Tribeca Film Festival: Song of the Back and Neck

Song of the Back and Neck

Writer-director Paul Lieberstein (Toby from The Office) stars in his first feature film, Songs of the Back and Neck.  As odd and slightly cumbersome as the title is, it works for this sweet and funny story which is one of self-discovery.  Fred (Lieberstein) is a hapless paralegal at his father’s law firm.  Constantly put down by young attorneys at the firm and crippled by back and neck pain, Fred struggles to get through each day, physically and emotionally.  When the beautiful and charming Regan (Rosemary DeWitt) walks into his office looking for a divorce, Fred is smitten.  She suggests Fred visit an acupuncturist, who helps Fred both relieve his pain and discover an unusual gift. Bonding through their shared neck and back pain, Fred and Regan embark on a romance to heal their broken hearts and aching torsos.

Lieberstein created a very true to life story which allows the audience to empathize with the character’s disenchantment with his life, but also delivers some unexpected belly laughs. Songs of the Back and Neck is well worth the price of admission.  The film premiered on April 23 at the Tribeca Film Festival.  There is one more showing at the Festival on Saturday, April 28, so be sure to check it out!

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Our Top 5 Latinx Films at 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

The 16th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, set for April 19-30, is taking over lower Manhattan for another year of quality filmmaking, groundbreaking new digital storytelling, and some of Hollywood’s biggest names. With a power roster that includes over 200 films playing from 28 countries, 78 of which are world premieres, six international, six North American, two U.S., and six New York premieres, you might need some help figuring out what to watch.  MoviefiedNYC is here with our Top Five Latinx picks that include: a documentary on what ever happened to Elián González (an Alex Gibney joint); a narrative film about the journey of a boxer from the Dominican Republic (this is the first time the D.R . has a selection at the festival); a movie about an Argentinian actor trying to make it in NYC; and finally an online feature about  one of oldest civil wars that’s still going strong.  

Check them out below and make sure to click on the link for showtimes.

ELIÁN – Spotlight Documentary
Directed by Tim Golden, Ross McDonnell. (Northern Ireland, Ireland, USA) – World Premiere.

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Thanksgiving, 1999: Two fishermen on the Florida Straits find a young Cuban boy, Elián González, floating alone in an inner tube. Their discovery evolves into a custody battle between Elián’s Cuban father and his Miami-located relatives that brings the conflict between Cuba and the U.S. to the forefront. Eighteen years later, ELIÁN, executive produced by Alex Gibney, gives the now grown-up Elián the chance to tell his own side of the story. In English, Spanish with subtitles.

Sambá – International Narrative Competition
Directed by Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas, written by Ettore D’Alessandro, Carolina Encarnacion. (Dominican Republic) – World Premiere.

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Cisco has his back against the ropes. After spending 15 years in an American jail, he’s returned to the Dominican Republic yet is unable to get a job, a problem compounded by his mother’s ailing health and his younger brother’s delinquent habits. To make money, he’s resorted to illegal street fighting. But Cisco finds a possible salvation in Nichi, an Italian ex-boxer who sees dollar signs in Cisco’s gritty fighting skills. With Algenis Pérez Soto, Ettore D’Alessandro, Laura Gómez, Ricardo A. Toribio. In Spanish with
subtitles.

Nobody’s Watching (Nadie Nos Mira) – International Narrative Competition
Directed by Julia Solomonoff, written by Julia Solomonoff, Christina Lazaridi. (Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, USA, Spain) – World Premiere.

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After giving up a successful soap opera career in his native Argentina for a chance to make it in New York, Nico finds himself staying afloat with odd jobs bartending and babysitting. In a moving depiction of the vibrant city, Nobody’s Watching questions who is watching and how we adjust ourselves accordingly. With Guillermo Pfening, Rafael Ferro, Paola Baldion, Elena Roger, Cristina Morrison, Kerri Sohn, Marco Antonio Caponi. In English, Spanish with subtitles.

The Holdouts – N.O.W. (New Online Work)
Directed by Ramon Campos Iriarte (Colombia) – World Premiere.

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The Western hemisphere’s oldest civil war is still going strong in the jungles of Colombia. The National Liberation Army (ELN) —a Marxist military organization— has been fighting for revolution since 1964, and with the FARC having declared a ceasefire, the ELN is today the last active guerrilla army in the Americas. In Spanish, English with subtitles.

A River Below – Documentary Competition
Directed by Mark Grieco. (Colombia, USA) – World Premiere.

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Deep in the Amazon, a renowned marine biologist and a reality TV star are each working to save the indigenous pink river dolphin from being hunted to extinction. When a scandal erupts, ethical questions are raised as murky as the waters of the Amazon River. Mark Grieco’s (Marmato) surprising documentary digs into the ethics of activism in the modern media age. In English, Portuguese, Spanish with subtitles. Earth Day Screening.

