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Monday, April 30, 2012

I caught eight films from the lineup of dozens at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Two were in person, the others part of the festival's robust online component.

The highlight, without a doubt, was Frederic Jardin's Sleepless Night, which is the best thriller I've seen in years. It's one of the films I caught on demand, which means it's available to you all as you read this. Go watch it. You won't regret it.

Side by Side and The Revisionaries are the other two films I recommend highly. Both documentaries, the former is a thoughtful discussion about the filmmaking process, while the latter looks at the men and women shaping the way our children are taught science and social studies. Both are entertaining and informative, albeit in very different ways, but if they manage to make the rounds theatrically, they've got an early fan in yours truly.

I was also a fan of The Russian Winter, a documentary about musician John Forte, and Death of a Superhero, which followed a teenage boy with terminal cancer. They each have some minor problems but overcome them with complex lead characters and strong production values.

Less successful was Babygirl, a cliche-ridden coming-of-age story, but it has some redeeming qualities (like Yainis Ynoa's strong leading performance). Two films that I wouldn't really recommend at all are Town of Runners (a strong premise wasted by flawed and seemingly slanted execution) and The Giant Mechanical Man (a parade of indie cliches without strong characters to overcome them).

Of course, my Tribeca experience was tiny compared to some others'. Jason Bailey reviewed a whopping 45 Tribeca titles over at the blog Fourth Row Center. Meanwhile, The Playlist features perhaps the best and most comprehensive mainstream coverage.

I wrote back in January my blogging goals for the year. One was to cover three major film festivals. Tribeca was the first, and now, I patiently wait until Philadelphia and NYFF in the fall. Before that, however, we have Cannes, which kicks off in just a few weeks. Tomorrow, I begin my coverage. It's pretty in-depth (and keeping me up at night), so definitely stay tuned.

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