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