catching Dust has exceptionally good acting hidden underneath a pale, empty script. Beyond the character work and the performances, there is nothing to this movie. A trashy couple (Erin Moriarty, Jai Courtney) seemingly on the run from the law are unexpectedly joined by two city folk (Dina Shihabi, Ryan Corr) who have planned to vacation at Madison Commune in Texas—a place they had assumed would be a thriving community. Secrets bubble to the surface as rising tension between the two couples threatens to reach a boiling point. With Catching Dust, what you see is what you get. Here, that just happens to be a good cast and beautiful cinematography, but not much else.


(Written by Allison Brown) A pleasant surprise in the form of a comedic and western crime thriller comes with Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr.’s Cinnamon. There are a lot of genres mishmashed together, but thankfully, it somehow works. Combine a cowboy crime family plotting their revenge with a Euphora-esque love story, throw in a campy zoot suit wearing scam artist for good measure, and one will arrive at this wild ride. The performances are all stellar, but that is no surprise given this star-studded roster with the likes of Pam Grier, Jeremie Harris, and Damon Wayans. Hustle culture is at the forefront, and characters are willing to resort to any means necessary. The choice to show separate experiences that come together at the midpoint helps to round out and create more multifaceted characters. The chemistry between Eddie (David Iacono) and Jodi (Hailey Kilgore) practically explodes off the screen. A sequel with these two standouts would be welcomed with open arms; perhaps, that is why Montgomery Jr. landed on titling the film with Jodi’s stage name: Cinnamon. Kilgore’s voice when she sings on screen is stellar and will leave one rooting for her to put out music in real life. Artistic choices are equally strong. As a character is described over the phone, the actor changes on screen until we arrive at the correct actor. A fantastic metaphor is executed as a character with poor self-esteem is shot, and falls into a dumpster, making him literal trash. Comedy is great – an irresponsible character chooses “password” as his password, and the owner of the pizza place is named Mario. Upon googling, I can immediately find three restaurant’s called Mario’s Pizza that prove how hilarious this is! This solid character piece ranks among one of the best I have seen at this year’s Tribeca.


Full review at the link.

Dead Girls Dancing

(Written by Allison Brown) I am not quite sure exactly what the intention or message is behind Anna Roller’s Dead Girls Dancing. Full circle picture-taking to introduce and say goodbye to characters is smart narrative planning, but that is perhaps the only success. The story meanders as a group of eighteen-year-old girls break into and pillage dwellings in a deserted village on “vacation.” The group includes recent high school graduates Ka (Noemi Nicolaisen), Ira (Luna Jordan), and Malin (Katharina Stark), who pick up hitchhiker Zoe (Sara Giannelli) on their path of anarchy. Despite initially appearing to be sane, middle-class teenagers, the trio drive around aimlessly, acting as if they are homeless and even carelessly toss around a gun. They use dirty water to brush their teeth and walk around barefoot. Roller uses pretentious artsy scenes with lace and pantyhose covered faces to transition between the settings of exploration in the town. The action is incredibly slow, and not much happens until one or two scenes towards the end. Even then, the stakes are low. Every single character is insufferable, immature, and obnoxious. Cinematography is at times mysterious and eerie, but the resolution behind the central mystery is absurdly mundane. Perhaps an allegory was attempted for how directionless recent graduates are in figuring out their lives post-schooling. For me, this did not work at all.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.

