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Whedon, Coppola, and Favreau debut new features at Tribeca Film Festival 2014

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 marquee
Tribeca Film Festival 2014 marquee
Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival

Popular directors and newcomers alike have descended upon the Chelsea and Tribeca neighborhoods of Manhattan for the annual Tribeca Film Festival. Here are a few can't-miss features from this year's event!

In Your Eyes
In Your Eyes Courtesy of Bellwether Pictures

In Your Eyes

Fan-favorite Joss Whedon (“The Avengers,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) penned the screenplay for this supernatural romance that has been aptly described by female lead Zoe Kazan as “Joss Whedon does Nicholas Sparks.” The story revolves around a shared sensory/empathic connection between ex-con Dylan Kershaw (Michael Stahl-David) in New Mexico and sheltered housewife Rebecca Porter (Kazan) in New Hampshire. While the dialogue is sharp for the most part, with the usual quippiness expected from a Whedon script, “In Your Eyes” also has its fair share of melodrama. While Stahl-David is consistent in his rough-yet-charming role, Kazan’s performance varies wildly from scene to scene, although that may have more to do with poor direction from relative neophyte Brin Hill. Despite feeling a bit unpolished, “In Your Eyes” stands as one of the better films of this year’s festival.

Palo Alto
Palo Alto Courtesy of Tribeca Film

Palo Alto

Palo Alto,” adapted from a book of short stories by James Franco, marks the feature film debut for writer/director Gia Coppola (granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola). A teen movie cut more from the melancholy cloth of films like “The Spectacular Now” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” than the lighter John Hughes fare of the past, “Palo Alto” follows the struggles of three teens through an environment almost filled to an almost absurd degree with sex, drugs, and violence. While the plot may meander and the film has no real resolution, Coppola’s script is full of convincingly authentic teenage dialogue. The stars of the film do the screenplay justice, with lead Emma Roberts (“American Horror Story”) giving an especially credible performance as a troubled high-schooler. While it has its flaws, and she certainly stands in her grandfather’s long shadow, Gia Coppola’s first film is an appreciable effort.

Chef
Chef Courtesy of Box Office Mojo

Chef

In the latest directorial effort from Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Elf”), which he also wrote and stars in, Favreau portrays Carl Casper, a once-lauded chef who has lost his creativity professionally and his young son’s admiration personally. After a scathing review from a top critic and an embarrassing tirade caught on video and posted online, Casper returns to his native Miami with his estranged family and decides to get into the food truck craze with the help of his best friend and his son. “Chef’s” screenplay is a bit slight and familiar, particularly with the father-son material, but up-and-comer Emjay Anthony stands out as the heart of the film in his role as Casper’s son. Favreau turns in a solid performance himself, but he shines behind the camera in this film, with gorgeous shots of cuisine and Americana that puts the Food Network and Travel Channel to shame. “Chef” may not be a gourmet offering, but this pleasant film is sure to satisfy nonetheless.