All The Noteworthy Moments From The Tribeca Film Festival


This year's slate had some truly magical moments

Danny Boyle's Yesterday closed out the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival this year, and though it technically has some precedent (John Carney's Begin Again, another sorta-musical set for a summer release, closed back in 2014), it stood out as an advance look at a big-studio summer movie, at a festival where the closing night attraction is often one from the archives, often related to founder Robert De Niro: anniversary screenings of Goodfellas, The King of Comedy, or the first two Godfather pictures. This year's Tribeca did indeed hold some anniversary events (for Say Anything and Reality Bites, among others), but otherwise it continued to shape its identity as a more bountiful and eclectic New York film festival than the New York Film Festival, with particular emphasis on female filmmakers, gritty and/or socially aware thrillers and mood pieces, and documentaries. Boyle and Richard Curtis paying starry-eyed tribute to the Beatles felt like an odd, if welcome, tangent, perhaps launching from Tribeca's forays into music docs.

Photo by Jonathan Prime

The thing is, other Danny Boyle movies very much fit the Tribeca vibe: his wild thriller Trance, maybe, or even his warm-hearted family film Millions. Yesterday, which held its world premiere on Saturday night with Boyle, Curtis, and star Himesh Patel in attendance, is probably his highest-concept and least tough film ever, a musical-ish dramedy about struggling musician Jack (Patel), who wakes up after a traffic accident caused by a worldwide blackout to discover that no one else around him has any recollection of the Beatles: not his manager/roadie/best friend Ellie (Lily James), not his parents, not even Google (Googling certain worldwide phenomena leads to a series of running jokes I wouldn't dare spoil). Frustrated by his inability to make music-biz inroads (even at a substantial festival booking, he plays to a mostly-empty tent), he impulsively decides to pass off Beatles tunes as his own. He becomes very successful, but at what cost to his soul?

Boyle has always seemed like he had a musical in him, from the electric pop-music moments of Trainspotting (and its underrated sequel!) to an actual song-and-dance number in A Life Less Ordinary to the closing dance in Slumdog Millionaire, his Best Picture winner. Alas, Yesterday is not much more of a musical than any of those movies. It's a biopic-style performance musical—only Patel ever gets to sing—and Boyle drops in halfway through many of the songs, as if wary of audience impatience. It's too bad, because, when he lets a sequence play out, like a montage of Jack, Ellie, and a local record producer jubilantly rocking out to early Beatles hits, he can still jolt 'em with his refined version of music video style. Patel and James are extremely likable, and, of course, the music is great, but it never really soars; it's missing the stretch of madness that usually infects Boyle's films. It's tempting to blame the movie's innocuousness, the way it touches upon a lot of interesting ideas about creativity through its Twilight Zone premise without ever fully exploring many of them, on Curtis, the writer-director of Love Actually. But on the other hand, for a Curtis movie, this one is genuinely sweet, rather than faux-sweet and uncomfortably smug. At the post-screening Q&A, Boyle mentioned that he was eager to do the film, as long as Curtis changed 20 percent of the screenplay. I'm dying to know what that 20 percent entailed, and why Boyle didn't tweak the whole thing a little more.

Photo by Elizabeth Kitchens

A more lived-in and far less sunny vision of the music industry is on display in Lost Transmissions, about the relationship—blessedly non-sexual—between a brilliant but unwell former rock star (Simon Pegg) and the wounded but resilient young woman (Juno Temple) he takes under his wing. She stays under his wing for approximately a week; he encourages her singing and her songwriting and also her quitting her medication out of concern that it will interfere with her creativity. As it turns out, he follows his own advice all too well, and it's not long before she's taking care of him. He turns out to be a paranoid schizophrenic, and she becomes less interested in her plum assignment writing songs for a pop star (Alexandra Daddario) than in saving his perpetually out-of-control life. The first half of Katharine O'Brien's film is expertly judged, with naturalistic dialogue where most movies would place awkward, unconvincing exposition. Pegg and especially indie mainstay Temple are quite good. But eventually Lost Transmissions starts to feel like a mental illness PSA, with a tutorial of sorts in trying to help people who are brilliant at wriggling away from those who care about them the most.

