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The must-see movies in the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival

Thelma Adams
The Reel Breakdown
April 16, 2012

James Franco will reveal the underlying reason for his soap opera debut in the indie experimental psychological thriller "Francophrenia," while the summer blockbuster "The Avengers" -- with a baseball team worth of A-list stars -- will close the Tribeca Film Festival. The festival opens Wednesday and runs through Sunday, April 29. You don't have to be in New York to see some features and shorts, which are live-streaming through the Tribeca Online Film Festival. Unlike Cannes or the more elitist New York Film Festival, the sprawling cinema event is geared toward the general audience. Tickets go on sale today on Facebook. Even sold-out screenings are available, thanks to last-minute-rush tickets. Here's a sampling of the movies people are already buzzing about:

What are the must-see movies?

"Francophrenia": Actor, director, writer, and tweeting Oscar host James Franco answers the burning question, "Why did he appear on the soap opera 'General Hospital'?" As it turns out behind-the-scenes footage was essential to this 70-minute experimental meta-thriller head trip, co-directed by Ian Olds ("Fixer"). Hipster or huckster? Our guess is it's another graduate student art project from Monsieur Franco. We'll know more after we experience "Francophrenia."

[Related: Will 'The Avengers' assemble again for a last-minute scene?]

"The Avengers": The hottest ticket at the festival is the closing-night film on April 28. The highly anticipated U.S. premiere of the Joss Whedon-directed Marvel Comic adaptation unites an all-star team of superheroes -- Robert Downey's Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Chris Evans's Captain America, Mark Ruffalo's The Hulk, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye, and more! -- racing to, yes, save the world. The movie will open nationally on May 4, launching the summer blockbuster season.

"The Five-Year Engagement": Wednesday's opening-night gala at Manhattan's Ziegfeld Theatre will be this romantic comedy, produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Nicholas Stoller ("Get Him to the Greek"). It's slated to open in theaters on April 27. Jason Segel (who's also the film's co-writer) and Emily Blunt couple up in a comedy about the misadventures of an engaged couple on a circuitous route to the altar.

"Your Sister's Sister": Emily Blunt makes her second appearance in this year's festival in Lynn Shelton's microbudgeted comedy. She plays Iris, a woman whose crush on her late ex-boyfriend's brother Jack (Mark Duplass) gets even more complicated when she sends him to get in touch with his feelings at her father's remote island retreat in Washington. Once he's there, Jack gets in touch with Iris's sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who's come to the cottage to mend a broken heart, and the happy/sad love story triangulates from there.

"2 Days in New York": French actress Julie Delpy ("Before Sunset") wrote, directed, and starred in this hilarious comedy of manners. She plays a working mother whose cozy relationship with radio personality and writer Mingus (Chris Rock) experiences trial by blood relative when her father and sister arrive from Paris. There are echoes of Woody Allen, as if Diane Keaton's Annie Hall were behind the camera.

For more information on this massive festival, which was created in the shadow of the World Trade Center after 9/11, check out www.tribecafilm.com/festival.

See the trailer for 'The Five-Year Engagement':

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