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Review: An uneasy mishmash, 'Unforgettable' is forgettable

That peanut, I have to say, was the only unforgettable thing about "Unforgettable," a truly uneasy mishmash of a movie, in which apparent attempts at addressing serious social themes — there's a domestic violence subplot — dissolve into total camp. Which one can't really enjoy, because it doesn't seem intentional.

The shame is that Rosario Dawson gives an earnest, sympathetic, even moving performance as the victimized character. In contrast, none of her castmates — including Katherine Heigl, trying vainly to find meaning in a ridiculously written part — seem authentic. Somebody didn't get the memo, but who?

In plot setup only, "Unforgettable" shares something with the recent wonderful thriller "Get Out" — both involve sympathetic characters of color invited into their romantic partner's lily-white world, where, let's just say, things do NOT go as planned.

From there, "Get Out" developed into one of the cleverest films in a generation. There's nothing clever about "Unforgettable," unless you can find something sharp — no pun intended — about two sexy women hissing at each other over a fireplace poker. (Many of us might find that depressing.)

Dawson is Julia Banks, a woman trying to escape a troubled past. She quits her job, leaves her supportive BFF behind and heads to Southern California, where her new fiance, David, awaits (Geoff Stults, doing generic handsome guy and nothing more).

Things go south from the start. Julia's attempts to bond with David's young daughter, Lily, are thwarted by his high-strung, resentful ex-wife, Tessa (Heigl.) Although Tessa and David have been apart for a few years, Tessa cannot come to terms with the split, and seeing a woman move in with David sends her hurtling straight toward the deep end.

Denise Di Novi, a veteran producer making her directorial debut here, seems to have had higher aspirations than pure camp, but she and screenwriter Christina Hodson don't help matters (or help Heigl) by making Tessa such a one-dimensional, cartoonish shrew. In an early scene, Tessa, whose lips are fire-engine red and whose hair is white-blonde and perfectly straight, combs her daughter's hair and says, "Now you're perfect, just like Mommy."

Much of her dialogue is similarly obvious and leaden. To show us she misses her husband, the film simply has Tessa watching her wedding video, tears pouring down her face. Or asking her daughter: "Do you miss when Daddy and Mommy lived together?" Maybe Tessa has inherited this lack of subtlety from her mother — poor Cheryl Ladd's role here is even less nuanced.

Once Tessa gets going, she utilizes every weapon in her arsenal to make Julia's life hell. This includes setting up a fake Facebook account and engaging a shady character from Julia's past. It's here where the domestic violence thread comes in, and, well, sorry, but for most of us, this is not a subject that we want to laugh about in any way, shape or form. So if the filmmakers wanted us to laugh — and by the end, it sure seems like they do — well, maybe that theme wasn't a great choice. More likely: we're not supposed to be laughing.

But eventually, everything feels so out of whack that nervous laughter is the only solution.

Or maybe throwing a peanut?

"Unforgettable," a Warner Bros. release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America "for sexual content, violence, some language, and brief partial nudity." Running time: 100 minutes. One star out of four.

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Definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Follow Jocelyn Noveck on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP

A look at the 6 films exploring the LA riots, 25 years later

Los Angeles erupted into the most destructive civil disturbance in US history on April 29, 1992, and the 25th anniversary is being marked by six documentaries exploring the roots and lingering impact of the LA riots. All include the 1991 videotaped footage of a group of white police officers relentlessly beating unarmed black motorist Rodney King, and coverage of their acquittal the following year that touched off three days of unchecked violence, arson and looting. Despite similar imagery, each of the films approaches the events through a slightly different lens.

— "Burn Motherf------, Burn " (Showtime): Sacha Jenkins incorporates animation and the music of the early '90s in his film exploring the history of the Los Angeles Police Department and its relationship with LA's black residents. It charts the rise of former police chief William Parker — who was celebrated for his post-World War II modernization of the LAPD and criticized for his separatist attitudes toward communities of color — through the 1965 Watts riots and up to present day with interviews with current chief Charlie Beck and cellphone footage of police shooting an unarmed black man in downtown LA in 2015. Premieres Friday.

