Screenings: Tribeca Film Festival
The 2009 Tribeca Film Festival opens this evening with the world premiere of Woody Allen's Whatever Works, a film starring Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David as Boris Yellnikoff, a half-failed physicist who is saved from his own neurotic self by a much-younger teenage runaway, Melody, played by Evan Rachel Wood. Allen began writing Whatever Works in 1977 with Brooklyn comedian Zero Mostel in mind for Boris's role; after Mostel's death, he abandoned the script (and eventually, his hometown -- his last four films were shot in Europe). Back in New York, Allen has banished Yellnikoff from the Upper East Side, where he abandons his posh, staid life for the decidedly unrefined trappings of happiness found downtown. Said Allen in the New York Observer's recent profile on the film: "All the nonsense about what one should be doing and shouldn't be doing and what's quote unquote appropriate according to what I call the appropriate police -- it's nonsense. It's a tough scuffle through life," he said. "A tragic situation. Whatever gets you through -- as long as it doesn't hurt anybody else -- is fine." Aptly put, indeed. The sold-out film screens just once -- tonight, at the Zigfried. (Fret not, fair film lover: The festival observes a fairly liberal rush ticket policy for many screenings.)
Though Tribeca has scaled its offerings back significantly -- the New York Times recently cited a 40 percent reduction in feature films since 2007 -- initial reviews have praised this year's tightly curated schedule. According to one of the festival's co-founders, Jane Rosenthal, the lineup is admittedly lighter in tone than it was in 2007, a response, in part, to the current economic crisis. Based on his BBC series "The Thick of It," Armando Iannucci's "In the Loop," is a hilariously incisive political satire starring the likes of Tom Hollander, James Gandolfini and Steve Coogan as gaffe-prone political figures flailing their way through a war with an unnamed Middle Eastern country. Also hotly anticipated, "The Girlfriend Experience" is Stephen Soderbergh's latest docu-drama wherein "Pretty Woman" Julia Roberts meets Audrey Hepburn's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in real-life porn star Sasha Grey's portrayal of a high-class Manhattan escort. "Whatever Works," "In the Loop," and "The Girlfriend Experience" are only but three of the festival's 85 feature films -- for a full screening schedule, visit the Tribeca Film Festival's film guide. Official trailers may be found here, while the festival's blogs offer daily news updates.