The Best and Worst Documentaries of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

Our capsule reviews of 'Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland,' 'Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary,' 'Love Gilda,' and more.

BEST OF THE FEST

Bathtubs Over Broadway
It began with a smirk, the day Late Show with David Letterman writer Steve Young discovered, while finding oddities for the “Dave’s Record Collection” segment, a souvenir album from an “industrial musical” – full-fledged, Broadway-style musical shows for private audiences at company conventions. At first he laughed, but then he found himself humming the songs (they’re fluid and catchy; if the lyrics weren’t commercials, who knows?) and digging into the history of this unknown corner of show-business, a whole circuit that provided (lucrative) early work and opportunities for performers and songwriters, many of whom you’ve heard of. Director Dava Whisenantably transfers the interest – Young’s fascination and enthusiasm is infectious – but ultimately, Bathtubs Over Broadway is about more than this tiny, weird thing. It’s about how these peculiar interests can become our obsessions, and the way that ironic detachment can develop, surprisingly enough, into genuine affection. What a delightful movie this is.

House Two
Michael Epstein’s harrowing documentary meticulously investigates the November 2005 massacre at Haditha, in which a company of Marines retaliated for the killing of one of their own by executing 24 Iraqi citizens. What followed was the largest, most expensive criminal investigation in the history of the Marine Corps – and a giant clusterfuck of dismissals and immunity, in which only one defendant, Frank Wuterich, was first focused on and then pleaded out. Epstein, who pairs contemporary interviews with candid footage of Wuterich and his lawyers during the investigation and prosecution, finds a unique perspective in the journey these attorneys take concerning their suspicions about their client. More than that, it’s a genuinely compelling mystery – it keeps turning on you, as unpredictable as it is enraging.