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Alas, the Tribeca Film Festival has come and gone. Luckily for us, the final weekend of screenings was a treat. So, here’s our last batch of reviews. Enjoy!

Chuck
Director: Philippe Falardeau
Category: Spotlight Narrative

Of all the movies at this year’s Tribeca, Chuck might have the most commercial appeal. It’s very likely that it’ll end up grossing more in its theatrical run than any other film at the 2017 iteration of the festival. It has a good cast, a likable sports story, and some solid directing. It’s the surest thing the festival has to a genuine, all-around crowd-pleaser.

One of the reasons general audiences will really respond to Chuck is because it tells a story they already know – sort of. Chuck Wepner, the real-life figure the movie is based on, was the inspiration for the movie Rocky. Wepner (played by Liev Schreiber), a scrappy boxer from Bayonne, New Jersey, eventually finds himself thrown into the spotlight when he goes an unlikely fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali. The movie shows Chuck’s life leading up to the fight, as well as the tumultuous turns it took afterward. It’s the classic rags to riches and back to rags sports story. Other characters along the way include Wepner’s wife (Elisabeth Moss), best friend (Jim Gaffigan), and manager (Ron Perlman). Especially fun is Morgan Spector, who plays Sylvester Stallone himself.

You’ve seen this all before. Though Chuck may not change the world or become a future classic, audiences are likely to eat this one up when it’s released in theaters.

Thirst Street
Director: Nathan Silver
Category: US Narrative Competition

Like many of the best movies at this year’s festival, Thirst Street is a creepy, uncomfortable watch. The European influences here are obvious (Fassbinder and Chabrol, just to name two of them), but director Nathan Silver has crafted something uniquely his own. In the context of a festival, where so many movies look and feel similar, something like Thirst Street, which goes for broke, is absolutely essential.

Gina (Lindsay Burdge) is a flight attendant still reeling from the recent suicide of her husband. While on a layover in Paris, she meets a bartender named Jéromê (Damien Bonnard), with whom she has a one-night stand. But what Jéromê sees as nothing more than a brief fling, quickly becomes an obsession for Gina. Soon enough, she’s decided to move to Paris, renting an apartment directly across the street from where he lives. From there, she proceeds to engage in a series of contrived, staged run-ins with him. Gina’s behavior is cringe-inducing, but impossible to look away from. Lindsay Burdge is pitch-perfect, but Damien Bonnard also deserves a lot of credit for his aloof, annoyed performance.

Running at a brisk 83 minutes, Thirst Street never overstays its welcome. The sheer extent to which Gina manages to deconstruct her entire life in the brief runtime makes for an intense experience. Thirst Street is certainly one of the best movies at Tribeca 2017 and one that will (hopefully) enjoy a nice run at indie theaters across the country.

A Gray State
Director: Erik Nelson
Category: Spotlight Documentary

Depressing documentaries are certainly in abundance at Tribeca this year, and A Gray State is one of the best. It tells the story of David Crowley, an Iraq War veteran, aspiring filmmaker, and prominent figure in radical anti-government political circles. His fans best knew him as the director of Gray State, a years-in-the-making movie about a dystopian police-state, which he had crowd-funded. He’s the kind of guy the Alex Jones conspiracy theory crowd really admired and supported. But everything changed in 2015, when Crowley, along with his wife and young daughter, were found dead in their Minnesota home. Eventually ruled as a murder-suicide, it didn’t take long for bizarre theories about “what really happened” to sprout up.

What makes A Gray State great, though, is its use of archival footage (another trend at this year’s festival). Crowley not only shot tons of footage for his never-released movie, but he also shot hours upon hours of home movies. Crowley and his family are humanized this way; in many of the home videos, when they’re not discussing stuff like big government conspiracies, Crowley and his wife come across as a normal, loving couple. This, of course, only serves to make the eventual tragedy even more heartbreaking.

More than anything, A Gray State brings the viewer into Crowley’s conspiratorial mindset. We look for some sense of meaning in the awfulness of what he did to his family, but even with an incredibly intimate view into his life, it confounds.

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