— "LA 92 " (National Geographic): Oscar-winning documentarians Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin find the roots of 1992's civil unrest in the Watts riots and the 1991 killing of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins by shopkeeper Soon Ja Du, who was convicted of manslaughter but received no jail time. It tracks the long history of police brutality in black communities and the growing tensions between blacks and Koreans after Harlins' death, and explores the role the riots may have played in the 1992 presidential election. Opens theatrically on April 28 and comes to National Geographic Channel on April 30.

— "L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later " (A&E): Produced by and featuring Oscar-nominated writer-director John Singleton, this film opens with video footage of the 2016 fatal police shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, along with the protests that followed the high-profile deaths of other young black men at the hands of police. Directors One9 and Erik Parker provide a mix of LAPD history, interviews with the men who attacked truck driver Reginald Denny and the perspective of a former lieutenant tasked with responding to the riot epicenter at the intersection of Florence and Normandie avenues. Premiered Tuesday.

— "L.A. Riots: 25 Years Later " (History Channel): Filmmakers Jenna Rosher and Mark Ford explore the past and present in this film, from the Watts riots to Black Lives Matter. It looks at the history of police relations in LA's black community, exacerbated by drugs and gangs in the '80s and the LAPD's aggressive response, which included destructive home invasions. It explores the political implications of the tenuous relationship between police chief Gates and mayor Tom Bradley, who both left office shortly after the riots. Premieres April 23.

— "Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 " (ABC): Oscar winner John Ridley focuses on racial tensions in the decade leading up to what he calls the 1992 uprising. Interview subjects include neighborhood residents, police officers, jurors who served on the King beating trial, as well as victims, witnesses and perpetrators of the ensuing violence. Ridley also explores LAPD policies, including its use of the battering ram during the crack epidemic of the '80s and banning of the chokehold in 1982. Opens theatrically Friday; airing on ABC on April 28.

— "The Lost Tapes: LA Riots " (Smithsonian Channel): Former newspaper reporter Tom Jennings' film skips interviews and narration in favor of voices and images directly from 1992. The film relies on footage taken by neighborhood residents and Los Angeles Police Department cameras, along with audio from local radio station KJLH, which abandoned its traditional music format during the unrest to take calls from the community about their fears and concerns as the city was torn apart. Premieres Sunday.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

LA's violent uprising of 1992 returns to TV 25 years later

Toward the end of "L.A. Burning," a new documentary about the fiery and deadly 1992 Los Angeles riots, a man who lived through the turmoil issues an ominous warning about the future.

"If we don't change the way we interact with the police and they interact with us, y'all might as well just welcome the next riot," he says.

The juxtaposition of the historic uprising with today's high-profile police shootings of black men and the Black Lives Matter movement is the crux of six separate documentaries marking the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, which exploded after four white police officers were acquitted of severely beating black motorist Rodney King. The ensuing carnage was the worst civil unrest in US history, leaving 55 people dead and more than 2,000 injured.

Oscar winner John Ridley and Oscar nominee John Singleton are among the filmmakers using the anniversary to re-examine the events that led to the unrest and contextualize them for a new generation. All six films premiere this week.

"Whether there are five, six or seven films, I don't think there can be enough stories," Ridley said in a recent interview. "It's almost stunning, considering the scope and scale of that event, what it meant in the moment and how people still view it, that it's taken this long for these stories to come out."

It's unusual to have six documentaries on the same subject released almost simultaneously, though it could become more commonplace in today's multi-option media landscape. By comparison, two films were released around the riots' 20th anniversary in 2012.

Since then, Rodney King has died. Florida teen Trayvon Martin was shot and his killer acquitted. The Black Lives Matter movement was born. And the nation transitioned from the leadership of its first black president, Barack Obama, to the uncertainties of Donald Trump's administration.

"I look at the conditions across our country right now and I'm thinking we certainly didn't learn much in the last 25 years," retired Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Michael Moulin says in "L.A. Burning." He was on duty in South Los Angeles when the riots broke out and appears in several of the new films.

