Festival Feature: The Films of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 5 (1 vote)

”Dog Years”

’Dog Years,’ Directed by Adam Rifkin
Photo credit: Tribeca Film Festival

The great Burt Reynolds is back, for most likely his last lap around the track. He portrays Vic Edwards, a less successful version of himself – as if he had made all the 1970s “good old boy” movies and nothing else. The eightysomething actor is frail and lonely, so he accepts an invitation to a Nashville Film Festival, that he believes will be a lifetime tribute weekend. When the festival reveals itself to be low end, Edwards/Burt forces his punk rock handler (Ariel Winter) to drive him to his hometown of Knoxville, where he proceeds to make amends. Not completely successful, but with a proper emotional resonance to give Mr. R the swan song he deserves. Director Adam Rifkin does add something immensely clever… he digitally inserts the old Burt talking to the young Burt in films like “Deliverance” and “Smokey and the Bandit.”

No distributor yet. World Premiere at Tribeca.


’Chuck,’ Directed by Philippe Falardeau
Photo credit: IFC Films

He was known as the “Bayonne Bleeder,’ which combined his New Jersey hometown with his tendency to get cut while in the boxing ring. Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) is the title subject of the new film “Chuck,” and it tells the story of the real life inspiration for the Oscar Best Picture “Rocky.” Wepner was a club fighter in New Jersey in 1975, when heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (Pooch Hall) gave him a shot at the title. Wepner, characteristically bleeding, lasted 15 rounds with the champ, and a young Sylvester Stallone (Morgan Spector, in a remarkable and respectful portrayal) used the fight as a template for formulating “Rocky.” The film recreates the 1970s with artistic panache, even though the “downfall” of Wepner has no place to go as a story. The cast is top drawer (including Naomi Watts and Elizabeth Moss), and Liev Schreiber has a career defining performance. BONUS: The disco era shakes its groove thing again.

In limited nationwide release, opening in Chicago on May 12th.


’Genius,’ Pilot Directed by Ron Howard
Photo credit: National Geographic Channel

This TV Anthology premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival with a huge red carpet event, and the heavy hitters involved – director/producer Ron Howard, title performer Geoffrey Rush and character actor Emily Watson – all walked the carpet in honor of this National Geographic Channel production on the life of Albert Einstein. The pilot episode, directed by Howard, was a cinematic rendering of flashbacks to the physicist’s early years, and a flight of fancy regarding how gifted and creative people think differently. Geoffrey Rush is marvelous as the middle-aged Einstein, who is considering his life on the eve of his escape from the Nazi regime. NatGeo just announced a second season for the miniseries, and the possibilities for the medium of television just keep evolving.

”Genius” premiered on the National Geographic Channel on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017, and the next “chapter” will air on Tuesday, May 9th. See local listings for channel location and times.

”The Lovers”

’The Lovers,’ Directed by Azazel Jacobs
Photo credit: A24

The great Debra Winger makes a well-anticipated return to a lead film role as Mary, a bored and middle aged married woman having an affair. What is absurd about this well worn tale is that writer/director Azazel Jacobs has her husband Michael (Chicago actor Tracy Letts) ALSO in an affair. The confrontation regarding the affairs will come at the same time – in their minds – after a visit from their son. What transpires is original and intensely felt by the excellent cast. Again, the ending had nowhere to go, but the result is how love can be, unpredictable and untenable.

Currently in limited nationwide release, opening in Chicago May 12th, 2017.

”Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives”

’Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives,’ Directed by Chris Perkel
Photo credit: Tribeca Film Festival

What do Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel, Aerosmith, Earth Wind & Fire, Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, the Grateful Dead and Whitney Houston have in common? They all came under the auspice and influence of music impresario Clive Davis. Davis has held virtually every top leadership post in popular music from 1967 to the present, and has had success in virtually every genre that has dominated the eras. This documentary of his life is comprehensive and absorbing, but features too much on his life with Whitney Houston – and her subsequent death. Best found moment for director Chris Perkel… Davis wearing a foppish tennis sweater in the midst of the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, where he signed Janis Joplin. This was the opening night film of the Tribeca Fest, and featured a concert at Radio City Music Hall after the screening.

World Premiere at Tribeca. Acquired by Apple Music.

”The Reagan Show”

’The Reagan Show,’ Directed by Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez
Photo credit: Tribeca Film Festival

No offense to the excellent filmmakers involved in this documentary, but it frankly depressed me. The “Saint Ronnie” that the Repubs hold up as the Second Coming of a Deity as a president (in office 1981-89) is proved to be yet another flawed individual, as exposed by his own White House TV, which his handlers invented to control the message. It was interesting to review the White House years of Ronald Reagan with no narration, only the miles of news footage both through White House TV and a different-but-emerging modern broadcast press. Familiar on-air news reporters blend in with the man himself, a B-movie actor who became Leader of the Free World (as Doc Brown in “Back to the Future” rightly observed in 1955, “Who is the Vice President? Jerry Lewis?”), and also invented a propaganda base that the Repubs use effectively to this day… FOX News and #45, anyone?

Will have a theatrical release on June 30th, 2017, with a VOD (July 4th) and CNN broadcast soon thereafter.

For an Opening Night Slideshow of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, CLICK HERE.

For a Red Carpet overview of “Genius,” including a couple questions for director Ron Howard, CLICK HERE.

For a Red Carpet Slideshow for “Dog Years,” CLICK HERE.

For the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival Award Winners, CLICK HERE.

The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival took place from April 19th through April 30th. For more general information on 2017 Tribeca, click here.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editorial Coordinator, Writer

© 2017 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing



HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions