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This weekend saw the close of the 13th annual Tribeca Film Festival, a cinematic celebration that stretches across lower Manhattan and presents a wide selection of movies as well as star-studded events. This year, TFF boasted the world premiere of documentaries like Björk: Biophilia Live, and the Nas-centered Time is Illmatic, as well as eye-catching narratives like About Alex and Every Secret Thing. It made a home for films by first-time directors, like Jordan Rubin's Zombeavers and Courteney Cox's Just Before I Go, alongside Jon Favreau's Chef, and John Carney's Begin Again. Plus there were free drive-in style screenings of Mary Poppins and Splash. In short, the Tribeca Film Festival had something for everyone.
There was so much to choose from this year, it was easy to feel overwhelmed by the Tribeca Film Festival's offerings. But the good news is this is a festival that has a sizeable number of selections nearly guaranteed to be distributed. So I've poured over the titles and buzz to single out the five films you must see as soon as they hit a theater or VOD platform near you.
Love Is StrangeWhat It's About: Alfred Molina and John Lithgow star as George and Ben, a pair of educated gay men who get married after decades of being each other's partners. But when this move gets George fired from his teaching position at a Catholic school, they lose their posh apartment and are forced to separate to crash the couches of friends and family.
Why It Can't Be Missed: Writer-director Ira Sachs hits his stride with this confident but elegant romantic drama. It's an impeccable ensemble piece that will make you laugh and cry in abundance. Not only does this drama focus on the captivating story of Ben and George, but also it delves into the inner lives of the loved ones who aid and irritate them. Molina and Lithgow are extraordinary here, but standout supporting turns are also offered by Cheyenne Jackson, Marisa Tomei, and Charlie Tahan. In short, Love is Strange is too sensational to be missed.
When You'll See It: Love is Strange will open in limited release on August 22nd.
Life PartnersWhat It's About: Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) are 29-year-old best friends who mean the world to each other. But while Sasha is struggling to find satisfaction at work or a worthwhile girlfriend, Paige has a great job and now a new boyfriend (Adam Brody), whose very presence threatens to pull these two co-dependent gal pals apart.
Why It Can't Be Missed: The feature directorial debut of Susanna Fogel, Life Partners is shades of Bridesmaids minus the over-the-top tone. And you know what? It's pretty wonderful. Fogel and her cast nail the complicated nature of female friendships that can become as confining as they can be comforting. Meester and Jacobs share an easy and poignant onscreen connection, and the humor of this buddy com is never lost amid its drama. It's a perfect pick for a Girls Night Out.
When You'll See It: That remains to be seen. Life Partners is still seeking distribution.
The One I LoveWhat It's About: Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star as a married couple on the brink of divorce. Their couples therapist (Ted Danson) urges them to work out their issues over a weekend at a very special getaway spot that offers a solution to their relationship woes neither could ever have anticipated.
Why It Can't Be Missed: The One I Love made its world premiere at Sundance last January and has been snowballing buzz since then for its sharp and inventive take on romantic comedy. As a second-act twist plays a major part in the film's effectiveness and entertainment value, it will be curious to see how its distributors handle the movie's marketing. But in the meantime, I promise you this: The One I Love is uniquely funny and fascinating, like nothing what you've seen before.
When You'll See It: The One I Love opens August 15th.
Zero MotivationWhat It's About: The feature directorial debut of Israeli writer-director Talya Lavie, Zero Motivation follows the misadventures of two female Israeli soldiers who are dedicatedly lazy. Fulfilling two compulsory years in service, these two friends would rather complain about their posts or compete for high score in Minesweeper than excel at their loathed office jobs, cooped up in a desolate desert base far from any front lines. Lucky for them (and us), they know how to amuse themselves through pranks, payback and epic stapler gun battles.
Why It Can't Be Missed: You might think stories of spoiled youth or goofballs in the military are an exclusively Hollywood movie terrain. But the comedy of this Israeli offering translates well, thanks to Lavie's sharp script and the spunky and hilarious performances of Dana Ivgy and Nelly Tagar are as the troublemaking duo. Zero Motivation plays like Stripes meets Clueless with an edge of dark humor, and it works pretty brilliantly.
When You'll See It: Zero Motivation opens in Israel on June 26th. A U.S. release has not yet been announced.
Keep On Keepin' OnWhat It's About: This documentary centers on the powerful bond that developed between 89-year-old jazz legend Clark Terry, who once mentored Miles Davis, and his latest protégé, Justin Kauflin, a 23-year-old piano prodigy who happens to be blind.
Why It Can't Be Missed: Tribeca Film Festival has a reputation for selecting top-notch docs. And this one not only earned serious buzz through the fest, it also won the Heineken Audience Award. Simply put, it's a certified and inspiring crowd-pleaser that has added dramatic weight, being a true tale of perseverance and friendship.
When You'll See It: Harvey Weinstein took the stage before the closing night screening of Begin Again, and proudly announced that Radius TWC had acquired Keep On Keepin' On. So expect a release date announcement and trailer to come along soon.