Monday, October 31, 2016

25th Philadelphia Film Festival, Day 11: Bittersweet ending

(Read about Days 9 and 10 here)

Perhaps they're not using their signature line "See Something You'll Never Forget" because I hadn't seen it promoted anywhere during the festival this year. Nothing was so incredible about the 21 films I saw this year that I wouldn't be able to forget them — though I really adored "Toni Erdmann" and "Paterson" — but it was certainly a better fest than the past two years when I really started covering it.

Maybe I just chose better films? Maybe the films, overall, were better? Even when I picked something I wasn't looking forward to I ended up being pleasantly surprised, like "Miss Impossible" and "Fire at Sea". There were a few rumblings in waiting lines about a few of the selections, but people seemed to be receptive of almost everything.

Of course, I am always more bothered by the fact that films consistently started late which is a prevalent problem with the festival. It's like a normality.

But anywho.

On day 11, the final day of the festival, I enjoyed just two films, the documentary "Obit" and the mystery "Personal Shopper".

Saturday, October 29, 2016

25th Philadelphia Film Festival, Days 9 and 10: Downfall

(Read about days 7 and 8 here)

Man, come Friday morning I was still reeling from "Paterson" the night before. Such a fantastic movie (and even better after I saw my friend V as an extra in it).

As the sentiment faded, I wasn't really looking forward to much on Friday. I wasn't planning on seeing the closing night film, "Arrival", or seeing that what the award winners were from the private jury that almost no one knows exists. Friday was a day off for me from work and I just wanted to get the most of the badge that I had. I had only seen 13 movies up until the day.
The "Parents" dishcloth. Dropped stitches at the end/top.

On my short roster of three selections was the Danish film "Parents", the Japanese film "Harmonium" and the French Canadian "Boundaries".

These were three selections I should have strayed extremely far away from and should have opted to see something else... or nothing at all.

"Parents" is about a middle-aged couple who have to deal with their adult son finally moving out of their house. What started beautifully, just like the dishcloth I was making when it started, quickly turned into a mess, just like the dishcloth.

A great premise at face value, it then turned into a really weird sci-fi-ish tale where the parents change into their 20-something selves, and the mom wants to have a baby with her son. I couldn't with this film, not at all. Just give me a straight-forward tale about parents dealing with it instead of an overly pretentious bucket of crap that tries too hard to be awesome. I gave it props based on the premise.

Friday, October 28, 2016

25th Philadelphia Film Festival, Days 7 and 8: Persons of Extreme Interest, 'Christine' and 'Paterson'

(Read about day 4 here)

As I stated in my previous post, I usually take Monday and Tuesday off from festivals to get back into my regular work routine and catch up with a weeknight film on the other days.

This year was no different.

On Wednesday, which was seriously one of the longest, most tiring days I've had in a while, I drove out to a 9:25 screening of "Christine", the Rebecca Hall vehicle about reporter Christine Chubbuck who killed herself on live TV back in the '70s.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

25th Philadelphia Film Festival, Day 4: Best Day Yet

(Click here to read about days 2.... and 3)

Day four of the festival was the best day yet, in my opinion. Granted, I was surprised how my first three days didn't include any noticeable duds of everything that I had seen so far! Usually, one or two get pretty low ratings on my film ballot, but not so this year. Everything was refreshing for one reason or another, whether the acting alone ("Things to Come"), sheer brilliance of character ("Toni Erdmann"),  or a tenacious, low-key mystery ("The Unknown Girl"), nothing has let me down yet.

Going into Sunday, I was feeling hopeful that everything I was going to see that day would be great. I heard a bit on Twitter about "Goldstone" and how great Jacki Weaver is in it. Essentially, she reprises her Oscar-nominated role in "Animal Kingdom", as the charming ruler of a corrupt system in this tale about the racial, backdoor dealings of Australia.

The entrance of an aboriginal federal detective to a vast, close-minded area of the country ruled by Maureen (Weaver) and patrolled by a young cop named Josh, throws things into disarray involving sex trades, the removing of aboriginals from their land, and an overbearing mining company.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

25th Philadelphia Film Festival , Day 3: "Father's Day!"

After ending day two on a high note with "Jackie", I started my third day with the Cannes' winning "The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki", a Finnish black and white film about a boxer going for an international title. Certainly not your "Raging Bull" or "Rocky", "Olli Mäki" was an endearing story of a man fighting for love and not the title. I wasn't over-the-moon like the PFS staff allegedly was, but I didn't hate it, either.

Not expecting to get in to the sold out "Toni Erdmann" screening, I stood in the rush line and got in. And considering it was a Centerpiece selection, you know the screening wasn't going to start on time so I didn't have to worry about walking into an already-started film.

