Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Our Earmarked Films for the Tribeca Film Festival

As we head into another excellent Tribeca Film Festival deep in the heart of New York City, we thought we'd take a moment and outline all the films that caught our eye on this year's schedule. Let's jump right in...

A Brony Tale - Born of internet mecca 4chan, the “Brony” phenomenon is a flourishing community of adult, mostly straight, male fans of the children’s cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Brent Hodge’s funny and illuminating documentary surveys the members of this surprising subculture, framed by the journey of Ashleigh Ball, one of the show’s voice actors, embracing her unexpected fan base.

An Honest Liar - Renowned magician James “The Amazing” Randi has been wowing audiences with his jaw-dropping illusions, escapes, and sleight of hand for over 50 years. When Randi began seeing his cherished art form co-opted by all manner of con artists—from faith healers and fortune-tellers to psychics and gurus—he made it his mission to expose the simple tricks charlatans have borrowed from magicians to swindle the masses.

With An Honest Liar, Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom chronicle Randi’s best debunkings, including his rivalry with nemesis and famed spoon-bender Uri Geller, with the help of interviewees including Penn Jillette, Bill Nye, and “Mythbuster” Adam Savage. In telling Randi’s strange, funny, and fascinating life story, they ultimately show us how we are all vulnerable to deception—even, in a surprising twist, “The Amazing” Randi himself.

APP - (Short) -  A shy engineer desperately needs venture capital for his virtual wing woman app. Can he and his app seduce a heartbroken girl at a swanky LA bar to prove it works?

Art and Craft - Mark Landis is perhaps the most prolific art forger the U.S. has ever seen. He’s duped curators throughout the nation with precise imitations from Matisse to Picasso, curiously never asking for money, but instead donating his counterfeits free of charge. After 30 years of conning the art industry, Landis is first discovered by Matthew Leininger, a registrar from Cincinnati, who has since dedicated years to tracking the man who hoodwinked him, in search of answers. But Landis' motivations are far more layered than simple deception. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, there's a question if he even knows that he is being deceptive at all. Through a richly complex lens, Art and Craft delicately balances a portrait of an outsider living with mental illness and the universal desire to be a part of a community.

Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Documentary - LEGO® bricks have captured imaginations for generations, and today, the community of builders is bigger than ever: Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOLs) display their latest creations at Brick Conventions, self-proclaimed Master Builders create entire worlds out of the modular bricks, and a corporate design team plans the Times Square unveiling of the largest LEGO model ever created. Directed by Oscar-winner Daniel Junge and Oscar- nominee Kief Davidson, Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary playfully delves into the extraordinary impact of the LEGO brick , its massive global fan base, and the innovative uses for it that have sprung up around the world. Junge and Davidson’s delightful survey of boundless and surprising creativity will inspire audiences of all ages rediscover their inner child.

The Body - (Short) -  A professional killer (Alfie Allen, Game of Thrones) discovers he can get away with anything on Halloween night, including dragging his latest victim around as a prop amidst a sea of oblivious London partiers.

The Canal - Sitting in an empty theater, a film archivist watches the grainy footage that will be his undoing. David and his wife are perfectly happy—or so he believes. When he finds out the home he shares with his wife and son was the scene of a ghastly turn-of-the-century murder, David dismisses it as ancient history. That is, until the sinister history ripples into the present and casts a shadow over life as he knows it. And when a looming secret shatters his marriage, David can't help but suspect the dark spirits of the house are somehow involved. In his drive to unveil the shadows hidden in the walls, David begins to descend into insanity, threatening the lives of everyone around him.

Through ghastly imagery and a chilling score, Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal is an Irish ghost story that will leave you with a fear of the dark and a dripping chill down your spine long after the film's conclusion.

Chef - After talented and dynamic chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) isn't given the space he needs to shine at his L.A. restaurant due to the owner's (Dustin Hoffman) rigid traditional ways, he launches on a social media-fueled tirade against his nemesis food critic (Oliver Platt), which lands him without any job prospects. With a new lease on life, Chef Casper takes to the road with his son and his sous chef (John Leguizamo) to build a brand new food truck business. This smart take on food and chef culture contains poignant messages about the media-driven world we live in and the real meaning of success.

With real heart, Jon Favreau plays a man who must find common ground between his passion for cooking and his love for his son. His direction of an ensemble cast including Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Amy Sedaris, and perhaps, most notably, up-and-coming Emjay Anthony, is refreshingly honest and rings true

Der Samurai - In the dense forest on the outskirts of a small village, a samurai-wielding figure wearing a pristine white dress lurks menacingly among the birch trees, waiting to descend upon the unsuspecting villagers. As the Samurai makes his way through the streets, heads roll with each stroke of his sword. Desperately wishing to protect his hometown from the blood-splattering onslaught, Jakob, a dutiful, straight-laced cop, becomes increasingly powerless to resist the draw of the Samurai’s feral otherness. The two enter into a bizarre folie à deux as Jakob is forced to confront his own carnal impulses.