Fresh Kills

(Written by Allison Brown) The biggest surprise for me this Tribeca comes in the form of toxic family drama Fresh Kills. While it seems like a thoughtless title for a story about a crime family, it has much deeper origins. Fresh Kills is a landfill in Staten Island where birds suddenly began to fall out of the sky due to the noxiousness in the air. While I am not sure it happened at the time it was revealed on the news in the film, I was able to find an article claiming it did occur in 2007. This serves as a metaphor for the family’s “joyful” childhood, where toxicity is seeping quietly under the surface. Should one truly put family above all, even when those close to them are responsible for atrocious deeds? As someone who also grew up in New York with my fair share of family conflict, I found this film to be incredibly relatable, ignoring the extremes. While Rose (Emily Bader) questions her directed way of life and the actions of those around her, her sister, Connie (Odessa A’zion), is the stark opposite, excusing everything and remaining satisfied with the status quo. The only one who seems to genuinely show love is her father, Joe (Domenick Lombardozzi), who appears to be the sweetest family man, until small snippets of sketchy behavior eventually give way to the truth. No one really seems happy, and life just continues to move by while they lag in place. Director Jennifer Esposito poses questions to the female viewer appalled by the inherent “requirement” for women to become wives and mothers. She really turns a generic mob film on its head by shining a light more on the people affected rather than glamorizing crime. The climax is heartbreaking and shocking, forcing the audience to pause in solemn reflection. Fresh Kills is an emotional rollercoaster, only made stronger by moving performances from Bader and A’zion. Despite the late scheduling in the festival, this is not one to miss.

The Future

(Written by Allison Brown) As a Jewish woman without a strong opinion on Israel, Noam Kaplan’s The Future leaves a bad taste in my mouth, nearing a state of anti-Israel propaganda in the manner in which it addresses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ignoring this sensitive topic, the film itself is just not great. The profiler, Dr. Nurit Bloch (Reymond Amsalem), namedrops so many new characters without a proper explanation that it is hard to follow. In her conversations with freedom fighter Yaffa (Samar Qupty), the two wax philosophically about the intention behind her assassination act, and even stray to topics as random as the quality of tap water. Once Nurit leaves the interrogation room, which is inexplicably in her own home, she lives her life anticlimactically and considers a surrogate to overcome her fertility struggles. As these mundane activities play out, a pulsing score is injected meant for a thriller that feels very starkly out of place. The pace is sluggish, and tries too hard to create anxiety with this odd tactic. With the inclusion of a terrorist-detecting algorithm deemed “The Future Project,” there is so much potential for an interesting angle a la Minority Report that is left completely unexplored. Honestly, I am not quite sure why this plotline is included at all when Bloch did not even detect Yaffa’s crime ahead of time. Finally, one last choice left me in utter confusion. Nurit changes her shirt onscreen for no apparent reason at least four to six times; Yaffa even comments on how strange the behavior is. Nurit later decides to buy her mother a blouse for her birthday, and Yaffa comments on how impersonal the gift is. Perhaps I am missing the metaphor here, but this focus on the changing of one’s top leaves more questions than answers. The Future’s plot and resolution is not thought-provoking or executed well enough to excuse the questionable point of view.


Full review at the link.

The Gullspång Miracle 

(Written by Allison Brown) The Gullspång Miracle is perhaps one of the most bizarre documentaries I have ever watched. Although I usually avoid foreign documentaries, this one was a pleasant surprise. What starts off as a narrative not so different from 2018’s Three Identical Strangers, soon evolves into true crime. The first segment could have ended twenty minutes in, had there not been twists and turns much deeper into the runtime. Director Maria Fredriksson uses filler to keep this part going a lot longer than it should have been. Perhaps, this is why a later reveal is less surprising. Some might lose interest before the story really picks up, but once it does, it is difficult not to be hooked. The antics and cattiness in interactions between the original family and newly inducted Olaug quickly become laughable. Fredriksson appears to have added a cinematic and quirky quality to the visuals to make up for a story that is kind of all over the place. It is slightly reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s style with far away shots and interesting portrait composition. The score is fantastic, as is the cinematography. The audience is left in the end with more questions than answers; the family is completely willing to stop their search for answers due to their extremely naïve, religious nature. At one point, a scene almost feels like a fake setup that is manipulative towards the subjects, as the director tries to hint towards supernatural entities interfering with the family’s investigation. It is hard to decipher what parts are true and what is hyperbole or superstition. Nevertheless, The Gullspång Miracle is a wild ride worth jumping on.


