Gilda Radner Documentary ‘Love, Gilda’ to Open Tribeca Film Festival

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Director Lisa D’Apolito’s “Love, Gilda,”a feature-length documentary about the late comedian Gilda Radner, will open the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, organizers announced Tuesday.

The film weaves together audiotapes, rare home movies, diary entries and interviews with her friends and those inspired by her including Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Cecily Strong; “SNL” original cast members Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman, and Paul Shaffer; as well as Lorne Michaels, Alan Zweibel, Stephen Schwartz, Second City CEO Andrew Alexander and long-time friend and actor Martin Short.

The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, will kick off on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, with a premiere screening of “Love, Gilda” at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

Also Read: Read Gene Wilder’s Heartbreaking Essay About Wife Gilda Radner’s Death

CNN Films presents the feature-length documentary, which was produced by 3 Faces Films in association with Motto Pictures.

The film was produced with the cooperation of the Radner estate. She was a trailblazer for female comedians, and her impact on the entertainment industry has endured almost four decades.

“As a festival that has always supported women’s voices and is largely run by women we are incredibly proud to celebrate the inimitable voice of Gilda during the opening night of our Festival,” said Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder and CEO of the Tribeca Film Festival. “Gilda Radner was a powerful comedic force of nature who opened doors and thrilled audiences while becoming one of the most prolific comedians of a generation. Her cutting-edge humor was only second to her dedicated leadership in cancer care with her eponymous Gilda’s Club.”

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‘Abundant Acreage Available’ Review: Amy Ryan Owns This Quiet Family Drama

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The presence of Martin Scorsese as an executive producer no doubt drew some of the crowd to Thursday night’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere of “Abundant Acreage Available,” but the ties between Angus MacLachlan’s family drama and Scorsese’s work were not in areas (violence, Italians, “Gimme Shelter”) usually associated with the legendary director.

Instead, it was the little areas where you could see a connection: a serious examination of religious faith, a look at family dynamics and a vividly drawn sense of place — in this case not Little Italy, but a modest family farm somewhere in North Carolina.

And the audience didn’t leave “Abundant Acreage Available” thinking about Scorsese — because this movie belongs to actress Amy Ryan, who gives a haunting, quietly commanding performance as a fortysomething woman who lives with her brother (Terry Kinney) on a small tobacco farm.

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Ryan and Kinney’s characters have only recently buried their father, who died after a long illness, when three brothers (Max Gail, Francis Guinan and Steve Coulter) show up and pitch a tent on their property. The men furnish a suspicious story about car trouble and show no great hurry to move on.

“Abundant Acreage Available,” a movie looking for a distribution deal at Tribeca, is all about quiet, stillness, grief and faith. And the movie itself is quiet and still, set in the dead of winter when little seems to be growing and we rarely even see the birds that fly overhead. For long stretches, there is no score, just the sound of wind; when music creeps in, it does so softly and then goes away again.

Voices are raised and there’s even some violence, but it’s understated; the three mysterious brothers are a soft, enigmatic threat, not an overt one.

The performances are strong: Kinney as a man looking desperately to religion as a way to forgive himself for a tragedy; Gail as a curious spokesperson for the trio of squatters; and especially Coulter as the quietest of the brothers, whose rectitude has those around him deciding that they know what’s best for him (and for Ryan’s character).

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His scenes with Ryan are among the film’s richest and most satisfying, but the actress holds the screen no matter what she’s doing and who she’s with. There is no vanity in her portrayal of a woman who looks beaten down but has chosen the life she’s leading, and who is roused to protect her lifestyle when it suddenly seems threatened for reasons that make little sense to her.

MacLachlan is best known for his script to the 2005 drama “Junebug,” which brought another Amy — in that case, Adams — her first Oscar nomination. He knows how to sketch small-town lives keenly and sensitively, even if his tone of somber ambiguity does not always lead to wholly satisfying drama.

But for an audience willing to be patient and drift along with the quiet drama — which is to say, most of the audience at Tribeca’s Cinepolis Chelsea on Thursday night — “Abundant Acreage Available” is a slow ride worth taking.

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‘Chuck’ Review: Liev Scheriber Transforms Himself into the Boxer Who Would Inspire ‘Rocky’

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Liev Schreiber totally transforms himself into boxer Chuck Wepner in the conventional biopic “Chuck,” a movie about a man known for being able to take many punches. Wepner was nicknamed “the Bayonne bleeder” because he usually lost a lot of blood in the ring without getting knocked out, which is partly why he was picked by promoter Don King to fight against Muhammad Ali for the World’s heavyweight title in 1975.

“Chuck” details Wepner’s home life before that famous fight and his relationship with his wife Phyllis (Elisabeth Moss), a postal worker who is continually getting angry about Wepner’s philandering. French-Canadian director Philippe Falardeau (“The Good Lie”) is burdened with creating the look and feel of the 1970s in New Jersey — and he does the best he can with the budget he had — but “Chuck” too often has a cramped feeling, as if it has to keep its focus small in order to provide any semblance of period believability. Falardeau makes due here with easy ’70s signifiers like gold couches, Telly Savalas in “Kojak” on TV, and the expected disco songs on the soundtrack.

Nobody expected Wepner to do much against the force and showmanship of Ali, but he managed to knock Ali down in the ninth round and took a beating from the champ over and over again while remaining doggedly upright. Until the 15th round, that is, when Wepner hit his knees, and the fight was called on a technical knockout with just 19 seconds left. “I couldn’t hit him, so I figured that I’d wear him down with my face,” says Schreiber’s Wepner.

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The young Sylvester Stallone was so touched and impressed by Wepner’s stoicism that he wrote and directed “Rocky,” which became a huge success and won the Oscar for Best Picture. Wepner didn’t get any money out of “Rocky,” and the middle section of “Chuck” provides a nearly morbid level of detail about how this man tried and mainly failed to cash in on his connection to a famous movie.

Wepner’s marriage to Phyllis finally falls apart due to his drug-taking and orgiastic womanizing, and his attempt to ingratiate himself with Stallone (a very convincing Morgan Spector, “Christine”) results in humiliation as he attempts to audition for a role in “Rocky II” and finds that he can’t act the part of himself.

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If you look at footage of Wepner being interviewed and fighting Ali, you can see that Schreiber has become this man for the camera, capturing Wepner’s low bruiser voice, his hulking physicality, and his overall hangdog presence. Schreiber is even able to slip into a note-perfect imitation of Anthony Quinn in the boxing picture “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” Wepner’s favorite movie.

Schreiber has a very poetic moment in “Chuck” when Wepner watches himself on the “Mike Douglas Show” and doesn’t like what he sees. He turns the TV off, and then Schreiber gently touches the blank screen with his hand. This gesture is the touchstone of Schreiber’s performance as a man who both likes himself too much and doesn’t like himself at all, a dirty fighter who is somehow always on the outside of his own life and career.

