tribeca reviews my friend dahmer

Another Tribeca Film Festival has come and gone, bringing a new slew of films you should look out for. This year’s festival was particularly jam-packed, with some incredible special events, including a 25th anniversary screening of Reservoir Dogs (using Quentin Tarantino’s personal 35mm copy) and cast panel, talks with industry legends such as Tom Hanks, Kathryn Bigelow and Dustin Hoffman, VR showcases, the premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale, and the literal godfather of all events, an all-day screening of The Godfather and The Godfather II with the cast and director Francis Ford Coppola assembled for a 45th anniversary retrospective panel and reunion to close out the festival.

Sandwiched in-between these star-studded events were some truly incredible films which I had the pleasure of screening and discovering during this sleepless stretch of two weeks. Here are the narrative titles that stood out, that shocked me, thrilled me and left me in dumbfounded awe by the end credits. Here are my Best of Tribeca 2017 films!

tribeca reviews pilgrimage

Pilgrimage

On the surface, Pilgrimage is a film about a group of monks attempting to carry a sacred relic to Rome, which might normally sound like a dull affair, except this period-piece also stars Tom Holland, Jon Bernthal and Richard Armitage, turning into a rugged road movie with hints of Silence as well as Game of Thrones. When a Cistercian monk (Stanley Webber) shows up at a remote Irish coastal monastery, he brings an order from the Pope: the monastery’s mysterious relic must be transported despite the immense danger. Diarmuid (Holland), a young novice joins the group of older monks as well as The Mute (Bernthal), a mysterious man who assists with hard labor at the monastery as a means of penance.

The Irish countryside is filled with danger, filled with bands of warring clans as well as Norman conquerors, like Raymond De Merville (Armitage), who has agreed to accompany the ragtag group, providing them with the security needed for safe passage. But De Merville has his eye on the gilded chest housing the holy relic, curious about the power it’s said to wield. And he’s also suspicious of the past that The Mute is trying to hide, igniting brutal conflict that will test the limits of young Diarmuid’s faith. Chock full of unapologetic violence and a stunning use of the rugged scenery, including a tense cat-and-mouse hunt in dense swamp fog, Pilgrimage is a stunning film worth keeping an eye out for.

tribeca reviews saturday church

Saturday Church

Admittedly, I’m not one for musicals, but Saturday Church is more of a coming-of-age story with occasional musical interludes sparingly sprinkled throughout. Ulysses (Luka Kain) is a teenage boy dealing with the recent death of his father as well as understanding and accepting his own burgeoning sexuality. Ulysses likes trying on his mother’s high heels and steals panty hose to wear under his jeans, behavior which perplexes and outrages his mother, Amara (Margot Bingham), who tells him to be normal. Due to a chaotic work schedule, Amara leaves Ulysses and his younger brother under the after school care of Aunt Rose (Regina Taylor), who zeroes in on Ulysses.

As a means of escaping his stifling household, Ulysses flees to the West Village, where he meets and falls in with a group of gay and transgender teens who take him under their wing. They introduce Ulysses to Saturday Church, an outreach program for at-risk LGBTQ teens and finally Ulysses begins to discover the joy in his identity — which sets him at odds with Aunt Rose back home. Saturday Church is a beautiful, heartfelt look at the struggle for acceptance and the beauty of queer love that centers the LGBTQ community of color. When the songs creep into the film, they can feel jarring at times, but only because the narrative is so engrossing you almost forget that there’s an musical element to it. But the songs pack a punch, allowing them to feel important rather than a distraction and making Saturday Church feel like so much more than just a musical.

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Blame

One of the breakouts of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival comes courtesy of Quinn Shephard, the 22-year-old writer, director, producer, editor and star of Blame. A twisted look at high school life under the lens of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Blame follows Abigail (Shephard) upon her return to school after an undisclosed incident lands her briefly in a mental hospital. In drama class, Abigail bumps heads with Melissa (Nadia Alexander) when she is chosen by their new, handsome substitute teacher, Jeremy (Chris Messina) for the lead role in The Crucible.

Meanwhile, Melissa escapes an unstable home life by acting out at school, cutting class to hook up with her best friend’s crush, and manipulating everyone around her as a means to get what she wants, even if she isn’t entirely sure what that is. As the year progresses, Jeremy and Abigail grow dangerously close, infuriating Melissa, who begins seeking a revenge that will have consequences she could never have imagined. A sharp and stinging look at how high school rumors and jealousy can destroy lives, Blame is an impressive and debut for Shephard and filled with top notch performances by the supporting cast, including Alexander, who won the Best Actress Jury Prize at the festival.

tribeca reviews the endless

The Endless

As stated in our full-length reviewThe Endless is one of the best films of the festival and a triumph for directing duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The Endless follows two brothers (played by Benson and Moorhead) who return to the cult they once left behind after receiving a strange message from the group. While Aaron is drawn back into his former life, one filled with campfires, home cooked meals and home-brewed beers, Justin remains skeptical, sensing something sinister hidden beneath the group’s cheery facade.

Pretty soon, weird things begin to happen, including the appearance of more strange and shocking messages — like the videotape that lured them back to the site in the first place — that begin to make both Justin and Aaron question whether or not the cult beliefs that they had shunned were actually more prescient than they imagined. Suffused with eerie tension, gorgeous cinematography and sharp banter between Benson and Moorhead, The Endless is sure to be a crowd-pleasing favorite.

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About the Author

Jamie Righetti is an author and freelance film critic from New York City. She loves horror movies, Keanu Reeves, BioShock and her Siberian Husky, Nugget.