Full review at the link.


An International space station (or I.S.S.) becomes a center for tense negotiations and complicated power dynamics in Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s new sci-fi thriller. After they glimpse multiple strange flashes from a distance on earth, the mixed United States/Russian crew aboard the vessel are informed that an act of war has occurred. With no radios online, the camaraderie soon devolves into chaos as panic breaks out. The most impressive aspect of this film is its stacked cast, which includes Chris Messina, Ariana DeBose, Pilou Asbaek, and John Gallagher Jr., but too often this feels half-baked. There is barely anything that would make the film worth watching outside performances, as it lacks visual flavor and thematic cohesiveness. Even the characters are nothing special, leaving this space station thriller practically empty and abandoned.


(Written by Allison Brown) Upon discovering the synopsis for LaRoy I was hoping for a tragic dark comedy, but instead was given a western crime mystery. I may not be the target audience here, as western and crime are two of my least favorite genres. Director Shane Atkinson does a solid job building up an intriguing story with the material at hand, but I think I was misled of its nature by the genre billing. There was only one scene I felt was perfectly comedic, where private detective Skip Roche (Steve Zahn) accidentally drowns a man in a toilet twice during an interrogation. The message in LaRoy’s final moments is really depressing, desolate and hopeless. Characters needlessly and relentlessly bully others for no rhyme or reason, only dominance. Not all films need a happy ending, but there is a missed opportunity to focus on the value of friendship or of professional recognition rather than leaving everyone utterly miserable. While I don’t think LaRoy is a bad movie, it just was not for me.


For Kappa Nu Alpha fraternity, pledging and being accepted as a member means “trying to fuck the most girls” and “having the most fun.” Despite claiming to be all about the foundation of brotherhood and community outreach, KNA isn’t exactly a pillar of positivity. As the newest wave of pledges enters for initiation, Tom (Alex Wolff) takes charge as the pledge master (Lewis Pullman) frequently goes absent. Tom’s incessantly annoying wealthy roommate, Mitch (Bo Mitchell), goes overboard with taunting new prospective Gettys (Austin Abrams), who himself is admittedly pretty awful. When the boys aren’t vulgarly chatting about having sex with women or making off-color gay jokes, they are snorting lines of coke and partying hard. Though KNA has been forbidden to proceed with hazing this year, that doesn’t stop it from happening anyway. The Line overflows with unlikable characters, yet remains entertaining throughout. With stellar acting and solid direction, the only real issue with The Line is a lack of originality. We have seen so many nearly-identical iterations of this same story—hazing is awful, and our window in is through the student perspective. A couple years back, Siobhan Fallon Hogan’s Rushed actually tried something different by positioning the mother’s point of view in her anger over her son’s “accidental” death by hazing. The Line goes back to the drawing board, seemingly content to dwell in the same bleak realm of cyclical toxic masculinity and anti-fraternity sentiment. The Little Mermaid’s Halle Bailey is wasted in a smaller role as Annabelle, a collegiate with long armpit hair crudely dubbed “Armpit Girl;” Denise Richards too gets only one dinner scene as the swanky mother of Mitch. On the other hand, Wolff and Abrams are given the most to do, and both are believable as frat-douches. While the performances are quite good, The Line is another decent frat-bro movie that merely skims the surface of the real problems at hand.