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There comes a point in “Chuck” where Wepner visits his brother (Michael Rapaport) because he has no one else to share his excitement with after “Rocky” wins some Oscars, and it becomes apparent that Wepner hasn’t seen him in a while and can’t even quite remember how many kids he has. This could be chalked up to too many blows to the head, but “Chuck” presents this as evidence that Wepner has kept his own family at arm’s length in order to chase after drugs, women, and fame.

“There’s more to you than meets the eye, Chuck Wepner,” says Linda (Naomi Watts), a Jersey bartender who will eventually become his second wife. “Not much, but just enough,” she says, and the same might be said of “Chuck” itself, which dutifully allows Schreiber to show off his skill as an actor while making us question the need for a narrative movie about Wepner, who is seen in the last shot amiably strolling along the beach with the real-life Linda.

“Chuck” takes a small subject and turns it into a basic redemption story, and as such it has some merit. Not much, but just enough.

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‘Keep the Change,’ ‘Bobbi Jene’ Win Top Awards at Tribeca Film Festival

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‘Keep the Change,’ ‘Bobbi Jene’ Win Top Awards at Tribeca Film Festival

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The narrative films “Keep the Change” and “Son of Sofia” and the documentary “Bobbi Jene” have won the top jury awards at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, TFF announced at an awards ceremony in New York City on Thursday night.

Rachel Israel’s “Keep the Change,” a romance about two young adults with autism that was made with non-professional actors who are themselves autistic, won the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, while Israel won a separate award as Best New Narrative Director.

Narrative acting awards went to Alessando Nivola for “One Percent More Humid” and Nadia Alexander for “Blame.”

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In the International Narrative Feature categories, Elina Psykou’s “Son of Sofia” took the top prize, with acting awards going to Guillermo Pfening in “Nobody’s Watching” and Marie Leuenberger in “The Divine Order.”

Elvira Lind’s “Bobbi Jene,” a film about ballet dancer Bobbi Jene Smith, dominated the documentary awards. It won the Best Documentary Feature prize and also taking awards for its cinematography and editing.

The full list of winners:

U.S. Narrative Feature Competition Categories
(Jurors: Josh Lucas, Melanie Lynskey, Denis O’Hare, Alex Orlovsky, and Stephanie Zacharek.
Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature – “Keep the Change,” Rachel Israel.
Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Alessandro Nivola, “One Percent More Humid”
Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Nadia Alexander, “Blame”
Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Chris Teague, “Love After Love”
Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – “Abundant Acreage Available,” Angus MacLachlan

Also Read: ‘Abundant Acreage Available’ Tribeca Review: Amy Ryan Owns This Quiet Family Drama

International Narrative Feature Competition Categories
(Jurors: Willem Dafoe, Peter Fonda, Tavi Gevinson, Alessandro Nivola, and Ruth Wilson)
Best International Narrative Feature – “Son of Sofia,” Elina Psykou
Best Actor in an International Narrative Feature Film – Guillermo Pfening in “Nobody’s Watching” (“Nadie Nos Mira”)
Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature Film – Marie Leuenberger in “The Divine Order”
Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature Film – Mart Taniel, “November”
Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature Film – “Ice Mother” (“Bába z ledu”) Bohdan Sláma

Documentary Competition Categories
(Jurors: R.J. Cutler, Alma Har’el, Barbara Kopple, Anne Thompson, and David Wilson)
Best Documentary Feature – Bobbi Jene, Elvira Lind
Best Documentary Cinematography — Elvira Lind for “Bobbi Jene”
Best Documentary Editing – Adam Nielson, “Bobbi Jene”
Special Jury Mention – “True Conviction”

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Best New Narrative Director Competition
(Jurors: Bryan Buckley, Clea Duvall, and Michael Pitt)
Best New Narrative Director – Rachel Israel, “Keep the Change”

Best New Documentary Director Competition:
(Jurors: Amy Berg, Alice Eve, Marilyn Ness, Zachary Quinto, and Shaul Schwarz)
Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award – Sarita Khurana andSmriti Mundhra for “A Suitable Girl”
Special Jury Mention – “Hondros”

The Nora Ephron Prize
(Jurors: Dianna Agron, Joy Bryant, Diane Lane, Zoe Lister-Jones, and Christina Ricci)
The Nora Ephron Prize: Petra Volpe, writer/director of “The Divine Order”
Special Jury Mention: “Keep the Change”

Short Film Competition Categories:
Best Narrative Short – “Retouch,” directed by Kaveh Mazaheri
Best Animated Short – “Odd is an Egg,” directed by Kristin Ulseth
Best Documentary Short – “The Good Fight,” directed by Ben Holman
Special Jury Mention – “Resurface”
Student Visionary Award – “Fry Day,” directed by Laura Moss
Special Jury Mention – “Dive”

Storyscapes Award: “TREEHUGGER: WAWONA” created by Barnaby Steel

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‘The Circle’ Review: Tom Hanks Runs Social Media Cult in Implausible Thriller

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Tom Hanks starred in an adaptation of Dave Eggers’s book “A Hologram for the King” last year, and now he stars again in a film version of an Eggers novel called “The Circle,” an over-the-top and implausible story that tries to be “timely” and “relevant” but mainly hits us over the head with absurd situations.

Emma Watson plays the heroine Mae, a sweet-faced girl (with Aaron Copland music as the ringtone on her phone) who is suffering in a bad job at a water company where she has to try to calm down angry people all day. Mae’s father Vinnie (the late Bill Paxton, in his last film role) is suffering from muscular dystrophy, and he can’t get his insurance to pay for the care he needs. And so Mae is a vulnerable target for The Circle, a vast tech and social media company run by Eamon Bailey (Hanks) like a cult.

There is a vague attempt to make The Circle seem like a semi-hip sort of place when Mae is asked “fun” questions at her job interview like “Paul or John?” (She answers, “Early Paul, late John.”) When asked, “Joan Baez or Joan Crawford?” our heroine shows her independent mind by answering “Joan Didion” instead. This is the sort of working environment where Beck plays concerts on the premises to keep the employees happy and keep them from going home.

Watch Video: ‘The Circle’ Trailer: Is Tom Hanks a Villain for Once?

There is a superficial smartness to the early scenes in “The Circle” that soon gives way to very obvious plot manipulations. Mae isn’t working very long for the company before she is approached by two of her fellow workers who browbeat her into giving up more of her privacy and signing up for more group activities, which they stress are “Just for fun!” and “Optional!” This is the scene where “The Circle” really dives off the deep end into exaggeration; surely these two colleagues would be able to manipulate Mae in a far more subtle manner.

The main problem with “The Circle” is that the evil of the tech company is made so obvious right from the start. It would be far more effective and more troubling if The Circle and its leaders were seductive and attractive and had some good points to make, but they are so ridiculously wrong-headed that Mae seems pretty dim to fall for them.

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Mae goes out kayaking and almost drowns, but she is saved because her every movement is being monitored by the company. This convinces her to go “fully transparent,” which means that she puts on a camera that monitors her at every moment and can be seen by all Circle members. (The only time she gets any privacy is when she goes to the toilet.)

