Village Voice 04.19.2017 : Page 10

10 April 19 April 25, 2017 TRIBECA’S BRIGHTEST SPOTS The movies to seek out at the lm fest that won’t stop growing Drew Xanthopoulos’s The Sensitives BY DANNY KING VILLAGE he’s the angriest and most self-pitying of the lot. Weighing whether to relocate to a complex of sterilized Texan cottages, Joe balks at this “concentration of crazies.” The Sensitives is more poignant than many docs about victims, as the oppressor is here-to-stay modern technology, a boon to most that undercuts quality of life for an unfortu-nate few. SAM WEISBERG True Conviction In Dallas, three exonerated men who served multiple-decade sentences for wrongful convictions meet in cafés and barbecue joints to pore over letters and documents from inmates suffering from similar fates. Documentarian Jamie Meltzer’s sketch of their lives compensates for its occasional lapses into listlessness — a scene of the trio listening to an interrogation recording argu-ably isn’t much of a movie scene at all — with a beguiling attention to character. Christopher Scott, the main audience-identi ication point among the three and a sartorial genius, likes to cook chili dogs and shoot hoops with his two grown sons; John-nie Lindsey takes to meditation and piano-playing; Steven Phillips, still wrestling with a cocaine habit, goes ishing and starts a twelve-step program. Touching on notes that range from rage to catharsis, this is a warm, tough dose of humanity from the death penalty capital of the world. DANNY KING Drew Xanthopoulos T he Tribeca Film Festival, founded in 2002 partly to shore up morale in the down-town neighborhood after 9-11, now has screenings that take place in midtown, in Chelsea, and on the Upper West Side. It plays host to short-and feature-length movies, family programming, concerts (this year, Sean Combs), television (“Tribeca TV”), panels (“Tribeca Talks”), online-speci ic work (“Tribeca N.O.W.”), a special-section partnership with ESPN (“Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival”), and storytelling experiments using the latest and weirdest in virtual-reality technology (“Storyscapes” and “Virtual Arcade”). If ever a fest overshot the expectations of “ ilm festival,” Tribeca is it. And yet this daunting, discipline-crossing volume of content — spread out this year, the sixteenth iteration, across a period of a dozen days — is somewhat responsible for the festival’s reputation as a puzzling behemoth. Tribeca 2017 contains, among limit-less other attractions, one hundred ilm titles that fall within the following categories: “Documentary Competition,” “U.S. Narrative Competition,” “International Narrative Competition,” “Spotlight Documentary,” “Spotlight Narrative,” “Viewpoints,” “Midnight,” “Special Screenings,” “Special Retro Screenings,” and “Galas.” Navigating this landscape as a critic or a reporter — let alone as a prospective attendee — is a challenge. Consensus has rightly solidi ied Tribeca as an elite international spotlight on documentary moviemaking, but in the other departments — feature-length narratives, especially — excellence, or even a consistency of curation, remains elusive. But there are uncommon bright spots. Though a number of the fest’s buzziest entries have already secured distribution — including The Trip to Spain , the latest chapter in Michael Winterbottom’s comic travelogue starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, and Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin’s all-archival-footage doc LA 92 — there are many unclaimed movies worth taking a chance on. Below is a smattering of 2017 selections — none perfect, all interesting. examine the case, but uncooperative police and the passage of time stymie her. Cruz is compelling, but the more recent scenes can’t compare to the shock and shame of a grainy Seventies clip in which Rivera, speaking at a Pride event, is met with resounding boos. REN JENDER The Reagan Show “There have been times in this of ice when I’ve wondered how you could do the job if you hadn’t been an actor,” President Ronald Reagan, son of Hollywood, tells David Brin-kley in a December 1988 farewell interview. With that, co-directors Pacho Velez and Sierra Pettengill are off: Their all-archival doc draws on a mix of network news footage and Reagan administration videotapes to examine the then-unprecedented media consciousness of the camera-savvy conser-vative’s two-term operation. The pair spend ample time addressing the creep of Cold War panic, inding in the decade’s fever-ishly analyzed nuclear summits ( irst in Geneva, then in Reykjavík) a like-minded presentational flair between Reagan and his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev. But the drollest bits are simply the behind-the-scenes, fly-on-the-wall beats captured by the man’s own White House Television Of ice — whether Nancy Reagan’s annoyed “This is not for me, honey,” as her husband cajoles her into riding horses for the cam-eras, or the documentation of the couple’s California-ranch mailbox, emblazoned in gold with “The Reagan’s,” that apostrophe an example of preening incorrectness that wouldn’t be out of place on the Twitter feed of the man currently pro iting most off Reagan’s rhetoric. DANNY KING The Sensitives “I’m picking up some scent here,” says Joe. Joe isn’t a perfume tester. He’s one of three subjects, pro iled in Drew Xanthopoulos’s superb The Sensitives , afflicted with MCS, a condition in which electricity, cleaning products, and even book aromas can spur breathing problems and bleeding. The two other igures live in dry, secluded stretches of Arizona and Montana; unlike them, Joe can escape his low-lit, padded quarters for short walks, or welcome relatives in, but The Divine Order For a movement that transformed the world, second-wave feminism sure hasn’t been the focus of many ilms. In this de-lightful comedy, writer-director Petra Volpe introduces us to calm, sensible Nora (Marie Leuenberger), a housewife in a kerchief liv-ing in a rural Swiss village in 1971. She cam-paigns for women’s suffrage (Switzerland was one of the last Western democracies to Petra Volpe’s The Divine Order The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson Director David France’s How to Survive a Plague follow-up doesn’t boast that ilm’s precision but does borrow its structure, flip-ping from the past to the present. Activist Marsha P. Johnson took part in the Stone-wall riots and founded (with Sylvia Rivera) STAR, one of the irst organizations de-signed to help young trans people. Johnson was found dead in 1992; here, Victoria Cruz, also a Black trans woman, working for New York’s Anti-Violence Project, attempts to re-Daniel Ammann

Previous Page  Next Page

Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here