Movies Making a Splash at The 2013 Tribeca Film Festival

Photo Credit: Front Row Filmed Entertainment
April 26th, 2013

Movies Making a Splash at The 2013 Tribeca Film Festival

Since its founding in 2002, the Tribeca Film Festival has served to bring together an eclectic combination of established filmmakers, actors, and incredibly pretentious fans with relative unknowns and the cream of the senior class from NYU's film school. Somehow, it also manages to remind the world that Hollywood doesn't have a lock on the all-consuming corporatization of independent film. This festival lacks the internationalist pretense of Cannes, just as it is deficient in the outrageous tsunami of raw cash that's always been on display at Sundance. No, Tribeca is essentially and distinctly a New York affair. If large, days-long celebrations of cinema could have an accent, the Tribeca Film Festival would talk like Joe Piscopo.

So there's a big film festival in New York. It's going to attract respectful press notices and make a big pile of money, as usual, but what's really there? Digging around a bit, it looks like three films are going to generate some buzz this year. Usually, "buzz" at a film festival means rumors about which director just signed a million-dollar contract with Miramax or even which actor just plea bargained down to misdemeanor public nudity, but in this case genuine interest seems to be buzzing around these movies. Here, then, are the three films most likely to make a splash at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

"Adult World"

"Adult World" is the first, and in many ways the most obvious, entry on this list. Remember how Tribeca is super New York. Here's the plot of "Adult World": Emma Roberts plays Amy, an aspiring poet who suffers from crippling social anxiety. On this Earth, people who match that description are lucky to get dishwashing jobs and live in flophouses, but in the world of movies that are popular at Tribeca, this means she has to land a job at a local sex shop. John Cusack arrives to simultaneously act as her poetry mentor and to remind everyone he was the guy from "Say Anything." Amy becomes ever more comfortable in her role as a fleshlight distributor and eventually comes of age as a mature poet or something.


Some people are just dying to know the ins and outs of arcane pagan customs that have survived in the modern Christian Europe. "Alberi" scratches that itch by showcasing a nearly extinct ritual that's haltingly still practiced in southern Italy. In the outskirts of the village of Satriano, men have spent the last zillion years going out into the woods right before Carnevale and dressing up as trees covered with ivy, because why not. "Alberi" is only twenty-eight minutes long, so there really isn't enough time for audience-friendly exposition, leaving director Michelangelo Frammartino bathing the audience in sound and fury. The visuals alone are haunting, and the score seems to have been composed and arranged by a race of superior alien beings who have come here to elevate mankind. The ritual, like all rituals these days, is dying out as younger people decide for some reason that dressing like a tree and running around in the woods is weird and a waste of time. What this means is that the ritual will probably either stop being a thing within one or two generations or survive largely as a minor tourist attraction. Which of these is sadder depends on who's telling the story, but it can't be denied that an ancient pagan rite loses some of its magic when there's a concession stand within five minutes' walk.

"All is Bright" (formerly Almost Christmas)

Okay, first things first: Paul Rudd is awesome. Also, there's no Canada like French Canada, and when the two come together, their respective awesomeness is expressed by exponential notation. "All is Bright" accomplishes this by casting Rudd as a wastrel drifter and womanizer who just stole the wife of ex-con and general maniac Dennis (Paul Giamatti). Honestly, not much actually happens in "All is Bright," but in the very best way that nothing really happens in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." The entire film revolves around the personalities involved in the non-action and how very long an uncomfortable moment can stretch between enemies who can't escape each other's presence for a minute.

It will be seen that each of these films is a melange. Some classic cinema seems to have influenced each, which tries to bring newer elements to the mix. There could hardly be a better melting pot for this kind of filmmaking than the original melting pot itself of New York City.