As Robert De Niro’s 2016 Tribeca Film Festival comes to a close, some of the hits and misses from the two-week festival have been shared by International Business Times, which sent two reporters to screen movies and attend red carpets. While Katie Holmes’ directorial debut, “All We Had,” disappointed, “A Kind of Murder” was Hitchcock-suspenseful. For the best and worst, check out our list below:
“A Kind of Murder” -- Directed by Andy Goddard, this adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel follows Walter Stackhouse (Patrick Wilson), an architect by day, crime writer by night and all-around swell guy. Walter spends much of his time wishing his hateful, irrationally jealous wife, Clara (Jessica Biel), was not in the picture until she actually turns up dead and he must face his guilty conscious and the suspicions of everyone around him. "A Kind of Murder" has all the aesthetic trappings of an Alfred Hitchcock classic — the 1950s time period, the vibrant colors, the sweeping score and, of course, the suspense. But what really makes the film Hitchcockian is not what you see, but what you feel — the deep sense of dread, the psychological terror. Wilson, fresh off FX's "Fargo" Season 2, delivers, making the audience feel the frustration of the world's suspicions closing in on him — à la "Gone Girl." He acts like a guilty man, because he feels like a guilty man and Goddard dares to ask if Walter deserves to be punished for his thought crimes.
“Always Shine” -- This stylistic, ever-so-slightly surreal thriller tells the story of two actress friends who ditch Los Angeles for a long weekend trip to Big Sur. Anna (Mackenzie Davis) is confident and talented, but still struggling to find her big break, while the doe-eyed and timid Beth (Caitlin FitzGerald) is netting money and buzz from a string of hack horror movies. When the two friends’ mutual jealousy violently boils over, “Always Shine” becomes something more than a standard thriller. Under the daring direction of Sophia Takal, the film becomes a bold feminist statement about the conflicting expectations put on ambitious women by society. Bolstered by powerful performances by Davis, who won Best Actress at the festival, and FitzGerald, “Always Shine” was one of the big hits of Tribeca.
“AWOL” -- Joey, a young woman trying to get out of her small town, falls in love with Rayna, a married mother of two. Joey (Lola Kirke) is confident yet naive as she tries to get Rayna (Breeda Wool) to leave her husband. While the pain of true love’s first sting is an obvious finish, the betrayal is something the audience never sees coming. Filmmaker Dev Shoval does a beautiful job of showing what happens if someone thinks with her heart instead of her head.
“Custody” -- Every character has a story to tell in “Custody,” a film about the New York City family court system. With “How to Get Away With Murder” award winner Viola Davis, the movie is engaging from start to finish. While director James Lapine opens the film with an obvious description of the word custody, the rest of the movie is less apparent. Davis is a no-nonsense judge who wants what’s best for the children in the court system. But does that mean returning them to their well-intentioned but hotheaded mother? Davis’ character, Judge Martha Schulman, makes sure she sees the case through.
“Kicks” -- This is the coming-of-age story of Oakland teen Brandon (newcomer Jahking Guillory), who believes the right sneakers are the ticket to girls and popularity. Brandon’s journey to recover his stolen Air Jordans is backed by a super-cool soundtrack and some brilliant cinematography from Michael Ragen, but also poignantly captures the way young men in inner-city America fetishize everything from porn to drugs to sneakers as painkillers for far greater economic problems. “Kicks” feels like a cousin of “Dope,” a similar urban tale that was the toast of the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. Both show the power of making room for more diverse stories in film.
"Wolves" -- On its face, “Wolves” is a basketball movie. Anthony Keller (Taylor John Smith) is the captain of his high school basketball team, riding his way to a scholarship to Cornell. However, it is the off-the-court drama that makes this one a slam dunk. Michael Shannon is a revelation as Anthony’s gambling addict father, unable to resist getting in the way of his own son’s success. Shot on the streets of New York City with a fair amount of grit by director Bart Freundlich, “Wolves” leans on its superb cast, including Carla Gugino, to create the rare sports movie that defies predictability.
“Youth in Oregon” -- The title is a play on euthanasia. In “Youth in Oregon,” director Joel David Moore tackles the controversial law in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. Ray (Frank Langella) is a cranky old man who is at the end of his life and wants to die with dignity. His family members are estranged or at each other’s throats. The film is a poignant glimpse at what could happen to a fractured family if one of its members decides to be euthanized.
“All We Had” -- Former “Dawson’s Creek” cast member Katie Holmes stars in her directorial debut, but the movie is a letdown. It's about a mother who wants the best for her daughter, even though she struggles with alcohol and drugs. Holmes' attempts to build character are obvious, like constantly applying blue eyeliner and drinking from a plastic cup, which appeared more childish than anything. The story has little depth.
“Dreamland” -- The debut film of Robert Schwartzman — actor Jason Schwartzman’s musician brother — tells the story of a young, aimless piano player (Johnny Simons) who finds himself in a passionate affair with a married woman (Amy Landecker), a patron at the lounge where he plays. The film has many fun moments. However, despite the high pedigree behind it — the cast includes Beverly D’Angelo, Talia Shire, Jason Schwartzman, Frankie Shaw and Noel Wells — it never distinguishes itself from the film that so clearly inspired it, 1967’s “The Graduate.”
“The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” -- “Saturday Night Live” veteran Jason Sudeikis anchoring a full-fledged drama about a man learning to move on after his wife’s death always sounded a little risky. Sudeikis is capable and “Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams and Jessica Biel add a fair degree of star power. However, the trio cannot rescue this one from an overwrought story that feels more like a Lifetime original than a film festival entry.
“Women Who Kill” -- One of the best parts about “Women Who Kill” is the title. Even though the idea is cool -- it's about women who run a podcast that explores female serial killers -- things take a strange turn when Morgan, played by the film’s director, Ingrid Jungermann, falls in love with the mysterious Simone (Sheila Vand). The ending leaves the audience without answers and it’s more of a letdown instead of something that can be pondered with friends over drinks.