By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist April 15, 2013 at 1:33PM
"The Pretty One"
Synopsis: The meek, painfully awkward half of a pair of twin sisters envies the other's confidence, style, independence. When tragedy strikes, Audrey (Zoe Kazan) uses the opportunity to reinvent herself and assume her sister Laurel's (Kazan again) identity and soon begins a new relationship with her neighbor (Jake Johnson).
What You Need To Know: First-time feature-length director Jenée LaMarque (the shorts "Spoonful" and "Happy Deathday"), makes her prime-time debut with this quirky, lovely tale of identity and the eternal bond between two sisters. It’s obviously a gimmicky conceit, but Kazan (a writer/actress/director) is immensely talented and the idea of seeing her take on two characters next to the affable and hilarious Jake Johnson is a game we’re willing to bet on. Ron Livingston, John Carroll Lynch and Frances Shaw co-star.
When: SAT 4/20 9:30 PM SVA Theater 1 Silas
"Some Velvet Morning"
Synopsis: A young and beautiful New Yorker (Alice Eve) is surprised when an old lover -- that she has not seen or heard from in four years (Stanley Tucci) -- appears at her door with great expectations. Guess what, he's finally left his wife for her. This strange, out-of-nowhere bewilderment is complicated by the fact that she is now friends with Fred’s recently married son.
What You Need To Know: Theater director turned feature filmmaker Neil LaBute stormed independent cinema in the late '90s with the searing indictment of modern masculinity "In the Company of Men," and kept it going with "Your Friends & Neighbors" (1998) and the criminally underrated “Nurse Betty” (2000) -- one of the few of his features that he didn't have a hand in writing. But it’s been a puzzling road ever since (the "Wicker Man" remake with Nicolas Cage, "Lakeview Terrace" with Samuel L. Jackson and the 2010 remake of "Death at a Funeral" -- the latter two seemingly done for cash more than anything). Still, LaBute is an interesting character, to say the least, and this one, an original, intimate work set in a living room is seemingly more in character with his stage plays and looks like it could be a return to his early days. Having Tucci and Eve in the lead parts certainly doesn’t hurt.
When: SUN 4/21 6:00 PM BMCC Tribeca PAC
Synopsis: An unflinching look into the oil industry's heart of darkness, this documentary explores a number of cases in both Nigeria and Ghana, wherein political motivations, greed, and systemic corruption come together to form a perfect storm of exploitation and environmental unrest.
What You Need to Know: Produced by Brad Pitt and directed by Rachel Boynton (who had "Our Brand Is Crisis" at the festival in 2005), "Big Men" is making its worldwide premiere at Tribeca. The documentary seems to take a "Traffic"-like approach to the oil industry in Africa, showing a number of stories connected to the oil business, in order to give a more full and complete picture of what is happening over there. This includes everything from how American companies in Ghana overcome political scrutiny, to how contracts are made and then become the subject of endless complex wrangling, to how pipelines are often bombed or set on fire by militarized citizens demanding their piece of the sticky black pie. From the bigwig oil execs to the common citizen, everyone is accounted for in "Big Men."
When: THU 4/18 5:30 PM SVA Theater 2 Beatrice
"Stand Clear of the Closing Doors"
Synopsis: Talk about the immediacy of art – "Stand Clear of the Closing Doors" is a drama set during last fall's devastating Hurricane Sandy, when large swaths of the metropolitan area were turned into soggy medieval fiefdoms. The film follows an autistic youth named Ricky, who lives in Far Rockaway, Queens, who after a particularly difficult day at school, escapes into the subways. It's here that he starts his real journey, on a days-long voyage of discovery while, above ground, his mom frantically searches for him.
What You Need to Know: The film, inspired in part by a true story, and directed (by New York filmmaker Sam Fleischner) in the Rockaways during the waning days of Hurricane Sandy, giving its authenticity even more heft. In competition in the World Narrative Feature category, the film features a bold mixture of gentle surrealism and gritty naturalism, and hopefully it will be more like last year's breakout indie sensation "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and less like the autistic-kid-running-around-New-York-during-a-catastrophe debacle "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close."
When: SAT 4/20 6 PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 7
"A Case Of You"
Synopsis: This quirky 21st century romantic comedy, follows Sam (Justin Long), who falls for barista Birdie (Evan Rachel Wood). After he tries and fails to get her attention, he creates an irresistible internet profile that Birdie can't help but fall for (adorned, of course, with endless hobbies that Sam actually has no interest in). When it works, though, Sam has to maintain this elaborate ruse or risk losing Birdie's interest. Cute.
What You Need to Know: "A Case Of You" is making its world premiere at Tribeca, was co-written by Long and directed by Tribeca alum Kat Coiro, and features a truly staggering supporting cast that includes Peter Dinklage, Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn, Brendan Fraser and Sienna Miller. While all that talent is certainly enough to get people into the theater, the film is probably most interesting for being one of the few romantic comedies to tackle social media in a big way, even if it is a snazzy polish on the tireless mistaken/misrepresented identity theme. It's probably the kind of movie that, after you watch it (no matter its quality – but it does look pretty adorable), you immediately wonder why nobody thought of something like this before.
When: SUN 4/21 9:30 PM BMCC Tribeca PAC
Synopsis: A dark Hollywood satire that follows a failed agent (Clark Gregg) who discovers a troubled young talent (Saxon Sharbino) with an alcoholic father. Even though signing her could lead to all sorts of chaos, he is convinced, and begins grooming her for superstardom.
What You Need to Know: A world premiere in the Spotlight category, "Trust Me" was also written and directed by Gregg (most recognizable as a different kind of agent in the Marvel movies and upcoming "S.H.I.E.L.D." television series), making him the a triple threat. Gregg has assembled an all-star supporting cast as well that includes Felicity Huffman, Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell (who Gregg last directed in the underrated Chuck Palahniuk adaptation "Choke"), Paul Sparks, William H. Macy and Molly Shannon. As a filmmaker, Gregg always brings humanity to even the darkest scenario, and this set-up (which is supposedly full of twists and turns) seems ripe with endless possibilities. Also: it's entirely 'Avengers'-free.
When: SAT 4/20 9:30 PM BMCC Tribeca PAC