Tribeca Film Festival – Round 2 ‘The Departure’ ‘AlphaGo’ ‘The Wedding Plan’

These 3 movies are completely different and all give you an insight into another world.

The Departure was especially emotional and filled me with empathy.

Lana Wilson follows up her award-winning documentary After Tiller with this lyrical, intimate character study of the complex figure Ittetsu Nemoto, an aimless and rebellious former punk rocker-turned-Buddhist priest. Most famously, he is renowned in Japan for saving the lives of countless suicidal men and women through his wise and compassionate counsel. But Nemoto is now approaching middle-age with a wife and young boy of his own, when he learns his life is at risk from heart disease, compounded by the heavy emotional workload of supporting those who no longer want to live. When saving others takes such a toll, can he find the resiliency to save himself? The Departure is an intimate portrait of one quietly extraordinary man who has helped so many learn to live, and now must find the strength to learn from his own advice.

—Cara Cusumano

Unlike many other documentaries, there are no talking heads. There are no interviews. This is a fly-on-the-wall account following a man who cares for others who are on the path to “depart,” i.e. take their own life. Giving no context, the viewer watches as a man who helps so many others, is not taking care of himself. It’s a deeply moving and intimate movie.

The ancient Chinese board game Go has long been considered the holy grail for artificial intelligence. Its simple rules but near-infinite number of outcomes make it exponentially more complex than chess. Mastery of the game by computers was considered by expert players and the AI community alike to be out of reach for at least another decade. Yet in 2016, Google’s DeepMind team announced that they would be taking on Lee Sedol: the world’s most elite Go champion. The match was set for a weeklong tournament in Seoul in early 2016, and there was more at stake than the million dollar prize.

Director Greg Kohs’ absorbing documentary chronicles Google’s DeepMind team as it prepares to test the limits of its rapidly-evolving AI technology. The film pits machine against man, and reveals as much about the workings of the human mind as it does the future of AI.

—Ian Hollander

I have heard of the game Go, and even after seeing AlphaGo, I’m still not quite sure how to play. Perhaps that’s the point, as a company, Deep Mind, set out to create an AI that could not only play the game but beat extremely skilled opponents. The most interesting part was the last third where the focus was on the 5 games set against the machine. An interesting view for sure, but it left me wanting to learn more about the origin of the game.

Exhausted by single life at 32, spirited bride-to-be Michal (Noa Koler) is eager for the comfort and companionship of marriage. Then, her fiancé dumps her one month before their wedding. Devastated but undeterred, she decides to keep her wedding date, leaving it to fate to provide a suitable groom.

With invitations sent, the venue booked, the clock counting down to the big day, and pressure from her family mounting, Michal enlists two matchmakers to help her find Mr. Right. After a series of comically mismatched dates — including with a charming but utterly unsuitable pop star — and many soul-bearing conversations with her sisters, Michal finds she has chemistry with someone she never expected.

Trailblazing writer-director Rama Burshtein (“Fill the Void”) returns to the cloistered Orthodox community she knows intimately with this funny and poignant screwball romantic comedy. When it comes to finding love, it’s equal parts luck, determination, and blind faith.

—Shayna Weingast

I was so annoyed by the premise of The Wedding Plan that I just had to see it. This could have been a very empowering movie about one woman’s struggle to define herself without marriage. But no. Instead, it’s a “poor me” story, albeit a funny one, that actually redeemed itself near the end, only to leave me with another last bit of annoyance. Bummer.

About Melissa Hanson

Melissa Hanson aka Dial M For Melissa - Managing Editor / Podcast Producer - Growing up, Melissa’s favorite destination was always the video store and would agonize over whether to watch something new or to rewatch a favorite. Things have not changed. Follow on Twitter @DialMForMelissa

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