Hanks’s Bailey convinces Mae that she is better off and likely to be a better person if she is being observed at all times, and yet the obvious connection to religion or lack of it is not made here. You might expect Eggers to at least mention that the thought of God watching and judging us used to influence a good deal of human behavior, but that is outside his purview here. Both Hanks and Patton Oswalt, who plays a second-in-command at the company, seem to be having trouble taking their villainous roles seriously, and Watson is unable to make the various changes that happen to Mae convincing.

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Mae serenely accepts her new “fully transparent” way of life, and director James Ponsoldt (“The End of the Tour”), who wrote the screenplay with Eggers, surrounds his female star visually with thought bubbles from all around the world that are mainly friendly and all seemingly from lonely people. These floating internet comments are fairly accurate when it comes to some of what gets said online, but most negativity and cruelty seems to have been edited out of them, and that certainly doesn’t represent what online life is like in full.

In the last third of the film, something very bad happens that is very much Mae’s fault, and yet Watson displays no anger and no guilt about it, and her behavior in the final scenes barely makes any sense. “The Circle” takes a valid concern about lack of privacy in the Internet age and turns it into a hyperbolic and finally laughable melodrama.

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‘Manifesto’ Review: Cate Blanchett Is Every Woman in Trippy Art Piece

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Cate Blanchett practically eats the camera lens in “Manifesto,” a feature by artist Julian Rosefeldt that began life as an installation at the Park Avenue Armory show in Manhattan. Blanchett plays 13 separate characters who deliver various manifestos, and these reach from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels preaching on economics in the mid-19th century to rules for filmmaking delivered by director Jim Jarmusch in 2004.

The surprise here is that Rosefeldt has managed to deliver an intellectually-charged, cheeky, and very funny film that feels unruly and expansive in spite of its tight 12-day shooting schedule and its focus on just one performer. Blanchett is first glimpsed playing a homeless man trudging across a blasted industrial landscape in Berlin, and we hear her on the soundtrack speaking the words of Marx and Engels, who claimed in 1848 that capitalism was on its last legs.

Next we see Blanchett as an office drone on the stock exchange, and her voice tells us, “The suffering of a man is of the same interest to us as the suffering of an electric lamp,” which is a line from a manifesto on futurist painting. Rosefeldt brings his camera way up above the exchange to let us see how this woman disappears into row after row of people who have been reduced to objects, or numbers.

Watch Video: Watch Cate Blanchett Play 13 Different Characters in ‘Manifesto’ Trailer

Blanchett has no fear as a performer, and she has such enormous appetite for acting that she rips into each of the characters she is playing in “Manifesto” as if she were hungrily stripping meat off of chicken legs and then hurling the bones over her shoulder. She is such an acting prodigy that she needs to be properly challenged, and “Manifesto” is such a challenging and unlikely project that Blanchett uses her talent as she never has before, splashing it all over the screen and making bold gestures that only become physically overdone when she plays an Eastern European choreographer in a turban.

(Blanchett is definitely the sort of go-for-broke acting beast who does require a director to sometimes tell her things like, “You need to scale down those sweeping arm movements.”)

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Much of the humor and meaning in “Manifesto” emerges from the contrast of Blanchett’s characters with her surroundings and with the words she speaks, which is why she gets her biggest laughs here by launching into an angry Dadaist mission statement as a eulogy at a funeral, delivering these amusingly inappropriate words in a blatantly emotional and serious and furious way. So many of these manifestos are anti-establishment, and almost all of them are powered by the urge to smash existing norms and return to or create some kind of pure artistic state.

On the one hand, Blanchett herself is the sort of decadent artist that all of her characters in this movie are obsessively speaking out against, and so it is often hilarious to hear her constantly calling for the abolition of the very type of art that she is so flashily practicing. On the other, Blanchett has a naturally destructive and anarchic sensibility that lends itself very well to rebellious posturing, especially for the character that suits her best: a raging and drunken lower-class British goth rock-and-roll singer who has a tattoo of Peter Lorre in “Mad Love” (1935) on her left shoulder and also on the inside of her right arm. Lorre’s stretched-out face is hovering at one point near Blanchett’s own harshly made-up face as she declaims that her “confidence is unswerving,” and this is great fun because it looks as if one classic ham actor is staring at another.

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Rosefeldt provides a considerable guiding intelligence in “Manifesto” and keeps a tight control over material that could easily dissolve into chaos. “The art instinct is permanently primitive,” says Blanchett when she plays a rich art collector, a lady who also cries out, “No to the seduction of the spectator by the wiles of the performer!” This is one of the most ironic moments in “Manifesto” because Blanchett’s style here is of course nothing but wiles and seductions and flourishes.

“Manifesto” ends with maybe its wittiest sequence, as Blanchett plays an art teacher who quotes French film director Jean-Luc Godard to her kids and insists that “nothing is original” before hitting them with directly contradictory quotes about authenticity from the Dogme 95 film movement of the 1990s. In the last moments of “Manifesto,” Blanchett’s characters are all present on screen in individual panels and they are all speaking at once, and this provides a fitting climax to a film that is a head-trip in the best possible sense.

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Tribeca: Kobe Bryant on His New Career as Storyteller, Moviemaker

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

He’s already made a huge impact on Hollywood as the leader of the town’s favorite sports team, but Kobe Bryant says he’s just getting started.

Next up: movies, TV, short films, even novels. “I think there’s a myriad of ways to reach an audience, and the important thing is making sure we have compelling stories and characters that can support that,” the NBA legend told TheWrap on Sunday at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Bryant was at Tribeca to premiere the short film “Dear Basketball,” a collaboration with Disney animation legend Glen Keane.

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The six-minute, hand-drawn short is based on a poem Bryant wrote in November 2015 and published on the Players’ Tribune website to announce his retirement from basketball. Keane, who left Disney after a 40-year career included designing and animating such iconic characters as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” the genie in “Aladdin” and the Beast in “Beauty and the Beast,” depicts Bryant as a child and as an NBA superstar, as Kobe’s voiceover explains what drove him and why it was time to end his playing days.

Bryant’s friend, the equally iconic film composer John Williams, supplied the music.

Bryant and Keane sat down with TheWrap to discuss the next phase in two legendary careers.

How did this turn from a poem on the Player’s Tribune website into a film?
KOBE BRYANT: I’ve had the idea of making it a short since I first started writing it. I knew filmmaking was where I wanted to go, and the dream was to have John Williams score it and Glen Keane animate it.

So then it became, “OK, can I write something that is worthy of their time?” How do I do that? Well, I have to write something that’s true. So if I’m going to speak to the game, what do I want to say to the game? I was writing from that place.

And you were already thinking movie?
BRYANT: Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah. Because I felt like, if I was a kid growing up and Michael Jordan had a project like this, it would have helped me tremendously to learn from his dream. I thought, “OK, I’m retiring from the game, but how can I give something back to the game for the next generation?”