Photo by Guy Godfree

One annual Tribeca ritual, at least for me, is observing how the dust settles on the many movies that play here, and noticing what important stuff I missed—inevitably, a couple of highlights. I missed the New England noir Blow the Man Down, a festival screenplay winner, as well as Buffaloed, which did not win major awards but is a Zoey Deutch vehicle set in upstate New York, and therefore right up my alley. But I did catch a screener of Plus One, winner of the festival's audience award. It's an easy layup for that category, a funny and charming romantic comedy that would be Netflix's best rom-com so far, if they happened to pick it up. Tribeca almost always has at least one or two quasi-edgy indie rom-coms (a few years ago, it was a very comedy-heavy festival, though that's shifted recently), and Plus One, from writer-directors Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer, is unusually skillful. Longtime friends Ben (Jack Quaid) and Alice (Maya Erskine) are at that turn-of-30 age where their summer is booked with tons of weddings, so in the wake of various breakups, they agree to accompany each other as needed, serving as each other's wingperson. Does this just-friends arrangement result in something more?!? As with plenty of good rom-coms, the obviousness of the setup is ameliorated by the charm of the performers, particularly the give-no-fucks Erskine (from Hulu's PEN15). There's contrivance in Plus One, sure, but it feels a more relatable and lived-in than the aggressive artificiality that often dominates this genre, even in entries that try to subvert it.

Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

I hoped to find similar pleasures in the college comedy CRSHD, about a trio of college freshmen angling for hookups just as their first year is coming to an end. At very least, it transposes the last-day-of-school narrative to a college campus, which is something I haven't really seen before. Writer-director Emily Cohn also takes an innovative, cinematic approach to depicting the girls' social media-saturated lives, showing Facebook and Instagram posts not through any screenshots but a combination of practical lighting/framing and occasional eight-bit graphics. It's a neat effect—wittier than a lot of the movie's comic business, which has the charm but also the limitations of a student film. Still, Cohn could be a filmmaker to watch.

Photo Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

That's certainly true of Kevin McMullin, whose movie Low Tide was the all-around best I saw at Tribeca this year. The movie's unspecified retro time period (late '80s or early '90s from the looks of it, but never spelled out) recalls David Robert Mitchell, and the boys-on-an-adventure story (which includes actual buried treasure) has a little bit of that old Amblin energy. But while McMullin has a confident visual sensibility that broadly recalls Steven Spielberg and a treatment of the Jersey Shore that recalls a grittier version of that director's suburbs, Low Tide isn't a pastiche '80s-isms. It's a tautly paced, often very funny story about a band of teenage miscreants who have a side hustle robbing rich tourists' summer homes and the divisions between them when the ringleader's younger brother (Jaeden Martell, from the odious Book of Henry) goes along on one of their B&E runs. McMullin and editor Ed Yonaitis cut the movie together at a snappy clip, but still leave time to soak in the beach town atmosphere and find funny little lines and gestures in between the plot turns, which only become a little predictable in the final stretch. To be honest, I was in love with this movie as soon as I realized one of the teenage characters is named Smitty. Though Low Tide isn't as nasty as Shallow Grave or as heart-tugging as Millions, it does, in some ways, capture that Danny Boyle magic (genre-y, stylish, affectionate) in a way that Yesterday doesn't, quite.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

"I am honored to share this bonding experience with my own daughter"

In a heart-warming Instagram photo, Serena Williams shares the history of hair braiding and the importance of the tradition. The tennis player shared a photo of herself braiding her daughter Olympia Ohanian's hair and spoke about how "honored" she was to be able to "add another generation" to the tradition of the practice.

The photo shows Williams attentively braiding her daughter's hair while Olympia smiles, obviously loving the experience. Williams noted that hair braiding was created by the Himba people in Namibia, Africa, and that "we have been braiding our hair for centuries." "In many African tribes braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe," she continued.

Williams pointed out that braiding is a bonding experience. "People would often take the time to socialize," she wrote. "It began with the elders braiding their children, then the children would watch and learn from them. The tradition of bonding was carried on for generations, and quickly made its way across the world."

Williams closed her post with a sweet message about her daughter, saying that she's "honored to share this bonding experience" with her.

See the post, below.

Courtesy of Adidas

The Stan Smiths are a must-have

Adidas just shared its capsule of sneakers paying tribute to Keith Haring, and TBH I can already feel my wallet emptying (and they're not even on sale yet). The new collection features three shoe silhouettes, all including the late artist's iconic imagery as embroidered designs.

