For the last 10 years, Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival has offered moviegoers on the East Coast the opportunity to see appealing documentaries, intimate dramas and even the occasional star-driven picture. The New York gathering winds down this weekend, but here are five noteworthy entries from this year’s festival — and some ideas about where to watch them in the coming months.
“Catching Hell” — If you’re the kind of sports fan who’s still preoccupied with your team’s close play at the plate from 1997 — or if you happen to live with such a fan — you’ll want to check out this documentary from Oscar winner Alex Gibney. Putatively an examination of l’affaire de Steve Bartman and his infamous interference with a foul pop-up during the Chicago Cubs’ 2003 playoff run, Gibney turns the seemingly narrow subject into a global study of sports obsession and its consequences. Produced by ESPN; the cable network will air the documentary later this baseball season.
“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” — For most of us, sushi is a reliable lunch option. For Japan's Jiro Ono, considered the most skilled sushi chef in the world, it’s an artist’s canvas. David Gelb’s documentary about Ono is a contemplation of perfection as much as it is a culinary investigation, though the shots of his specialized dishes will stir the most dormant appetite. But don’t get too many ideas — even if you make it to Tokyo, Ono’s entrees start at $300. Magnolia Pictures bought the movie and will bring it to theaters and video on-demand later this year.
“Last Night” — Tribeca films aren’t always known for their major star power, but Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington make notable appearances in Massy Tadjedin’s directorial debut feature. The atmospheric romantic drama looks at a married couple teetering between love and infidelity on a fateful night, a kind of “Before Sunrise” with cheating. (The film, currently playing as part of Amazon.com’s Tribeca streaming service, also offers the rare chance to hear Worthington speak in his native Australian accent.) It opens in L.A. theaters May 6.
“Rabies” — Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado make Israel’s first slasher film a worthy one in this beautiful-people-tormented-in-the-woods horror-comedy. The film, which has been garnering strong reviews, indulges in and upends the conventions of the genre as it sends groups of people into the clutches of a serial killer in a spooky fox preserve. No distributor has bought it, but it could well end up at horror festivals and with a genre label. You can also watch it on the Tribeca web site (http://www.tribecafilm.com) for free through Sunday.
“Rid of Me” — “Mean Girls” for adults. James Westby’s look at an awkward 30-ish woman and her transformation after she’s rejected by her jock husband and his yuppie friends won’t score many points on the feel-good scale. But as a study in a transformation from gawky misfit to rocker rebel, few recent movies are as darkly funny. No distributor picked it up, but the film might well make the rounds on the festival circuit.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Keira Knightley and Guillaume Canet in "Last Night." Credit: JoJo Whilden