Besides the six documentaries marking the riots' anniversary, a digital story archive and a virtual-reality project aim to make sense of the events for today's viewers.

Anniversaries often inspire reflection, and the proliferation of outlets airing documentaries has created more opportunities for filmmakers interested in exploring the past, said Todd Boyd, a professor of cinema and media studies at the USC School for Cinematic Arts. He points to the O.J. Simpson murder case, which was the subject of narrative and documentary retellings in 2016, 21 years after Simpson was acquitted.

"As time passes, people look back on certain eras or events and reconsider them for a new age," Boyd said. "We're in a moment now where people are reconsidering that early '90s era, whether it's the Rodney King beating, the riots or O.J."

Those events all spoke to race relations, which may be as fractious now as they were then.

"I think that people just feel (the riots) are a really important cautionary tale right now," said Molly Gale, a 27-year-old filmmaker developing a virtual-reality project with the Los Angeles Times. "Flash Point: An Immersive 360 Look at Photographing the L.A. Riots," premiering April 29, was "borne out of our own lack of understanding of how huge the riots really were," she said.

"This project is aiming to reach the millennials to make them understand the history of these places they're living in," she said.

Another interactive project, KTown92, focuses on stories about the riots from residents of Koreatown.

Documentarian Sacha Jenkins saw his film "Burn Motherf-----, Burn" as a way to establish historical context for today's police shootings and demands for justice.

"What I was trying to say with the film is this thing goes way back to slavery, and it goes way back to the grievances that African-Americans have had this whole time," he said. "I wanted people to be able to see this and do the math and let that math add up to where we are now."

Filmmaker Mark Ford wrote and directed a movie in 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the riots, "Uprising: Hip Hop and the LA Riots." For the 25th anniversary, he produced two different documentaries, "L.A. Burning" and "L.A. Riots: 25 Years Later."

"Police abuse is as prevalent, if not more, than it was 25 years ago," Ford said. "We all see the images across our social media pretty much every day. As filmmakers, we just want to be part of the conversation as to why this is happening and what are potential solutions."

Singleton, a producer of "L.A. Burning" and an LA native, has been close to the riots for a long time. He left the Simi Valley, California, set of his film "Poetic Justice" for the nearby courthouse shortly after the verdict in the King case was read. Singleton appears in news footage from 1992 and also gives extensive interviews in the new documentary.

"This event affected all of us cross-culturally through the city," he said after a recent screening. "How can we learn from this so there's not another flash point?"

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

'Moulin Rouge' director Baz Luhrmann to speak at Princeton

"Moulin Rouge" director Baz Luhrmann will speak to graduating seniors at Princeton.

Princeton's graduating class chose him as their Class Day speaker next month. The Australian will address graduates and their guests the day before commencement.

The Academy Award-nominated director, screenwriter and producer's films include "The Great Gatsby" and "Romeo + Juliet." His series, "The Get Down," which tells the birth of hip-hop, premiered on Netflix in 2016.

Class Day co-chair Deana Hamlin says Luhrmann's example of pursing one's passions is a "fitting mindset to convey to graduates before entering the real world."

Past Class Day speakers include former Vice President Al Gore and Christopher Nolan, director of the Batman "Dark Knight" trilogy.

Documentary delves into life of music pioneer Clive Davis

Clive Davis celebrated his legacy with the debut of a documentary about his life, along with performances from artists he helped become icons, during the opening night of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

Davis, 85, said it was a dream come true to launch "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" at Radio City Music Hall since he grew up in Brooklyn and didn't visit Manhattan until he was 13.

The music mogul was all smiles at the multi-hour event Wednesday night, as performers like Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Barry Manilow and Earth, Wind & Fire took the stage to pay tribute to Davis.

"All of them fresh from not performing at the inauguration," Robert De Niro, who co-founded the festival, said before the film began, earning laughs and handclaps from the audience.