The Listener

(Written by Allison Brown) Making its festival debut at last year’s Venice Film Festival, I found it surprising to see Steve Buscemi’s The Listener appear on this year’s Tribeca lineup. I assumed the film would have found its distribution home by now, but after watching the film, it is obvious why it has fallen through the cracks. The one-location, one-actor drama lets its lead, Tessa Thompson, shine as Beth. However, the setup can’t escape its “filmed during the pandemic” appearance. The mention of Covid-19 in the actual calls will isolate a potential audience even more. As a whole, a connective thread is lacking from the plot. It becomes boring listening to a montage of depressing or creepy vignettes without much resolution. I cringed at an abhorrent character bragging about revenge porn and piecing together an offensive snuff film from CCTV footage of children. Beth’s personal background is delivered to the audience in crumbs in engaging in these calls. A final switch when the caller becomes Beth’s listener is the peak. This section in the final third is successful primarily because of Rebecca Hall’s candid vocal performance as Laura. She and Thompson have a great rapport that shines through without the two being physically present together on screen. As they discuss deep philosophical takes on the world, death, and the failures of society, I began to finally become engaged. They posit how people are more alone than ever before despite more connection through internet and densely populated cities. Unfortunately, it feels like The Listener came too late and missed the leniency of circumstance provided to simpler films at the height of isolation. No one wants to be reminded of the misery we suffered during the last few years; we are ready to move on. Despite an emotional and especially expressive performance from Thompson, I fear this film may be easily forgotten. 


Full review at the link.


(Written by Allison Brown) The Miracle Club can be best described as a more true-to-life, spiritual take on The Wizard of Oz. The prime difference? The Miracle Club is set in 1960s Ireland with a trip to the holy French town of Lourdes replacing a visit to the wizard in Emerald City. The site, said to be a place of miracles, finds people arriving with a variety of ailments, and leaving magically cured. With varying degrees of skepticism but hearts full of hope, Lily (Maggie Smith), Eileen (Kathy Bates), and Dolly (Agnes O’Casey), with her mute son, Daniel (Eric D. Smith), in tow leave their husbands behind and decide to take the plunge following the death of their late friend, Maureen. The pot is stirred when Maureen’s absent daughter, Chrissie (Laura Linney), who also happens to be widow to Lily’s deceased son, Declan, becomes a late addition to the voyage. A stacked talent pool starring Smith, Bates, and Linney gives way to great comedic and emotionally layered performances. Religion is viewed from a critical and tender lens, keeping expectations for characters realistic yet hopeful. At its core, The Miracle Club explores the messy entanglements between longtime friends and the lack of appreciation for the struggles of women who choose to be wives and mothers, by way of a heated relationship drama. Look out for The Miracle Club when it drops in theatres next month!

One Night with Adela

(Written by Allison Brown) I was pleasantly surprised to see Piggy’s Laura Galánas billed as the lead of Tribeca selection One Night with Adela. Unfortunately, it is a mixed bag of delight, shock, and awe juxtaposed to dullness. While Galánas is a terrific actress, Adela is far too unlikeable for me to get on board. Her behavior, expressions, language, and mannerisms are all offensively abhorrent. Mental illness and drugs portrayed in this capacity will make the viewer uncomfortable, but not in an exhilarating way. The script itself is more like 2022’s Piggy than I would have anticipated: girl gets bullied, harassed, and exploited because of her weight, then gets revenge. Somehow that same struggle is told in a much less intriguing manner by director Hugo Ruiz. I did not realize a murder scene could be presented so lackluster. Once Adela “gets off work,” the narrative finally takes a thrilling turn as she enters a house noticeably beyond her means. The editing in the section is clever, and saves the twist for as long as possible. What happens here pushes the quality of the film from mediocre to worth a watch. If the parts that drag were to be significantly trimmed down, then One Night with Adela has a chance to captivate a larger audience. 


