Yes, We Cannes: De Niro’s Show Grows Up Fast

Vincent Pastore, The Sopranos ‘ late Big Pussy Bonpensiero, is excited about the Tribeca Film Festival. He’s so excited that

Vincent Pastore, The Sopranos ‘ late Big Pussy Bonpensiero, is excited about the Tribeca Film Festival. He’s so excited that even though he doesn’t have any films playing at the nine-day festival, he called just to tell us how jazzed he is.

“I can’t wait,” said Mr. Pastore with a Cohiba-enhanced growl, adding that a good deal of his anticipation was due to the festival’s closing picture, Paramount’s The Italian Job. “I was in Serving Sara for Paramount, so Paramount puts me on the A-list, I guess.

“There’s a lot of buzz about it, but I’m also excited it’s here, at our festival. It’s exactly what New York needs-a nice shot in the arm, you know?”

In it’s sophomore year, the festival created by Tribeca Films’ Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro is poised to be a pretty big shot. Those who follow the papers will know that it has signed up bigger sponsors (NBC and General Motors have joined American Express), more movies (200, according to press materials, which is approximately double last year’s slate)-and, somehow, acquired Mr. Pastore as a vocal cheerleader. And suddenly Ms. Rosenthal, who has emerged as the real muscle behind the party, is beginning to look a lot more like an architect of New York’s future-or at least its post–Sept. 11 recovery-and a lot less like the woman who produced Rocky and Bullwinkle .

But the festival’s surprise slam-bang success in its first year has some skeptics questioning how Ms. Rosenthal can move the ball forward this year. The answer seems to be: with a mix of big-budget comedies ( Down with Love, Daddy Day Care ), a caper flick ( The Italian Job), some classics ( The Night of The Hunter, Once Upon A Time in America ), and a slew of gritty independents ( The Shape of Things , Pretty Dirty Things ). The festival will crank up the feel-good early 1960’s-style frippery, and steer clear of the Sundance-style wheeling-and-dealing. There will be fewer Sept. 11 memorials, less Marty Scorsese, but more Al Pacino.

Mr. Scorsese, who seemed to be everywhere at last year’s festival-remember the Food in Film panel?-is busy prepping The Aviator in California and Canada. His spokeswoman, Leslee Dart, assured us that “schedule pending,” he’s going to try to make it back for the end of the party.

Many of the films on the slate have already premiered at Venice, Sundance and Toronto. But that’s fine by Variety editor Peter Bart, who said that Tribeca provides “more of a pure film experience. The merchants have not taken over.”

Apparently, neither have the publicity wizards. One portion of the paper schedule decoded the festival’s cryptic symbols as follows: *F means “Feature”; *D means “Documentary Feature”; *>2 means “Documentaries > 2.”

But, hey-Mr. Pastore’s not complaining!

When we asked him if he would be seeing anything besides The Italian Job , he thought for a second before remembering “Oh, yeah. My friend’s movie!”

He rustled through the schedule and carefully spelled the name of Begonya Plaza, whose documentary Souvenir Views will screen on May 9.

“I’ll actually be down there a couple times,” said Mr. Pastore. “It depends on who else invites me.”

For Mr. Pastore and everyone else who’s wondering what invitations they should wheedle, here are the events that, according to our festival sources, are worth attending or avoiding. But it should be noted that, at press time, the schedule was still changing and some of the events listed may be either moved, canceled or sold out.

May 1

Don’t be fooled by Tribeca’s press department, which keeps hooting about the Tuesday, May 6, Down With Love premiere as the “opening- night” hoo-ah that kicks off the festival. On May 1, Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter and festival co-founder Robert De Niro-two men who have very different opinions about hair styles-host a kickoff dinner at the State Supreme Courthouse on Centre Street. What, is somebody expecting a lawsuit or something?

May 3

See May 1. The festival begins three days earlier than announced with a Family Film Festival. At noon, The Maldonado Miracle , directed by Salma Hayek, will premiere. It stars Peter Fonda, Mare Winningham and Rubèn Blades, and it’s about a miracle involving a statue of Christ and an illegal immigrant. Somebody alert John Ashcroft!

If you prefer your children’s fare Christ-light, check out Shaolin Soccer . The Miramax-distributed Stephen Chow comedy is supposed to be wonderful and features Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon minx Bai Ling, and made $60 million in Hong Kong alone.

