Tribeca Film Festival reviews: Docs that will make you face palm humanity. ‘Cartel Land’, ‘Indian Point’, and ‘Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle’

CARTEL LANDCartel Land-#1 - Autodefensa member standing guard in Michoacán, Mexico, from CARTEL LAND, a film by Matthew HeinemanFrom poverty comes desperation and opportunistic turn. The mentality of, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” could not be more true in a new doc from director Matthew Heinman, Cartel Land. Mexican drug cartels are running rampant, killing innocent people in their wake, wreaking havoc on what would otherwise be hard working, peaceful folk. Infuriated by the circumstances forced up them, townspeople have taken up arms of their own and formed a group named the Autodefensa. They side step the government, who deny there is a problem at all, and capture cartel members to be handed immediately to the police. We also meet a group called the Arizona Border Recon. Mostly comprised of neo-con, anti-immigration minded men, they are able to put their politics aside to police human trafficking and cartel scouting groups. Cartel Land-#7 - Meth Lab in Michoacán, Mexico, from CARTEL LAND, a film by Matthew HeinemanThe most unprecedented footage is when the filmmakers were allowed access inside the cartels themselves. The saddest past of the doc, a lot of the present cartel members are former members of the Autodefensa. Money begets power. It remains a vicious cycle. Cartel Land gives us a real time look into the everyday struggle of the Mexican people. While constantly in true physical peril, Heinman and his crew present us with outstanding production value, balanced storytelling, and an insight to what most of us turn a blind eye to. 

8:30 PM – FRI 4/24 BOW TIE CINEMAS CHELSEA 8                  –RUSH

INDIAN POINTIndian_POint_Press_3 TribecaAs a New Yorker, post-9/11, we want to believe that we’re safer. We want to think that the heightened presence of armed guards at Grand Central means something. But, it’s the forces we don’t see that should freak us out. Did you know that just 35 miles north of Times Square is an aging nuclear power plant called Indian Point? I sure didn’t. Not scary enough for you? Alright, the government has down graded evacuation plans since the Fukushima melt down. Still no? 6% of the country’s population lives with 50 miles of the plant. You cannot outrun radiation. Indian_POint_Press_1 TribecaThe plant was built in the 1950’s and has not been sufficiently updated since. This is not a one off for the plants across the country. Old technology cannot be applied fast enough for the amount of old cores we are storing on site (encased in cement). The volatility of this waste is unbelievable. When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, Fukushima’s waste was jostled enough to cause multiple reactor meltdown, something that the industry claims is impossible in the US. That radiation has traveled across the ocean and is now causing birth defects in California. Indian Point shows this issue from all sides; activists, journalists, plants supervisors, residents, and the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This is an eye-opening doc about money Vs power.  When you get the end of the film, the information provided will downright piss you off more than you ever thought possible. Indian Point should stand as a warning for us all. Complacency is the way we power our planet is no longer an option.


TOM SWIFT AND HIS ELECTRIC RIFLETOM SWIFT  TribecaIn the wake of so many tragic police shootings, I posed a question to my husband, “Why don’t they just use tasers anymore?!” I recalled the infamous YouTube video “Don’t Tase Me Bro!”. Without giving much weight to the incident,  when that video went viral, I, like most Americans, brushed it off as internet fodder. What I didn’t realize was just how serious this issue actually was and continues to be. In the doc Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle we learn about the origin of the one single company that created and trains law enforcement on the proper use of Tasers. These “weapons” are meant to incapacitate a subject. Unfortunately, for brother Tom and Rick Smith, tasers also kill people. The two founded Taser International in 1993 and have sold their stun gun to almost every one of the US’ 18,250 law enforcement agencies.

The updated Taser targeting guide issued by Taser International.

The updated Taser targeting guide issued by Taser International.

Between 2001 and 2012, there were 500 taser related deaths reported in the U.S. There are no regulations on the use of tasers. In the film, we are privy to dash cam footage of 23 year old Stanley Harlan. Pulled over in front of his house, the reason still unclear, he is seen complying with officers and then suddenly, off camera, he is tasered 3 times, causing him to go into cardiac arrest. As his parents look on is sheer terror, we witness Harlan’s death. In a deposition following a string of additional deaths, the Smith brothers sit smugly testifying that they have no scientific knowledge that their product contributes to anyone’s death. Ironically, in 2009, Taser International updated their training guide to reflect what they claimed they did not believe. These gentlemen and this company know they are wrong. They know the dangers of their product, but for them, their monopoly grows in spite of the deaths.

Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle is raw and shocking. You will walk out shaking your head. All of that being said, this documentary is incredibly informative and well structured. On the surface, it may appear to be a propaganda piece, so let me assure it, it is well researched and definitely worth your time.

You can still catch Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle at the fest!

8:30 PM – SUN 4/26 SVA THEATER 2 BEATRICE $21.50
For more information on all of these films, you can visit the Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015

Can’t make it to the Tribeca Film Festival? These movies have distribution and will be available to watch soon!

