Philly Spotlight: Philly Independent Film Festival Preview @ Art Alliance

Friday, January 30, 2015


The 8th Annual Philadelphia Independent Film Festival is scheduled for April 17 - 25, 2015. Leading up to #PIFF2015 screenings of short films will be shown at the Art Alliance Friday nights at 8pm. Prior and post screenings, there's a jovial atmosphere with Philly actors/musicians, producers, directors, distributors talking, networking and singing.

Here's a snipit of actor Bryan DeSantos entertaining us with a little Jerry Lee Lewis
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 Here's actresses Janice Kerr LaFlam & Melissa O'Donnell hamming it up Cabaret style.



One of the films "The Invitation" had its first preview before a test audience. The filmmaker J.P. Hoffman (Imaginarium Pictures) was in attendance along with the features actors Tom Schmitt and Melissa O’DonnellOn the surface the film appears to be a break up love story, until it takes a turn to the dark side.  Here's a review of The Invitation by Adam Weber.

Group Lf to Rt: Writer Michael Putz, director J.P. Hoffman, Tom Schmitt, Melissa O'Donnell, Dylan Henning
The evening also featured "The Rambler" directed by Patrick Quagliano starring Daniel KeithSynopsis: When the various crime syndicates in London discover they’ve all hired the same scarred up punk hit man to take one another out, they put a bounty on his head. The police think they’ve discovered a new serial killer. All hell breaks out on the streets of London in an effort to find him. But Rambler is not your typical serial killer… 
 
Here's an interview with the director and cast and film clips from UK Street Gossip (Note:video will not be visible to those receiving Tinsel & Tine via RSS Feed.)



Below pic lft to rgt: #PIFF Producer Michael Lasater ( My apologies Michael about posting a pic with your eyes closed, this is why I normally take two shots, just in case) Jillian aka Princess Horror Entertainment Director and Host of Terror Films, Grace Marketing Director of Terror Films and Ben Barnett Producer/Director of Philadelphia Independent Film Festival.


The last film of the evening was a foreign film from Spain called "REM" by Dir Gorka Leon. Synopsis: Have you ever shared a dream with someone else? That is Lays story, a young man with a nondescript daily life, whose only purpose is to sleep to meet the woman he loves. His whole world changes when she comes in to the real world to rescue him. But from whom? 
 
Here's the trailer:  (Note:video will not be visible to those receiving Tinsel & Tine via RSS Feed.)


All three films had unpredictable endings with one theme in common, which I won't give away.
Be sure to check out what's in store in the coming weeks.

While You're Here


Check out Tinsel & Tine's Highlight: PIFF Meets Philly Tech Week 2015: I love films depicting a visual feast, they reiterate the knowledge that food not only feeds the body, but the mind and soul as well. We can all agree whether or not you pay attention to a particular song or melody during a movie, subconsciously, music is monumental in setting a scene. Location and costuming bring us inside the story. But what would the medium of film be without technology? Well, it simply wouldn't exist. Which is why the 8th Annual Philadelphia Independent Film Festival joining Philly Tech Week 2015 makes perfect sense!  READ MORE





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Empire Talk Week 4: False Imposition (FoxTV)

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Here we are 4th week of Empire and I thought this was going to be the first week I couldn't watch at 9pm, cause I had a screening I couldn't miss, but then lucky for me they changed the screening time from 7:30pm to 6pm, so I was home with 15 minutes to spare - just enough time to make myself a cup of hot cocoa with brandy and turn on Cookie and them!


7 Highlights (Recap) from Episode 4 of EMPIRE "False Imposition"

1. Tianna (Serayah) knows what's up! Despite the way Hakeem feels about his mother, Tianna understands Cookie knows her stuff, so she asked Cookie to manage her career.  Of course Anika aka Boo Boo Kitty, was none too pleased.