[ The Maldonado Miracle : U.A. 5 at noon; Shaolin Soccer : U.A. 10 at 12:45 p.m.]

Saturday also marks the first day of the I Spy Tribeca Interactive Scavenger Hunt , recommended for children ages 5-9. Players will scurry around the neighborhood in groups, armed with riddles and workbooks inspired by photographer Walter Wick’s series of books and games for Scholastic.

Hey, kids! I Spy fatty toro for $15 apiece! I Spy Bob (The Secretly More Intriguing Brother) Weinstein! [Tribeca Film Center, 3 p.m.]

May 4

Sunday features the sold-out world premiere of Daddy Day Care, the Eddie Murphy comedy that is as close to a sure-fire hit as anything at this year’s festival. The film has tested through the roof, and its ubiquitous trailer-pee-pee on the ceiling!-has left audiences and Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios shpritzing with hope.

“Our previews have indicated that it’s for everybody, parents and the children alike,” said Revolution partner Todd Garner. “Eddie is right back where people love to see him-funny and heartwarming.”

Those of you whose funny and heartwarming memories of Mr. Murphy include his telling Bill Cosby to “have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up!”-not to mention co-star Anjelica Huston’s turn as Maerose “Right here. On the Oriental. With all the lights on” Prizzi-will be as surprised as we were to learn that Mr. Murphy is now a veritable kid franchise, what with Dr. Doolittle I and II , The Nutty Professor and Shrek.

Daddy Day Care was one of the first festival movies to sell out, and producer Christine Vachon said, “That’s the one I can’t wait to see. [My daughter] Guthrie and I are there like the first weekend! That, and the pixilated fish movie!”

Alas, Pixar’s Finding Nemo won’t be screening at Tribeca.

For those who were shut out, the company that brought you Shakespeare in Love is here to present an alternative- Pokémon Heroes!

Not only will Miramax screen the latest movie about the weirdly species-ambiguous creatures, they will also present Pokémon characters roaming Tribeca’s broad avenues. Give a wave to that yellow ball of fur streaking past you to get to Bubby’s-it just might be Miramax spokesman Matthew Hiltzik in his Pikachu costume!

For Manhattan teens who get all smirky when they hear the word Squirtle, there’s another offering: rock star Dave Matthews, making his film debut in the adaptation of Wilson Rawls’ novel, Where the Red Fern Grows . But forget him! Dabney Coleman, next in line at the Bill Murray Career Renaissance Ride at Six Flags, is also in the movie.

[ Daddy Day Care: 2:30 p.m. at U.A. 5; Pokémon Heroes : 12:15 at U.A. 10; Where the Red Fern Grows : 10:15 p.m. at U.A. 4]

If you’re over 12 and not a pervert, Tribeca might not be for you this weekend.

Consider marching across the Brooklyn Bridge-sing that Björk “Quiet” song like the Sex and the City women and see how many people try to stab you-to check out the Brooklyn International Film Festival.

On Sunday, catch the BIFF’s grand finale: a screening of the Ben Stiller executive-produced Crooked Lines . “It’s not exactly star-studded,” said BIFF spokesman Matt Heindl. Pshaw! The film’s stars-Colin Quinn and Burt Young-will be there. Mr. Stiller won’t be.

May 6

The Black Filmmakers program provides a double bill of Spike Lee. At 6:30 p.m. is She’s Gotta Have It (1986), Mr. Lee’s breakthrough film. At 9 p.m., there’s Do the Right Thing , the 1989 movie that you think about on every sweltering summer day in Brooklyn, or whenever you want to think nice thoughts about Danny Aiello. At 8:30, check out Charles Laughton’s masterpiece, The Night of the Hunter , the screenplay of which was written by that master of bull’s-eye brevity, James Agee. According to press materials, the festival is presenting a version replete with all kinds of cuts and outtakes. Hope that the “extras” don’t include a mini-documentary on all the boneheads and ex-cons who were inspired to get “Love” and “Hate” tattooed on their knuckles after seeing the picture.

Those knuckles belong to the extremely creepy Reverend Harry Powell, played by Robert Mitchum, who does battle with Lillian Gish and a couple of kids and has loads of memorable lines, such as the one-sided conversation with God in which he says: “There are things you do hate, Lord: perfume-smellin’ things, lacy things, things with curly hair.”