Set in the muddy backwaters of East Germany, where the fear of wolves in the surrounding forests prevents locals from straying too far from home, Der Samurai explores the psychology of repressed urges with exhilarating aplomb. At once shocking, bloodthirsty, and downright strange, Til Kleinert’s rural horror thriller pulsates with relentless intensity.

Extraterrestrial - In the Vicious Brothers’ gripping sci-fi horror film, a group’s getaway into the woods dissolves into a full- throttle fight for their lives when unwelcome aliens invade. Five college friends escape to a cabin for the weekend, unaware that the town has experienced as rash of seemingly random disappearances and animal attacks. Blinded by their revelry, they accidentally trespass on a neighbor’s property, only to find themelves face to face with a conspiracy-spouting Vietnam vet and a flickering object that seems to crash-land in the woods nearby. Curious, they set out to investigate. But as they reach the crash, they spot mysterious footprints heading away from the scene and straight towards them.

With the same heart-pumping storytelling that pervaded their debut, Grave Encounters, the duo’s latest thriller is a terrifying fight for survival between us and the unknown.

Ghost Train - (Short) - An elderly man struggling to cope with his wife’s dementia is drawn into a macabre cabaret restaurant where he becomes enchanted by the lead actress.

Helium - (Short) -  Young Alfred is dying, but through the stories about a magical fantasy world told by the hospital's eccentric janitor, Enzo, he regains the joy and happiness of his life and finds a safe haven.

Incident Urbain - (Short) -  Two enigmatic figures with code names, Costello and the Colonel, bound seemingly by some mysterious revolutionary past, engage in an intense conversation concerning the architecture surrounding them, with possible catastrophic consequences.

Indigenous - A group of five American friends on the cusp of adulthood travel to Panama to relax and party amid the exotic paradise. Befriending a local woman in their hotel bar, they learn of a pristine waterfall nearby, but also of the ominous legend of a monster inhabiting the expanse of unexplored jungle just outside their resort. Ignoring the warnings, they convince the woman to guide them to the picturesque falls. What begins as an innocent outing quickly turns frightening when she suddenly goes missing. As night closes in, the friends realize too late the truth behind the rumors—the legendary, blood-sucking Chupacabra is now stalking them. Director Alistair Orr brings to horrifying life the legendary goat sucker in this spine-tingling and bloody fight for survival.

In Order of Disappearance - Upstanding community leader Nils (Stellan Skarsgaard) has just won an award for "Citizen of the Year" when he learns the news that his son has died of a heroin overdose. Suspecting foul play, Nils begins to investigate, uncovering connections between the death and an ongoing turf dispute between Serbian drug dealers and a sociopathic criminal mastermind known only as "The Count." Soon Nils’ relatively modest quest for vengeance puts him at the center of an escalating underworld gang war.

With a pitch-black sense of humor and a snowballing body count, director Hans Petter Moland depicts Nils’ righteous vengeance spiraling out of control with style, humor, and surprise, delivering an entertaining and intelligent action-thriller set in the dead of frozen Norwegian winter.

In Your Eyes - East Coast housewife Rebecca (Zoe Kazan) lives a comfortable, sheltered life of cocktail parties and lonely nights as the soft-spoken, neglected wife of a doctor, but she always knew there was something special about herself. Across the country in arid New Mexico, charismatic ex-con Dylan (Michael Stahl-David) has paid his debt to society and is ready for a fresh start, including a new job and a burgeoning flirtation with local good-time-gal Donna (Nikki Reed). When the two polar opposites realize they are strangely connected in ways they can’t understand, an utterly unique metaphysical romance begins in TFF alum Brin Hill’s sweet and smart film, which star Zoe Kazan aptly described as “Joss Whedon does Nicholas Sparks.”

Life After Manson - (Short) - Four decades after one of the world’s most notorious crimes, a Manson Family member breaks her silence to reveal how a series of choices led to ultimate destruction.

Love and Engineering - Is there an algorithm for love? Atanas, a Bulgarian engineer living in Finland, thinks he has an answer—he’s found a wife for himself, after all—and he wants to share his findings with some of his geeky bachelor friends. Together they carry out a series of experiments to crack the code and develop a new, scientific approach to romance. But when date conversation keeps turning to the latest PC games and heavy metal music, it’s clear that Atanas has his work cut out for him. Directed by Tonislav Hristov, this charming and lighthearted documentary follows Atanas and his band of eager test subjects as they research pheromones, chart brain waves, and try out “hacks” on blind dates in their quest to find love in the modern world.

Love In The Time of March Madness - (Short) - A story about the hilarious and awkward misadventures of a 6’4’’ tall woman who is a star on the basketball court but struggles to find true love. This animated “tall short” about embracing difference is certain to disarm and delight.