The standout style of the collection is the Rivalry hi-top; with bright blue and orange stripes and piping along the edges, Haring's stars and cartoon bodies, in black thread, pop right off. If you're looking for something less over-the-top, the quirky white Nizza Hi RF sneakers show a snake wrapping around the back of the shoe and chasing one of Haring's cartoon bodies toward the toe. There's also a minimal embroidered design on the toe of a classic Stan Smith pair. Look a little more closely at the tongue though, and you'll notice the traditional image has been swapped with a caricature of Haring himself.

Peep the three silhouettes, below, and set your calendar for the official drop at the end of the month.

Adidas, Rivalry Hi Keith Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

Adidas, Nizza Hi RF Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

Adidas, Stan Smith Keith Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.

Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Hopefully this one will be typo-free

In an Instagram Live on Thursday, Taylor Swift announced that she would be creating a collaboration with fashion designer Stella McCartney inspired by her upcoming Lover album. Although she kept it vague, we can only assume that the two are working on a collection of luxe merch.

Swift noted in the announcement that she has been friends with McCartney "for a really long time," and that the designer already heard the new album. "I respect what she creates, how she creates it," Swift continued. "There's so much whimsy and imagination and romance to the clothing that she designs." Swift has been wearing McCartney's designs "a lot recently," so maybe we should have seen the collab coming.

One eagle-eyed fan pointed out that Swift wore Stella McCartney rainbow-hued shoes during her Wango Tango set. If the collab is anything like these shoes, you can bet I'll be copping it as quick as I can.

Swift detailed in her Instagram Live that the album Lover would be all about romance, which makes McCartney and her feminine designs perfect for the collaboration. We just hope that this collection doesn't have any typos, like some of Swift's "ME!" merch did.

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Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

And spreads the message that "we all got crowns"

Late on Thursday, Taylor Swift dropped a new single, "You Need To Calm Down," and announced her forthcoming studio album, Lover, out this August. Following her lead single "ME!" Swift continues to spread her message of self-love and call out haters—particularly the homophobic ones—in this latest song.

Swift "ended homophobic locals," as one fan put it on Twitter, with one particular lyric: "'Cause shade never made anybody less gay."

Along with the song, Swift shared a lyric video via YouTube which made her sentiments even clearer. With her lyric, "Why are you made?/ When you could be glad?" she spelled "glad" as "GLAAD," referencing the queer media advocacy organization.

Swift sings of homophobic protestors in the second verse: "Sunshine on the street at the parade/ But you would rather be in the dark ages/ Makin' that sign must've taken all night." In the pre-chorus, she adds, "You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace/ And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate."

Swift additionally comments on women being pitted against each other—"We see you over there on the internet comparing all the girls who are killin' it"—asserting that "we all got crowns." There's nothing trolls can do to rain on her parade anymore.

One fan pointed out the possible symbolism of the crown lyric. In "Call It What You Want," track 14 on Reputation, she sings "They took the crown but it's alright." Now on "You Need To Calm Down," track 14 of Lover, she sings that there's not just one crown—we all have them.

Some fans are pointing to the double meaning of the track title. If I had a dollar for every time someone said those words to me in a totally condescending way, I'd probably be richer than her! What woman hasn't been told to calm down about an entirely not-calm situation or while expressing their distaste?

During Swift's live stream for the release of the song, she also announced a fashion collaboration with designer Stella McCartney, a peek of which we got during the singer's WangoTango performance.

Lover is set for August 23 release.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features

"I was like, 'Did I sleep with this critic's girlfriend, or what?'"

The day I meet Jim Jarmusch, the sun hangs so bright and hot and yellow and solid in the sky that it's hard to believe that it will actually set at night. It's one of those New York June days that suggests we might be in permanent daylight; it's got a completely different feeling than the crepuscular atmosphere of Jarmusch's latest film, The Dead Don't Die, which takes place in a small town in what feels like one long twilight, maybe the last one.

But for today, Jarmusch and I are sitting at a table in a sun-filled restaurant, though we're in the shade. We're in a part of the city that used to be very punk rock, and is now very NYU, yet being there with Jarmusch, who looks so at home, like he's holding court in the booth (it helps that Larry Fessenden, an old friend of Jarmusch's and a writer/director/producer/actor, who appears in The Dead Don't Die, happens by the table to say hi), makes the area feel a little punk rock again, even with all the sun.

The Dead Don't Die is a very punk rock zombie movie, by which I mean: It's not very scary, but it is very cool, and even when it's sneering, it's a little bit tender. Starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Chloë Sevigny as a trio of small-town cops who fight back against a nascent zombie apocalypse caused by fracking, the film is cast with a who's who of Jarmusch regulars, like Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, and Fessenden, to name a few; but it also features younger stars like Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez, and Luka Sabbat—and there's a real earworm of a theme song, courtesy of Sturgill Simpson.

