Only at the Tribeca Film Festival can you watch a movie called King Cobra starring James Franco as a malicious gay porn producer and then cross the street and listen in on Chris Rock publicly begging J.J. Abrams to direct the next installment of The Fantastic Four because “they keep f–king it up.” But the 15th edition of the downtown NYC festival, cofounded by Robert De Niro in the aftermath of 9/11, once again belonged to the ladies. All strong, all independent, all immensely talented in their own unique ways. Here are the standouts — surely they have some ideas on how to fix a crummy movie franchise.
Anna Wintour (The First Monday in May)
When she’s not overseeing Vogue, Anna Wintour plans the annual A-list-only Met Gala benefit. And “plans” is putting it mildly. In this dishy all-access documentary, which opened the festival, the editrix is seen meticulously orchestrating every detail of 2015's Super Bowl of Fashion (themed China: Through the Looking Glass). Clutching a Starbucks coffee cup as if it’s a cardboard shield, the stiletto-wearing Wintour is so merciless in her decision-making that you expect her to sniff, “Florals for spring? Groundbreaking!” Her opinion on the seating chart is particularly divine. (Pity Chloë Sevigny and Solange Knowles, who get stuck in no-man’s-land).
Katie Holmes (All We Had)
Katie Holmes didn’t take the easy route when choosing her first directorial effort. Based on the novel, this bittersweet drama focuses on a dirt-poor mother (Holmes) desperate to make a life for her and her preteen daughter (doppelgänger Stefania Owen). For Holmes' Rita, that means persuading her kid to lie and steal while they’re on the run. Even after they’re forced to settle down, it’s difficult to decipher who’s the parent and who’s the child. The movie isn’t without its problems, especially the meandering last act. Still, Holmes delivers her most fearless performance since Pieces of April back in 2003, and she and Owen share a beautiful bond.
Madonna (Strike a Pose)
In 1990, Madonna embarked on a Blond Ambition Tour that featured cone bras, a masturbation scene set to “Like a Virgin” and a handful of gorgeous male backup dancers. After the party stopped, she moved right along to her Erotica phase — but as this riveting documentary shows, her dancers (also featured in 1991’s Truth or Dare) struggled with reentry. (Overtly cocky plaything Oliver Crumes Jr. now hustles as a NYC waiter.) Though Madonna only appears in archival footage, she casts a formidable shadow over these middle-aged men who can still do a killer Vogue. During a touching dinner party reunion, one of the dancers matter-of-factly concludes, “She owes us nothing.” Hey, there’s a reason why she calls herself an unapologetic bitch.
Gillian Jacobs (Don’t Think Twice, Dean)
Even if you don’t know her name, you know her. As strong-willed Mimi-Rose Howard on Girls last season, she forced Adam Driver’s character to crack open his soul. Or maybe you recognize her from her turn on Community or the sublime Judd Apatow–created Netflix series Love. She steps into the spotlight (literally) in Don’t Think Twice, playing a comedy improv player on the cusp of TV stardom. In a room full of quick-witted smartasses, she’s the warm emotional center. She also impresses as Demitri Martin’s self-assured object of affection in the dramedy Dean (which won the Best Narrative Feature award at the festival). He falls madly in love with her after just a few fleeting days. Can’t blame him.
Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver)
Whatever happened to the 12-year-old girl who played a street-smart prostitute in Taxi Driver? Thanks to a wealth of work in front of and behind the camera (not to mention her two Best Actress Oscars), nobody had to pose that question to Jodie Foster during an April 21 cast reunion panel to commemorate the gritty drama's 40th anniversary. "People always ask me how frightening that [movie] was to shoot, but honestly it was fun," she said, sitting next to star De Niro. (The actress added that she needed to be interviewed by the Board of Education before she was allowed to take on the challenging role: "I guess I passed!"). Her next directorial pic, Money Monster, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, opens May 13. Consider it a resounding kickoff to the next 40 years.
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