Of the last few days of the festival, these three films were among my favorites.
Meant to be a retreat for elite American athletes, Foxcatcher Farms, and all it was intended to represent, was lost in the paranoid downward spiral of its troubled benefactor John Du Pont. Heir to the Du Pont family fortune, John Du Pont funneled his considerable resources into his love of sports—wrestling in particular. Aiming to reinvigorate the US Olympic wrestling team, Du Pont created Foxcatcher, and invited gold medal champion Dave Schultz to lead the charge. What began as an idealistic sports idyll soon deteriorated into suspicion, distrust, and ultimately murder.
Through fascinating archival footage and never-before-seen home videos shot during Schultz’s time at the farm, director Jon Greenhalgh’s absorbing film unpacks the events leading up to Foxcatcher’s well-documented tragedy, exploring the complex and contradictory character of Du Pont, while serving as a poignant memoir to the legacy of Schultz as a champion wrestler, husband, and father. Team Foxcatcher charts a true American tragedy of Olympic dreams, ambition, mental illness, and murder.
I haven’t seen the Foxcatcher movie with Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, so I didn’t have any idea what this was about other than wrestling. I was completely shocked at the story, but even more impressed with the storytelling. It builds up slowing, and documents the events through the stories of those who were there.
Fascinating and compelling, it proves once again that truth is stranger than fiction. Releases on Netflix April 29th.
Two women, both actresses with differing degrees of success, travel north from Los Angeles to Big Sur for a weekend vacation in Always Shine, Sophia Takal’s twisty, psychological thriller. Both see the trip as an opportunity to reconnect after years of competition and jealousy has driven a wedge between them, but upon arrival to their isolated, forest retreat, the pair discovers that their once intimate friendship has deteriorated into forced conversations, betrayals both real and imagined, petty jealousies, and deep-seated resentment. As the women allow their feelings to fester, each begins to lose their bearings not only on the true nature of their relationship, but on their own identities. Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire) and Caitlin FitzGerald (Masters of Sex) give brave and raw performances as Beth and Anna, two women whose ideas of success are dictated as much by external cultural criterion as their own sense of self-worth. Beautifully photographed and assuredly directed by Takal, Always Shine wraps itself in an evocative shroud of dread and paranoia that lingers long after the final frame.
On the surface, it’s just a jealous rivalry, but tables turn and suddenly you don’t know what is real anymore. The opening sequence is particularly intense, and sets the stage perfectly for the two women. I also found it quite interesting seeing a woman striking out with a potential suitor, as that’s not normally something depicted. Brilliantly acted and told, this is quite a surprising cinematic treat.
It’s the summer before 6th grade, and Clark is the new-in-town biracial kid in a sea of white. Discovering that to be cool he needs to act ‘more black,’ he fumbles to meet expectations, while his urban intellectual parents Mack and Gina also strive to adjust to small-town living. Equipped for the many inherent challenges of New York, the tight-knit family are ill prepared for the drastically different set of obstacles that their new community presents, and soon find themselves struggling to understand themselves and each other in this new suburban context.
Director Rob Meyer (A Birder’s Guide to Everything) returns to Tribeca with his second feature, a poignant comedy about understanding identity, featuring a robust cast including Melanie Lynskey, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Oona Laurence, Janeane Garofalo, and Christine Taylor. Executive Produced by Cary Fukunaga.
Subtle and upfront at the same time, I loved the honesty and accessibility of the characters. I struggled through the entire film to place lead actor, Neslan Ellis, as I knew I’d seen him in something before. Turns out, he played Lafayette on HBO’s True Blood, which is as far away from the character in this film as you can imagine. He’s absolutely brilliant as the father in this family that moves to the suburbs after a life in New York City. I absolutely adored the film.