Misery Loves Comedy PosterMisery Loves Comedy – VOD now, In theaters April 24th

Directed by Kevin Pollak. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary.
Kevin Pollak directs this insightful documentary that examines the quasi-obsessive need for a comic to connect with an audience.
Conducting interviews with some of the biggest names in comedy including Jimmy Fallon, Amy Schumer, Jim Gaffigan, Judd Apatow, Larry David, and more, Pollak delves into the psyche to find out what led them to life in stand-up, and ruminates on whether you must be miserable to be a comedian. A Tribeca Film release.


Good KillGood Kill – In theaters May 1st

Directed and written by Andrew Niccol. (USA) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative.
Major Tommy Egan (Ethan Hawke) is fighting a war from the safety of a Nevada trailer, but commitment to the mission comes at a price. Gattaca director Andrew Niccol reunites with Ethan Hawke for this timely drama about the human costs of advanced war technology. Co- starring January Jones and Zoe Kravitz. An IFC Films Release.

Stephen Graham as David Knight in Hyena Courtesy Tribeca FilmHyena – In theaters May 1st

Directed and written by Gerard Johnson. (UK) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative.
Michael Logan (Peter Ferdinando) may be a corrupt, coke-addled cop, but he’s a bad lieutenant with a conscience. After years of dodging the same laws he was assigned to uphold, Michael suddenly finds himself trying to change while safeguarding a young Albanian woman from the sex trade. Equal parts grit and neon, Hyena blurs the line between cop and criminal and exposes the illicit underworld inhabited by London’s most ruthless policemen. A Tribeca Film release.

Kurt CobainKurt Cobain: Montage of Heck – HBO May 8th

Directed by Brett Morgen. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary.
Kurt Cobain, legendary lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of Nirvana, remains an icon 20 years after his death. This first-ever fully authorized documentary feature, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is a raw and visceral journey through Cobain’s personal archive of art, music (both his most famous and some that’s never been heard), written word, and never-before-seen home movies with animation and revelatory interviews from his family and closest confidantes. An HBO Documentary Film in association with Universal Pictures presentation.

MaggieMaggie – In theaters May 8th

Directed by Henry Hobson, written by John Scott 3. (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative.
There’s a deadly zombie epidemic threatening humanity, but Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a small-town farmer and family man, refuses to accept defeat even when his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) becomes infected. As Maggie’s condition worsens and the authorities seek to eradicate those with the virus, Wade is pushed to the limits in an effort to protect her. Joely Richardson co-stars in this post-apocalyptic thriller. Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions release.

Thought Crimes_Press_2 TribecaThought Crimes – HBO May 11th

Directed by Erin Lee Carr. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
Convicted yet then acquitted of conspiring to kidnap, rape, kill, and eat several women, NYPD officer Gilberto Valle quickly rose to infamy as New York’s own “Cannibal Cop”. With exclusive access to Valle, Erin Lee Carr’s unflinching documentary asks a fundamental question that challenges our beliefs about the criminal justice system, and even the very nature of right and wrong: can you be guilty of a crime you only thought about committing? An HBO Documentary Film.

Far From Men_press_1 TribecaFar From Men (Loin des Hommes) – In theaters May 15th

Directed and written by David Oelhoffen. (France) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative.
During the height of the Algerian War, an unlikely bond forms between a reserved French teacher (Viggo Mortensen) and the elusive dissident (Reda Kateb) he must turn over to the authorities. Based on a short story by Albert Camus, David Oelhoffen’s classically conceived period Western is a tense and timely study of war’s political and personal sacrifices. In French with subtitles. A Tribeca Film release.

Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) and Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in SLOW WEST, an A24 release. Photography by Robbie Ryan

Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) and Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in SLOW WEST, an A24 release.
Photography by Robbie Ryan

Slow West – In theaters May 15th

Directed by John Maclean. (UK, New Zealand) – New York Premiere, Narrative.
At the end of the nineteenth century, 16-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas (Michael Fassbender), a mysterious traveler, and hotly pursued by an outlaw (Ben Mendelsohn) along the way. Sundance 2015 World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic. An A24/DIRECTV release.

Cillian Murphy as Ivan Photo by Allen Fraser, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Cillian Murphy as Ivan
Photo by Allen Fraser, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Aloft – In theaters May 22nd

Directed and written by Claudia Llosa. (Canada, France, Spain) – New York Premiere, Narrative. In parallel narratives, single-mother Nana (Jennifer Connelly) has a mysterious experience at the hands of a traveling healer, years later her troubled son Ivan (Cillian Murphy) sets out in search of his now absent mother. Academy Award®–nominee Claudia Llosa’s (The Milk of Sorrow) decade-spanning family drama is a dreamlike rumination on faith, forgiveness, and family, set against an otherworldly frozen landscape. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.

JimmysHall_Press_1 TribecaJimmy’s Hall – In theaters May 30th

Directed by Ken Loach, written by Paul Laverty. (UK, Ireland, France) – North American Premiere, Narrative.
James Gralton returns from exile and reopens a public dancehall, bravely pushing back against the sharply drawn religious and political margins of his time. Ken Loach (Winner, Palme-d’or 2006, The Wind that Shakes the Barley) paints a romantic drama about a leftist leader, and a 1930s Ireland that celebrates free speech and thought in the face of oppressive dogma. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.