New York Film Festival: Manchester by the Sea

 

manchester-seaFew directors are able to make a film that successfully blurs the line between tragedy and comedy, while also maintaining a tone that is unquestionably dramatic. It helps that the film is set during an overcast snowy New England winter; that its set in a working class environment; and has an score that features some heavy pieces, including Albinoni’s classic funeral hit,“Adagio in G Minor.” Director and writer Kenneth Lonergan has seamlessly blended the dramatic with the comic, not only through his direction but also through his well-crafted script. You don’t walk away confused about you they just saw—it’s a definitely a drama, a devastating drama with many moments that capture the clumsiness that add to daily life with humor.

Manchester by the Sea came out of Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals as a favorite and it’s getting the same love at this year’s New York Film Festival. Lonergan directs with careful detail and allows the scenes to run as long as necessary without feeling indulgent, but with enough emotional intensity that it feels honest. The performances possess the same quality of subtle intensity. Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a handyman living in a working class neighborhood of Boston. He’s essentially given up on life after suffering a tragic loss some years earlier. Following the death of his older, more stable brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee learns that is the sole guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Affleck is the conflicted center of this film and gives a career-high performance that is a case study of quiet restraint, and subtle emotional depth. This is an honest performance that is successful for it’s nuanced and controlled quality, yet it’s not dull or boring—it’s authentic.  Lee is ultimately a likable guy, mostly because, although he is very damaged and lonely, he is in need of help, he is a good man who is responsible and does the right thing. Michelle Williams as Lee’s ex-wife delivers one of her most powerful performances in years, despite her too little screen time. In an unforgettable scene later in the film, Williams and Affleck are remarkable and heartbreakingly honest as she is awkwardly tries to talk to Lee about their tragic past, but through polite restraint, Lee is unable to let go and succumbs to avoidance as his only tool. In the hands of any other director this scene would have been a sappy, get-out-your-handkerchief moment, but here it’s a simple, frustrating (you want reach out and help them), and truthful moment. Affleck and Williams handle this scene masterfully.

kyle-chandler-casey-affleck-credit_-claire-folger-courtesy-of-amazon-studios-and-roadside-attractionsAnother stand out performance comes from Lucas Hedges (Moonrise Kingdom, Grand Budapest Hotel) as Lee’s nephew who finds himself suddenly alone, and at odds with Lee’s desire to take Lucas back to Boston to live until he is of legal age to receive his inheritance.  With his teen angst and rampant horniness, he’s the perfect counterpart to Casey’s emotionally muted (yet volatile given enough alcohol) and sexually stalled state. Their relationship is a pleasure—with the right amount of pain—to watch.

Manchester by the Sea, with its Oscar caliber performances, mature writing, masterful direction and a score that—despite coming dangerously close to overpowering the film—effectively enhances the over all tone of the movie, will likely stand out as one of 2016’s best films.

–John David West

 

New York Film Festival: Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea is the one to see at this year’s New York Film Festival. Writer, director Kenneth Lonergan’s film is deeply moving, honest, and surprisingly funny. Casey Affleck’s truthful performance is detailed, restrained, and refreshingly organic. He is surely this year’s Oscar front runner.
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#Tribeca2016 Movie-Still Monday: Curmudgeons

Curmudgeons - Danny DeVito
Curmudgeons – Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito stars and directs Curmudgeons, which is part of the New York Now Short Film Series at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.  Eighty years-old and in assisted living, Ralph Pajovic (DeVito)  is involved in a relationship that makes his family anxious. On a crisp, Winter day, his unlucky-in-love granddaughter comes for what seems like an ordinary visit. A curmudgeon by nature, Ralph can’t possibly predict the surprise she has in store for him. Curmudgeons also features David Margulies, Lucy DeVito, Sarah Nina Hayon, Kett Turton

#Tribeca2016 Daily Movie Still: Family Fang

In honor of the 15th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, MoviefiedNYC brings you a daily movie still from a one of the films premiering today (4/14)—a movie we think you shouldn’t miss. Click on the title of the film for more information and screening dates and times.

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Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman are Annie and Baxter Fang, the offspring and reluctant collaborators of Caleb and Camille Fang (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunket). Celebrated and controversial performance artists, Caleb and Camille’s work put innocent bystanders in the midst of elaborate staged scenes that frequently featured their young children. When the elder Fangs go missing under mysterious circumstances, Annie is convinced it’s just another elaborate prank-cum-art piece, while Baxter suspects something else might be afoot. In digging into the unraveling mystery, the siblings begin to unpack long dormant and unresolved issues from their unorthodox childhoods.

Following up his delightfully raunchy debut Bad Words, Bateman turns his directorial attentions to more mature material, telling a dysfunctional family story that is at once idiosyncratic and identifiable, while never losing his distinctive sense of humor.

