Entries in The Place of No Words (1)

Tuesday
May072019

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2019: OUR TOP TEN PICKS

BY MATEO MORENO

The 2019 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL had an amazing lineup this year, and we were lucky enough to be there for every step! Below, we've compiled our own TOP TEN list from this years Festival. Keep checking back here for full reviews of all of the below films and many more throughout the week. 

 

10) LOW TIDE - Eerie and moody, first time filmmaker Kevin McMullin has crafted a wonderful throwback film, one that feels like it could have been made 20 years ago or yesterday. In other words: timeless. LOW TIDE is part coming-of-age, part treasure hunt and shows true promise from this rookie of the screen. The film follows three teens in a summer lake vacationing town in New Jersey who spend each night breaking into Summer homes and grabbing all the loot they can get without getting caught. But when one of the teens Alan finds a real bag of treasure: a bag of gold coins. From that point on, the curse of the treasure follows them and the film jumps between a style that seems mixed with THE GOONIES and a suspenseful coming-of-age tale. The main cast of Keean Johnson, Jaeden Martel, Alex Neustaedter, and Daniel Zolghadri are all fantastic here and the cinematography by Andre Ellmaker is stunning. A wild Summer on the shore for sure.

 

9) WILD ROSE - The spectacular Jessie Buckley radiates on the screen as Rose-Lynn Harlan, a down and out singer in Glasgow who's just been released from Prison. She has two children that she doesn’t know what to do with and a Mother who resents her lack of responsibility for her family. But she also has a voice that is screaming to be heard, and a dream of heading to Nashville to make it big. And her employer Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) plans to help her make it there. Director Tom Harper and Screenwriter Nicole Taylor create a vivid, wild ride of a musical that is supported by a fantastic cast. The story is beautiful and heartbreaking and Buckley is a true star. You'll cheer for her and then download the soundtrack when you get home (which, by the way, is available now).

 

8) THE PLACE OF NO WORDS - The question, "Where do we go when we die" is innocent enough, and in Mark Webber's film THE PLACE OF NO WORDS it comes from his son Bodi Palmer's mouth. What Bodi doesn't know is that his father is dying, and doesn't know how to break it to his precocious son. So he takes him on an imaginary, fantastical journey of escapism, where they are two sword and shield wielding knights running into trolls, fairies and witches along the way. The dialogue seems almost improvised and off the cuff, but brimming with power, and there's a reason for that. Writer/Director/Star Webber cast his real life wife Teresa Palmer and his real life son Brodie as his family here, and in less qualified hands it could end up being a self-indulgent mess. But here it works beautifully if you let it wash over you. It's not an easy sit and constantly challenges you but it's well worth it. And at 95 minutes, it never overstays it's welcome. Beautiful and poetic, it's a visually stunning (thanks to cinematographer Patric Lucien Cochet) and wonderfully original film.

 

7) STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN - This earnest and honest film wears its heart on its sleeve, but that's not a bad thing. It's a buddy comedy with an unlikely duo: Ben Schwartz and Billy Crystal. Schwartz plays Scott, a stand-up comedian who is forced to move back home and back in with his parents. His Mother is thrilled; his father is less so. Immediately he hopes to strike up a connection with Becky, the girl he left behind (Eloise Mumford). But what he didn't see coming is the thing that ends up affecting him the most: an unlikely connection and friendship with his dermatologist Marty (Crystal). Marty is also a barfly who's hard partying ways have left a rift between him and his family, but he immediately bonds to the younger Marty, seeing both a son-like figure and a friend. They need each other and just the exact right time in their lives. Schwartz turns in a charming and gentle lead performance, while Crystal knows just how to play the charming boozer; he never overplays a scene, hitting all the right cords. The supporting cast is all perfectly cast, from the sarcastic snips of Grace Gummer, the heartfelt beats by Eloise Mumford and Caitlin McGee and the riled up pain of Nate Corddry's left behind son. STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN is warm, personal, and touching. It's an old fashioned tale that feels just right, right now.

 

6) PLUS ONE - Truly the most winning romantic comedy I've seen in quite a while, PLUS ONE is incredibly funny and heartfelt film, anchored with two of the most winning leads in years: Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine. Brought to us by two of the writers of Erskine's Hulu series PEN15, the plot follows Ben and Alice (Quaid, Erskine), two college friends who have entered "Wedding season," and they have friend after friend getting married. So they decided to team up and be each other’s plus ones. Sure, we as the audience can immediately see that they are perfect for each other, but of course they don't. And though that set up is a typical rom-com troupe, the twists and turns are unexpected and the dialogue is naturally hilarious. Both Quaid and Erskine have fantastic chemistry, and if you're a PEN15 fan, you'll be happy to know that there is indeed a very funny cameo by Anna Konkle. This is one wedding season that you will definitely want to be a part of.

