Indie dramas that explore the correlation between drugs and violence are far from uncommon. Yet, “Thumper,” writer/director Jordan Ross‘s (MTV‘s “True Life“) narrative feature debut, piques our interest. From executive producer Cary Fukunaga, “Thumper” boasts an exceptional ensemble, with Eliza Taylor, Daniel Webber, Pablo Schreiber, Lena Headey, Ben Feldman and Grant Harvey among those lending their talents, and its uncompromising, hard-edge approach, if done right, could be extremely effective. We’ll have to wait and see if this one is worthy of its potential, but it’s worth checking.
“The Trip To Spain”
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are back together again. In their third European getaway, Coogan and Brydon continue to eat, drink, bicker and perform a seemingly endless barrage of celebrity impressions in front of gorgeous locales, with director Michael Winterbottom returning to direct all the snide remarks and improv dialogue along the journey. After two wickedly entertaining installments, we have no reason to believe this one won’t be just as delectable and hilarious. We’re simply waiting to be seated at the table.
“Flames” might just be the real-life, non-musical version of “The Last Five Years.” Filmed over the past five years, Zefrey Throwell and Josephine Decker‘s incredibly personal self-exploration, caught on film, has the potential to be one of the most intimate, intensely riveting films at this year’s festival. A (partial) documentary that follows a relationship from its passionate beginning to its bittersweet end, it’s a relationship shown (partly) in real time, and it’s a glimpse into a fragile life that we usually don’t get to see on the big screen. Docu-art hybrids aren’t always successful, but the best ones are positively engrossing, and we feel like Throwell and Decker might just have an exceptional little true-to-life film in their hands.
“Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait”
Painter-turned-filmmaker Julian Schnabel is one of our most intriguing working artists, but we hardly ever get a glimpse into his wild creative process. That changes with writer/director Pappi Corsicato‘s enclosed, intimate personality study, a kaleidoscopic documentary that travels back in time to witness Schnabel rise from one of the key players of the Neo-Expressionist movement to the acclaimed filmmaker behind “Basquiat,” “Before Night Falls” and the exceptional “The Diving Bell And The Butterfly,” just to name a few. Featuring commentary from friends, family and fellow artists, including Al Pacino, Mary Boone, Vito Schnabel and Willem Dafoe, “Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait” paints an image behind one of the most boisterous, provocative artists we have working in the creative fields today.
“A Gray State”
In 2010, Iraq veteran and aspiring filmmaker David Crowley set out to make a dystopian near-future fable called “Gray State.” The crowdfunded trailer, which explored such a future where civil liberties get demolished by an unrestrained federal government, earned warm responses from libertarians, Tea Party activists and alt-right members alike. In January 2015, Crowley and his family were horrifically and mysteriously found dead inside their Minnesota home. Since then, Crowley’s death is the source of countless conspiracy theories, many of which suggest Crowley was assassinated by a shadowy government who felt Crowley threatened to get too close to the truth. Director Erik Nelson‘s documentary “A Gray State” goes through thousands of pictures, hundreds of hours of home video and tons of behind-the-scenes footage of Crowley’s working film in order to uncover the truth behind his untimely death. From executive producer Werner Herzog, “A Gray State” guarantees to be a controversial, shocking new film.
Gilbert Gottfried is one of the most recognizable voices in comedy. His screeching throat is just as singular as his blue comedy and unapologetic worldview, all of which gets highlighted in Neil Berkeley‘s new documentary “Gilbert.” Whether it’s his popular voice work or filthy stand-up comedy, everyone knows Gottfried’s career, but Berkeley’s documentary explores Gottfried’s personal life, a tender side which Gottfried doesn’t always showcase. Promising to show a new side to the popular, controversial comedian, “Gilbert” might become one of the most emotional, well-sought-after movies at this year’s festival.
“A River Below”
Inside the Amazon, a near-mystical animal threatens to go extinct. The indigenous pink river dolphin population is dwindling, as it is hunted and used as bait for scavenger fish, but two activists are going to do everything they can to save it. One is a marine biologist and the other’s a famous TV star, but they share the same common goal. But as the battle grows more intense, they still struggle to bring public awareness. Director Mark Grieco‘s (“Marmato“) newest documentary, “A River Below,” explores the growth and ethics of activism in the media age, and we’ve been told this is one to keep an eye on ahead of its premiere.
There are certainly lots of other titles to keep tabs on, and some of them are excluded here because we’ve already seen and covered them. First and foremost coming to mind is Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” starring Elisabeth Moss from director Reed Morano. The first episode screens in the Tribeca TV section and we have to tell you, the series is phenomenal. National Geographic‘s “Genius” starring Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein could be intriguing, and the third-season premiere of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” will be screening as well. Oren Moverman‘s “The Dinner” is another good one we’ve already seen and recommend.
There are many titles of interest and only so much allotted time and space, but let us continue with a few more. “Aardvark” with Jon Hamm and Zachary Quinto sounds curious, “Dog Years” with Burt Reynolds could be a potential comeback for the star, “My Friend Dahmer” seems to have its advocates, and “Chuck” with Liev Schreiber could be the “Rocky” movie of 2017 we all need. Other titles of note include Dito Montiel‘s “The Clapper” with Ed Helms and Amanda Seyfried; “Dabka” with Evan Peters, Al Pacino, and Barkhad Abdi; “The Lovers” with Tracy Letts and Debra Winger; “Permission” featuring Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall; and “Take Me” starring Pat Healy and “Orange Is The New Black” star Taylor Schilling.
And then of course, don’t forget the big, flagship gala movies like “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: The Bad Boy Story,” “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives,” the radio-music-station doc “Dare To Be Different,” “The Public Image Is Rotten,” and the Whitney Houston doc, “Whitney. ‘can I be me’” from director Nick Broomfield. Tribeca Talks include lots of stars including Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Noah Baumbach, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Rodriguez, Tom Hanks, Lena Dunham and many more. There’s literally something for everyone.