Tribeca Film Festival 2009: Preview Guide
Fri, 24 Apr 2009 12:11:13
Scarlett Johansson Photos
Woody Allen Videos
About two years ago this month—strung out on cash and newly arrived in the Big Apple—I took up the first opportunity that swung my way, which just so happened to be working as a peon (a.k.a., festival guide) for the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. The days were long—even raining throughout many of them—but, ultimately, instilled a need to be on the other side of Bob De Niro’s exclusive velvet rope. Now, covering the festival in 2009 for the very first time, there is a sort of wish fulfillment occurring—especially looking at this year’s excellent line-up of foreign, documentary, and independent films.
In its eighth year, the annual Tribeca Film Festival, located in the Lower West Side triangle below Canal St., kicked off with a cinematic bang the evening of Wednesday, April 22. The much buzzed-about new Woody Allen film Whatever Works opened the festival gates. Hoping to continue his wave of return-to-form smashes (Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Allen employs similarly neurotic Larry David and the young and talented Evan Rachel Wood to mouth his wordy dialogue. Thankfully, he has put to rest the perplexing Scarlett-fetish and moved on to Evan. The film is easily one of the festival's most eagerly-anticipated offerings.
Still in its pre-pubescent stage, Tribeca is continuing to find its footing amidst a world of bountifully-populated film festivals. But, this year, the lineup is a bit more streamlined, shining a light on freethinking global film and discarding past sentimental, 9/11-themed fare that mired the slate rather than providing an anchor.
The highlights at this year’s festival include many Sundance holdovers and past Tribeca returnees. Armando Iannucci’s In The Loop, a Sundance rave, is a comedic gem, stinging with dry, sardonic wit. Stemming from Iannucci’s heralded BBC series The Thick of it, the creator reconfigures the British setting to stateside in Washington for the cinematic rendering. James Gandolfini and Steve Coogan star in this damning political satire that tickles the funny bones as much as it trades cutting barbs.
Past Audience Award winner and Oscar nominee Marshall Curry (Street Fight) debuts his go-cart racing documentary Racing Dreams on Saturday, April 25. Framed around three kids in the South, Curry’s second filmmaking outing chronicles their every waking moment on and off the track. Leading up to the hotly contested national championship, these preteens reveal great moments of fearlessness and ambition under the heated, pressure-filled spotlight of racing.
Controversy consistently lends to filling seats and this year’s slate proves no exception. Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience was the talk of the slopping town in Salt Lake City when it premiered at Sundance last January. Now making its Manhattan premiere, the level of intrigue is on the verge of bubbling over: Hiring real-life porn star Sasha Grey as his lead in this take on modern prostitution under the umbrella of looming economic downturn confirms Soderbergh’s knack for tackling often-skirted material, raising an eyebrow or two in the process. Also, make sure to lookout for documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick’s Outrage to turn some heads, as it documents the hypocritical nature of certain Republican congressmen’s views on gay civil rights…while they’re caught with their pants down in an airport bathroom doing you-know-what-to-who.
Along with the Allen film, Sony Pictures Classics is well represented outside the competition in the Spotlight category, featuring Rudo Y Cursi, Easy Virtue, Soul Power, Black Dynamite, and Moon, which are all must-sees!
Boasting 48 World Premieres, the festival showcases several cinematic delicacies from all over the globe. I say study your film guide wisely, and make sure you speak kindly to the boy or girl handing them out. You never know where they’ll end up.