2. I was surprised to see Lucious admit his illness to Anika, but when his hand got too shaky to shave his own face he just owned up to it.  I like that she didn't say much, just teared up a bit and reached for the razor to do the job for him.


3.  This week's episode was all about some super authentic, street rapper with gang ties called Titan.  He's on the roster of the rival record company Creedmoor. It was on again off again whether or not they should steal him away - first it was, that doesn't look good with Empire going public; then it was who cares, he's the best, and we want him. Then Titan goes to jail on gun charges and they gotta figure out how to get to him through his people in the hood, a place where bougie Anika had no business being and despite Lucious having her back, they almost get shot in a drive by. Then Cookie dresses up like a Black Muslim to try and get to Titan through his mother, only Lucious has a problem with the Nation of Islam who had something to do with the death of his father. Next, Lucious and Creedmoor Founder, Baretti (Judd Nelson) have a sit down at the club and we find out why there's such bad blood between the two moguls. After which, Lucious visits Titan in prison and gets him to write some lyrics for Empire.

4. Lucious is getting harder and harder on Hakeem trying to get him to focus on his music. I under stand the need for discipline, but this was just down right cold! (Note:video clip will not be visible to those receiving Tinsel & Tine via RSS Feed).



5.  Lucious may not be able to control Jamal and is having a hard time getting Hakeem to tow the line, but he's got no problem with Andre who covers for him as an alibi when the police want to know where Lucious was the night of Bunkie's shooting.  We also see a flashback of a 7 or 8 year-old Andre hiding a gun for his father in his box of Legos.


6. Hakeem and Tianna have made it to the pop-culture couple status where fans are calling them "Takeem", but this may be short lived as Tianna walked into Hakeem's apartment to see him soaking in the tub with Cougar Camilla - "Can't believe you gave your little girlfriend a key to your apartment, amateur mistake".  T takes it all in stride, business comes first, her main concern is killing it at the Teen Awards show and sings a fantastic duet with Hakeem.  So far, this is actually the first song from the show I would like to hear on the radio. It's called "Keep It Movin" (feat. Serayah McNeill and Yazz).

7. Lucious will constantly tell Cookie to get out of his office, mind her business, acts like he wishes he could get rid of her... but then... when he's being real, he's defending her, impressed with her, still attracted to her, and loves reminiscing with her. The episode ended this week with him calling her baby. Cookie retorted " Baby? You'd better run that by Anika".  Lucious responds  "Baby Mama then" Lucious continues "You and I always made a real good team.  Cookie, "You damn right we did. I make you better, don't forget that."



Empire airs Wednesday nights 9pm. Fox 29 in Philly following American Idol. See you next week! - Le Anne Lindsay, Editor

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They're back! Now they have to alter the future in order to save the past... which is really the present, in the sequel from the same team that brought you the original cult hit. Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Adam Scott and Clark Duke





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A Revlock Interview: Kevin MacDonald - BLACK SEA

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

 Interview with Director Kevin MacDonald for Latest Movie "Black Sea"

 By Tinsel & Tine Blog Contributor - MIKHAIL REVLOCK

Kevin MacDonald is nothing if not ambidextrous. With almost metronomic regularity, the Scottish director alternates between shooting fiction films and documentaries. Though he might not be a household name in the states—he is quick to confess that he has yet to produce a “hit”—MacDonald does not lack in prestigious accolades. One Day in September, his gripping account of the Munich Massacre, netted the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2000. His 2004 docudrama Touching the Void is widely considered the best mountaineering film of all time. And in 2006 MacDonald introduced the world to Forest Whitaker’s dark side, facilitating his Oscar-winning turn as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

Black Sea, scheduled for wide release on January 30th, marks another foray into fiction filmmaking for the 47-year-old director. A modern submarine thriller, Black Sea stars Jude Law as an ex-Navy man who is contracted to plumb the depths of the titular sea in search of a sunken Nazi U-Boat loaded with gold bricks. He is joined by a crew composed of equal parts English and Russians, and the friction between the two contingents is evident from the outset of the mission. When Law’s character announces that the gold will be divided equally among the shipmates, his benevolent dictate sets off a bitter dispute over shares. It isn’t long before a startling act of violence throws the entire mission into jeopardy.