The bad reverend also says, “Salvation is a last-minute business”-but if you’re watching Mitchum at 8:30, chances are you weren’t asked to be part of the rapture at 6 p.m., wherein Ms. Rosenthal and Mr. De Niro invite all their perfume-smellin’ friends to the premiere of Fox’s Down with Love , the kicky homage to Rock Hudson–Doris Day movies that stars Ewan McGregor, Renée Zellweger and the two spring peepers that reside in her cheeks.

Director Peyton Reed made 2000’s smart, fun Bring It On . Down with Love reverses those priorities, but Mr. Reed makes 1963 Manhattan-the Pan Am Building, Brentanos, Ed Sullivan-as much of a character as Mr. McGregor or Ms. Zellweger, and boy, it feels good-even if, in his New York, the United Nations building sits across the street from Grand Central Terminal.

[ She’s Gotta Have It : 6:30 p.m. at U.A. 2; Do The Right Thing : 9 p.m. at U.A. 2; The Night of the Hunter : 8:30 p.m. at Pace University; Down with Love : 6 p.m. at U.A. 5, 7:30 p.m. at Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 8 p.m. at U.A. 10]

May 7

Today, Tribeca resembles Sundance, with a host of much-talked-about independent films. Attention self-obsessed, self-loathing, self-abusers, have we got a cautionary tale for you! Turn off Six Lays, Seven Nights and check out Love Object , about a lonely guy who buys a $10,750 silicone sex doll and dresses it up like the object of his affection. Hey, didn’t we see that on HBO’s Real Sex ? Not this part: When his real crush starts talking to him, the deflowered doll is not happy-and who can blame her?

Ed Pressman, head of Content Films, which produced Love Object , said, “[Director] Robert Parigi is the new Brian De Palma.” He should know. Mr. Pressman worked with Mr. De Palma on Sisters . Hey, didn’t he say that about Wendigo director Larry Fessenden a few years ago?

Another midnight show, 28 Days Later -not to be confused with the Sandra Bullock rehab snoozer, 28 Days -wins this year’s Grim Zeitgeist award. This thriller about an apocalyptic virus called “Rage” – not to be confused with the Scott Rudin employee-training seminar – concludes with a Q&A with screenwriter Alex Garland.

“It’s just a paranoid film, a film about paranoia,” said Mr. Garland.

Note to Mr. Garland: Don’t get too friendly with festival attendees who show up for a 2 a.m. schmooze session.

For self-abusers of a different variety, there’s My House in Umbria , another movie featuring Maggie Smith in Italy. See also: Tea with Mussolini, A Room with a View and The Honey Pot . No, wait. Don’t see Tea with Mussolini .

You’re already too late to score tickets for Step Into Liquid , the surfing documentary directed by Dana Brown, the son of Endless Summer director Bruce Brown. A screening of the film in Santa Barbara drew 4,000 viewers. And director Forest Whittaker, “a friend of the film,” brought it to NoDance, the alternative to SlamDance, which is the alternative to Sundance – all of which take place in January and are pretty much becoming the same commercial rat-fuck so why don’t you all get over yourselves already.

The movie doesn’t just have incredible word of mouth. It also has megolithic financial backing from Microsoft, which Peter Newman, the film’s producer’s representative said will include trailers on 6 million units of product this fall as part of its bid to get into digital distribution.

And there’s The Shape of Things , the latest in writer-director Neil LaBute’s blood-curdling portrayals of relations between the sexes. The movie screened well at Sundance.

[ Love Object : midnight at U.A. 12; 28 Days Later : midnight at U.A. 10; My House in Umbria : 9 p.m. at Pace University; Step Into Liquid : 9 p.m. at U.A. 9; The Shape of Things: 6 p.m. at Pace University]

Today is the beginning of the very best and weirdest part of the Tribeca Film Festival – the Panel Discussions!

For those who just can’t get enough of the warmth and wisdom of Mr. LaBute, welcome to Directors on Directing , a conversation between Mr. LaBute and Liev Schreiber. Expect Mr. Schreiber’s small Jack Russell terrier, Chicken, to show up, once again throwing his sexuality into question.

[Directors on Directing, 8:30 a.m. at the Prada store]

May 8

Tribeca screens one of the week’s most lauded films, Jim Sheridan’s (My Left Foot ) semi-autobiographical In America . The movie got a great Toronto reception, but it’s been kicking around for some time. You’ve probably saw previews at Christmas time, though the film won’t open until Thanksgiving.