Also Read: Watch Kobe Bryant Drop All 60 Points in Amazing Farewell Game (Video)

Glen, how did you get involved? Did you guys know each other before?
GLEN KEANE: No, it was really just through Kobe seeing some of my work beforehand…

BRYANT: Over and over and over and over and over. [laughs]

Well, yeah. You’ve got kids.
BRYANT: Oh god, I knew him before I had kids.

KEANE: He called, and we could not believe Kobe was visiting us in our humble, tiny little studio in Hollywood. And Kobe walked in, and the first thing he says is, “Yes, this is perfect.”

BRYANT: [in a hushed voice] There were storyboards up on the walls, and it wasn’t computer generated, it was hand drawn. It was just like, oh my god.

KEANE: I was so happy to hear you say that. And so we just spent some time connecting. We found that creatively we had a lot in common, even though I was in an entirely different field. We talked about Beethoven, and how in his head he was listening to Beethoven in…

BRYANT: Game 6, 2009 Western Conference Finals. [The Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 119-92 to advance to the NBA finals, which they also won.]

KEANE: And I’ve had Beethoven in my head too. I mean, I was animating Beast’s transformation [in “Beauty and the Beast”] in my mind to Beethoven’s Ninth. So we really connected on an artistic level.

Kobe, I was at the John Williams tribute you attended last summer, and I was fascinated by the idea that you find common ground between basketball and music or cinema. Have you always seen those kind of connections?
BRYANT: Oh yeah, absolutely. And it’s not just film — it’s nature as well. Once you know what it is in life that you want to do, then the world basically becomes your library. Everything you view, you can view from that perspective, which makes everything a learning asset for you.

And if that’s the case, then I can take a very specific film that’s focusing on basketball, and have that connect to human nature as a whole. Because it’s not necessarily about the discipline, but it’s about how the discipline is achieved, and why. And those things are the same no matter what area you’ve in.

Also Read: 11 Things We Learned at AFI Tribute to John Williams

Glen, you had Kobe’s words to start with, but how did the collaboration work from there?
KEANE: We had a lot of conversations about the spirit of it. It was going to be a way of communicating, from a child’s point of view, how Kobe followed that path. It was very much a nostalgic look back, but with a purpose of giving the tools to other kids, anybody, how do they achieve that dream.

One of the first things we did was download Kobe’s 20 top plays on YouTube. And we stop-framed through that. It was so cool. I mean, he’s got a photographic memory of every moment on the court.

I remember one particular shot. I forget which game it was, but it was the last second and you’re going laterally across and you’re shooting a three-point shot. It was impossible, but you made it. And you explained, “Well, the way I did that was from when I was a kid … “

BRYANT: Riding a bicycle. Right. The shot was against the Miami Heat at the Staples Center, and I shot a one-legged runner going sideways. I was going this way and I shot it back that way. I told him I learned how to do that as a kid — we used to have these competitions on BMX bikes, where you take these little stones and you have to hit the telephone pole. But if you’re riding the bike, you can’t aim it straight at the telephone pole. You’ve got to throw it back a little bit to offset the direction in which you’re going. That’s how I learned to do that fadeaway, because if I’m going this way and I aim for the basket, it’s gonna go left. If I aim it back a little bit, it balances itself out.

Also Read: ESPN’s Rachel Nichols’ 7 Takeaways From Kobe Bryant’s Last Game: ‘It Was the Perfect Ending’

KEANE: It was so cool. ‘Cause I realized how much the physics plays into all of this. As an animator, you can’t just animate Kobe. You don’t have the skill, you don’t have the knowledge. I had to study Kobe, which was so much fun.

I would stop frame and watch as Kobe is moving toward the basket, signaling what he’s going to do with the ball and watching the opponent know for a fact that Kobe is not going to do what he’s showing the world he’s going to do. They’re waiting for him to do something different. But he’s not, he’s not, he’s not, and now Kobe’s feet are off the ground. He cannot change gravity, and he’s in the air, so they go up, like a sheep to the slaughter.

I studied this, and I animated it — Kobe kicks his legs and throws his hips and moves laterally in the air, and changes the ball and comes from the other side and sinks it … I mean, I get chills right now just thinking about it.

BRYANT: [laughs] Now, see, after watching Glen animate those moves frame by frame, now I realize why my shoulder and why my back and everything hurts so darn much. Oh, that’s why. It makes sense now. When you’re doing it, you just do it.

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Do you want to have a presence in the entertainment industry now?
BRYANT: What I like to do is what we call it creative education. How can we inspire the next generation of athletes? And I use that term in a very broad way. If you have a body, you’re an athlete. How can we inspire them to be the best version of themselves?

With kids sometimes, it’s tricky. Because you can’t say, “Do this, do that, work hard.” They know that. But if we can show them a story of what this person did, what this character did, what this character went through, and if they in turn see themselves in that character, then it becomes a process that they own themselves. It’s not somebody else telling them what to do, they see it. If we can influence the next generation in that way, then we’ve been successful.

And you want to do that through film…
BRYANT: Oh yeah. Through films, shorts, TV, long-form, live-action one day. Novels. I think there’s just a myriad of ways to reach an audience, the important thing is making sure we have compelling stories and compelling characters that can support that.

You were famously driven in your basketball career. Are you more relaxed now?
BRYANT: Well, it’s not as outwardly intense. Basketball is such an emotional thing, And this process is different. You have time to execute and make sure it’s as good as we can make it. In basketball, you don’t have that. The game’s at 7:30 Monday night, and if you’re not ready, you’re not ready. Oh well.

It’s a different kind of intensity.

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Can the legacies you guys already have be a burden? Glen, you sit down to animate this six-minute short as the guy who designed some of the most iconic figures in Disney animation history …
KEANE: I left Disney after about 40 years that there was something new calling to me, but it wasn’t going to happen unless I left. It was really hard to just leave, but there is a point of necessary ending.

I had no idea that this is what was waiting for me – but really, “Dear Basketball” is the first film where you actually see my drawings on the screen. All the Disney films, somebody else traced over those, painted on them… These are the raw drawings.

I keep saying to my wife, “I feel like I’m 20 years old again, and I’m just starting.” And she says, “You make me very uncomfortable when you say that.” But it’s a new start for me.

Kobe, does it feel like a new start for you?
BRYANT: Yeah. It’s kind of an evolution. The industry’s changed, but the mentality, the approach has remained the same. The lessons that I’ve learned remain the same. I’m just kind of pushing them out in a different way.

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‘The Trip to Spain’ Review: Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden Impersonate Caine Mainly on the Plain

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“The Trip to Spain” is the third movie in a series starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as versions of themselves. (It has also played as an expanded group of episodes on television.) In their first film from 2010, “The Trip,” they toured restaurants in Northern England and did many impressions of actors, most notably dueling impersonations of Michael Caine so stingingly accurate that it will probably be impossible to watch Caine ever again without thinking of Coogan and Brydon and their send-up of him.