I met with Kevin MacDonald at a conference room in the Four Seasons Hotel. He was affable and unpretentious, and showed me how to use the automated espresso machine. Setting my double espresso on a round table, I launched the interview with an examination of his diverse body of work.

Revlock: Looking at your career, I noticed that you bounce between fiction films and documentaries with relative frequency. Do you have a medium preference?

MacDonald: I like fiction films because I feel like I’m still learning. That’s one of the fun things about fiction. I don’t think you could ever really learn everything about it. Working with actors is so fascinating and unpredictable. I like documentaries because you get to learn about the world. I’m doing a film about a Chinese artist right now, and I’ve been enjoying immersing myself in this singular world. It’s like being a journalist.
 

Revlock: Your fiction films feel like documentaries and your documentaries feel like fiction films. There is a level of detail in your work that gives it a strong sense of authenticity, especially in The Last King of Scotland, where there feels like a real engagement with Ugandan culture that you wouldn’t see in most films set in Africa.

MacDonald: That movie was interesting because it was my first fiction film, and the studio wanted me to film it in South Africa, and I checked out Uganda, and I saw this incredible, rich, vibrant culture, and I thought this is amazing. And I went to South Africa on the same trip, and it was completely different. And I insisted to the studio that we film it in the actual setting of the real events because I wanted to showcase a strong sense of place, to evoke for the audience a specific world. In South Africa, the people look different, the landscape is totally different, the language is different. Coming from documentaries, I'm not so inclined to put on a show. You could say it's a failure of imagination, but it's just the way I like to do things, I want the reality to be a part of it. Even when the film is a total fiction like #BlackSea.

Revlock: In 2006, you coax this Oscar-winning, possibly career-best performance out of Forest Whitaker. With Black Sea, you get a performance from Jude Law unlike anything in his filmography. How do you elicit such strong performances from the actors in your productions?

MacDonald: Those performances have something in common in that they are both going completely against type. With Forest, in particular. At the time, everyone thought I was crazy. They said, ‘Forest is a gentle, sweet guy, he's so not right for this villainous role.’ And I didn't see it either. But when he auditioned for the part, he blew me away. So I've learned not to hold onto my preconceptions about actors. If they've bothered to read for the part, I'm going to give them a fair shake. It was the same with Jude. He wasn't the kind of person I could imagine playing a submarine commander. But when I started talking to him about it, I could tell that he got the character, and he spent a long time preparing for it. He developed his muscles in the right parts, learned how to walk like a sailor, lowered his voice, learned this specific Aberdeen accent, shaved his head, and became this other person. When you know someone's committed like that, it's a gift.”


Revlock: What inspired you to make a submarine film?

MacDonald: I just felt like there hasn't been one for a while. I read about the Kursk disaster in 2000, where there was an explosion in a submarine, and the sub sank to the bottom of the sea, and one of the compartments was intact. Some of the sailors managed to make it into an intact compartment, and they survived there for six days, but they were too deep to rescue, and they eventually ran out of oxygen and died.

(Journalistic compassion compels me to cry SPOILER ALERT!!! at this juncture.)

Revlock:  I was kind of hoping for the movie to end that way, but I figured there's too much money behind this.

MacDonald: Well, only two people survive. You're the first person in America to say you were hoping they'd all die.

Revlock: It has a seventies movie feel. Naturalistic performances, minimal CGI, so I was expecting it to end in a typical bleak seventies way.