Miss Meadows - Miss Meadows is prim. Miss Meadows wears tap shoes every day. Miss Meadows carries a lovely little handgun in her tiny, pretty purse. Miss Meadows (Katie Holmes) is not everything she seems in this satirical comedy about manners and mores and what happens when moral compasses go helter skelter against the messy magnets of real life. Holmes dons the role of a dainty vigilante, taking it upon herself to right the wrongs in this cruel world by whatever means necessary. Things become complicated, however, when she gets romantically entangled with the town sheriff. As she contemplates sharing her life with another person, the question arises: who is she really, and what is she capable of, for better or worse?

My Depression: The Up and Down and Up Of It - (Short) -  An animated adaptation of Ms. Swados’ award-winning book, My Depression, A Picture Book, with the voices of Sigourney Weaver (as the main character) Steve Buscemi, and Fred Armisen.

Murder of a Cat - Nikki Reed, Greg Kinnear, and Fran Kranz star in this offbeat detective comedy. When someone murders his beloved cat, Clinton (Kranz), an adult child, demands justice. Taking it upon himself to solve the case, he teams up with an unlikely ally, Greta (Reed), and the two set out to find the culprit lurking in their small suburban town. But as Clinton searches for the truth, he begins to uncover a conspiracy that goes far deeper than he anticipated.

One Please - (Short) - A perfect family has a rather gory form of currency when it comes to children’s treats.

Preservation - Actor Christopher Denham takes his second turn in the director’s chair with this finely crafted horror-thriller starring Pablo Schreiber (The Wire, Orange is the New Black), Aaron Staton (Mad Men), and Wrenn Schmidt (Boardwalk Empire). Brothers Sean and Mike Neary, along with Mike’s wife Wit, head out on a hunting trip that doubles as a distraction from their troubles at home. But ignoring the “closed” sign and heading deep into an overgrown nature preserve, they soon find their troubles are only beginning. When all of their gear is stolen, they immediately turn on each other. But the hunted can only survive so long standing alone. Just when you think you have heard the story before, Preservation twists into a sharp and startling take on why we fight and, in our tech-obsessed age, what we have been missing out on in the great outdoors.

Sequence - (Short) -  A man wakes up one morning to realize the entire world has dreamed about him the night before.

Sequestered - (Short) - Two bank robbers run into problems when each takes exception to the other’s mask. Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever of the hit ABC television Show, Castle, star in this socially-relevant action comedy.

Summer of Blood - Brooklyn writer-director Onur Tukel stars in this black comedy about relationships, attraction, commitment, and the true meaning of ‘eternity.’ Eric, a misanthropic, emotionally-stunted New Yorker, finds himself on the brink of a premature mid-life crisis when he rejects his career-woman girlfriend's marriage proposal. Stuck at a dead-end job with no allure in the dating pool and even less in bed, Eric has all reason to lose hope. But that all changes one fateful night when he runs into a vampire in an alleyway. The next day, Eric finds his confidence invigorated and his stomach in an excruciating pain that can only be subdued by one thing: blood.

With self-effacing humor and biting wit, Tukel pokes fun at the frustrating nuances of humanity that perpetuate even when we’re no longer human. Featuring Anna Margaret Hollyman and Alex Karpovsky, and a few vampire threesomes for good measure.

Super Duper Alice Cooper - Born Vincent Furnier, the son of a preacher, Alice Cooper emerged from the Detroit scene of the 1970s in a flurry of long hair and sequins to restore rock with a sense of showmanship, while simultaneously striking fear into the very core of Middle America with the chicken-slaughtering, dead-baby-eating theatrics that would cement his identity.

In an appropriately dizzying stylistic evocation of the Alice Cooper persona, this first ever “Doc Opera” (from the team behind TFF 2010 Audience Award winner Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage) is a whirlwind collage of rare archival footage, animation, and candid interviews, adding up to the epic sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll saga of a man who got caught in the grip of his own monster.

Trust Me, I'm a Lifeguard - (Short) - A bro-mantic comedy about two lifeguards, who, when confronted with the end of summer, are forced to make adult decisions such as: What is the meaning of life? What makes a good Speedo? And, are those clams safe to eat?

Zombeavers - You know the story: sexy teens head to a secluded lakeside cabin for a weekend of debauched fun, but as the temperatures rise both on and off the beach, a menacing force is lurking just around the corner, laying in wait to start picking them off one by one. But this isn’t just any horror movie cabin, because here the culprit proves to be a horde of bloodthirsty zombie beavers, bringing with them enough splatter and innuendo to make Sharknado blush. The B-movie creature feature is making a comeback, and with 2 million views of its trailer in its first two weeks alone, the rabid rodents of Zombeavers are a veritable phenomenon—and they’re finally here. Get ready for a dam good time.

The Tribeca Film Festival starts TOMORROW!  Hit their website HERE and grab those tickets while they last.

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