They took “The Trip to Italy” in 2014 and reprised their Caine impersonations amid many sharp barbs aimed at each other about aging and ego, and now they have set off for Spain, where the food looks quite tasty. This picture is 115 minutes of nearly wall-to-wall actor impressions, and that does get to be too much of a good thing, unfortunately.

We see Brydon run through his repertoire of Al Pacino, Woody Allen, and Anthony Hopkins, and Brydon and Coogan both try out versions of Ian McKellen and David Bowie while Coogan does a dead-on John Hurt. Impressions of famous actors used to be considered one of the lowest forms of show business, and certainly one of the corniest, but these “Trip” movies rely on them to an excessive extent.

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The funniest impression here is probably the first time that Coogan does a very physical and peacock-like take off on Mick Jagger, but the problem is that he does Jagger again later on in “The Trip to Spain,” as if the Rolling Stones front man were performing Shakespeare, and this just isn’t as amusing as Coogan’s much simpler earlier scene as Jagger. The problem with so much modern comedy is that nobody seems like they are able to edit themselves anymore.

These “Trip” pictures are road movies with maybe something in common with the playful road movies that Bing Crosby and Bob Hope used to make in the 1940s, and like those movies, the laughs come from the competition between the stars. Whereas the one-upmanship between Hope and Crosby was basically benign, with Coogan and Brydon there is always a sense of danger because they might say something really cutting and memorably cruel about others or about themselves.

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But they are both always flirting with sentimentality, too, particularly Coogan, who can look at Brydon with contempt, amusement, and something approaching love all in quick succession. Coogan’s comic timing is lethally direct, but Brydon is always throwing him curveballs to unsettle him, and that’s when the laughs can get really big.

They look rather similar, but the supercilious Coogan usually tries to be the controlling top dog while Brydon is the sidekick, so that Coogan is the Crosby or Oliver Hardy figure while Brydon is the Hope or the Stan Laurel. They translate these comic archetypes over to a dry British comic tradition and overlay it with modern reference-laden comedy, as if they can never have a conversation where they don’t mention a movie or an actor or actors in a movie.

Somehow the sadness in these “Trip” films always feels intrusive rather than organic. Coogan and Brydon are much better at cracking jokes and building comic routines together than tugging at heartstrings. (It’s somewhat difficult to feel sad for two men who are being paid to eat and do silly voices with each other.) For some reason they rarely seem to be enjoying the very fancy food they eat at various restaurants, which is another aspect of this series that does not exactly endear them to us.

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In “The Trip to Spain,” they do little sketches based on their knowledge of the Spanish Inquisition that are not exactly laugh riots, and director Michael Winterbottom keeps pushing a Michael Nyman score on this movie that feels out of place. When Nyman gets going on the soundtrack with his poignant repetitions, it feels like Emma Thompson is about to stumble into the frame to copiously weep over something, but instead we get the spectacle of two hams doing impressions while they dine.

At one point in this movie Coogan and Brydon are both singing “The Windmills of Your Mind,” and Brydon mentions that the most notable version of this wordy tune was done by Noel Harrison, the son of Rex Harrison. And Rex Harrison sang the song “The Rain in Spain” in “My Fair Lady,” and Brydon points out that it is raining on their car as it drives through Spain. If this is the kind of chain of references that thrills you, then “The Trip to Spain” is your sort of movie.

What Coogan and Brydon are doing in these films is an acquired taste, but if they want to continue on doing them then they’re going to need to cut down and edit their interminable actor impressions.

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‘The Lovers’ Review: Debra Winger and Tracy Letts Rekindle Their Marital Spark

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“The Lovers” is that rare thing: a serious romantic comedy with farcical elements that never puts a foot wrong. Writer-director Azazel Jacobs (“Terri”) seems to know that there is no margin for error with this kind of project, and so he plans out his comedic scenes with both precision and sophistication.

He takes a real chance by allowing musician Mandy Hoffman to create the kind of full-blown and near-constant score with violins that hasn’t been heard much since at least the early 1990s, and this music really buoys the scenes up and makes them sparkle.

Since “The Lovers” is a comedy of marriage or re-marriage, the casting of actors who have chemistry with each other is key, and Jacobs has put together an ideal quartet here. Tracy Letts and Debra Winger play Michael and Mary, a long-married couple who have been seriously seeing other people for quite a while.

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Letts’s Michael has been having an affair with the sexy and emotionally volatile Lucy (Melora Walters) while Mary has been seeing the very sexy and charming Robert (Aidan Gillen). Both Lucy and Robert have given them an ultimatum: they need to break up their stagnant marriage after their son Joel (Tyler Ross) comes to visit.

One night Mary sneaks in from seeing Robert, and Hoffman actually uses a harp on the soundtrack when Mary slowly creeps her way into bed. (When is the last time you heard a harp in a movie score?) Michael and Mary are facing each other in bed when morning breaks. They kiss each other before they are quite awake, and when they realize what they have done they both freak out a little. But this kiss causes a believable chain reaction of fond feelings that begin to re-emerge inside both of them.

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The scenes where Michael and Mary begin to really see each other again are crucial to “The Lovers,” and a lot depends on the interactions between Letts and Winger, both of whom have a cranky, no-nonsense sort of charisma that matches up ideally. There comes a point when Michael gets out of the shower with a towel around his waist and sits next to Mary on their bed. Jacobs keeps Michael in focus in the foreground and Mary slightly out of focus in the background, but then as their love and lust for each other begins to germinate, Jacobs brings Mary into focus.

And so Jacobs is carefully directing this key scene for us, but he also really relies on Letts, who at one point looks at Winger with eyes that are extremely direct and challenging and carnal, the eyes of a sexually hungry teenager rather than a middle-aged man with his wife. Winger in turn slowly blooms for Letts, and this scene ends with one of her legs caressing his legs on the bed, a very erotic image.

Inevitably, Michael and Mary start giving excuses to their lovers and sneaking in marathon lovemaking sessions with each other, which Jacobs shows us somewhat explicitly but tastefully. There is a scene where Michael is going down on Mary where Winger abandons herself sexually in a way that calls back memories of the opening of “Mikes’s Murder,” one of her finest films from the 1980s. This is probably the best role that Winger has had since the mid-1990s, and it’s great to see her so fully engaged again on screen.

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“The Lovers” has a classical kind of comic symmetry, with details like Mary always lightly bumping into a plant where she works until the plot resolves to her satisfaction, at which point she carefully avoids that plant because her life is finally in order. The solution to the problem that Michael and Mary have only seems obvious after they have made their decision, and this is a film that develops in a pleasingly unconventional way. It’s also a film that isn’t afraid to move into some rather heavy dramatic scenes toward the end without unbalancing the expert sex-farce sections that have come before.

“The Lovers” is a delightful movie in which dormant passions convincingly come back to life, and where the secrecy of having a lover is seen to be life-enhancing rather than life- and love-destroying. This film is a real pleasure and surprise because it sees old emotions as things that can be replenished and renewed if you are open and not too rigid about the boundaries of your relationships with others.

