About to unveil its 18th edition, the Tribeca Film Festival has become the best kind of predictable. We know they'll introduce us to some exquisite documentaries, the kind that preoccupy us for days. We know they'll unspool a handful of refurbished classics that nobody minds revisiting, with talent on hand for some legendary post-screening Q&As. (This year, no less a giant than Francis Ford Coppola will discuss his epic war movie Apocalypse Now.) And we know that digging through the indies, rom-coms and dramas will yield a new favorite for all tastes. This year, we've made it easy for you: Are you one of the 10 types below? Tribeca's got you covered. The festival runs Wed 24–May 5 at various venues (noted below); visit the fest’s official site for tickets and full schedule.
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Best Tribeca Film Festival 2019 movies
Filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng is responsible for 2014’s transcendent, suspenseful Dior and I, and his new doc is even better. Halston is a rigorous history of the mono-monikered clothes designer, an Iowa-born cypher, a genius of drapery and publicity, an Andy- and-Bianca scenemaker and, ultimately, a cautionary emblem of ’80s exploitation.
The highlight of a new Tribeca sidebar programmed by local critics, Peter Strickland’s stylish supernatural comedy (we laughed, promise) is set in a department store run by witches who lull shoppers into buying haunted couture. Strickland, a longtime devotee of trashy European thrills à la the original Suspiria, makes sick stuff that we love.
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project
Stokes, a Philadelphia librarian and hoarder, compulsively recorded the news 24 hours a day, from 1977 until her death in 2012, leaving behind an amateur media archive of increasingly profound significance. This profile teases out the radical intellect behind the VHS tapes: a hard woman to love but a paragon of free will.
It wouldn’t be Tribeca without some dark, doomy, end-of-the-world fare, and while this road movie, about a virus wiping out millions of women globally, has echoes of Children of Men and The Handmaid’s Tale, it has an emergency signal all its own. Hamilton’s Leslie Odom, Jr. and Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto bring the conviction.
This Is Spinal Tap
Even if you can quote the whole thing, you'll be stunned at how fresh Rob Reiner’s groundbreaking 1984 mockumentary still feels. If they can find their way to the stage post-screening (“Hello, Tribeca!”), members of the band are scheduled to perform.
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
An icon in desperate need of status rehabilitation, Ronstadt sang loops around her contemporaries, sold out arenas a decade before Madonna and consistently surprised critics. Codirectors Rob Epstein and Jeff Friedman get out of a great story’s way and even capture the singer as she is now: retired, with a voice held back by Parkinson’s, but still angelic.
The always compelling Haley Bennett is ready for her Michelle Williams breakout moment, and this icky domestic psychodrama is a huge step in that direction. In a highly art-directed Hudson Valley mansion (shades of Todd Haynes’s Safe), she plays a pinned-down housewife who is increasingly drawn to sabotage her own pregnancy.
Apocalypse Now: Final Cut
Think you know the smell of napalm in the morning? Francis Ford Coppola’s pummeling war epic has received a full, 40th-anniversary restoration—never before shown—deepening those jungle greens and low-flying chopper frequencies. Afterward, the director discusses the extensive technical cleanup and the much-storied shoot, loaded with drama.
Operating at a tricky intersection of race, class, liberal guilt and generational divide, this suburban thriller stars the electrifying up-and-comer Kelvin Harrison Jr. (It Comes at Night) as a former African child soldier who’s adopted by a white family and is now an ace student. But a nosy teacher (Octavia Spencer) isn’t convinced.
The German documentarian meets his match in the 87-year-old ex–Soviet leader, slowed but still rousing in his call to human potential. Herzog intercuts his wide-ranging interview with arresting footage of rural Russian life that now seems quaint in an age of Putin-protected oligarchs, nouveau-riche glitz and fake news.