Mistaken for Strangers

The Berninger brothers in MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS

A secret service member glances at Tom Berninger, our filmmaker/protagonist/underdog hero, and gives him a piercing glance of total disregard, waving him to get out of the way in such a fashion that both rigidly instructs Tom and potently ignores the fact that he exists. It’s such a brief yet powerfully condescending look, and puts us directly in the shoes of someone who is invisible while surrounded by those who are hyper-visible. Moments later, Matt Berninger, Tom’s brother and lead singer of the successful indie rock band The National, tells Tom, “I’m sorry you didn’t get to meet the President.” Matt is achingly sincere in this sentiment, yet you can tell he hates the fact that such an unavoidably haughty-sounding sentence just tumbled out of his mouth. Mistaken for Strangers is less a tour documentary about a successful rock band, and more a chronicle of one dude’s attempt to accomplish something in the shadow of his far more successful brother. It’s Don’t Look Back by way of American Movie: an intimate behind-the-scenes portrayal of rock stardom, but framed by an intoxicating irreverence that relieves the film of any stuffy adulation that so often burdens many rockumentaries. Who would have thought a band as solemn and tortured as The National would be involved in a documentary so surprisingly funny and unapologetically sincere?

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Tribeca Film Festival

Now that the Tribeca Film Festival has been effectively put to bed for the year (rest up, sweet festival), it’s time to reflect on what we loved best about New York City’s spring fling, from zombies to visual effects to more Sam Rockwell than might be advisable by most doctors. For a festival like Tribeca, which lately seems to being striving (and hard) to be more unique and more fresh than it might have been in the past, a traditional “best-of” list just didn’t seem right. After all, where in such a list would we write about geodesic domes and solid fashion choices made by pre-teen characters and, again, just like a lot of Sam Rockwell? The answer – nowhere – made this year’s listing wrap-up style obvious. We just wrote about what we liked best. So what were the twelve best things at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival? Let us tell you.

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Mistaken for Strangers

If you asked Matt Berninger what his younger brother, Tom Berninger, thinks of indie rock, he’d tell you it straight: “he thinks indie rock is pretentious bullshit.” Which is a bit of a problem, because Matt is the lead singer of beloved indie band The National and Tom is about to go on tour with The National to capture a documentary about, well, The National. Will Tom change his mind about indie rock? Probably not, but he might just change his mind about just about everything else. The basic plot of Berninger’s Mistaken for Strangers is almost eerily movie-ready. The National is, as one journalist puts it, a band of brothers – a group composed of the Devendorfs (Scott and Bryan) and the Dessners (Aaron and Bryce, who also happen to be twins, just for good measure), along with lead singer Matt – and while Tom is ostensibly coming on tour to help out with basic roadie duties, he’s actually there to make a movie, but he’s really there to reconnect with his brother.

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Mistaken for Strangers

If you’ve somehow missed our relentless reportage on the subject, the Tribeca Film Festival kicks off later this week with the premiere of Tom Berninger‘s Mistaken for Strangers, a tour documentary about Berninger’s time on tour with his brother’s (Matt Berninger) band The National. The film’s first trailer is a solid mix of standard tour stuff (life as a rock star is wacky!), family drama (it looks like the Berningers get down to some long-needed heart-to-hearts in the film), and performances by the band. Basically, a perfect music doc. Jam out with the first trailer for Mistaken for Strangers after the break.

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Mistaken for Strangers

Last year’s Tribeca Film Festival opened with the world premiere of the Judd Apatow-produced and Jason Segel-starring The Five-Year Engagement, a big studio film with big studio names, but this year’s Opening Night film seems to signal a return to the more indie-minded roots of the festival. Tom Berninger‘s Mistaken for Strangers, a tour documentary about Berninger’s time on tour with his brother’s (Matt Berninger) band The National, will open the festival on the evening of April 17. The film will, of course, be followed by a special performance by the band, which means you should probably get your lighters ready now (is that still a thing?). The film “follows The National on its biggest tour to date. Newbie roadie Tom (lead singer Matt Berninger’s younger brother) is a heavy metal and horror movie enthusiast, and can’t help but put his own spin on the experience. Inevitably, Tom’s moonlighting as an irreverent documentarian creates some drama for the band on the road. The film is a hilarious and touching look at two very different brothers and an entertaining story of artistic aspiration.” The festival’s feature film slate will be announced next week. The Tribeca Film Festival runs in New York City from April 17th until April 28th. [Press Release]

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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