Amid the swirl of activity at the ongoing Tribeca Film Festival, two movies have stood out for the unique ways they’ve utilized New York settings.
“Five Star,” from writer-director Keith Miller, is the more audacious of the pair, a drama that blends fact and fiction in its depiction of the relationship between a real-life general in the Bloods named James “Primo” Grant and John, an aimless young man who lives in the same housing complex and is weighing whether the gang life fits.
Grant plays himself, or a version of his real self, and elements of John are based on John Diaz, the first-time actor who portrays him. Still, the movie, set in East New York, is hardly the first film to employ this tactic.
It’s set apart by a steadfast refusal to simplify the milieu; the East New York of “Five Star” is a living, breathing ecosystem surrounding men swimming upstream against the tides of poverty, fighting to be the fathers and sons they want to be while grappling with the lure of criminality.
In a totally different vein, “Summer of Blood” turns the desolate nighttime streets of industrial Bushwick into the setting for a comedy about a 40-year-old loser who becomes a Lothario when he turns into a vampire. The film takes a hatchet to staples of hipsterdom in the trendy nabe by exposing a fundamental emptiness.
If you go: Five Star screens Sat. at 2:30 p.m. Summer of Blood screens Sat. at 10 p.m.
For more info, go to: tribecafilm.com/festival