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Criticwire Critics Rank Tribeca; 'Yossi,' 'Planet of Snail' Among Standouts

Photo of Steve Greene By Steve Greene | Criticwire April 27, 2012 at 10:10AM

Unlike this year's Sundance, where “Beasts of the Southern Wild” cemented its status as the Sundance feel-good after seemingly everyone got behind it early, the Tribeca Film Festival program has divided critics. Rather than one film catching the attention of the masses, the reviews from our Criticwire members were more spread out at Tribeca. C and C+ grade averages dot the landscape. Nevertheless, there have been a handful of films that have either fared well or gained notoriety for various reasons. Here's a look at some of films that have provoked strong reactions from critics.
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The Returning Favorites

The Tribeca program is scattered with films that have premiered elsewhere over the past six months and have been discussed in Indiewire’s many corners over that time period. But now that another wave of reviews have been added, there are a few films that have sustained their critical goodwill.

The French action film "Sleepless Night" dazzled at Toronto in 2011 and has still yet to earn anything lower than a B+ from our critics. (In some ways, this seems to be the heir apparent to "The Raid" in the Fast-Paced Festival Film That Everyone Loves department.) To the list of film writers who applaud Frédéric Jardin’s tale of an enigmatic father searching for his missing son, add The Film Stage’s Kristy Puchko: "Basically, 'Sleepless Night'—from its performances to its twisted plot to its impeccable action setups—is a well-oiled machine...Mark my words: This will be a landmark film that action auteurs will attempt to copy or best for years to come."

Lynn Shelton’s "Your Sister’s Sister" is also faring well in its latest post-Toronto venue. Another tale of three individuals caught in an uncomfortable triangle of a relationship, in the vein of her previous "Humpday," Shelton is rejoined in front of the camera by Mark Duplass, along with Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt. Caryn James writes in her Tribeca review that the plot, involving half-sisters, breakups, death and best friends, "is not a scenario most directors could or would even want to pull off, but Shelton and her actors make it more than believable – it’s actually touching."

A pair of documentaries that fared well in Manhattan after other various global stops include Keanu Reeve’s "Side by Side" and the rock documentary "Searching for Sugar Man," both holding on to a current B+ average.

Sleepless Night: A-

Your Sister's Sister: B+

Side by Side: B+

Searching for Sugar Man: B+

The Impending Best of the Bunch?

For the purposes of this article, when dealing with such a small sample size, it’s difficult to declare any of these averages as definitive. Among the initial feedback that we received, there were some films that received only one or two reviews, but drew raves nonetheless.

One of them is Arnon Goldfinger’s documentary "The Flat," which centers around the process of sorting through the belongings of the director’s late grandmother. As DB Borroughs writes: "At first I wasn’t too thrilled with watching what seemed to be a bit more than a home movie. Frankly, if I had stumbled into the film on TV or DVD, I would have hit the fast forward or turned the station."

But what Goldfinger finds among those remains (something that’s revealed relatively early, but still warrants unspoiling) is what takes the film, as Borroughs describes it, “from merely okay to truly compelling.” So far, it has pulled the rare double "A+." If the film gains traction post-Tribeca, it will be curious to see if other critics concur.

The Flat: A+

(Note: The Criticwire grades listed here are reflective of the averages at the time of the story's publication. As with those of all films, they're subject to change throughout the coming weeks, months and years.)

This article is related to: Tribeca Film Festival, Your Sister's Sister, Sleepless Night, Yossi, War Witch (Rebelle), Planet of Snail, Journey to Planet X, Francophrenia (or: Don't Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is), The Flat, Side by Side, Searching for Sugar Man


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