Below, I speak with Jarmusch about the movie, being a dilettante, and why he only reads his negative reviews—which is definitely one of the most punk rock things I've ever heard.

Photo by Gareth Cattermole/ Getty Images

This was filmed on a pretty condensed shooting schedule, right?
It was a very rough schedule. A very difficult one, actually.

We only had seven weeks to shoot, and we had to shoot Adam Driver out in three weeks because he had to be delivered to Star Wars, and the financing of the film was incredibly grueling and took a long time, so we were pushed so far that we had about one month of prep, and then three weeks with Adam. And then all these different actors coming in and out; I don't know how Carter and Josh, the two producers, organized it all. And then we'd shoot 15-hour days, and halfway through, I had walking pneumonia; I had two coats; it was 95 out; I was shaking. You know, just weird stuff like that. But it's all okay because we had such great people—our crew—everybody. And then, the visual effects were very taxing and complicated.

How did that all work together? Because there's more than one decapitated head.
Yeah, it's a mixture. First of all, we mixed prosthetics with makeup with masks for some of the zombie stuff, but all of those effects with the decapitations, we had to just imagine. So we had to choreograph everything and then only imagine kind of what it would be like, which was, for me, very abstract because I'm not very versed in visual effects. You know, you had to really kind of trust your instincts, because Adam Driver's chopping away with a machete with no blade.

It could've been a machete, it could've been a lightsaber, who knows? So, to what degree is this a sequel of Paterson with Adam Driver's character's last name being Peterson?
Well, I just do these things to amuse myself while writing, you know? Bill Murray in Broken Flowers was named Don Johnson, and in this, I gave him the name Cliff Robertson. Tilda Swinton's character is Zelda Winston. Rosie Perez is named Posie Juarez. You know, I'm just kind of amusing myself.

And Peterson, Paterson. While we were filming Paterson I was always teasing Adam that the next one, we would make was gonna be a sequel about a psychopathic murderous bus driver named Peterson. Tag line: "Get the fuck off my bus!" Or "Next Stop Hell!" You know, stuff like that. It's just to make them... I love trying to make Adam Driver laugh, because he has a very odd and wonderful sense of humor, but it's on the dry side, so I'm always joking around with him between work to try and see what makes him laugh.

But yeah, there's no sequel of any kind, and I don't think that way, and I don't plan, and I don't see my films from the past ever again. I just look toward the next thing.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features

What was the original concept for this? When did you start coalescing all of these different elements into knowing that you wanted it to be your next film?
Some years ago after Only Lovers Left Alive, Tilda kept teasing me, calling me, saying, "When do we do the zombies? When are we doing the zombies?" And in between I made Paterson and Gimme Danger, but then after those I started writing the zombie one, and my original conception was: I wanna make a film that's really funny and silly like Coffee and Cigarettes, where people talk about whatever nonsense I want them to, and I want to get actors I love, you know? So I thought, okay, if I make a zombie film, I can have a structure where different groups are cordoned off against the zombies, and the zombie attacks will be intermittent and not very long, so I'll have long lags where they're just stuck there, like in the house of The Night of the Living Dead, where they can talk about any kind of nonsense. So that was my first idea, and then when I started writing it, for some reason, I wanted to have a small town, Centerville, and I just followed my intuition, and it became this, I don't really know why beyond that.

What is it about small towns that make them the perfect setting for existential terror?
They're insular. They're kind of… everyone kind of knows each other. It's controllable by the characters. It's believable that everyone kind of know each other. I don't know. I'm not very good at analyzing that. And also, this is not a horror film because horror films use devices that are necessary to frighten people, like suspense, and then you get scared. We have no interest whatsoever in that. This is more of a metaphorical zombie film, but I would not call it a horror movie. It's a comedy with zombies with a kind of sad ending. Beyond that, I don't know what it is.

And horror nerds may not like it if they're expecting creepy, creepy, scary thing! They're not gonna get it. They're not gonna get that delivered to them.

What's interesting about it is seeing who fights back against this existential dread. Or, like, Chloë Sevigny's character, Mindy, doesn't fight, she is on her own separate trip, avoiding the end till she embraces it.
It's a character film. It's not even a plot film, really, although critics say that about all my films. But Chloë… it's a complicated thing, because when I first called Chloë, I told her... I wrote her a letter, and then she said, "Yeah, yeah I'd like to do this." And I said, obviously, this is not a feminist character. She's reactive. She's our sort of "Scream Queen." She screams like six times. But Chloë is the master of reaction, and I love watching her react.

