Saturday, October 19, 2013

Philadelphia Film Festival: THE CONGRESS

I've never been to a film festival, much less the Philadelphia Film Festival (now in its 22nd year). But something changed in me this year, I thought I should check out what they're showing and buy some tickets.

When tickets went on sale in early October I ended up buying tickets to four movies; "The Congress," "August: Osage County," "Blue is the Warmest Color," and "Stranger By The Lake." I had heard of all of them by reading their reviews after playing in Cannes (except "August") so I knew I picked some good ones. "August" is Meryl Streep's latest film so of course I had to see it.

These are just some of the critically-lauded films that are showing this year, but I obviously can't afford to go to all of them. Other highlights include "12 Years s Slave," "All is Lost," "Philomena," and "Labor Day," all of which early Oscar bait.

The first film I saw was "The Congress" on October 18. Didn't know what it was about until I saw the trailer for it, which really interested me. However, the film was something totally different. The latest project from Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman —who shattered documentary protocol with his animated "Waltz With Bashir" — this was such a mess!

The half-live-action, half-animated film stars Robin Wright, as herself, as an aging actress who agrees to get herself scanned so a film studio can use her in any film they want without actually having her in it. The film morphs into a "Miyazaki on LSD" visual spectacle that collapses under the weight of its own stupidity. Folman thought he was trying something awesome here, and it could have been, but it looked like the anime "Steamboy" combined with "The Tree of Life," minus the latter's deep philosophical messages. It was just as stupid as "Steamboy," too.

"The Congress" is nothing more than Folman looking at himself in the mirror as he pleasures himself with an idea only he thought was a good one. It's a long, painful concoction that ends up being so pretentious you'd think Folman was a 4-year-old trying to impress his older brother by jumping off the roof of a house to proves he's stronger. He's not, and I hope it kills him.

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