Jennifer Hudson left the stage to walk into the aisles to dance with the crowd as she sang Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."

"Where is Clive at?" she yelled. Davis earned a loud cheer from the audience when he started dancing.

When Franklin — who closed the show — sang "Natural Woman," she pointed to Davis and sang the lyrics, "He makes me feel." She also called her longtime collaborator a "chieftain" and "humanitarian."

Others shared the sentiment on-screen. "The Soundtrack of Our Lives," directed by Chris Perkel, gave a peek into Davis' personal and professional life. He lost his parents while he was an undergraduate at New York University, and later attended Harvard Law School. After working as a lawyer for Columbia Records, he was promoted to president in 1967, despite not desiring a career in music.

"I had no inkling that music would be my passion of life," he said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday from his office at the new Sony building in Manhattan. "I had no money after my parents died, so I went through school on scholarships. And I was going to be a lawyer."

He said watching the documentary was somewhat hard, especially scenes with Houston, who died in 2012.

"It was very emotional to see artists that I worked with 20, 30, 40 years ago have the same vivid memories of how we interrelated and what we worked on and issues that arose," he said. "It certainly gives a very compelling picture of the relationship that I had with Whitney Houston and of course that's filled with emotional impact, and it really showed sides of Whitney that no one has ever seen before."

Davis went on to become the world's most popular music executive, discovering talents such as Houston, Alicia Keys and Manilow and creating second acts for legends like Franklin and Santana. He even had a large role in shaping the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin and Billy Joel.

"What a movie," Manilow yelled before he sang some of his popular hits.

Other performers included Kenny G and Dionne Warwick, who earned a standing ovation after she hit a high note. Whoopi Goldberg worked as the emcee in between the performances.

"No matter who you voted for, fight for the arts in school please," she told the audience. "This is in our hands now."

Davis founded Arista Records in 1975 and J Records in 2000. His documentary will be available on Apple Music.

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Online:

http://www.clivedavis.com/

Viggo Mortensen slams Argentina's Macri over film policies

Oscar-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen is joining a protest by Argentine actors against the government's decision to fire the head of the country's film institute.

In a video posted online, Mortensen also calls center-right President Mauricio Macri a "neoliberal braggard" who seeks to plunder the financial resources of Argentina's thriving film industry. The Danish-American actor lived until age 11 in Argentina, where he learned Spanish and became a fan of the San Lorenzo soccer club.

"Argentina's film pays for itself and is a source of pride for all Argentines," Mortensen said in fluent Spanish in the video, wearing a San Lorenzo T-shirt. "The state support to the film industry in counties like Argentina and France are unique and successful examples of the cultural promotion and are admired worldwide."

A group of actors and members of Argentina's film chamber say the recent firing of INCAA Film Institute President Alejandro Cacetta was part of a plan by Macri to intervene and defund the industry. Argentina's culture minister says Cacetta failed to act against film industry officials who were suspected of corruption during the administration of Macri's left-leaning predecessor, Cristina Fernandez.

Macri's government says there are no plans to cut back funding for Argentina's film industry, which is self-financed through taxes on ticket sales and other costs that are charged to private companies and TV channels.

Mortensen, best known as Aragorn in "The Lord of the Rings" films, returns often to Argentina, where he shot the film "Todos Tenemos un Plan ("Everybody Has a Plan")'' in 2010. He has had roles in dozens of movies, including "Eastern Promises" and "Captain Fantastic," which earned him Oscar nominations for best actor.

'Mississippi Grind' directors sign on for 'Captain Marvel'

The co-directors of the indie gambling drama "Mississippi Grind" are making the leap to superhero films.

A source close to the project who was not authorized to speak publicly says Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will direct "Captain Marvel," which is scheduled for release in March 2019.

Brie Larson is set to star as the titular character in Marvel Studios' first female-centric superhero film. The script is being co-written by "Inside Out" writer Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman, who co-wrote "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Boden and Fleck also collaborated on the Ryan Gosling drama "Half Nelson." They're the latest in a long string of indie directors signing up for studio blockbusters including the likes of Colin Trevorrow, who jumped from "Safety Not Guaranteed" to "Jurassic World" and "Star Wars: Episode IX" and Jon Watts, who graduated from "Cop Car" to this summer's Spider-Man reboot "Spider-Man: Homecoming."