She definitely feels like a stand-in for what a normal person would feel during these absurdist experiences, which is nice to have. It's not necessarily that you need a relatable character in a movie like this, but...
Yeah, but she's an empathetic human that's in a job with some authority, but in a small town where that means taking care of whatever, you know, as a police officer, pretty minimal [stuff]. There's not a lot of rampant crime or anything going on… or anything at all, really.

Credit : Frederick Elmes / Focus Features

A lot of people are going to be projecting tons of different meanings onto this film, like with all your films. To what level do you participate in that or pay attention to that? Or, once you're done making a film, is it just out there, and you just let people project onto it whatever they will?
I've always felt that anyone's interpretation of a film that I write and direct is probably more valid than my own. Because it's a funny thing, the beauty of films is going into a world—or a book or whatever—but going into a world that you don't know, and you are entering a world, and it takes you. And if you wrote it, and you were there filming it, and you're in the editing room every day for six months, the mix, and all that... I can never possibly see it. I like hearing what friends or people I know... I like Q and As after screenings because they have no agenda except their interest. I like that a lot, and I value that. I don't really like to read a lot of reviews unless they're really negative. I love the negative ones.

You do?
Yeah, because they must be very far from me in their perception of the world, and that is interesting to me. But I try not to read a lot...

I think you're probably the first person who I've ever spoken to who says they like to read the negative reviews.
I really like them. The worst one I ever got in my life, I laminated and used to carry in my wallet. It was a brief thing from a right-wing French [paper], maybe Le Figaro or something, of a film called Dead Man that we made, and they said—this is the English translation—"The French intelligence celebrates Jarmusch in the way death and blind parents would celebrate their retarded child. Jarmusch is 33 years old, the same age as Christ when he was crucified. We can only hope the same for his film career." I was like, Whoa! That is harsh! I'm keeping that one!

It gets personal.
But that was vicious. I was like, Did I sleep with this critic's girlfriend, or what? What happened? It was really... the knife was sharpened, you know.

That speaks to a very specific kind of agenda for sure.
A friend of mine Amos Poe, he's sort of a mentor of mine, a punk filmmaker, whatever, and when we were young when he made, in the late-'70s, one of his films—The Foreigner or Unmade Beds—the New York Times called it "the cinematic equivalent of kindergarten scribbling," and he put that on his posters and put "New York Times" and we were like punks, we were like, "Yes! Amos! That's great!"

I mean, it genuinely is a pretty great pull quote, and I think also a little bit oblivious to the charms of a kindergartener's scribbles and what the value is in that anyway.
Yeah, it was kind of accurate in a positive way, and they intended it as very negative.

In this film, there are so many actors who are veteran actors, but there are also a lot of younger actors. What do you like about the combination of that dynamic?
I just like the variety of sort of world perceptions—indicated in a very minor way when Bill Murray's character says, "I've known Hermit Bob since we were in junior high," and Adam's character says, "Oh, wow! That must've been like 50 years ago!" And Bill says, "Yeah. It was." But just the kind of difference of perception of age I find as I get older really interesting. And I'm very interested in young people, especially teenagers, because I think they form our sense of style, of music, of so many things, and yet they're kind of pushed around and treated badly and constantly told, "You don't know how the world really works! You're just a teenager!" But they gave us poetry. They gave us Mary Shelley and Rimbaud and chess masters, and all the great music comes a lot from teenagers. So I tried to keep a pulse, that's why the three teenagers, I would not let them turn into zombies. There are only four people [who don't get turned by zombies]: those three that are delinquents, and the Tom Waits character, who's already removed himself from the social order long before.

When the zombies become zombies, they all have one inciting thing that they're still pursuing in the real world. Do you have one thing that you think you would pursue if you were a zombie?
You know, it's hard because I'm a self-proclaimed dilettante. I'm interested in so many things, I don't know if I would be breaking into a bookstore, or if I would be in the alley outside of a movie theater, or if I would be trying to get into a guitar shop. I'm not sure. I have a lot of interests.

I mean there's a way in which it's a really tender portrayal of the human impulse to just seek out these things that they love.
It's not totally a critique; it's their vestigial memory of some things that they were drawn toward, whether it was power tools or oxycontin.

The Dead Don't Die is in theaters now.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features