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2024 Tribeca Film Festival's Movies We are Dying to See

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The Tribeca Film Festival is chugging along, with plenty of intriguing movies in the program. Here’s Popflick’s rundown of Trib movies we are dying to see. Alright... we want to see all the movies, every one of them. But to make things manageable, we reduced the number to ten. Enjoy, and let us know if they rule as hard as we hope.

Don’t You Let Me Go

Have you seen a Uruguayan movie? No? Well, here’s a magnificent chance to put a pin in your cinephile map. Even better, “Don’t You Let Me Go” is an amazing film. Writer-director Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge bring a healing exploration of friendship and grief. Adela (Chiara Hourcade) exits the funeral of her best friend Elena (Victoria Jorge) in deep despair. An emotional outburst leads her to travel back in time, to a seaside vacation where the women triumph over death. Imagine a combination of Sofia Coppola and David Lynch, and you are halfway to describing the spell this movie casts on you. Don’t miss it.

Piropolis

Chilean cinema is having a moment, thanks to homegrown Art House hits like “Chile ’76” (Manuela Martelli, 2022), and the Hollywood invasion of producer-directors like Pablo Larraín (Jackie, Spencer). It’s not just about fiction films. Documentaries are part of this renaissance. Check out the restoration of Patricio Guzman’s landmark doc “The Battle of Chile” (1975 - 1979), and the rise of Maite Alberdi with “The Mole Agent” (2022) and “The Eternal Memory” (2023). And now, here comes “Piropolis.” Director Nicolas Molina drops you in the middle of massive wildfires near the port city of Valparaiso. With cinema-verite verve, he follows a firemen brigade as they risk their lives struggling to stop the fire. The movie touches on global warming, eco-exploitation, and all the societal ills that fan the flames of disaster.  

Vulcanizadora

Fasten your seatbelts. Indie prodigy Joel Potrykus promises his latest film, “Vulcanizadora,” is his bleakest. That much he said in an interview with Indiewire. The flimsy plot details revealed speak of two friends who enter the Michigan woods with trouble in mind. Ok, fine. The released poster is more forthcoming, with a warning about “graphic depictions of shredded jaws, self-harm, physical cruelty, human combustion, and homemade masks. It should not be watched by children, the elderly, and the squeamish.” How is that for a tease? Potrykus is a master of low-fi odes about antisocial losers - check out “Buzzard” (2014), a prime example of microcinema. Think of a nihilistic Joe Swanberg. We have no idea why the movie is titled after the Spanish word for “Tire Repair Shop,” but we are eager to find out. Although I’m sure we will regret it.   

Lake George

Jeffrey Renner is a veteran TV director. He has worked in everything, helming TV series episodes from a catalog of series so diverse that the mind reels. He did one “Columbo” (2003) and seven “High Fidelity” (2020) episodes. He is jumping to feature films with an irresistible conceit: bring two of the most watchable featured players of our times and watch the sparks fly. Shea Wigham and Carrie Coon (The Gilded Age) are the type of actors that make you perk up. As consummate scene-stealers, their presence guarantees that the movie or TV show will be better than you expected, or at least, that it will not be a total loss. Here, he plays a Don, a mob enforcer hired to kill Coon’s Phyllis. He can’t pull the trigger, though, and she convinces him to join forces and turn the tables on her enemies. Echoes of a Coen Brothers’ dark comedy abound in that brief plot line. We are so there. 

Bad Actor: a Hollywood Ponzi Scheme

There is nothing like a dose of schadenfreude to spice up a movie, especially when it deals with Hollywood sweeps and wanna-bees. That is the case of Joslyn Jeslen’s documentary “Bad Actor: A Hollywood Ponzi Scheme.” The movie deals with the rise and fall of Zachary Horwitz, a C-list actor who scammed civilians trying to put their hard-earned money into the alleged gold rush of movie development. They could not suspect Horwitz’s goal was not to make their assets grow but to fund his lavish lifestyle. He was a star in his mind, taking everybody close to him to the cleaners. If you are curious about the real-life story and don’t want to wait for the movie, check out Evan Osnos’ story in The New Yorker.