“It’s been around for a hell of a long time,” said Mr. Sheridan from Dublin. “[Fox Searchlight] wanted to release it this Spring, but I thought it more an Autumn film.”

Mr. Sheridan will be here for the Tribeca screening, where he says he hopes it goes over well. “Sometimes, at film festivals, they like them to be more intellectual. This is heartwarming and optimistic. Sometimes people don’t like that so much.”

Oh, buddy, are you coming to the right festival.

Particles of Truth , directed by a woman – mirabile dictu! – is about the relationship between a woman dealing with her father’s drug-addled decline and a recluse who spends all his time writing in a car.

“It’s a nice car,” said Queer as Folk actor Gale Harold, who plays the scribe. “I mean, it has really nice wheels and tires and leather seats and a sun-roof.”

What you won’t see today is Comandante , Oliver Stone’s movie about Fidel Castro, which was yanked due to the changing political climate in Cuba. Whoops! Too late for the festival guide, which described the movie as “an incomparable snapshot – as compelling for what is revealed as for what is not.” So canceling it just makes it more compelling, right?

“I thought that Ramones movie was fantastic,” said Magnolia Pictures head Eamonn Bowles, in reference to tonight’s screening of End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones . Mr. Bowles is in a garage-punk band the Martinets and said he’s also heard good things about the other Ramones documentary, Hey Is Dee Dee Home , which showed May 7 at midnight.

Il Buono, Il Bruto, Il Cattivo , also known as Sergio Leone’s 1965 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, is fifteen minutes longer than it used to be, and if he makes it back in time, Mr. Scorsese’s going to introduce it.

At 6 p.m.-hoo-ah!-Mr. Pacino sits down to talk about Chinese Coffee , his adaptation of Ira Lewis’ stage play, in which he starred with Jerry Orbach and which has been an obsession of his since long before he started saying, “Hoo-ah!” Speaking of Pacino catch phrases, expect some wiseacre to start shouting, “And Harry, Jimmy, Trent, wherever you are out there, fuck you too!” Trust us, he’s heard it before.”

We almost forgot. Panel time! From the people who brought you yesterday’s Directors on Directing comes today’s Actors on Acting -paging Jon Lovitz! The panel will be moderated by Variety editor Peter Bart, and feature actors Paul Rudd, Helen Hunt, John Turturro, and the sublime (and newly erotic) Edie Falco.

Mr. Bart said that he’d moderated a panel last year and “found it was a really very stimulating audience. I liked the energy of the place.”

Finally, tonight kicks off Tribeca’s 1950’s Style Drive-In on Pier 25. In this post-Lizzie Grubman-at-Conscience Point world, however, the press release for the Drive-In event, which is co-sponsored by General Motors, stresses the following: “pedestrian traffic only.”

[ In America : 9:30 p.m. at Pace University; Particles of Truth : 9:30 p.m. at U.A. 16; End of the Century : midnight at U.A. 16; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly : 6 p.m. at Pace University; Chinese Coffee : 6 p.m. at Tribeca Performing Arts Center ; Actors on Acting: 1 p.m. at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center; 1950’s-Style Drive-In: 8 p.m. at Pier 25.]

May 9

It’s a slow movie day at Tribeca, but take a lunch break and catch the newly restored Barefoot Contessa with Bogie and Ava Gardner. Go back to work and feel ugly for the rest of the day.

Later, check out An Amazing Couple , the second installment of Lucas Belvaux’s trilogy, all of which are screening here. Each film is stylistically different, but the characters are interwoven.

“There will be a character in one movie who’s a real asshole,” said Mr. Bowles, whose Magnolia Pictures is distributing the films, “but then in the next you’ll see the events from his point of view.” Sounds like a Ken Auletta story.

Tonight at the Drive-In from which cars are banned: Diner ! See Mickey Rourke before he had a little dog like Liev Schreiber’s.

[ The Barefoot Contessa : noon at Pace University; An Amazing Couple : 4 p.m. at U.A. 12; Diner , 8 p.m. at Pier 25]

May 10

It’s Saturday; do you love Tribeca yet?

You will by the time you’ve roamed the street fair , where at an American Express activity center-attention, Tom Ridge!-kids can create their own festival credentials.