Family Fang felt deeply and caustically funny, Bateman’s sophomore feature is an unpredictable and unique take on the dysfunctional family drama genre.

—Cara Cusumano

Tribeca Film Festival Turns 15: MoviefiedNYC Recommends #Tribeca2016

Downtown_datesIt’s April in New York City and that means it’s time for independent film makers to flood lower Manhattan for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. This year Tribeca celebrates it’s 15th Year with more local and international films and shorts, exciting street fairs,  and also virtual reality as they will explore storytelling with a unique immersive experiences with Storyscapes and Virtual Arcade, where “stories are not passively watched but they are actually experienced—you are the participant.”

Here are a few of the movies and special events MoviefiedNYC recommends at this year’s Tribeca Film Festial.

Strike a Pose (Premiers April 15)

Top row: Salim Gauwloos, Oliver Crumes III, Carlton Wilborn, Kevin Stea. Bottom row: Luis Camacho, Jose Gutierez. From the film STRIKE A POSE. (Photograph by Linda Posnick)
Top row: Salim Gauwloos, Oliver Crumes III, Carlton Wilborn, Kevin Stea. Bottom row: Luis Camacho, Jose Gutierez.  (Photograph by Linda Posnick)

Directed and written by Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan. (Netherlands, Belgium). What does it take to express yourself? The surprising and moving story of Madonna’s most famous troupe of dancers. Strike a Pose is a dramatic tale about overcoming shame and finding the courage to be who you are.

Equals (April 18)

Kristen Stewart as Nia in the film EQUALS. Photo courtesy of A24.
Kristen Stewart. Photo courtesy of A24.

Directed by Drake Doremus and written by Nathan Parker. (USA). Kristen Stewart (Twilight) and Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max, About a Boy) star in the ambitious new film from director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy), about a utopian future society where crime and violence have been eradicated through the genetic elimination of human emotion.

After Spring (Opens April 14)

Ibrahim walking home from bread distribution at the Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan. After Spring, Directed by Steph Ching & Ellen Martinez, Photo Credit: Jason Graham Howell
After Spring, Directed by Steph Ching & Ellen Martinez, Photo Credit: Jason Graham Howell

Directed by Ellen Martinez, Steph Ching (USA).  After Spring follows the struggles and triumphs of two Syrian families living in a Jordanian refugee camp as they contemplate an uncertain future. This is a hopeful film, showing the resilience of the Syrian people.

My Scientology Movie (Premiers April 17)

Louis Filming being Filmed at Gold Base. © BBC/BBCWorldwide
Louis Filming being Filmed at Gold Base. © BBC/BBCWorldwide

Not your typical exposé. BBC doc-maker and journalist Louis Theroux teams up with director John Dower and double Academy Award winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching for Sugar, Man On Wire) to explore the self-mythologizing Church of Scientology.

High Rise (Opens April 20)

Sienna Guillory as Jane Sheridan in HIGH RISE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit: Aidan Monaghan
Sienna Guillory. Photo credit: Aidan Monaghan

Directed by Ben Wheatley, written by Amy Jump, Ben Wheatley. (UK). Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons star in the new film by cult British director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, A Field in England), an ambitious adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel about a London apartment tower that becomes a battlefield in a literal class war.

Obit (Opens April 17)

Editors meet each morning to consider what deaths to cover. Photographer: Ben Wolf
Editors meet each morning to consider what deaths to cover. Photographer: Ben Wolf

World Premiere Directed by Vanessa Gould. How do you capture a life in 500 words? Ask the New York Times obituary writers. Each day, under relentless deadlines, they shine a literary light on unusual lives. A first-­ever look into the rituals, joys and existential angst of chronicling life after death on the frontlines of history.

Storyscapes (April 14 – 17)

Attendees enjoying the DEEP experience at DOK Leipzig, November 2015. (Photographer: Susanne Jehnichen)
(Photographer: Susanne Jehnichen)

Storyscapes projects at the 2016 Festival, open April 14-17, feature both installations and VR. The program includes projects that grapple with issues of racism, violence and harm inflicted on our planet, combining the excitement of these new immersive mediums tempered with the urgency of a world on fire. It is in turns thrilling, upsetting, shocking and wonderful, much like the world we live in.

“This year’s Storyscapes offerings are a reflection of today’s world. We live in a very charged period—from the political landscape to unprecedented violence—and the Storyscapes installations are compelling and engaging experiences that balance some of the sobering issues facing society, as well as inspiring and wonderful ones,” said Ingrid Kopp, Storyscapes curator.

Virtual Arcade (April 18-23)

Allumette in Clouds. (Created by: Penrose Studios)
Allumette in Clouds. (Created by: Penrose Studios)

Virtual Arcade debuts at the 2016 Festival, helping to expand the immersive entertainment slate with thirteen additional VR experiences from some of the leading creators and emerging voices in this new medium.