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The Tribeca Film Festival for the virtual-reality short “The Protectors” was always going to be a hot ticket because of the film’s director, Kathryn Bigelow. But the event became even crazier on Saturday night with the surprise guest Tribeca sprung on the audience: Hillary Clinton.

The former First Lady and presidential candidate showed up, Clinton said, because organized poaching is “not just a terrible crisis when it came to the elephant population, it [is] a trade, a trafficking that [is] funding a lot of bad people.”

Clinton took the stage in a small room of fewer than 300 people, most of whom had no idea that she was going to be on the panel (though uncommonly heavy security might have been a tipoff that something big was afloat). In fact, Clinton’s participation was a pleasant surprise for Bigelow, too.

“I had nothing to do with her being here,” the director told TheWrap after the panel. “This was all the festival’s doing. But I know she’s been doing great work in this field for years, and she’s a woman of extraordinary power.”

The audience clearly agreed, greeting Clinton with a lengthy standing ovation before she spoke about efforts to end the global ivory market on the part of the U.S. government, the Clinton Foundation’s Elephant Action Network and international allies.

The film, made by Bigelow and co-director Imraan Ismail for National Geographic Documentary Films, focuses on the 200 rangers who work against formidable odds to stop poachers in Garamba National Park, an area the size of Delaware in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Because poaching is a lucrative trade that has been used to fund militias and terrorists, the poachers have powerful incentive to continue. “They’re not going to stop because there are a couple of rangers out there with guns,” said Ismail.

Added Clinton, “The rangers are up against some of the most ruthless killers on the planet right now.”

Bigelow, who first explored the issue of poaching with her 2014 short “Last Days of Ivory,” said on the panel that she thought VR was “a great opportunity to put you in the rangers’ shoes.” Afterwards, in a conversation with TheWrap, she added, “I had to learn the [VR] technology, but for me it has to start with the story, not the technology. And I just wanted to tell the story of these rangers, because they’re the most incredible people.”

She started work on “The Protectors,” she added, before she began filming her upcoming drama “Detroit,” then did editing on the short while the feature was in production. She goes back to work on “Detroit” on Monday, but added, “We’re in good shape. We only have a couple of weeks left and we’ll be ready.”

Meanwhile, she’s hoping “The Protectors” can rally support for the small number of men who are fighting to keep the elephant population — estimated at about 350,000 — from disappearing completely at the hands of poachers who funnel money from the international ivory trade to the hands of terrorists and militias.

On the panel alongside Bigelow, Ismail, National Geographic’s Rachel Webber and African Parks’ Andrea Heydlauff, Clinton spoke repeatedly about the effect an immersive look at the rangers can provide. “This Earth Day, we marched in part for science,” she said. “And part of science is understanding the relationship between ourselves and everything we share this planet with, especially large mammals.”

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China, she said, made an important move to slow the ivory trade in recent years. “China is the largest market for illegal ivory,” she said, “but the U.S. is the second biggest market.

“We’ve got to bust the market, so it can’t come back.”

At one point, Bigelow asked Clinton if there couldn’t be a military component to the U.S. help for the rangers, given the national security implications.

“It would be very difficult for the U.S. itself to be involved [militarily],” she said. “…The bottom line is that we can provide support for the rangers, we can provide better equipment, and work with willing countries who take wildlife conservation seriously.

“I think we’re at the beginning at figuring out the best response.”

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‘Aardvark’ Review: Zachary Quinto Is Seeing Things in Uneven Mental-Illness Drama

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“Aardvark” opens with shots of an aardvark sniffing around in some sort of zoo-like tunnel where it is being watched by a tiny owl. These shots will recur as this strange film goes on, and it will gradually be revealed that they are supposed to be part of a traumatic childhood memory that played out very differently for two different people.

First-time writer-director Brian Shoaf is an actor, and he places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of his three main actors Zachary Quinto, Jenny Slate, and Jon Hamm, all of whom are expected to fill in many gaps in the scenario. The shy, soft-spoken, and very troubled Josh (Quinto) goes to see a social worker named Emily (Slate) because he is having persistent hallucinations. Josh tells Emily that he was diagnosed with some kind of disease when he was 19 years old, but he keeps this diagnosis vague.

Josh’s brother Craig (Hamm) is a famous actor best known for a long-running television show called “South Street Law.” It sounds like Craig is just a generic TV leading man, but in Josh’s obsessed mind, Craig is a great actor capable of playing any role, and so Josh thinks that the people he hallucinates — like an old homeless woman and a cop — are actually Craig in disguise.

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At first, Emily presents herself in a very professional manner, but it doesn’t take too long to realize that she is a near-total mess and very bad at her job. She meets an old ex-boyfriend while on a run, and her body language says that she doesn’t want to talk to him, yet when he asks her out for a “friendship” dinner, she says yes.

The ex-boyfriend cancels on her, and that’s when Craig himself appears by Emily’s door late at night, seemingly out of nowhere. He asks her out, again out of nowhere, and Slate really sells both Emily’s confusion and her desire. After all, it is also Jon Hamm randomly asking her out, and that is a dream for many women.

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This dreamlike atmosphere continues as Emily finds herself sleeping with Craig. (Slate makes some very funny “this is so great, but this can’t be happening!” faces as Hamm’s Craig makes love to her.) And Josh goes out on a date of his own with a girl who may or may not be real.

“Aardvark” is the sort of movie that gets by with its unpredictable where-is-this-going vibe for about a half-hour or so. We wait to find out what is going on, and we wait to learn new information, or we wait for the information that we already have to develop into something. But it becomes apparent at a certain point that the set-up is pretty much all there is to this movie.

Quinto is most striking in roles where he gets to make a bold, harsh impression, but he is versatile and skilled enough to also hold the screen by playing the sort of recessive and inward character he plays in “Aardvark.” Quinto wears his hair here in thick uneven bangs that fall over most of his face, and this hairstyle is so odd that you begin to think that what Josh really needs first is a barber who can thin out and cut the weird bangs more evenly.

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Slate gives the most impressive performance here, because she’s so obviously game to play a wreck of a woman who is barely getting by, much like her character in “Obvious Child.” The fun is in seeing how Slate’s character in “Aardvark” is trying so hard to hide just what a mess she is behind the clothes and proper behavior of a therapist. It’s almost as if Emily is imitating a therapist character that she saw on TV, but this element of the story goes undeveloped, even though we briefly see both Emily and Josh watching some of “South Street Law.”

“Aardvark” is frustrating because there does seem to be an unusual story about mental illness, acting, and family here that wants to emerge, but the script only seems to have worked out the first third of this story. Once that first third is over with, the expected progression of the plot and these characters never happens. And this is a pity, because Shoaf is expert at catching our attention but not quite as expert at holding it.

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‘Abundant Acreage Available’ Tribeca Review: Amy Ryan Owns This Quiet Family Drama

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The presence of Martin Scorsese as an executive producer no doubt drew some of the crowd to Thursday night’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere of “Abundant Acreage Available,” but the ties between Angus MacLachlan’s family drama and Scorsese’s work were not in areas (violence, Italians, “Gimme Shelter”) usually associated with the legendary director.