MacDonald:  It is pretty bleak. Your hero does drown. I think that it's an interesting thing, endings in movies. Are we softer now? People think that the ending of Black Sea is quite shocking. They say, ‘Why did he have to die? Couldn't he have found a way out?’ I tell them, he feels like he deserves to die, he's manipulated all these people to go there. He's saved the boy, he's living on through the boy. He doesn't want the boy to make the same mistakes he did. That feels like the right ending to me. But people tell me it's too dark. Maybe in the past, they all would have ended up in the bottom.

Revlock: Plus they’d have eaten each other.

MacDonald: It's interesting how hard it is to do dark endings in the mainstream. I did a movie called State of Play with Russell Crowe as a journalist. I suggested to the studio that it end with Crowe being shot. And they flipped out!



Revlock:  It's tempting to attribute your influences to other submarine films, but there are so many other films that it resembles: Alien, Moby-Dick, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. MacDonald: “Treasure of the Sierra Madre", yes. "Alien", of course. Submarine films, not so much. We looked at them to see how to shoot it, but that’s it. Because all submarine movies are military movies. This is very different. One of the things that Dennis Kelly, the writer, does so well is he creates realistic characters in a simple way. He doesn't over-explain them, they just are. And the dialogue is very authentically working-class, very rough and crude.Revlock: “I liked the coarseness of the language. It did feel very real MacDonald:  “Yeah, it feels like that's how a bunch of sailors would talk.” Revlock: “It seems like studio generally don't give directors too much grief about profanity if they know they're not aiming for a PG-13.” MacDonald: “No, that wasn't a problem. They were more worried about the accents. We tried hard to have strong, authentic accents and be understandable to American ears. How did you find it?” Revlock: “It wasn't bad as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels for me. I was totally lost in that. Watching your film, I adjusted to it.” MacDonald: “Good.”  


Revlock: Sound is a pretty critical element of submarine films.
MacDonald: Absolutely. When you're trying to create an immersive experience, if you will, sound is your best friend. It's those subtle sounds. The sound of metal, the subtle sound of water rushing. And the different engines.
Revlock: So you work pretty closely with the sound engineers?  
MacDonald: Really closely. I've got a bunch of sound guys who I work with. A sound designer, Niv Adiri, I've worked with for my last few films. He won the Oscar last year for Gravity. He brought some of the same sensibility to this film.


Revlock: Many of the actors in Black Sea speak Russian. Did the language barrier make it difficult to direct them? 

MacDonald:  “Yes. The five real Russians in the film, they're all big name actors in Russia. They're lovely people, but they do like to talk a lot, to discuss and debate everything. And I was tearing my hair out because I had only got six weeks to shoot. But they were fantastic, they did amazing work. Only one of them spoke English. Everything had to be translated, and they felt a bit left out. So we had to make them feel included and explain everything to them.”

Mikhail Revlock is a freelance journalist and fiction writer. His hobbies include bicycles, books, and food. A Philadelphia native, he lives in University City with his girlfriend and two cats. Be sure to check out past contributions: Interview with "Dear White People" director Justin Simien, reviews of "American Sniper" & "Horrible Bosses".


KEEP READING - "Still Alice" Review is Next!

In STILL ALICE, Alice Howland (Moore) is a 50 year-old professor of linguistics. She's esteemed in her field, has written books and is asked to guest lecture all over the country. She has a loving husband, John, also a professor (Alec Baldwin) and 3 adult children who are in good places in their lives...READ MORE




Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog
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TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

IFC’s TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT will open in Philadelphai at the Ritz at the Bourse January 23rd. Marion Cotillard nominated for Best Actress in the film!

“A CAREER-HIGH PERFORMANCE BY OSCAR® WINNER MARION COTILLARD. After spending ‘Two Days, One Night’ in the company of Sandra, YOU’LL BE PUNCHING THE AIR WITH PRIDE.” –Dave Calhoun, Time Out

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Philadelphia Magazine » Blog » Foobooz

15 Top Food in Film Flicks

15 Top Food in Film Flicks
Cozy Quilt of Food Movies, we'll add more patches as T &T discovers more films where food plays the biggest "roll"

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.
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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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