Hungry Hearts_0341Hungry Hearts – In theaters June 5th

Directed by Saverio Costanzo. (Italy) – U.S. Premiere, Narrative.
After a chance meeting and a whirlwind romance in New York City, Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Alba Rohrwacher) become pregnant. Convinced their child will be harmed by the pollutions in the outside world, Mina becomes consumed by protecting her baby, forcing Jude to recognize a terrible truth about why his son’s life could be in danger. A Sundance Selects Release.

Angry Sky_Press_3 TribecaAngry Sky – ESPN 30 for 30 June 8th

Directed by Jeff Tremaine. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
In the 1960s, truck-driver Nick Piantanida discovered skydiving, and set out to break the world record for highest parachute jump by taking a helium balloon to the edge of space. Over the course of a year, his dream to launch the first civilian space program drove him to obsession. An ESPN Films release.

Wolfpack_Press_1 TribecaThe Wolfpack – In theaters June 12th

The Wolfpack, directed by Crystal Moselle. (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary. Everything the Angulo brothers know about the outside world they learned from obsessively watching movies. Shut away from bustling New York City by their overprotective father, they cope with their isolation by diligently re-enacting their favorite films. When one of the brothers escapes, the world as they know it will be transformed. A Magnolia Release.

OVERNIGHT_Press_2 TribecaThe Overnight – In theaters June 19th

Directed and written by Patrick Brice. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative.
Alex and Emily have just moved to LA with their young son. Eager to make new friends, they accept an invitation to a party from the father of their son’s playground mate. After the kids fall asleep, the “playdate” takes a bizarre turn in this racy and hilarious romp. Featuring Judith Godrèche, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Adam Scott. A release by The Orchard.

Cartel Land-#1 - Autodefensa member standing guard in Michoacán, Mexico, from CARTEL LAND, a film by Matthew HeinemanCartel Land – In theaters July 3rd

Directed by Matthew Heineman. (USA, Mexico) – New York Premiere, Documentary.
A portrait of two men, both leaders of small paramilitary groups that police different sides of the Mexican drug war. With unprecedented access, this film brings forward deep questions about the breakdown of order and entanglement of modern-day vigilante movements at a time when the government cannot provide basic security for its people. In Spanish and English with subtitles. A release by The Orchard.

Sleeping With Other People_Press_1 TribecaSleeping With Other People – In theaters August 21st

Directed and written by Leslye Headland. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative.
Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie star as two romantic failures whose years of serial infidelity and self-sabotage have led them to swear that their relationship will remain strictly platonic. But can love still bloom while you’re sleeping with other people? Writer/director Leslye Headland’s (Bachelorette) sexy romantic comedy co-stars Amanda Peet, Adam Scott, and Natasha
Lyonne. An IFC Films Release.

Down in The Valley_Press_2 TribecaDown in the Valley – ESPN 30 for 30

Directed by Jason Hehir. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
How far would you go to save your hometown team? For many Sacramento residents, faced with the nearly certain relocation of their beloved Kings, no boardroom was too distant. One native son proved it. Follow former NBA superstar turned Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson as he battles owners and executives to keep the Kings at home, in this roaring testament to the passion and power of the small-market fan. An ESPN Films release.

Grandma_Press_1 TribecaGrandma – TBD

Directed and written by Paul Weitz. (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative.
Reeling from a recent breakup and still mourning the loss of her longtime partner, once-famous poet Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin) is surprised to find her teenage granddaughter on her doorstep in need of $600 and a ride. The two embark on an all-day road trip that ends up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets all over town. Co-starring Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, and Sam Elliott. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

Scottish Highlands Photo credit: Kino Lorber

Scottish Highlands Photo credit: Kino Lorber

Steak (R)evolution – TBD

Directed and written by Franck Ribière, co-written by Vérane Frédiani (France) – International Premiere, Documentary.
Grass fed, grain finished, intricately marbled, and dry aged — the concept of what makes the best steak varies greatly, and it continues to evolve as we move toward more sustainable farming practices. In this gourmet, across-the-world road trip, chefs, farmers, butchers, journalists and other experts weigh in on the various factors at play to help us understand the (r)evolution taking place right now and the challenges ahead. In English, French with subtitles. A Kino Lorber release.

Diplomat_Press_1 TribecaThe Diplomat – HBO will air the film this fall in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the war in Bosnia and was one of Richard Holbrooke’s greatest foreign policy achievements.

Directed by David Holbrooke. (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary.
With the insightful The Diplomat, David Holbrooke attempts the seemingly insurmountable: capturing the legacy of his larger-than-life father, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, revealing an inside view of US foreign policy from Vietnam to Afghanistan. Interviewing an impressive array of world leaders, David grapples with Holbrooke’s public versus private personas, creating a sensitive portrait of fatherhood, ambition, and the force required to affect change throughout the world. An HBO Documentary Film.