Instead, it was the little areas where you could see a connection: a serious examination of religious faith, a look at family dynamics and a vividly drawn sense of place — in this case not Little Italy, but a modest family farm somewhere in North Carolina.

And the audience didn’t leave “Abundant Acreage Available” thinking about Scorsese — because this movie belongs to actress Amy Ryan, who gives a haunting, quietly commanding performance as a fortysomething woman who lives with her brother (Terry Kinney) on a small tobacco farm.

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Ryan and Kinney’s characters have only recently buried their father, who died after a long illness, when three brothers (Max Gail, Francis Guinan and Steve Coulter) show up and pitch a tent on their property. The men furnish a suspicious story about car trouble and show no great hurry to move on.

“Abundant Acreage Available,” a movie looking for a distribution deal at Tribeca, is all about quiet, stillness, grief and faith. And the movie itself is quiet and still, set in the dead of winter when little seems to be growing and we rarely even see the birds that fly overhead. For long stretches, there is no score, just the sound of wind; when music creeps in, it does so softly and then goes away again.

Voices are raised and there’s even some violence, but it’s understated; the three mysterious brothers are a soft, enigmatic threat, not an overt one.

The performances are strong: Kinney as a man looking desperately to religion as a way to forgive himself for a tragedy; Gail as a curious spokesperson for the trio of squatters; and especially Coulter as the quietest of the brothers, whose rectitude has those around him deciding that they know what’s best for him (and for Ryan’s character).

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His scenes with Ryan are among the film’s richest and most satisfying, but the actress holds the screen no matter what she’s doing and who she’s with. There is no vanity in her portrayal of a woman who looks beaten down but has chosen the life she’s leading, and who is roused to protect her lifestyle when it suddenly seems threatened for reasons that make little sense to her.

MacLachlan is best known for his script to the 2005 drama “Junebug,” which brought another Amy — in that case, Adams — her first Oscar nomination. He knows how to sketch small-town lives keenly and sensitively, even if his tone of somber ambiguity does not always lead to wholly satisfying drama.

But for an audience willing to be patient and drift along with the quiet drama — which is to say, most of the audience at Tribeca’s Cinepolis Chelsea on Thursday night — “Abundant Acreage Available” is a slow ride worth taking.

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‘Flower’ Review: Zoey Deutch Stars in a Toxic ‘Juno’ Knock-Off

‘Flower’ Review: Zoey Deutch Stars in a Toxic ‘Juno’ Knock-Off

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Max Winkler’s crass and disgustingly amoral “Flower” is a mess of a movie that plays as if it were pitched as “Juno” meets “To Catch a Predator.” Zoey Deutch, who plays the film’s anti-heroine Erica, looks and behaves so much like a lightweight mini-me version of Ellen Page that the connection to “Juno” would be there even if Erica hadn’t been written as a foul-mouthed variant on Page’s wised-up teenaged character.

“Flower” opens with the sound of heavy breathing, and we eventually see that 17-year-old Erica is fellating a cop to sexual climax. He asks her where she learned her oral skills, and she gives him a heavy look and says, “Middle school.” This line is obviously supposed to be humorous and “edgy,” but Winkler (the son of Henry Winkler of “Happy Days” fame) goes for his would-be laughs in such a hard-sell way that they almost never land.

Erica’s father is in jail for trying to rob a casino, and she is trying to earn money to make his bail by blackmailing the older men she services. When Erica is done with the cop, we see two of her young female friends filming him and calling him a pervert and demanding money from him. Winkler presents their cruel behavior as rebellious and righteous.

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About 40 percent of Erica’s dialogue has her describing the male member or referring to it, and she enjoys drawing male penises in notebooks, but this obsession of hers just feels like a colorful character trait that has been hung on her, so to speak. Erica’s mother Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) has her hair pulled up in a ponytail with a cutesy scrunchie, and she wears bright red lipstick and hoop earrings, and this is supposed to signify that she’s trashy.

Laurie has invited her new boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker) to live with them, and Bob brings along his troubled son Luke (Joey Morgan, “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”), who is shy and overweight and has had an addiction to OxyContin pills. The extremely obnoxious Erica keeps offering oral sex to Luke, and he keeps brushing her off.

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Erica walks in on Luke trying to hang himself, and Bob confesses that Luke was never the same after he accused a teacher of molesting him as a kid. Erica and her friends have been regularly ogling a guy named Will (Adam Scott) at a bowling alley, and it turns out that Will is the accused teacher. And so Erica accosts Will in a grocery store and sets herself up to get revenge for her stepbrother. “I deal with these sleazebags on the reg,” she tells Luke.

There are some movies that are misguided in a simple way, and then there are those rare unrelentingly awful movies like “Flower” that decide to go wrong in as many ways as possible in as short a time as possible. Erica is supposed to be a charmingly frank character, but she is actually a thug and a bully who sets in motion a criminal series of events that the movie treats as no big deal.

It’s hard to pick just which is the worst scene here, but it is probably the one in which Erica finally lets down her guard and gets all teary-eyed when her mother says that she can never keep a man because Erica chases all of them away. There are lots of different kinds of bad taste on display in “Flower,” but Winkler hits a new low when he has the temerity to ask for sympathy for Erica in this moment.

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“Flower” starts out as a shrill and unfunny comedy and it progresses to being a morally repugnant social justice movie and then a road movie and then an unlikely romance, and none of these movies has even a trace of believability. In a way, “Flower” becomes slightly more bearable when it tries to be serious after failing so badly to be hip and funny, but embedded within the later dramatic scenes are desperately dumb plot decisions that lead us to a calamitous ending that beams with bent good will toward two characters who have done nothing at all to earn it.

Many movies are poor or poorly made, and they can be forgiven that. “Flower” is not forgivable because it is actively hateful and offensive, and not even the phrase “dark comedy” can begin to excuse that.

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The Tribeca Film Festival’s Tribeca Talks program will include conversations with Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Kobe Bryant, Alejandro G. Inarritu, Lena Dunham and Kathryn Bigelow, the festival announced on Monday.

Other participants will include Common, Jon Favreau, Noah Baumbach and interviewers Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Rodriguez.

Those artists are part of a variety of interviews, panels and screenings during the festival, which begins on April 19 and runs through April 30 in New York City.

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Springsteen will be part of the Tribeca Talks: Storytellers program, and will discuss his musical career with actor and longtime friend Hanks on Friday, April 28 at the Beacon Theatre.

Other participants in that program are Bryant, who recently collaborated with veteran animator Glen Keane on a short film inspired by his retirement from basketball, and who will join Keane in discussing the film with former athlete and TV host Strahan; Streisand, who will discuss her career with director Rodriguez; rapper Common, who screen an extended version of his “Letter to the Free” video, and then speak to director/screenwriter Nelson George and give a live performance; and Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, who will discuss their careers as their TV series “Girls” comes to an end.