This highly acclaimed German comedy was incredibly heartwarming, and the first great film of the day that encompassed the day's overall theme: dads matter.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

25th Philadelphia Film Festival, Day 2: A Good Start!

All right, day two of the 25th Philadelphia Film Festival!

But wait. Where's day one at?

Well, unless you were paying $250 for me to see the opening night film "La La Land" I wasn't attending. I mean $250 for one movie (plus some parties)? That's pretty atrocious, especially since the opening/closing night films last year were like $25 a piece. A 1000 percent markup in one year. Philadelphia Film Society, kindly fuck yourself with a chainsaw for that one.

So my foray into the festival started on Friday, day two of the 11-day fest. I gathered my press badge (which gets me into all screenings save for opening/closing night and centerpieces), my knitting needles and yarn, water bottle and an open mind into the four films I had lined up for the day.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mexican Modernism Exhibit Opens on Oct. 25 at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Frida Kahlo's "Self Portrait on the Border Line Between Mexico and the United States" (1932)  is one of hundreds of pieces on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's latest exhibit, "Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950: on display from Oct. 25 - Jan. 8.
The lavish, bold and altogether awesome depictions of Mexico's history from the start, to the middle of the 20th century will be on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's exclusive new exhibit "Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950."

A partnership with the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City has helped to compile hundreds of works of art from the best Mexian artists of the time, including Kahlo, Rivera and Orzoco, From Kahlo's self portraits to digital repliacs of astounding murals about the overpowering bourgeoisie, this exhibit is a never-ending display of the beautiful artworks of themes so important 100 years ago, that they have continued relevance today.

"This is one of the most comprehensive exhibits of Mexican modernism today," said María Cristina García Cepeda, general director of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes during an Oct. 20 press preview. "It's proof that history of art is history of the society it creates."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

25th Philly Film Fest Preview- The 'Arrival' of a fest in 'La La Land'

The Philadelphia Film Festival will officially be 25 years strong when "La La Land" opens up this year's cinephile extravaganza on Thursday night at The Prince Theater and ushering in 10 days thereafter of interesting fare.

"La La Land" is one of the top films poached from the big film festivals that have come before PFF, followed up by "Jackie", "Manchester by the Sea" and "Toni Erdmann" just to name a few, closing out with the sci-fi film "Arrival".

Even though I think the festival is just a draw of big films that have trickled down to the region without hosting any big premieres of its own to speak of, the festival is always an entertaining mish-mash of greatness, misery, the befuddling and even audience chaos.

Last year's closing weekend was a wonderful macabre of what a festival should (not) be. When Michael Moore arrived closing night for a Q&A following a screening of his film "Where to Invade Next", journalist Buzz Bissinger heckled Moore for the claims he made in his newest feature. That provided nice banter for the audience to absorb.

But then two days later, on the very last day of the festival in one of the final screenings, the 3D sex romp "Love" screened 80 minutes late. I wrote about it here, but it was probably one of the festival's worst moments in its history. "Love" was the only 3D screening last year, and on the last day, yet they couldn't get the specs right.

Alas, with no Moore or 3D features this year, the festival should go off without a hitch, and I hope it does.

I enjoyed most of the films I saw last year, but I did think the slate (that I saw at least) revolved around a theme of beating a dead horse. Too often was I watching stories that were so familiar, generic. This year, with a lovable teddy bear in "Toni Erdmann", a musical throwback to the Golden Era of film in "La La Land" and a inside look at The New York Times obituary section in "Obit" all seem like a winning batch.

Being cognizant of the changing scoci-political climate, a new sidebar section called State of the Union exhibits four documentaries that tackle cyber warfare ("Zero Days"), police militarization ("Do Not Resist"), prison solitary confinement ("Solitary") and medical care of undocumented immigrants ("Clínica de Migrantes").

There is sure to be something for every one this year, unless you were too late to buy tickets for "Paterson" and "Toni Erdmann" because they're sold out.

For ticket and screening info visit

Friday, September 30, 2016

'La La Land' opens 25th Philadelphia Film Festival

The critically acclaimed "La La Land" will open the 25th Philadelphia Film Festival this year

The Philadelphia Film Society is proud to announce the full film line-up of the 25th Philadelphia Film Festival, spanning from October 20 – October 30 on four theater screens throughout the Greater Philadelphia area.

Opening on Oct. 20 with Damien Chazelle’s "La La Land" and closing on Oct. 30 with "Arrival", the 11-day Festival will showcase over 110 feature length and short films, curated by our programming committee who chooses each selection from multiple international festivals throughout the year.

