The annual New York film festival kicked off April 20 with The Union, a documentary from Almost Famous’ Cameron Crowe chronicling the making of Elton John’s album with Leon Russell. But that’s only the beginning of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival’s impressive lineup. There’s Renee, which follows the struggles of transsexual tennis ace Renee Richards; Carol Channing: Larger than Life, another documentary about the career of the Broadway great; Detachment, starring Oscar winner Adrien Brody; and Last Night, which pits Keira Knightley against Eva Mendes for Avatar star Sam Worthington’s heart. The fest runs through May 1 with luminaries such as Nora Ephron, Dianne Wiest, and Whoopi Goldberg making up the jury that awards $175,000 in cash and prizes to winners in six categories. See our top picks and find out which movies can be seen on-demand from your home!
Long before there was Snooki or Survivor, in the winter of 1973, America was introduced to the concept of reality television by a soft-spoken upper-middle-class family, The Louds. PBS’ documentary series An American Family allowed the nation to watch, for 12 weeks, as the family ate dinner, sunbathed by their pool, and, before our very eyes, slowly disintegrated. Richard Rushfield rewatched the series in anticipation of HBO’s Cinema Verite, which premieres on April 23, starring Diane Lane and Tim Robbins as the patriarch and the matriarch of the Santa Barbara-based family nearly 40 years after the Louds entered the spotlight. The Sopranos signature Mafioso James Gandolfini plays Craig Gilbert— An American Family’s producer—who attempted to depict their downfall as a microcosm of the collapse of the traditional American order. And from that day forward, reality TV would be dedicated to documenting similar downfalls.
After five years of the Meet the Parents franchise and voicing animated characters, comedian Ben Stiller is going back to the Broadway show that launched his career: The House of Blue Leaves. Twenty-five years ago, Stiller appeared as the son in John Guare’s theatrical acid take on celebrity. On April 25, he returns to Broadway to play that young man’s father in the show’s revival. The tragicomic story of The House of Blue Leaves is set in 1965 and centers around a 45-year-old zookeeper who dreams of becoming a famous songwriter and a son who dreams of becoming famous by assassinating the pope during his historic visit to New York. “I just think it's a great American play,” Stiller tells Jacob Bernstein. “It's very funny and has broad humor but then there's all these really dark undertones and events that happen, and characters that are really cruel to one another.” In this reality-show-era obsession with fame, the actor thinks the play proves particularly poignant. "All the characters feel like they need to be validated somehow by celebrity or being noticed," Stiller explains. "And that's the sadness of the play; the idea that people can't just be happy with who they are."