The Tribeca Talks: Directors series will include director Favreau speaking to actress Johansson; Oscar-winning filmmaker Inarritu; and writer-director Baumbach in a conversation moderated by Hoffman.

“The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” Director Bigelow will join Imraan Ismail to discuss their collaboration on the virtual reality documentary “The Protectors: A Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes,” which will have its premiere after the conversation on April 22.

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The festival will also present a series of free programs in the Tribeca Talks: Master Class lineup, whose participants will include composer Imogen Heap, directors Limbert Fabian and Brandon Oldenburg, production designer Kristi Zea and cinematographer Ellen Kuras.

And Tribeca Talks: Podcasts will consist of live podcasts from comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried and others.

Tickets for the Springsteen/Hanks conversation will go on sale at Ticketmaster on Tuesday, March 21, while tickets for other Tribeca Talks events will be available at the festival website on March 28.

Also Read: Edgar Wright’s ‘Baby Driver,’ Noel Wells Debut ‘Mr. Roosevelt’ Win SXSW Audience Awards

Other information is available at www.tribecafilm.com.

The schedule:

Friday, April 21:
5:00pm: Jon Favreau with Scarlett Johansson
SVA 1

Saturday, April 22:
2:30pm: Alejandro G. Inarritu
SVA 1

8:15pm: Kathryn Bigelow with Imraan Ismail – “The Protectors”
Tribeca Festival Hub

Sunday, April 23:
12:00pm: Dolby: Image and Sound Master Class with Imogen Heap
Dolby Cinema at AMC Empire 25

4:30pm: Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane with Michael Strahan
BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center

5:30pm: “Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast!” Live
Regal

8:00pm: Common with Nelson George
Tribeca Festival Hub

Monday, April 24:
6:oopm: Noah Baumbach with Dustin Hoffman
BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center

6:45pm: Slate’s “Represent” podcast, with Aisha Harris
SVA 2

Tuesday, April 25:
6:00pm: Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner
Tribeca Festival Hub

Friday, April 28:
5:00pm: Bruce Springsteen with Tom Hanks
Beacon Theatre

Saturday, April 29:
3:00pm: Production and Costume Design Master Class with Kristi Zea
SVA 2

6:00pm: Barbra Streisand with Robert Rodriguez
BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center

Sunday, April 30:
3:00pm: Cinematography Master Class with Ellen Kuras
SVA 2

8:15pm: Slate’s “Trumpcast” podcast, with Jacob Weisberg, Jamelle Bouie and Virginia Heffernan
SVA 1

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‘King Cobra’ Review: James Franco Dives Deep Into Gay Porn and Murder

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Movies don’t get much juicier, funnier, creepier, sadder, or smarter than writer-director Justin Kelly‘s “King Cobra,” which dramatizes a real-life murder case set in the world of gay porn. Kelly’s work is outstanding, as he manages to control the most seemingly uncontrollable material while exploring many different facets of the case. “King Cobra” is as in-your-face explicit a gay movie as has ever been made with recognizable male actors, including producer James Franco, who predictably takes the lion’s share of the most physical sex scenes, and Christian Slater.

Kelly (“I Am Michael”) sets up two separate stories and cuts back and forth between them until they finally collide, with tragic results. We see young Sean Lockhart (Garrett Clayton, “The Fosters”) meet up with cultured, melancholy gay porn film producer Stephen (Slater), who immediately asks Lockhart, “Do you like Chopin?”

Kelly frames Lockhart at a distance in mirrors and door frames throughout “King Cobra,” which gets across how he is the object of desire both to Stephen and to himself. (Take note of the pitiful little crooked lamp shade next to Lockhart in one early shot where he is sprawled on a bed.) Stephen gives Lockhart the stage name Brent Corrigan and tells him, “It’s fun to play with who you are, don’t you think?”

See Video: Watch Christian Slater, Garrett Clayton in First Clip for James Franco’s Porn Drama ‘King Cobra’

Corrigan rises to fame online, which is shown to us in a sexily discreet montage that leaves a lot to the imagination; among those taking notice are Joe (Franco) and his younger lover Harlow (Keegan Allen, “Pretty Little Liars”), who are doing their own lower-rent porn movies. Franco and Allen kiss and grope each other on screen with intense abandon in their sex scenes, and this intensity is both erotic and also an uneasy signal that their characters are too close to the emotional edge.

In the sequence where Brent turns the camera on Stephen and the older man admits to a lonely and repressed adolescence, Slater hits just the right pitiful note as he says, “Please just make me feel wanted” before coercing Brent into having sex with him. The sex here is emotionally charged and revealing because Stephen can’t see (or doesn’t want to see) how uncomfortable Brent is with this exchange, but the camera does capture what Brent is feeling, resulting in a rare sex scene that expresses what’s going on with the characters better than any dialogue could.

Also Read: James Franco’s ‘King Cobra’ Director on Explicit Gay Sex Scenes: ‘Actors Took Things Further Than the Script’

Kelly has lots of fun staging some bad porn acting in the Corrigan movies, but then he smoothly switches gears when Harlow gets upset and needs to stop a scene that Joe is shooting. We learn that Harlow was molested by his stepfather, and as Joe comforts him, Franco and Allen hit a very uncomfortable level of co-dependent emotion. Dread about what might happen next starts to steadily build as Corrigan tries to break away from Stephen, who has trademarked his stage name and has him under contract.

When Corrigan takes a business meeting with Joe and Harlow in a Japanese restaurant, Kelly wisely lets their initial talk play out in a long take where the camera steadily inches closer to them, an effective stylistic change that lets us know something is about to give or break. The scene where Harlow auditions for Stephen, which leads up to the killing, is very disturbing because Allen goes much farther with the physical and verbal sexual come-ons than you would expect in a mainstream movie.

Once we’re off-balance, Kelly films the stabbing death of Stephen in a super-controlled way that separates both characters into totally separate filmic spaces, a near-Hitchcockian montage where we never see the knife enter Stephen’s body but just hear its impact. Hitchcock famously advised to shoot a scene of love like a scene of murder and to shoot a scene of murder like a scene of love, and Kelly exactly catches that scary exchange and balance here.

Also Read: ‘Docu-Fiction’ Movie Confuses Tribeca Film Festival Audience – and That’s the Point

It is made clear in the scenes that Brent shares with his flaky, loving mother (Alicia Silverstone) that he likes having sex on camera and only dislikes the exploitative situation that he is in with Stephen. In the sexy and amusing final scene, after a movie-long tease, Kelly finally lets Corrigan show us his most noted asset– complete with star tattoo–and this is so funny and suggestive because Clayton manages to look a lot like Corrigan but he also uncannily resembles his fellow Disney Channel alum Zac Efron in look and manner.

The surprising thing about “King Cobra” is that it winds up being a sex-positive movie that’s sympathetic to Corrigan while also poking some gentle, loving fun at him and committed to fully exploring the sadder fates of the three other men who came to their doom in his sunny presence.

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