By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist April 15, 2014 at 1:17PM
So while the news that neither "Birdman" nor "Inherent Vice" (our no. 10 and no. 1 most anticipated films of the year, respectively) will be showing in Cannes may have us casting our thoughts forward to the fall festival season, there are still quite a few key events on the cinephile calendar between now and then. Indeed, the Tribeca Film Festival starts this week, and while the line-up overall feels more muted in profile than some years, there's still plenty that has piqued our curiosity in its slate. The 13th iteration of the New York-based festival opens on Wednesday night and will run until Sunday 27th with 33 jurors presiding over the competitive sections, including Jeff Goldblum, Whoopi Goldberg, Lake Bell, Toni Collette, Nate Parker, Gary Ross, Catherine Hardwicke, Adepero Oduye, Heather Graham, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alfonso Arau, Christine Lahti, Anton Yelchin and Natasha Lyonne. We've seen a fair number of the selection already at other festivals (and you can find links to reviews at the end of this article), but of those titles that will be new to us, here are the twenty, from across all the sections, that we're most looking forward to.
Synopsis: Gabriel is a troubled teenager battling the demons of mental illness and searching for a stability that he believes he can find if reunited with an ex-girlfriend. His pursuit of her, however, becomes increasingly obsessive, testing his relationship with his family and bringing him to the brink of breakdown.
What You Should Know: Rory Culkin has slowly but surely become our favorite of the Culkin acting brothers, having impressed us repeatedly before, often in supporting roles, most recently with his sensitive and nuanced performance in the underseen "Electrick Children." So it's always good to see him get a front-and-center showcase for his talents—it feels like it's only a matter of time before some role really connects for him and kicks his career up to the next level. And this could be it, as first-time director Lou Howe's film, which is partly funded by grants from the Sundance Institute and elsewhere, sounds like it may hit right in his wheelhouse, with the tricky character of the confused and vulnerable central teenager.
Synopsis: Seven college friends reunite for a weekend of drink, drugs, food and togetherness after one of their number has a breakdown, only to discover that as much as they've drifted apart in the intervening time, old jealousies, flirtations and political differences still hold considerable power over them.
What You Should Know: Widely billed as a "Big Chill" for the social media generation, that descriptor might have us ordinarily running for the hills, but the cast alone makes this one worthy of attention: Aubrey Plaza (an actress we're dying to see in something better than the lacklustre-to-plain-bad likes of "Life after Beth" and "The To-Do List"), Max Greenfield (the undersung lynchpin of making "New Girl" a whole lot better than it should be), Maggie Grace, Nate Parker, Max Minghella and Jane Levy play the friends, while "Parenthood" star Jason Ritter follows up his supporting role in SXSW title "Wild Canaries" as Alex, whom it is all, presumably, about.
"Every Secret Thing"
Synopsis: Two young women, recently released from prison after being convicted of involvement in an infant's death, come under suspicion again when another child goes missing. The investigation gradually lays bare a haunted town full of secrets and ghosts.
What You Should Know: Written by the eternally underrated Nicole Holofcener, based on the bestselling novel by Laura Lippman, directed by Amy Berg of "West of Memphis" fame (making her narrative feature debut here), produced by Frances McDormand and starring a terrific ensemble in Elizabeth Banks, Diane Lane and Nate Parker (his second Tribeca film after "About Alex," plus he's a juror) with Dakota Fanning and Danielle Macdonald ("The East") as the two young suspects, this has to be one of the highest profile premieres in the line-up. It is also one of the most intriguing sounding of all the female-led projects in this year's festival (and continuing Tribeca's usually strong showing in this area, of the 107 directors presenting features here, 22 are women).
"In Your Eyes"
Synopsis: A neglected East Coast doctor's wife discovers she has an uncanny connection with an ex-con living in New Mexico, leading to a unique metaphysical romance, despite the distance between them and their involvement with other partners.
What You Should Know: Mainly, that Joss Whedon-penned the script and it stars Zoe Kazan, who has consistently, if quietly, impressed us of late. Kazan refers to the film as "Joss Whedon does Nicholas Sparks" which does cool our ardor somewhat, but it'll be interesting to see what spin first-time director Brin Hill can put on proceedings, and if "Much Ado About Nothing" is an idea of the kind of palette-cleanser script that Whedon can turn out between "Avengers" installments, then we're totally on board. Michael Stahl-David (who's been mostly on TV since "Cloverfield") Nikki Reed, Mark Feuerstein and Jennifer Grey co-star.
"5 to 7"
Synopsis: A young man's affair with a French diplomat's wife (that takes place mostly between the titular hours of 5 and 7) brings him into conflict with his traditionally-minded parents, but the couple nevertheless fall deeper in love, until he can no longer be satisfied with the part-time nature of the relationship
What You Should Know: The debut directorial feature from TV writer and producer Victor Levin ("Mad About You" and "Mad Men" are among his TV credits, while he also wrote the script for "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton") "5 to 7" has a few things going for it: namely Anton Yelchin and Berenice Marlohe ("Skyfall") as the smitten central couple, Glenn Close and Frank Langella as his parents, with Olivia Thirlby, Eric Stoltz and Lambert Wilson in support too. It's a great cast and sometimes, cynical as we are, we just like to watch attractive people falling in love with each other. This may well scratch that romantic, culture-clash comedy of manners itch.