"Captain Marvel" is a project that has been closely watched since it was added to Marvel Studios expansive slate. Due to its female lead, many on social media had hoped for a female director, like Warner Bros. did in choosing Patty Jenkins to direct "Wonder Woman."

When news broke Wednesday, some bristled that the directing team selected would include a man, but others celebrated the choice. Boden and Fleck's films have been generally well-regarded by critics.

Representatives for the directing team did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Denise Di Novi wants to be called a 'female director'

Men pick the movies. Women only go to movies that their husbands choose. And men definitely don't see movies about women.

That was the prevailing line of thought at Hollywood studios not too long ago. Denise Di Novi, a prolific producer behind everything from "Batman Returns" to "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," heard it for years when she was starting out. Back then, she mostly felt lucky to be one of the few female producers around. Directing didn't seem like a possibility. In fact, Di Novi said, it felt "insurmountable."

Now, nearly 30 years after she made a name for herself as the producer of "Heathers," Di Novi is making her directorial debut with the thriller "Unforgettable." Out Friday, the film is about a woman driven to madness when her ex-husband brings a new fiancée home.

Starring Katherine Heigl as the Hitchcockian blonde unwilling to let her ex, Geoff Stults, move on, and Rosario Dawson as the girlfriend with a traumatic past, Di Novi had been developing the script to produce when Warner Bros. suggested that she direct.

"I'd been championing women directors for years and speaking about the need for more and thought, 'I should put my money where my mouth is and direct a movie," Di Novi said.

She also loved the genre. In the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Adrian Lyne, Di Novi liked that the women were always especially interesting and layered.

"I love to see female characters put in really complex situations and overcome them. They make mistakes and they're flawed and they're crazy. I like the full spectrum, the messiness of the female experience," Di Novi said. "I found it inspiring when I was young and I wanted to make a movie like that."

Di Novi knew she didn't want to mimic other directors, though. One thing she's learned from producing is that bringing your authentic point of view to a project is always going to be better than homage.

"She was a natural," said producer Ravi Mehta. "It felt as if she'd been directing her entire life."

Di Novi found her way into producing almost by accident. She started out as a journalist in Toronto, but would get in trouble for personalizing every story, often ending up in tears. She laughs that she got fired from every job she'd ever had until she started working on movies. She tried out publicity and screenwriting but it was producing that stuck.

Her work on the still shockingly dark high school comedy "Heathers" put her on the map and led to a fruitful meeting with Tim Burton. The bonded over feeling like outsiders in Hollywood, and went on to make films like "Edward Scissorhands," ''Batman Returns," ''Ed Wood" and "Nightmare Before Christmas."

In her over 40 credits, Di Novi has dabbled in all genres from superhero pics, to classic literary adaptations like Gillian Armstrong's "Little Women," modern rom-coms like "Crazy, Stupid Love," and everything in between.

"I'm not snobby. I just love movies. I love every kind of movie. I respect every kind of movie. I don't think one kind of movie is better than another and I love to produce every kind of movie," Di Novi said. "I'm a 'why not' kind of person."

Di Novi doesn't bristle at the "female filmmaker" conversation either. She embraces the distinction and believes her chance to direct this film is the result of the heightened talk around the glaring disparity in the business.

"I wish I could have worked with more women directors. There was an assumption that women can only direct movies about women and if it's not about women, they're usually not on the list," Di Novi said. "I want women coming up to see that there are female directors and it is possible and there is a path."

She's already got another directing project lined up, "Highway One," for Amblin Entertainment, which will go into production in September. It's about an Afghanistan veteran who goes into "warrior soldier mode" when her daughter is kidnapped.

Di Novi is optimistic that things are changing. Studios and producers, she said, do seem committed to hiring more women for directing jobs in movies and television.

