Reliving Childhood


Tribeca Festival


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


Tribeca Festival


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


Tribeca Festival


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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All Under Control


Tribeca Festival


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


Tribeca Festival


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




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


Tribeca Festival


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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Haitian Child Support

Javier Labrador

Mountains (2023)

The marketing describes “Mountains” as about the generational gap between immigrants and their children, but it’s considerably more nuanced than that. The gap is between parents who work with their hands – Xavier (Atibon Nazaire) works in demolition, part of a small crew tearing down unwanted properties in Miami’s Little Haiti, while his wife, Esperance (Sheila Anozier), is a crossing guard and dressmaker – and adult children whose job prospects are much more ethereal. Junior (Chris Renois) parks cars at a hotel and is attempting to build a stand-up comedy career by night, relying on a set that discusses how he is a disappointment to his parents. The physical realm is what previous generations are used to, while the younger people must search for their place in the cloud, the nebulous atmosphere where relationships are all. The mountains of the title are metaphorical, but this very good film knows how they rise up between where you are and where you want to be.

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Spirited Astray

Beijing October Media

Deep Sea (2023)

You thought an animated movie set in a restaurant-submarine owned by a magical clown-chef, staffed by walruses and otters and patronized by fish-people customers who are glued to their phones, with an 11-year-old human girl as the main character, was a kids’ movie? You rube. You fool. You absolute nincompoop. This movie is so grim – it has no problem with child abuse and mental cruelty, in addition to holding young Shenxiu (voiced by Wang Tingwen) responsible for the behavior of the adults around her – that only an idiot would show it to anyone under 12, though depressed teenagers will probably love it. This is also probably because the animation is unusually beautiful, in a smeary, lacquered way, populating every centimeter of every frame with the world-building detail found in the best kids’ movies. Sometimes the little otters, who generally work as waiters and bussers in the restaurant, even dress up in animal onesies and sing songs. But all of this anthropomorphic detail and visual depth wallpapers a plot of jaw-dropping horror that builds to a ghastly ending. The combined beauty and trauma is undoubtedly what brought it to the Tribeca Festival, but as such it’s very hard to recommend. Director Tian Xiaopeng has made a gorgeous atrocity.

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Tribeca Festival

Rather (2023)

It must be nice to be able to participate in your eulogy, even if not every aspect of your life is one you care to remember. Dan Rather got his start on local news in Texas, meaning he was the man on the spot when John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963; and 60 years later here we are watching a documentary about his journalism career at the Tribeca Festival. Mr. Rather is in his 90s, still participating in the news cycle through his Substack and a sassy Twitter feed, and witnessing a world of news and journalism which he directly shaped through his choices and his mistakes. The movie is more of a primer for those too young to remember journalism before the 24-hour news cycle, but its examination of Mr. Rather’s legacy pulls no punches.

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