Reliving Childhood

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Tribeca Festival

MOVIE REVIEW

Eternal Playground (2024)

Any movie about a group of friends reuniting after a funeral risks comparisons with “The Big Chill,” but this endearing French movie makes that simile a reach for two reasons: the characters are all in their mid-20s, and the location of their reunion is their old middle school. Literally. It’s where Gaspard (Andranic Manet) teaches music, and where he and his late sister, Louise (voiced in his thoughts by Noée Abita), also studied as kids. It’s in the center of Paris, but so ignored in the early summer holidays that Gaspard can sneak his mates in without anyone in the neighborhood noticing. It’s this combination of memory and invisibility that makes “Eternal Playground” a rewarding watch. It’s also a potent reminder to many American individuals what our me-first society has lost.

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Band of Brothers

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Tribeca Festival

MOVIE REVIEW

Alien Weaponry: Kua Tupu Te Ara (2024)

Any documentary, mock or not, about a band from New Zealand still exists in the shadow of “Flight of the Conchords.” And while it is to be regretted that there are no band meetings in which somebody takes attendance, that’s because “Alien Weaponry: Kua Tupu Te Ara” is telling a very different story to the Tribeca Festival. The duo at the core of the movie, brothers Henry and Lewis De Jong, formed their thrash metal band when they were 10 and 8 years old respectively. Director Kent Belcher’s camera follows them from 2018 to 2023, so when drummer Henry goes from around 18 to 24 and lead singer-guitarist Lewis goes from 16 to his 21st birthday party. What they have achieved at such young ages is astounding, all the more when you learn large portion of their songs are in Māori, the indigenous language of New Zealand. But the global metal scene is large enough to embrace them; and the ways in which they find their place in it are charmingly explored in this surprisingly gentle movie.

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End of the Road

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Tribeca Festival

MOVIE REVIEW

Sacramento (2024)

Michael Angarano boasts a truly impressive resume that includes acting in films by Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, Cameron Crowe, Thomas Vinterberg, Wes Craven et al., but his own name only registers as vaguely familiar. Probably even lesser known is the fact that he has writing and directing credits under his belt, from 2017’s “Avenues.” For his sophomore directorial outing, “Sacramento,” which premiered at the Tribeca Festival, he has assembled a luminous cast that includes Michael Cera, Kristen Stewart and Maya Erskine, his real-life spouse. His filmmaking oeuvre so far recalls that of Zach Braff, dealing with growing pains of the manchild. And where is Mr. Braff now? Doing T-Mobile commercials.

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Show Biz Kids

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Tribeca Festival

MOVIE REVIEW

Brats (2024)

Andrew McCarthy was a likable young actor in his 20s and now makes a likable documentarian in his 60s, digging back into his own past life. "Brats" follows Mr. McCarthy on a road trip visiting some of the other former members of the group of 1980s actors loosely – or lazily – grouped together by the media under the label of "the Brat Pack," although the looseness and laziness of the term are two of the things that prove to rankle interviewer and interviewees alike. Having already written an autobiography under the title "Brat: An '80s Story" in 2021, Mr. McCarthy has gone from the singular to the plural, reconnecting with actors and crew he has not seen for decades, to test whether they are still unnerved by the memory of the B-word as much as he is.

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All Under Control

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Tribeca Festival

MOVIE REVIEW

S/He Is Still Her/e – The Official Genesis P-Orridge Documentary (2024)

This film is subtitled "The Official Genesis P-Orridge Documentary," writer-director David Charles Rodrigues having received access to relevant family archives and the approval of the subject's daughters, attached here as executive producers. Whether official can mean definitive in this case is a different question. What would a definitive portrait even be of the English musician, performance artist, occultist, antagonist for the Britain's moldering Conservative establishment, loving parent, esotericist, associate of William S. Burroughs and protean engineer of their own identity in both mental and physical terms? Any 98 minute snapshot will only be a cross section, a slice through the matrix, a prompt to see how someone else's mapping of their own innerspace might shed some parallel light on your own.

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Starlight Express

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Tribeca Festival

MOVIE REVIEW

They're Here (2024)

Those in search of understanding and knowledge in a difficult world can look inward, or outward, or if they're so inclined look upward to the stars in search of alien visitors. "They're Here" profiles a group of upstate New Yorkers on that third path, people who have seen unidentified flying objects or met the U.F.O.s' passengers; events that led them to rethink their place in the world and perhaps who they themselves are as well. This process takes different forms. They seek reassurance from academics that the data does support their experience, or allow hypnotists to root around in their memories, or just seek other people in the same boat who won't stare at them skeptically. Daniel Claridge and Pacho Velez's calm, compassionate, perhaps too restrained documentary is about individuals with a variety of differences but at least one common trait: the wary and weary expression of people whose stable frames of reference were bumped six inches sideways and took them with it.

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Trans Mission

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Mubi

MOVIE REVIEW

Crossing (2024)

A movie that revolves around two Georgians in Istanbul, Turkey, looking for someone they know, “Crossing” is very reminiscent of “Central Station.” Ain’t nothing wrong with that! The Walter Salles film is a masterpiece that others should aspire to emulate. It also sets the bar impossibly high.

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She's Out of His League

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Tribeca Festival

MOVIE REVIEW

Winter Spring Summer or Fall (2024)

The story of an average Joe being in love with a woman way out of his league is nothing new. It’s like every Woody Allen movie ever. Or Adam Sandler. Or Judd Apatow. And so on. This is a trope, or maybe an entire genre, in Bollywood and its adjacent film industries – the impossible intercaste relationship dynamic – and yet somehow it never seems to get old over there because they’ve discovered the formula for making viewers’ cheeks blush and hearts flutter. “Winter Spring Summer or Fall,” which has its world premiere at the Tribeca Festival, gives this premise the Y.A. treatment.

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Asking a Lot

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Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures

MOVIE REVIEW

Kinds of Kindness (2024)

Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the few European directors from non-English-speaking countries (in his case, Greece) in recent years to successfully pivot to full-time filmmaking in America. Unlike, say, Lars von Trier or Nicolas Winding Refn, Mr. Lanthimos has been recognized by the Academy with multiple nominations. He’s also lucky that he’s never had to placate Harvey Weinstein.

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Fiddling While Rome Burns

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Caesar Films

MOVIE REVIEW

Megalopolis (2024)

The kindest way to describe “Megalopolis,” Francis Ford Coppola’s latest grasp at relevance, is that it is somewhat late-career Felliniesque, with its Art Deco production designs, costumes that range from ancient Greek to prerevolution French and the decadent life-as-circus motif. But let’s face it. Late-career Coppola gonna late-career Coppola. The film is bloated, unfocused and self-indulgent.

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