There is work to be done, however, and until 50 percent of movies are directed by women, Di Novi thinks it's important to keep talking about it.

"There is still a stereotype that women will only go to women's movies," Di Novi said. Most expected "Unforgettable" to be in that category, but Di Novi happily reports that it's tracking at 50/50.

"Some of that is the genre. It's scary and thrilling. But I think that there's a fascination with the female characters," she said. "And men are just as fascinated as women."

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Review: When the bullets fly, 'Free Fire' comes to a crawl

When the bullets start flying, Wheatley's arms-deal-gone-wrong 1970s shoot-up comes to a crawl. There's a total absence of slow-motion cartwheels. No one miraculously walks through a wall of fire to kill the bad guys with three precise shots. Not a single Scarlett Johansson roundhouse kick is in the house.

Instead, people get maimed, bloodied and dead. There's no subsequent chase or flight from the police, just bickering and trench warfare ... for the majority of the 90 minute film. The movie is 100 percent O.K. Corral.

It's a formally impressive feat — set nearly entirely in the same rundown warehouse — but a thin and tedious one.

The film, the British director's sixth, spends its first third gathering an ensemble of retro-outfitted characters under the glistening wet of a dark Massachusetts night. The setting and colorful, comic banter would fit into a George V. Higgins novel, or Peter Yates' 1973 adaptation of "Friends of Eddie Coyle."

It's an international, much-mustachioed array of characters. A handful of Irish Republican Army agents (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) are meeting gun sellers (Sharlto Copley's South African; Babou Ceesay's former Black Panther). The deal has been brokered by a pair of savvy Americans (Brie Larson's Justine, Armie Hammer's turtle-necked Ord) and then there are a couple locals, Stevo (Sam Riley) and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) brought in to carry the crates of assault weapons.

The latter two, sort of the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the bunch, play a minor role in the meet-up but a pivotal one in its descent into orgiastic violence. Stevo, with a bruised face from the previous night's exploits, ends up face-to-face with the man he tussled with and, well, all hell breaks loose.

All of them, while of various degrees of level-headedness, are self-consciously playing a role as street toughs. Best is Copley's arch Verne, a self-described "rare and mysterious jewel," most concerned with the stitching of his new suit. But once everyone takes cover throughout the abandoned factory and sporadically exchange fire in between snatches of ironic conversations, telling who's on which side becomes impossible for us and for them. Nearly everyone is eventually hobbled by a gun wound; they collectively spend more time inching around on the floor than the stars of "Babies."

The channeled spirit here — irreverent and violent — is undoubtedly "Reservoir Dogs"-era Quentin Tarantino. But "Free Fire" reminded me more of a short by its executive producer, Martin Scorsese. His 1967 six-minute "The Big Shave" showed a man who keeps cutting himself shaving until his face is a bloody mess — the Vietnam War in a nutshell.

"Free Fire," too, would seem to be a satirical metaphor on warfare, where guns plus an international group of posturing wannabe tough-guys equals mutual destruction. But Wheatley's devotion is less to any such critique than to his movie's hermetic form. He is clearly enjoying himself, stretching his high-concept, criss-crossing chaos to the comic limit, even while his characters limp along behind.

At one point in the melee, one character speaks of the "golden rule" that one has an hour and a half before a bullet wound becomes fatal. Wheatley's film, too, comes in exactly at that length. After 90 minutes of occasionally inspired dialogue and labored if compelling anarchy, it bleeds out.

"Free Fire," an A24 release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use." Running time: 90 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

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MPAA definition for R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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Follow AP Film Writer on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

For Tribeca film fest, a new political moment to reconcile

Political currents have always flowed through the Tribeca Film Festival, founded in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. But this year, the festival has a slightly pugnacious edge to counter the policies of its midtown neighbor, President Donald Trump. Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro, after all, has repeatedly said he'd like to punch Trump in the face.