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


Perpetrator was sold as a campy horror film featuring Alicia Silverstone and the absolutely adorable Christopher Lowell, with a female writer/director behind the project in the form of filmmaker Jennifer Reedner. What could possibly go wrong? My only warning was the director telling the audience “let’s get weird” before her film screened—calling Perpetrator simply “weird” may be an understatement. I will pay it one compliment though: Perpetrator is certainly ambitious, attempting to jam many different concepts into one film. After beginning with a fun Halloween homage, the movie seems to be setting up a classic slasher, or at least one with a killer on the loose targeting women. Then, it shifts gears into something decidedly different. Poppy (Avery Holliday) lives with her ill father, stealing drugs for him to help keep him alive. As Poppy’s 18th birthday looms overhead, she goes to stay with her mysterious Aunt Hildie (Silverstone, who has perhaps never had a wonkier accent onscreen), and attend school nearby. So far, three girls from her new school have gone missing, and no one seems to know why. At the same time, the film attempts to make this a coming-of-age film involving lesbianism and a bizarre power called “forevering” wherein Poppy acts as a surrogate for spectral energy in a sort of reverse-possession. Each time this strange power is tapped, the character’s face weirdly half-morphs into another face. Several off-color miscarriage jokes and lots of blood later, Perpetrator careens toward a conclusion packed with multiple silly twists. I almost get what they were going for here, but the whole thing is so off-the-wall that none of it works. Except for maybe Lowell’s performance—he seems to be the only one who knows what type of movie he is in, hamming it up as the misogynistic Principal Burke.


I love a good food documentary, whether it be 2008’s eye-opening Food, Inc. or classic Super Size Me. Netflix title Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food had all the potential to deliver captivating revelations and eye-opening segments to make viewers second guess their reliance on meat products. Certainly, several interesting tidbits come up: 48 million people worldwide get sick from foodborne illnesses each year, and the nastiest detail for me was that each pound of ground beef can contain parts from up to 400 different animals. An overload of empty percentages are commingled with grieving parents who lost loved ones to these illnesses. Most we learn is nothing we have not seen or heard about before, and the clinical way the information is presented feels more akin to an early 2000s television special than a cherry-picked festival selection.


(Written by Allison Brown) Hispanic immigrant workers are a common tool used by American companies to exploit cheap labor. The job itself may not be pleasant, but for the most part, circumstances in the United States are at least tolerable and seem to avoid slave labor conditions. Richelieu explores the atrocious situation that Guatemalans are dropped into, desperate to make money in Canada, with unwritten rules and risks. The story moves slowly, and at times, it becomes quite a chore to maintain focus. Despite this, when the conflict truly begins, it is easy to feel Ariane’s (Ariane Castellanos) inner torment and urge to improve the work culture; the climax alone is terrifyingly powerful. Everyone I know complains about how awful their superiors are at their workplace, but Stéphane (Marc-André Grondin) is a different beast entirely. Manipulating people who can’t read or understand the language to sign documents, threatening to fire someone for attending a funeral, and exacerbating a medical issue into something life-threatening is far beyond the realm of one’s average bad boss. Richelieu is a solid and candid look at the experience of these workers from both sides: that of leadership and the employees. It may not be the strongest film I have seen, but Director Pier-Philippe Chevigny does a respectable job at covering the ground necessary to study the issue critically.


Full review at the link.


When one-half of a children’s-book-writing couple unexpectedly passes away, the woman’s husband, Ben (Grant Rosenmeyer), is left to pick up the pieces. A detective becomes convinced he could be responsible for her murder, and Ben’s concerned sister desperately tries to understand where his head is at. An internet video comment on a flying man plunges Ben down a rabbit hole of unexpected possibilities. Some kind of bizarre spiritual guru (Paul Raci) beckons Ben to leave his world behind and “follow me.” As Ben tries to follow the step of “human flight,” including shaving all body hair from the neck down, no orgasms, and speaking only in bird sounds for a full week, this strangely-shot film just gets more confounding by the second. The Secret Art of Human Flight feels too much like a student film to make any statement. This indie seems to be attempting a statement about mental health and grief, yet lacks the budget or narrative coherence to do so effectively.


