At most film festivals, you can get the best experience for your time and money by concentrating on the movies you aren't likely to see on the big screen any other way--after all, the obvious blockbusters will be coming to your local multiplex soon enough. At this year's Tribeca Film Festival, though, happening now in New York City, there's one serious exception to the rule: The Avengers. Comic book fans have been dreaming about this movie (or one an awful lot like it) from the day Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's first issue hit the stands in 1963, and with Joss Whedon writing and directing, there's good reason to believe that it'll live up to our expectations.
That means more than just big-budget superhero action: Fans expect Whedon to understand all the nuances that make Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and the rest of the team powerful characters, and to bring them together in a way that makes this new franchise bigger than the sum of its parts. Tribeca Film Festival attendees had a chance to find out if he succeeded slightly ahead of the rest of the world--who wouldn't want to take advantage of an opportunity like that?
The Avengers is just one of several dozen offerings at this year's festival, though, with a wide selection of independent films and documentaries. If I were there, here are some of the other movies I'd be sure to check out in my search for Character Approved storytelling.
Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey is the story of Arnel Pineda, a homeless man from Manila with a singing voice that bears an uncanny resemblance to former Journey frontman Steve Perry's. Other members of the band caught a clip of Arnel singing on YouTube and appointed him their new lead singer; documentary filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz follows the band on Arnel's first major tour. [Image: Ninfa Z. Bito]
Christian Slater stars in Charles Matthau's adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel Freaky Deaky as one of several unsavory characters angling to relieve an eccentric millionaire (played by Crispin Glover) of his fortune. You can never go wrong with an Elmore Leonard story, and although it sounds like the film has changed some major details from the novel, Jackie Brown did the same thing, and that turned out okay, right? [Image: Kim Simms]
What do Tim Wakefield, one of the most beloved heroes of Red Sox Nation, and R.A. Dickey, a young pitcher with the New York Mets, have in common? The answer is revealed in the name of Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's new documentary: Knuckleball. The film also features interviews with former ace knuckleballers like Charlie Hough and Jim Bouton, as well as a few All-Star batters to explain just how unnerving it is to see that pitch coming towards the plate. [Image: Charles Miller]
As a young actress, Sarah Polley got an on-set education from some of the U.S. and Canada's best independent filmmakers, including Atom Egoyan, Hal Hartley, and David Cronenberg. Take This Waltz is Polley's second film as a writer-director, starring Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams as a happily married woman who can't shake her fascination for the man who's moved in next door. It'll also be interesting to see what sort of dramatic turns fellow cast members Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman take in their performances. [Image: Magnolia Pictures]
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