“We are thrilled to celebrate a milestone year for the Philadelphia Film Festival and to have the opportunity to showcase some of the best films of the year right here in Philly.” said Executive Director, J. Andrew Greenblatt.  “From our Opening Night screening, "La La Land", which was the talk of the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, to the Closing Night screening of "Arrival", this year’s prodigious line-up fully embodies what the Philadelphia Film Festival truly is: a community filled with film lovers brought together to experience today’s most thought-provoking and innovative films!”

“As we celebrate 25 years of Philadelphia Film Festival, we are extremely proud to announce that it’s once our best lineups. With over 110 works from world renowned directors, including tons of surprises, our lineup includes something for everyone to enjoy,” said Michael Lerman, Artistic Director.  “We’ve had pretty incredible success rate. Four out of the last 5 Best Picture winners made their Philadelphia debut at our Festival, so this is the chance to see it first!”

The Philadelphia Film Society is honored to have Damien Chazelle, recipient of the Academy Award nomination for best adapted screenplay for "Whiplash"¸ and director of the Opening Night film, "La La Land" join us for the #PFF25 opening night.

The full Festival schedule and digital Festival Program Guide is available now on 

Screenings for the 25th Philadelphia Film Festival will take place at the Ritz East (125 S. 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106), Ritz Five (214 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106), PFS Roxy Theater (2023 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103), and Prince Theater (1412 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19102). Tickets will go on-sale for Philadelphia Film Society members on Friday, September 30, and to the general public beginning Friday, October 6.  Tickets may be purchased through the Festival website,, or in-person at the Main Box Office at the Prince Theater (open Monday – Saturday from 12 noon to 5:00 pm).

25th Philadelphia Film Festival Full Line-up

Opening Night Film
·         La La Land, Director Damien Chazelle. 2016, USA.

Closing Night Film
·         Arrival, Director Denis Villeneuve. 2016, USA.

Centerpiece Screenings
·         Jackie, Director Pablo Larraín. 2016, USA, France, Chile.
·         Lion, Director Garth Davis. 2016, Australia, USA, UK.
·         Manchester by the Sea, Director Kenneth Lonergan 2016, USA.
·         Moonlight, Director Barry Jenkins. 2016, USA.
·         Toni Erdmann, Director Maren Ade, 2016, Germany

From the Vaults: Film history comes alive as it was meant to be seen - on the big screen. Come see old favorites bigger than life once again.
·         Dekalog, Director Krzysztof Kieślowski. 1988, USA.
·         Night on Earth, Director Jim Jarmusch. 1991, USA.
·         Wonder Boys, Director Curtis Hanson. 2000, USA.

Spotlights, Presented by Philly Style: Highly–anticipated movies from some of the biggest names in the industry, these films shine a spotlight on top talent from around the world.
·         Christine, Director Antonio Campos. 2016, USA.
·         King Cobra, Director Justin Kelly. 2016, USA.
·         Wolves, Director Bart Freundlich. 2016, USA.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Inside Out ready to come to Upper Darby

William Trost Richards' "Newport Coast" is one of 10 replicas from the Philadelphia Museum of Art on display during the Inside Out exhibition in Upper Darby starting next month.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has announced what pieces of art will be displayed throughout Upper Darby as part of its outdoor art gallery exhibit program called Inside Out.

Replicas of ten pieces from the museum’s collection will be on display from August to November in areas including the 69th Street shopping corridor to the communities of Drexel Hill and Westbrook Park.

These are the pieces and locations selected for the latest cycle of Inside Out:
69th Street Transportation Center- “Estate” (Robert Raushcenberg); Beverly Hills Middle School- “The Disks of Newtown” (Frantizek Kupka); Dermond Circle, “The Bucintoro at the Molo on Ascension Day” (Canaletto);

Garrettford Elementary School- “Dog Barking at the Moon” (Joan Miro); IHOP on 69th St.- “Two Dragons” (Kano Hogai);

Upper Darby Free Library Municipal Branch- “The Libraries are Appreciated” (Jacob Lawrence); Upper Darby High School- “Krishna and Radha” (Unknown); Upper Darby School District Administration Building- “Newport Coast” (William Trost Richards);

Upper Darby Township Municipal Building- “Grand Canyon of the Colorado River” (Thomas Moran); and Westbrook Park Elementary School- “Noah’s Ark” (Edward Hicks).

Installation of the art is slated for Aug. 9.

A strong focus on education was the driving point of bringing Inside Out to Upper Darby, with officials from the Upper Darby School District and the township worked in tandem with the art museum on the plans.

“Both the township and the school district have a deep appreciation for the arts and wanted to use this partnership opportunity with the art museum to generate conversation in the community about different works of art,” said Upper Darby  School District spokesperson Dana Spino.

