CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot

After a one-year, pandemic-prompted absence, the Tribeca Film Festival returned in 2021 with a hybrid edition of in-person and virtual screenings. As per usual, I procured a press credential, and this time around, most of the press showings were of the at-home variety. So I summoned up some of these festival flicks on my laptop and proceeded to stick my HDMI cable into my trusty television.

When deciding which movies to watch at Tribeca (or any festival), I try to opt for ones that I would be less likely to check out otherwise, and I made even more of a point of doing that this year. All of my selections are films that aren’t playing at a theater near you anytime soon (at least that I’m aware of). I watched from the comfort of domestic furniture, but the festival vibe was present at least a little bit, thanks to some pre-recorded introductions. That’s a small detail, but an important one that I very much appreciated.

The Queen of Basketball

CREDIT: Breakwater Studios/YouTube Screenshot

I’ve loved hoops my whole life, yet somehow I’ve never heard of Lusia Harris until watching the short film The Queen of Basketball. Blame the fact that women’s basketball didn’t get much national coverage until the 80s. Here’s the deal: from 1975 to 1977, Lucy won three consecutive national championships at Delta State University, not exactly known for being a powerhouse nowadays, but they clearly knew what they were doing in the Lucy Harris era. Among her other accomplishments: she scored the first ever basket in Olympic women’s basketball history! She was drafted into the NBA by the (then-New Orleans) Jazz! She hasn’t lingered around as a major superstar, but she knows that she’s a big deal.

The Lost Leonardo

CREDIT: Sony Pictures Classics/YouTube Screenshot

A few years ago, I read a New York Magazine article about the Salvator Mundi painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, though many in the art world have doubts that it was actually completed by the Renaissance master. Nevertheless, enough collectors were convinced of its value that it sold for a record-setting $450.3 million at auction. The Lost Leonardo expands the story, shining a light on an often opaque world. I enjoy looking at paintings as much as anyone who doesn’t create art for a living, but the realm of art collecting has pretty much always struck me as unmitigated insanity, and not in an appealing way. The Lost Leonardo really comes to life when it acknowledges that lunacy. To that end, the most rewarding interview subject is New York‘s very own art critic, Jerry Saltz, who is hellbent on getting his colleagues to wake up from their collective stupor. This painting isn’t even any good, he declares! Come to your senses and realize how meh it is! Then maybe decide if you want to still make a bid on it.

False Positive

CREDIT: Hulu/YouTube Screenshot

False Positive might seem to go against my dictum of selecting movies I wouldn’t likely catch otherwise, as it arrives on Hulu on June 25. But while I would surely put it on my to-watch list, it could very well languish on there for months or even years as it gets lost in the streaming shuffle. So I might as well get it out of the way early, with the pomp of a festival viewing to boot. It’s a riff on Rosemary’s Baby, with Ilana Glazer as the expectant mother, Justin Theroux as the dad, Pierce Brosnan as the doctor, and Gretchen Mol as his trusty nurse. So obviously I’m in! Alas, while False Positive is a stew of interesting ideas, it never quite congeals into saying something clear and interesting. But at least it gives Sophia Bush plenty to do. I never saw her on One Tree Hill back in the day, but I did enjoy her recent appearance on Alan Sepinwall’s Too Long; Didn’t Watch podcast.


CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot

As a fan of horror movies who was raised Catholic, I’m all for a good exorcism flick. And if it takes place in a convent, all the better! But while the subject matter of Agnes is right up my alley, it probably would’ve passed me by if I hadn’t caught it at Tribeca. It strikes me as the sort of random genre pic whose trailer randomly pops up on my YouTube suggestion feed about 5 months after it came out, and I wonder why I’ve never heard of it until that moment. It starts out as a riff on The Exorcist: veteran priest and neophyte priest confront a demon, but this time it’s in a young nun instead of a preteen girl. Then about halfway through it inexplicably drops the whole supernatural angle (for the most part), instead turning into a dramedy about young adult malaise as one of the nuns (not the possessed one) leaves the convent, struggles to get by, and tentatively dates a comedian played by Sean Gunn. Was this based on a true story, or did it emerge whole cloth from someone’s imagination? I’d LIKE to know!