While photographing the solar eclipse, an unnamed hiker (Scott Haze) discovers an abandoned child deep in the California desert. No service and no way out traps the hiker, locking him into a twisted game with locals who very much do not want him there. The further he plunges into unexplainable nightmares as the different moon phases whir by, the more baffling it becomes. I wanted Wrong Turn, and got something I cannot entirely explain. With frustratingly minimal dialogue and a barely-there plot, The Seeding both confounded and confused me. Gorgeous cinematography does not make a good movie.  

Smoking Tigers 

(Written by Allison Brown) After recently covering the very similar Year of the Fox at Seattle International Film Festival, So Young Shelly Yo’s Smoking Tigers seemed like a great addition to the canon of films about teenage girls struggling with their parents’ divorce and acclimating to a higher income community than their humble means. So Young Shelly Yo’s work is told from a singularly Korean American perspective. Unfortunately, the former is far more compelling than this selection. The lead, Hayoung (Ji-young Yoo), seems to have a fixation on luxury housing and oddly empty bathtubs more than anything. When her father (Jung Joon Ho) peddles his high-end carpets to rich clientele, Hayoung explores their homes, and even pockets items that catch her eye. In my favorite scene of the film, Hayoung makes a late-night trip to a listed apartment nicer than her own and explores each unfinished crevice. As she imagines what life could be like had her family stayed together and lived there instead, she walks down the stairs to the family happily seated at the dinner table. This transition is so touching and imaginative; I wish this level of cleverness was carried through to the rest of the film. Artistic cinematography, particularly in the repetition of visual reflections, is let down by a lackluster story moving at a snail’s pace. At less than ninety minutes, Smoking Tigers should not feel so long.


In one of the most obvious metaphors for grief and trauma I have seen in quite some time, writer/director Olivia West Lloyd tries her hand at the horror/thriller genre in Somewhere Quiet. Occasionally, this means glimmers of eerie atmosphere, effective sound design, and a recurring image that grows less creepy the more things are explained. In the aftermath of a horrifying kidnapping (the likes of which we only glimpse at the beginning), clearly-scarred Meg (Jennifer Kim) cannot seem to shake her past. When her husband, Scott (Kentucker Audley), takes her deep into the countryside, his twisted cousin, Madeline (Marin Ireland), stokes the flames of Meg’s thin grasp on sanity. As Meg’s headspace unspools, so too did my patience with Somewhere Quiet. At one point, the film literally spells out its full intentions in a lengthy dialogue dump. There is nothing quiet or subtle here.


A definitive documentary on Marvel legend Stan Lee, creator of so many iconic characters from Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four, was an easy must-see. After a vintage Stan Lee introduction, the film from David Gelb wisely lets Lee himself actually recall most of his own story through crisp narration. Little figures and miniature sets often stand in for genuine footage of events. While I wanted more of a deep dive on late-stage Stan and how his life changed during the success of his most popular characters, Stan Lee laser-focuses on the comics and not much else. Which is certainly okay too—the camera dynamically follows comic panels and vibrant cover artwork that showcases many greats including work by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. We learn about Stan’s journey from piccolo-playing intern to editor, art director, and head writer of Marvel Comics. The film flips through years at an inconsistent pacing, taking us all the way back to Stan’s birth in 1922. Jarringly, I was not prepared for the jump from 1972 to 2010 without covering anything in between. Did Stan just not accomplish anything notable during those missing decades? That seems highly unlikely. The best part for me was the backstage footage for all of Lee’s Marvel Cinematic Universe cameos. Though it sometimes feels skeletal in diving deep, documentary Stan Lee still accomplishes plenty of detail when it comes to its central subject. 


Full review at the link.

