Sunday, November 1, 2015

24th Philadelphia Film Festival, Days 9 and 10: Closing Night Attack on Michael Moore, running with the best.

Closing night of the festival. The night where a non-publicized jury of people come up with a slate of winners for what was the best in the festival, even announcing winners of films that hadn't yet played at the fest. I think that's extremely odd, but whatever. I don't call the shots on what they do that. What's more weird is that it isn't actually held on the last day. Err, OK?

I'd put a list of the winners, but most were just honorable mention selections. How does one earn an honorable mention if there are no bigger winners above it. Wouldn't it just make them the best since they're the only one to win for a specific reason?

I think the festival's "jury", which could be a lottery machine that draws an award category and a film title at random and calls them winners, is an unnecessary part of a festival like Philadelphia. There are no big premieres, and I'm sure these "jurors" have already seen everything that plans to play here and just talks about it before the start of the fest and makes their decisions.

But seriously, honorable mention status without any other winners for a specific award? That's one of the dumbest things I've ever head at a fest. It's like agreeing nothing at the Cannes Film Festival is good and their jury, which is always announced publicly, hands out sad certificates of appreciation.

"You weren't the best, so we had to give out something. Here's an honorable mention certificate for trying."

Anywho, there wouldn't be a closing night festival without a film of note. This year it was Michael Moore's "Where to Invade Next," his first feature in six years.

No, he's not sticking totally to his usual formula about how America is a reckless country that will attack anybody. This time he "invades" countries who have great ideas (about education, prison system, leadership standards, working conditions, etc.) and plans to take their ideas back to the US.

Moore has a way of making America look like one of the least great countries in the world, even though we're the most powerful. "Where to Invade Next", like his other films, give you hope that we can be so much better than what we really are. It's disappointing to know how low we rank when compared to other countries, especially in regard to education and women's health issues.

The highlight of the night was Moore being questioned, allegedly, by journalist Buzz Bissinger during a Q&A session following the screening at the Prince about glossing over the fact that the Tunisian government (which was featured in the film) sent a man to prison for being gay as a result of a rectal exam. Bissinger accused Moore of manipulation, and that worried Bissinger as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

I was not there to witness this, but avid film lover David Onda did.

Since I missed that debacle because I was at the Ritz East, I looked forward to Saturday... sort of.

Before screenings started for day 10 (Halloween!), I was up super early getting ready to participate in my first half marathon: The 38th Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.

Anxious as all get-up to run over 13 miles, I did some training beforehand and it helped me get a time of 1:48.47, under my goal of 1:50. I knew I was going to be tired after the race, so I didn't schedule any screenings until later.

"The Club" won an 'honorable mention' award for acting - there was no top winner in this category, but I'll digress before I start ranting again - and it is a solid ensemble piece. This Chilean drama focuses on four priests and one nun who live together after being pushed out of the Catholic Church, mostly for molesting young boys. Their tainted pasts come to light when a new priest arrives and kills himself after a rant from a townsperson outside their house about being molested.

I thought this was a solid piece of acting from all, but the last 20 minutes was a huge diversion that came out of nowhere and didn't make sense. Everyone randomly goes bad and the film just goes to shit. I'll leave it at that.

1 comment:

  1. Went here for a great all-you-can-eat buffet and they held nothing back. The food, service and mostly the staff from event venues Chicago were truly amazing. I was starving and am one of those voracious "sampling" type eaters who has to try everything in a buffet, and I couldn't make it!