Tribeca’s Top Pics

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    Doesn’t it seem like Chris Messina has been on the cusp of greatness for the past five years? The hirsute actor—last seen as Ben Stiller’s overbearing brother in Greenberg—plays a wedding photographer–turned–private investigator in Monogamy. It co-stars Always It Girl Rashida Jones and was directed by Murderball’s Dana Adam Shapiro; expect to hear plenty about this indie in the coming months.

     

    (April 24, 9:30 p.m., BMCC)

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    We’ve been waiting for Jay Baruchel to pop for a while now, and with his voice work in How to Train Your Dragon—plus the requisite summer actioner, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice—the breakout appears eminent. Unfortunately, it also means the chances of Mr. Baruchel’s taking roles in films like The Trotsky will probably start to dwindle. The lanky actor plays a high-school senior who believes he’s the reincarnated Leon Trotsky. Comedy—and a bit of communism—ensue!

     

    (April 22, 7 p.m., Village East Cinema)

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    For more comedy, look no further than Joan Rivers–A Piece of Work.  The film, from documentarians Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, follows Ms. Rivers around the country for a year, highlighting everything from her standup performaces to television appearances.  Best of all: Following the premiere, Ms. Rivers will sit down with The Observer's Rex Reed for a talk about her five decade showbiz career.

     

    (April 26)

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    The busiest man at Tribeca? Try documentarian Alex Gibney. The Oscar winner—for Taxi to the Dark Side, which premiered at Tribeca in 2007—has three films screening at the festival, each one with buzz more deafening than the last. My Trip to Al-Qaeda (April 25, 3 p.m., Clearview Chelsea Cinema) might be the least interesting, which is saying something since it’s based on Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright’s 2006 best seller, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, and Mr. Wright’s one-man show of the same name.

     

    There’s also Mr. Gibney’s unfinished and untitled Eliot Spitzer film (April 24, 6 p.m., SVA Theater), which features at least one guffaw-inducing moment: the former governor’s comparing himself to Icarus.

     

    And last but certainly not least, Mr. Gibney is one of eight documentarians (including Morgan Spurlock, Eugene Jarecki and Seth Gordon) that took part in Freakonomics (part of the closing gala, May 1, 3 p.m., DGA Theater), based on the best-selling book of the same name that uses statistics to investigate human behavior. Mr. Gibney’s section: corruption in the world of sumo wrestling.

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    And in the aptly titled Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, the world-renowned hairdresser gets the star treatment.  Hey, if Anna Wintour can have her own movie, why not vidal?

     

    (April 23, 24, 29, and May 1)

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    Mr. Miller also makes an appearance in Beware the Gonzo, a coming-of-age comedy set within the world of high-school newspapers. And if that premise doesn’t interest you, perhaps the appearances of Campbell Scott and Amy Sedaris as Mr. Miller’s onscreen parents will.

     

    (April 22, 6 p.m., BMC)

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    Perhaps she can find something like Every Day. The dramedy, which has one of the best casts of the festival—Liev Schreiber, Helen Hunt, Brian Dennehy, Eddie Izzard, Carla Gugino and Ezra Miller—and comes from Nip/Tuck executive producer Richard Levine, tells the story of a family in crisis, so … relatable! Plus, it’ll be fun to see Ms. Hunt onscreen for the first time in three years.

     

    (April 24, 6 p.m., BMCC)

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    In The Space Between, Academy Award nominee Melissa Leo stars as a stewardess tasked with getting a young Arab boy from Texas to New York on September 11. Geez, remember Frozen River? Here’s hoping Ms. Leo’s next film is a comedy.

     

    (April 23, 9:30 p.m., Clearview Chelsea Cinema)

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    Fans of The Wire, take note: Stringer Bell is back again. After paychecking it up in studio drivel like Obsessed and the upcoming The Losers, Idris Elba headlines Legacy, a paranoid character study about a former black-ops soldier relocated to Brooklyn.

     

    (April 27, 9 p.m., Village East Cinema)

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    In sex & drugs & rock & roll, Andy Serkis—the man who brought Gollum and King Kong to life for Peter Jackson—gets to ditch his motion-capture suit for the comforts of the musical biopic. But what separates this film from Hollywood pursuits like Ray and Walk the Line is its subject: new wave singer Ian Dury.

     

    (April 24, 9 p.m., Village East Cinema)

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    Lars Von Trier isn’t the only director who can use intense screen violence to cause outrage. Director Michael Winterbottom (Nine Songs) turns the trick in The Killer Inside Me. Co-starring Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba and based on the Jim Thompson novel, this neo-noir is supposedly so violent that it might make you yearn for the simplistic horrors of Antichrist.

     

    (April 27, 7 p.m., SVA Theater)

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    And what do you get when you cross Colin Farrell and director Neil Jordan and a mermaid? Not a remake of Splash (hello? We said Neil Jordan!), but the whimsical and kind of sad-looking Ondine. For their sake, here’s hoping mermaids are the new vampires.

     

    (April 23, 12:15 p.m., Village East Cinema)