Take Care of Maya

(Written by Allison Brown) Never has a Netflix documentary emotionally wrecked me as much as Take Care of Maya. Child protective services (CPS) materialized in the 1970s as a means to protect children from poor circumstances of physical and sexual abuse. The recent addition of medical child abuse was surely necessary to protect individuals from mentally ill parents, such as in the case of Gypsy and Dee Dee Blanchard. However, a grey line of wrongdoing and lack of due diligence combined with medical provider incompetency clearly can lead to more trouble than those who initiated the change could have ever imagined. The Kowalskis suffered enough in managing their daughter’s mysterious and severe illness: complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Who would ever expect a well-intentioned visit to the emergency room with caretakers to lead to temporarily losing custody of Maya and separating their family? The production of this documentary alone must have been an emotional rollercoaster for the filmmakers. The atrocious behavior of the John Hopkins hospital staff and Florida CPS is means enough to keep it compelling. Texts shown onscreen, assumedly pulled from phone records, are sickening and show how soulless this institution is. It is all so heartbreaking that Roosevelt doesn’t need to resort to any gimmicks. The fact that Maya’s mother, Beata, recorded every single phone call and facet of information detailing her experience was surely a gift neatly wrapped up in a bow for Director Henry Roosevelt, allowing him to create such a complete and cohesive masterpiece. The silver lining in the end of a well-earned court date coming up in September this year at least allows some hope after years of suffering and misery. All one can hope is that a precedent is set preventing this same travesty from happening to other families. The inclusion of other tormented families all over the United States towards the end just shows how widespread the problem is and how urgent it is to reevaluate the entire system.


You’ll Never Find Me is probably the most frustrating horror entry at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, simply based on how great certain elements of its production are, including the acting. In the middle of a violent storm, a woman referred to only as “The Visitor” (Jordan Cowan) shows up at the doorstep of old curmudgeon Patrick (Brendan Rock) requesting a lift into town. Patrick first claims his car has been “playing up” for the last couple days, and invites her inside. He offers up tea but no phone, stating that the closest pay phone is at the front of the park. The gates, which lock at midnight, will need to be unlocked by Patrick, and he is not willing to brave the storm to let her out. As thunder booms loudly outside, the two share stories with one another as The Visitor grows more suspicious of Patrick by the second. Should she wait out the storm and try to make a run for it, or just settle in completely carefree? You’ll Never Find Me posits itself as something of a mystery, and certainly has a couple scenes in the final act that are well-executed. However, it is going for bleak ultra-realism, yet fails to keep consistent internal logic. A later moment when one character screams for help makes no logical sense when the film has gone out of its way to establish both the loudness of the storm, and the remote location of the house. Who would even be out there to hear the scream? Another thing that really bothered me is that the movie has about four different endings—each time You’ll Never Find Me seems to have finally arrived at its conclusion, the viewer is then assaulted by a relentless cacophony of noise before continuing past its natural end. In spite of decent performances and an occasionally tangible atmosphere, You’ll Never Find Me is unable to overcome the obnoxious characters and surface-level takeaways. 


Full review at the link.

Short Films


Beautiful Creatures and Han Solo star Alden Ehrenreich makes his directorial debut with Shadow Brother Sunday. Oddball name aside, this 14-minute short is surprisingly engaging—in fact, I would go so far as to say it would make for an interesting drama at full-length. Ehrenreich also stars as struggling musician Cole. Home for the premiere of his famous actor brother’s new movie, Cole desperately needs money to stay afloat. As he explains to Jacob (Nick Robinson, Love, Simon, Jurassic World), Cole has been paying for band expenses out of his own pocket. Cole begs to borrow six thousand to pay his debts, but Jacob insists that “I don’t want the exchange of money to be part of our relationship.” The brothers clearly have a complicated rapport. Ehrenreich’s script delves into brotherly love and complex familial relationships, culminating in an emotionally riveting letter. Cole, the pariah of the family, has been tasked with stealing private info from Jacob’s laptop for money. Ehrenreich builds tension well, and crafts an engaging story that I honestly did not want to end.

Josh’s Ten Favorite Films

Allison’s Ten Favorite Films

For ticketing information and more about the Tribeca Film Festival at large, please visit the festival’s official website.

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