But if you really want to have a laugh-hoo-aah!-at the expense of your 6-year-old, take her to Professor Pacino’s workshop, where he’ll be teaching secondary school students all about understanding, directing, and acting in Shakespeare. This will be followed by a screening of Looking for Richard.

Miramax’s Dirty Pretty Things has garnered terrific reviews in Europe. Director Stephen Frears ( My Beautiful Laundrette ), at work in London on a television film about Tony Blair, said “I have no idea how it will do in America. You’re so peculiar over there.” As for what his film-which is about Nigerian immigrants making their way in London and also includes the non-Nigerian Audrey Tatou-is doing at the Tribeca Film Festival, Mr. Frears said: “I have no idea. You’ll have to ask Harvey.”

A message to all you boys who harbor obsessions with Jack Kerouac and dreams of driving forever and writing your endless masterpiece on a roll of toilet paper: Please stop dating; you’re polluting the gene pool. That, and you’ll probably dig today’s documentary, Bukowski: Born Into This, about poet Charles Bukowski.

“There’s this one scene where he breaks down and starts crying, and it’s like seeing Darth Vader helping an old lady across the street or something, said Magnolia’s Mr. Bowles, who’s distributing the film.

You think it’s heresy to remake the side-splitting Peter Falk comedy The In-Laws ? Blame the success of Tribeca Films’ Meet the Parents . Imagining Michael Douglas yelling “Serpentine! Serpentine!” does make you want to cry, but at least his co-star Albert Brooks will be dodging the bullets. If it’s all too sad for you, the original comes out on DVD on May 13. In the meantime, look for Mrs. Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones to steal the spotlight from both men-and anyone else who gets in the way-at the premiere.

[ Looking for Richard , 10 a.m. at U.A. 15; street fair, 10 a.m. at Greenwich Street; Dirty Pretty Things , 7 p.m. at U.A. 16; Bukowski: Born Into This , 5 p.m. at U.A. 5, The In-Laws , 8 p.m. at U.A. 5]

For the uber -nerdy, Law & Order producer Dick Wolf presides over a panel called Solving the Mystery: Forensics On Film. “Join us to explore the world of forensics on film,” reads the press release. Join us to laugh our asses off at the nearest bar. The panel’s sold out anyway. Meanwhile, our invitation to Stranger than Fiction: The Politics of Journalism & Film must have been lost in the mail.

Over at The Indies Go To Hollywood panel, actors Sam Rockwell and Patricia Clarkson, writer Kenneth Lonergan, and producer Christine Vachon will be jawing away while beanstalk lawyer/producer John Sloss “moderates,” which is not a term that has ever been used to describe how Mr. Sloss finds distributors for his clients’ films.

Tonight, hoof it to Pier 25, where the final drive-in movie is a Grease Singalong . If Mr. Pacino shows up sporting a pompadour, look out!

[Solving the Mystery, 1 p.m. at Tribeca Performing Arts Center; Stranger Than Fiction, 8:30 a.m. at Tribeca Rooftop; Indies Go to Hollywood, 10:30 a.m. at Tribeca Performing Arts Center; Grease Singalong, 7 p.m. at Pier 25]

May 11

It’s Mother’s Day, and we’re almost done. But not before some of the wackiest events yet!

Before a screening of The Princess Bride , there’s going to be a fencing demonstration in Icarus Plaza to launch the activities leading up to the Fencing World Cup on June 12-15.

Who had to sleep with whom here?

For your mother who loves Robert De Niro -a lot-there’s the 229-minute cut of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time In America . For our editor in chief, there’s more of Jennifer Connelly.

And finally, there’s The Italian Job.

Actor Ed Norton fought Paramount chief Sherry Lansing tooth and nail to get out of this movie, but The Italian Job is getting some remarkably good word of mouth.

“When I got to Paramount as VP of Production,” said Mr. Bart, “the first picture they were making was the original Italian Job . It was sort of a curmudgeonly caper picture with a lot of attitude. The heavy was Noel Coward, which is slightly perverse. I don’t think this picture has got that special perversity.”

Maybe not. But it does close the Tribeca Film Festival; [Princess Bride : noon at Tribeca Performing Arts Center; Once Upon a Time in America : 2:30 p.m. at Pace University; The Italian Job , 4 p.m. at Tribeca Performing Arts Center] Yes, We Cannes: De Niro’s Show Grows Up Fast