 

5) SWALLOW - The act of swallowing dangerous items such as batteries, tacks, and marbles is something that baffles most people. But it is a real disorder and one that ends up enveloping Hunter (Haley Bennett) a young pregnant trophy wife at the center of SWALLOW. Her husband (Austin Stowell) is on the rise at his father's company and she is the stay at home perfect image of a housewife. But deep down she knows she doesn't want this life and feels trapped. She wants to regain a sense of control and strangely it all begins when she has a sudden impulse to swallow a small marble. When she's able to recover it a couple of days later, she begins to swallow more and more things, leading to darker and darker consequences. Carlo Mirabella-Davis's slow burning drama is a film that you can't put in any particular box, and that's exactly what he wants. You can't fully describe it: You simply have to see it. Haley Bennett turns in a stunning and powerful performance that simply won't leave your mind anytime soon, nor will the images that occur, even if you want them to.

 

4) AT THE HEART OF GOLD - Dr. Larry Nasser is a monster, and he was a monster in sheep's clothing. He preyed upon the innocence and trust of young girls with Olympic dreams. For literal decades, Nasser sexually assaulted at least 250 young girls and at least 1 boy and it wasn't until 2016 that he was finally outed, after decades of abusing young children. Erin Lee Carr's powerful and infuriating documentary chronicles the entire tale of bringing him to justice, showcasing the brave women who stood up and refused to be quiet, and the corrupt organization of USA Gymnastics that sheltered and protected him. It is a terribly upsetting watch, one that made me well up with tears just as many times as my fists clinched with anger. But it's an important story to tell, and one that proves we still have a long way to go in protecting our children from the monster next door.

 

3) LUCE - Racial stereotypes are at the forefront of Director Julius Onah's feature LUCE, and it crackles with intensity and suspense. A fantastic Kevin Harrison Jr. plays Luce, a top of his class high school honors student. His past is filled with horror: he was a child soldier in Eritrea and was rescued and adopted from that world by a loving set of adoptive parents, played to perfection by Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. Luce knows that he's fortunate, but he's also claustrophobic: he has to live in a box of perfection, never stepping outside of those lines. His parents, his school, and his teachers all expect it and he knows it. He's not judged the same as his other black schoolmates, who are often labeled as delinquents. And his unraveling makes this drama turn into a searing thriller that is as mysterious as it is powerful. Octavia Spencer also turns in a subtle performance as a demanding teacher who may have overstepped her bounds with Luce. Revealing any more about the film would run the wonderful surprise of it all and I won't do that here. But know that LUCE is one of the most surprising and powerful films you'll see this year.

 

2) SEE YOU YESTERDAY - Not every time traveling adventure needs a DeLoreon or one single Infinity Stone. Sometimes you just need two ingenious kids with a passion for science and adventure mixed with a story of strong social commentary. In Stefon Bristol's thrillingly original feature film debut, produced by Spike Lee, Eden Duncan-Smith and Danté Crichlow are both fantastic as CJ and Sebastian, the two teens who are ready to set their future aflame with their invention. But what starts with their first trip aimed at a fun trip back in time molds into them coming back into a present where CJ's brother Calvin (a strong Brian "Stro" Bradley) is mistaken for another and shot dead by Police. The family is in mourning, but CJ has another plan: they go back in time to stop her brother from being shot. And thus begins their journey to save Calvin. Mixing social commentary with sci-fi works stunningly well here, and the film mixes both a fun tone and a powerful dramatic one. Director and co-writer Stefon Bristol expanded his short film into this remarkably well, and the result is a powerful meditation on love, loss, and time travel. Complete with a splendid cameo from everyone's favorite time traveler himself.

 

1) BUFFALLOED - To say that Zoey Deutch's star turn in BUFFALLOED is a star making turn is truly putting it mildly. Deutch is an amazing force of nature in Director Tanya Wexler's crime spree comedy, and take a character that is truly a mixed bag of emotions and keeps you on her side the entire film. Peg Dahl (Deutch) is a young woman who since childhood has strived to use her business sense and fearlessness to make a name for herself in the business world. But her fearlessness as an adult has landed her in jail. She's now out and is looking for a fresh start. After being hassled by a debt collector on the phone, she turns the tables on him and shows up to their offices, joining their team and quickly rising to the top as their top collector. The collective cast of Judy Greer, Noah Reid, Jai Courtney, and Jermaine Fowler all turn in fantastic supporting turns. And enough good cannot be said about Zoey Deutch. She is phenomenal and even if the film wasn't great, her performance alone would make this a must see. Hilarious and heartfelt, with a not so suble wink towards the flawed debt industry, BUFFALLOED is a true winner.