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.

Breathtaking cinematography and a compelling tale of Oz's past and present against a police story is enthralling, pertinent and a wholly good time. Weaver stands out as the manipulatively mild-mannered Maureen, brandishing a facade of maternal wholesomeness that is quickly diminished by a smile that lasts too long, or the slight upward arch of an eyebrow.

While I didn't see "Goldstone's" predecessor, this films stands confidently on its own, and is a new found gem of Australian cinema. Extremely well-crafted, gripping, relevant and a proper police story that has depth to it on a national social scale.

After "Goldstone" I wasn't really looking forward to anything, but I had to see something to pass the time before "Tampopo" at 4:30.

This is where "Miss Impossible" comes in.

Part of the festival's Sight and Soundtrack program, I wasn't really intrigued just on that alone. I'm not one for musicals or anything that makes the soundtrack the star of the film instead of the film itself.

So I begrudgingly took a seat for that, and boy was I glad I did.

This French export is about a confident young girl named Aurore. Distracted by the normalities of her family, the unnecessary value of school and life in general, she decides to join an all-boy rock group as an escape. Aurore is not your typical angry teenage girl. She's extremely intelligent — though her grades have yet to prove it — she's witty, strong-willed, older than her years, sharp-tongued. She's not a mean girl, as seen when she battles with her parents. She's suffering from teenage angst like most in that age group do in a less-than-reckless way of sex, drugs and full-blown outlandish behavior.

I loved "Miss Impossible's" charm, its center of gravity held at Aurore. This is a cute film that shows young girls can rock without sacrifice a sense of self.

Finally, there's "Tampopo", a film I had originally seen in film class in undergrad. It was hilarious then, and I was looking forward to the 4K digital restoration print Janus Films recently completed.

This 1985 Japanese comedic masterpiece is about two traveling truckers who helped a woman with her struggling ramen shop. The story strays to vignettes all focuses on food: spaghetti eating; ordering food in another language; touching food in the supermarket; and the weird sexual fetishes surrounding the consumption of food just to name a view.

"Tampopo" is a staple of food films, and comedy films worldwide. Period. End of discussion. No films will make you crave food, appreciate it more than this postcard to gastronomy. Definitely check it out when Janus starts to release it around the country, and, eventually, on the Criterion Collection.

Oh, and make sure you don't see it next to a very energetic big girl like I did. She was an obnoxious laugher who found everything funny and said "mmmmm", "yummy" and/or "ohhhhhhh" whenever food popped up on the screen. Loved the film, couldn't stand her.

After the first weekend of the festival I usually take a few days off to get back into the habit of work (more work and school). I'll pop in periodically throughout the week following screenings of "Paterson" and "Christine".

Goldstone- Very Good
Miss Impossible- Very Good
Tampopo- Excellent

Oh, and here's the dishcloth I knit on Sunday! Half of it was completed during "Miss Impossible".

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