A bit of an odd choice when it was announced as this year's opening film, Tom Berninger's documentary about his tenuous relationship with his older brother Matt, and his experiences living in his shadow as a roadie while Matt's band, The National, embarked on their breakthrough tour, sounds like an odd combination of rock doc and awkwardly funny familial dissection. Giving what could sound like simply a comedically self-flagellating (and potentially self-involved) premise a little more weight is the fact that the film was executive produced by Marshall Curry ("If A Tree Falls," "Racing Dreams"), a documentarian who makes films that are compulsively watchable and endlessly entertaining. Keeping with the sibling theme of the film, The National's guitar prodigy twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner composed the score to the doc, so between that and the included concert footage, the movie should at least sound great. [Mark E Lukenbill]
"Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic"
Marina Zenovich's best known work, her twin documentaries about the controversial life of director Roman Polanski, exhibited an amazing ability to create an all-encompassing portrait of a controversial public figure, framing Polanski as a figure much more than merely the subject of a scandal. It makes some amount of sense then that for her latest, the director decided to turn her attention to another public figure who was no stranger to controversy: legendary comedian Richard Pryor. Interviewing family members, friends, and the fellow comedy legends who knew him closest, Zenovich frames Pryor's life within his enormous influence on our perception of race in today's society, and in doing so tells the full story of one of the most daring artistic forces of the past 50 years. [Cameron Sinz]
Lately Sam Rockwell has been on a bit of a light-hearted, comedy binge, given his work in "Trust Me" and "A Case of You," both of which make their world premieres at Tribeca this year. However, David M. Rosenthal's ("Janie Jones") "A Single Shot" brings the versatile actor back to his darker side, which we got a glimpse of in 2007's "Snow Angels". After Rockwell's John Moon accidentally shoots and kills a young woman while hunting, he finds a large stash of money that leads to threatening phone calls from an unknown stalker. Adapted from Matthew F. Jones' novel of the same name, the film features an impressive cast including Melissa Leo (starring in "Bottled Up" also premiering at Tribeca), William H. Macy (co-starring with Rockwell in "Trust Me"), and Jeffrey Wright. "A Single Shot" could be the tense, haunting drama that steals the spotlight at this year's festival. [Erin Whitney]
Director of the Golden Globe nominated "Sherrybaby," Laurie Collyer writes and directs films about down and out characters, shoots them on tiny budgets, and manages to woo some pretty serious talent into acting in them. "Sunlight Jr," her first film since 2006, stars Naomi Watts as a minimum wage supermarket employee, and we'd have to guess that Watts' presence is a testament to the strength of the script. Watts acts here alongside Matt Dillon, as a couple who learn that they are expecting a child while facing a tenuous financial situation with the dangerous reappearance of Watt's ex. While there's always the chance that the film will stray too far into melodramatic territory, we're hoping Collyer's steady directing hand can keep it naturalistic and affecting, and open the door for a terrific performance from Watts. The film also boasts a score from Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis. [Mark E Lukenbill]
The posters for experimental documentarian Matt Wolf's upcoming feature "Teenage," set to premiere at the festival on April 20th, boasts itself as documenting "The Birth of Youth Culture." It's a bold claim, but in enlisting the help of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound frontman Bradford Cox for the soundtrack and narration by the likes of Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer and Jessie Usher, the film has more than enough talent behind it to expect something that will surprise and engross in equal measure. "Teenage" blends archival footage with 16mm recreations of period moments in order to tell the story of the beginning of teenage culture, charting the changing role of youth from the end of child labor laws to the rebellious youth of the WW2 era, and if Wolf's previous work is any indication, along the way creating a documentary that is sure to feel like nothing else at the festival. [Cameron Sinz]
If last year’s found-footage, short film amalgamation “V/H/S” was enough to satiate your horror appetite, then the follow-up looks to surely provoke screams. “V/H/S/2,” although less impressive than the sequel’s original title “S-V/H/S,” continues the precursor’s formula of various gruesome, demented murders captured on tape. Foregoing the task of following a single plot in a specific horror subgenre, the “V/H/S” films incorporate a little something for every scary movie lover. The original included everything from a cabin in the woods to demonic possessions to a boyfriend-killing lesbian. Like the first, the follow-up features a slate of promising indie horror directors including “The Blair Witch Project" helmer Eduardo Sanchez, Gareth Evans (“The Raid”), Jason Eisener (“Hobo With a Shotgun”), and more. Following its Sundance premiere “V/H/S/2” was said to be even scarier than the first, taking the blood-squirting to another level and this time, it involves kids. Leave your little ones at “Lil Bub & Friendz” because “V/H/S/2” may leave even the bravest with gorey nightmares. [Erin Whitney]