Trump's 100th day in office will fall during the New York festival, which opens Wednesday with a Clive Davis documentary, "Soundtrack of Our Lives," and star-studded concert tribute to the legendary music producer. Tribeca , now in its 16th year, is the first big film festival to be programmed and substantially oriented in the political climate since last November's election.

And Tribeca organizers acknowledge it has shaped this year's festival all the way down to its slogan: "See yourself in others." It recently trotted out an accompanying video in which New Yorkers walk the streets with mirrored cubes for heads: an intended message of empathy, it says, for "a very divisive year."

"We programmed the festival this year the way the current administration did their budget," Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the festival, said tongue in cheek. "That said, we're also about entertaining — which this administration has also done for us."

Tribeca, which runs for 12 days, is a particularly eclectic festival that encompasses celebrity talks (Springsteen and Hanks!), television premieres (this year Hulu's anticipated "The Handmaid's Tale" debuts there), an ever-expanding virtual reality component and several movie anniversary celebrations. This year, parts one and two of "The Godfather" will play at Radio City Music Hall, with the casts in attendance.

So while defining a theme in an increasingly multi-screen, multimedia festival only goes so far, there's an undeniable presence of films that dig into the past for clues that lead to today. Many are documentaries that, though they've been in production for years, help articulate the populist unrest that pushed Trump to the White House.

"A Gray State," by "Grizzly Man" producer Erik Nelson, is about an Iraq veteran from Minnesota named David Crowley who was trying to create a dystopian science-fiction film that gave voice to libertarian and right-wing fears. But his death, along with that of his wife and young daughter, led to their own conspiracy theories. It's a tragedy in which an intelligent but increasingly troubled man appears to internalize the fringe politics he consumes himself with.

"It's really a core sample, to me, of what's going on today," says Nelson, whose film is executive produced by Werner Herzog. "David was speaking to that subcutaneous audience out there who are looking for truths that they don't see provided in the quote-unquote 'mainstream media. And on election night, we saw those people kind of come out of the shadows and tip a few elections."

Crowley documented much of his disintegration on video and social media, and Nelson considers his obsessive self-broadcasting part of his sickness. "It's not the right film for the right time," says Nelson. "It's the right film for the wrong time."

"The Reagan Show," by Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez, uses archival footage to show how extensively Ronald Reagan redefined the role of the U.S. president through television. It shows the former Hollywood star's savvy manipulation of his media image: hitting his marks and sticking to the script.

After working on it for the last three years, the filmmakers completed it on inauguration day. "Which was surreal," says Pettengill. "The Reagan Show" will undoubtedly be watched as illuminating another TV veteran in the White House.

"This is the roots. This is the formative moment that allowed us to get where we are," says Pettengill. "I don't think there would have been a Trump without a Reagan. The idea of having a media personality who millions and millions of people feel like they have access to, who they feel like has been in their living rooms."

There is, naturally, much dissimilarity between the two. Reagan, who is seen in the film wondering how previous presidents managed without prior acting experience, is a clearly more polished performer. Pettengill suggest that's the difference between the skills of a movie star and a reality TV star. "What being a performer means is very different in those two different realms," she says.

David Byars' "No Man's Land" tells the story behind the Oregon protesters who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last year. "Get Me Roger Stone," by Daniel DiMauro, is about the Republican self-proclaimed "trickster" and Trump associate currently under FBI scrutiny for his role in Russian interference in the presidential election.

There is a trio of films that dig into police brutality: "Frank Serpico," on the famous whistleblowing New York police officer; "LA92," on the Rodney King assault and its subsequent riots in Los Angeles; and "Copwatch," about a police-documenting organization.

And there are also issues of equal rights (the trans icon investigation "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson"), a number of environment-focused films and events scheduled around Earth Day, and even an appearance from Michael Moore for an anniversary of his 2002 documentary on guns and mass shootings, "Bowling for Columbine." The festival declares, "In the age of Trump ... there's no better time to revisit" the film.

"What's interesting," says Rosenthal, "is that we have films that are looking back that show: How did we get here?"

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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This story has been updated to correct that the co-director of 'The Reagan Show' is Pacho Velez.

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