In the Heights Opens Tribeca 2021

The Daily — Jun 9, 2021
Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera in Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights (2021)

Fandango recently surveyed more than 1,300 moviegoers, and ninety-six percent of them said that the first movie they plan to see now that theaters are opening up again is In the Heights, the big-screen version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical. Nearly every critic agrees it’s the perfect choice. The opener of Tribeca’s twentieth-anniversary edition, the film is officially premiering today at outdoor theaters in all five boroughs of New York City. “Seeing this massive, guileless, heartfelt piece of Hollywood entertainment on the big screen is like coming home after a long year in exile only to find that it’s still there, and maybe even better than you remembered,” writes IndieWire’s David Ehrlich.

Directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians and two Step Up movies) and starring Anthony Ramos as a Washington Heights bodega owner with big dreams, In the Heights is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a Latino community in flux and “an inspired swirl of hip-hop, Latin pop, salsa, and other musical idioms,” writes Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times. The film’s “pleasures are often glorious, even transporting. It summons—and for the most part sustains—the kind of visual and musical energy that might help give the movies the resurgent jab-in-the-arm summer they’ve been waiting for.”

For Slate’s Dana Stevens, “the musical numbers, with few exceptions, soar in the way an in-story song has to soar to convince us that, given this situation and these characters, ‘randomly bursting into song’ is a perfectly sensible thing to do.” In the Austin Chronicle, Richard Whittaker spots nods to Busby Berkeley and Stanley Donen, noting that Chu “leans heavily into the inherent fantasy of the musical with massive dance routines, huge carnivals that spontaneously erupt, and fantastical elements that . . . speak to the golden era of Technicolor musicals. And, oh, is In the Heights vibrant and awash with color and movement.” It’s “unashamedly romantic, fearlessly thrilling, endlessly optimistic and given life and voice through sheer love of people, of place—of community.”

Tribeca’s Centerpiece presentation will be the world premiere of Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move, a crime drama set in 1954 Detroit. The cast is ridiculously enticing: Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Ray Liotta, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Craig “muMs” Grant, Julia Fox, Frankie Shaw, and Bill Duke. The closing night movie is an as-yet-untitled Dave Chapelle documentary produced and directed by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar (American Factory).

From today through June 20, Tribeca will host in-person talks with Guillermo del Toro, Doug Liman, M. Night Shyamalan, and Gina Prince-Bythewood as well as conversations marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Fargo and the twentieth anniversary of The Royal Tenenbaums, for which Wes Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, and Danny Glover will be on hand. There will be television programming, immersive experiences, video games, and podcasts, but “the bedrock of what we do,” festival director Cara Cusumano tells Variety’s Andrew M. Barker, remains film. “Normally I would say we don’t program to themes, we just pick the best possible films,” says Cusumano. “But we did think very seriously this year about what the festival is going to mean for New York and for our audience, and we felt like it was really important to bring a program that is very uplifting and joyful. There’s a lot of comedy, there’s a lot of music.”

For recommendations, you might turn to IndieWire, the Playlist, Vulture, or Women and Hollywood—or to Michael Atkinson, who has been writing semi-regularly again for the Village Voice. The granddaddy of alternative weeklies ceased editorial production nearly three years ago, but since January, new articles have been appearing at the site, and in April, stacks of the first print edition since September 2017 were suddenly all over the city. In his piece on Tribeca 2021, Atkinson, referencing philosopher Stanley Cavell, considers the differences between seeing movies in a theater and streaming them at home, and then turns to his capsule reviews.

Among the films Atkinson writes about are Noah Dixon and Ori Segev’s Poser, “a kind of All About Eve for the Phoebe Bridgers set,” Randall Okita’s “spiffy résumé B-movie and unpretentiously fun” See for Me, Levan Koguashvili’s Brighton 4th, “a tiny but near-perfect, semi-comic portrait of the low-rent Georgian enclave in Brighton Beach,” Wyatt Rockefeller’s Settlers, “a polished sci-fi drama shot entirely in Namibia,” and “a fave,” Rob Schroeder’s Ultrasound, “a dizzying puzzle you don’t quite want to solve itself.”

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