Upper Darby follows up to neighboring Lansdowne’s turn at the exhibit that wrapped up this month. Media and Wayne participated in the program during the initial launch in the Philadelphia area last year.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Drexel Hill Basketball Court Focus of New Book

From a serial killer in Philadelphia to the shit of Vietnam, Tom Faustman’s first two books in his self-
published Misadventures of Dylan series were on the darker side.

With the recent release of the third book in the series, and the first chronologically, “Dylan’s Chase” moves to a more nostalgic place of time: the basketball court of Drexel Hill Elementary School.

What Faustman deemed a “hotbed” of activity in the 1960’s at Shadeland Avenue and State Road when he was growing up, it encouraged him to write a story about the budding competitive nature of basketball and the stories of the people who played there.

“It was a really magical time in my life and the lives playing at this basketball court and the friendships that developed out of it,” Faustman said, who currently resides in Connecticut. “It was such a fun period of our lives and I wanted to tell the story of the fun part of it, but young men are more sensitive to the difficult lives of the people around them. It’s kind of the real world.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Interboro alum nominated for two CMT Music Awards

Steve Condon (center), and his wife Danielle Porter-Condon with country group Old Dominion. The Condons directed
and produced Old Dominion's video for their first major single "Break up with Him" which is up for two CMT Music Awards.

A few Delco natives are making their way to the CMT (Country Music Television) Music Awards on June 8 after earning a pair of nominations for a music video they directed and produced.
Interboro High School alumni Steve Condon, Danielle Porter-Condon and Steve Molineux are nominated for breakthrough video of the year and group/duo video of the year for Old Dominion’s first major single “Break up With Him,” a video produced through their Nashville-based production company The 10:10 Creative.
“It’s incredible,” said Steve Condon, regularly known as Director Steve, about his first major nomination for his music video work. “This is the band’s first major video, it’s pretty great to know that this is just (Old Dominion and I’s) first shot and it’s up for two.”
Condon and Old Dominion’s love for the 80’s comedy/sci-fi blockbuster “Back to the Future” was the inspiration for the video. Old Dominion lead singer Matthew Ramsey serenades his love interest as she is stuck dancing with a Biff-like character at a dance reminiscent of the film's iconic enchantment under the sea high school gala (renamed entanglement above the heart dance for the video). Ramsey eventually gets his girl as, err, "drive" off to a life of happiness, and in a DeLorean, no less.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

'Symphony at the Movies' not a box office smash

There's nothing like hearing memorable film scores being performed live by a full orchestra.

The sweeping sounds of the strings cradle you up in a blanket of happiness as they usher you away from your seat to memories of your favorite stories and characters. Pounding of drums remind us of epics, like Judah Ben-Hur rowing in the gallies in "Ben-Hur" as the drumming ceases to slow. The low, deep moans of the double basses send chills like we're in an old haunted house.

Great music and great moments.

"Gone With the Wind," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Psycho" are in the top five in a list of the greatest film scores published by the American Film Institute, yet none of these scores, nor anything from their respective composers, filled the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center at a recent performance.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Media Film Festival brings great films, nostalgia back to borough

Photo Courtesy of Media Arts Council
Beloved film critic Roger Ebert had a great saying about the length of a film: “No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough."

That was the statement I thought about before the start of the ninth Media Film Festival.

The way Ebert’s wonderful quote applies to the films shown at this year’s festival went like this: can a short film be too long, or not long enough?

Comprised of over 40 short films ranging in length from two minutes to 30, could it be possible that even at such a minute length compared to a feature, do some stories overstay their welcome, and others not stay long enough?

It turns out, yes.

That’s not to say that the artists, from Media to India, did not show off their good craftsmanship, but even on a small canvas, some work cannot fill the entirety of their space with enough substance to keep you intrigued.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Picking and choosing race wars in Hollywood

John Krasinski and academy president Cheryl Boone-Isaacs announce the 2015 white best actor nominees Courtesy of Indiewire

“The ‘struggle for civil rights’ crossed the finish line and lost its moral power when demands switched from equal rights to equal results." - Larry Elder

Everyone has the equal right to get nominated for an Academy Award. It doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a nomination.

For the second year in a row, the oh-so-powerful and PC barometer known as social media continued its e-march against the clearly racist voting body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after their list of acting nominees including not one non-Caucasian in four categories.

Of course, this called about continued strides to be made in the academy to have their nominees better reflect the varied persons of all nationalities who make up the population of the United States.

At face value, diversity is a great thing. On the other, I don’t think it’s responsible for a non-profit organization known for preserving the art and science of film to change its already democratic and fair practices by succumbing to peer pressure because people think it’s faulty for some lack of diversity.

While the four acting categories, out of 24 total categories, have come under scrutiny, people have neglected the great accomplishments of two men who aren’t white, but because they aren’t black people don’t care.