The Freshly Cut Grass

It’s a sad state of affairs when a wonderful actress gets an Oscar nomination, and then pretty much disappears from American screens. That is the case of Marina de Tavira. She competed for Best Supporting Actress in 2019, thanks to her maternal turn in Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” (2018). After that, the best Hollywood could offer was a small role in the Hugh Jackman Sci-Fi thriller “Reminiscence” (Lisa Joy, 2021). The movies she did in her home country of Mexico did not get US distribution. At Tribeca, at last, de Tavira fans will get their fix. She stars in “The Freshly Cut Grass,” directed by Celina Murga. She plays one of two university professors enmeshed in adulterous relationships with students. If you need more enticement, the movie counts with Martin Scorsese as one of its producers.

La Cocina

After conquering the world via Netflix with the intoxicating documentary-fiction thriller “A Cop Movie,” Mexican filmmaker Alonso Ruizpalacios goes through the rite of passage of working in the US with follow-up “The Kitchen.” The movie follows the controlled chaos of the kitchen at a New York City restaurant during lunch rush hour. Rooney Mara is a lovelorn waitress. Raul Briones is an immigrant worker under suspicion after some money is stolen. The melting pot in the back of the house is about to boil while the foodies stuff themselves in the front. Israeli actor Oded Fehr, better known as Ardeth Bay in the wildly successful blockbuster franchise “The Mummy,” rounds up the cast. 

She Loved Blossoms More

There is an added layer of discomfort when you encounter foreign horror. Maybe the cultural differences make their movies hit harder. They have fewer taboos or do not care about hurting the audience’s feelings. Just looking at the teaser trailer for “She Loved Blossoms More” makes you dread - and crave - the prospect of actually watching the movie. Greek director Yannis Veslemes conjures the story of three brothers who build a time-traveling machine to bring their mother back from the dead. That can’t end up well! There are echoes of David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” (1986) and Guillermo del Toro’s aesthetics in the teaser trailer, so, despite our apprehension, we can’t do anything else but stan.

The Knife

Retired NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha is a multiple threat in the Hollywood scene. The actor, writer, and producer branched into directing with this tense, taut thriller about a black family contending with a mysterious home invasion. He plays the beleaguered father, who finds an unexpected foil in Melissa Leo as the white police detective in charge of their case.  

The Sugarland Express

One of the best trends of our times is the rescue of films from the past. Restoration, reissues on repertory theaters, and home video editions give us priceless insight into the film arts. Nothing compares to the rush of catching an old movie from one of your favorite directors that you have not seen. Maybe it did not play near you, it eluded you on cable, or you were not born when it premiered. Whatever the case, it’s a blast. 

Tribeca brings back “The Sugarland Express,” Steven Spielberg’s feature film debut. At 78 years old, the elder statesman of Hollywood is on a roll. He pulled the incredible feat of remaking the classic musical “West Side Story” (Robert Wise, 1961) giving us an instant classic that works like the best Broadway revival. With “The Fabelmans” (2022), he served an unflinching, lacerating biographical film. It’s a testament to the movie industry’s crisis that these brilliant movies failed to be embraced by audiences. 

Before scaring the world with “Jaws” (1975), Spielberg offered this grind house-tinted drama starring Goldie Hawn as a desperate mother trying to bring her family back together. That means helping her husband escape from jail and kidnapping her kid in foster care, with the Man - you know, the police - in mad pursuit to stop her well-intentioned crime spree. Catch it, and enjoy the added benefit of watching Goldie Hawn in that rarified space where she was equally considered a dramatic actress and a comedian. You are in for a revelation if you only know her from late-career fare like “The First Wives’ Club” (Hugh Wilson, 1996). 

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