30's Too Soon For Desperation: MISTRESS AMERICA

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Noah Baumbach's Second film in 2015
Mistress America

 By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

Ok, so I haven't watched "Margot at the Wedding" or the "Squid and the Whale", since I said I would, after declaring Noah Baumbach one of my favorite writer/directors based on my enjoyment of "Greenberg", "Frances Ha" and "While We're Young". Believe it or not, I don't watch very many movies at home, but those films are next on my queue.

I did get to see Baumbach's latest, which hit theaters August 29th - MISTRESS AMERICA. Like "Greenberg" & "Frances Ha" this film features actress Greta Gerwig. I've heard the detractors that say Gerwig can only play the same type of character; but what about actors like Sylvester Stallone and Diane Keaton, they've always played themselves with slight variations, and they've been lauded for it their whole careers.


In Mistress America, Gerwig is Gerwig, which I enjoy, but she's less the protagonist and more of a muse for Tracy, played by relative newcomer Lola Kirke (Gone Girl), who I was told is the sister to Jemima Kirke, the pretty one, Jessa, on the TV show Girls.

Quick T&T Synopsis: Tracy is a freshman studying creative writing at Barnard Columbia University in New York. She's not a nerd or super intellectual, she's just a bit unsure of herself, yet very smart. Her mother is getting married to someone she met online and hasn't been seeing very long.  This guy also has a daughter living in New York, Brooke (Gerwig). Tracy's mother suggests she call Brooke and get to know her before the upcoming Thanksgiving wedding.

It's kinda love at first site for Tracy when she meets Brooke, not in a sexual or even stalking way - rather, she's fascinated by Brooke's big personality, the people she hangs out with, her ability to throw herself into different pursuits and dreams, which currently is opening up a restaurant called Mom's which will be more than a place to eat, but rather a neighborhood sanctuary, where one can even get their hair cut - in the same place serving food !?! All of this, along with Brooke's not so admirable qualities, inspires Tracy to want to capture Brooke as a character in a short story she plans to submit to an uppity literary society on campus.


The film has vastly different moods and tones. It starts out pretty standard, but by the time Brooke, Tracy, Tracy's crush, and his girlfriend drive to Connecticut to try and convince Brooke's old nemesis and her husband, who used to be Brooke's boyfriend, to invest in the restaurant, the movie works itself up into almost a full blown farce, with entrances and exits, characters talking over each other, confronting each other and making absurd statements. I enjoyed the different levels, but I imagine some critics will take issue.

Bottom line: It's similar to Frances Ha in that it once again explores the desperation felt by some women nearing 30 or in their early 30's who haven't quite found their place yet. Their lives aren't settled, a lot centers around finances or lack of them, and trying to hold on to the belief they'll someday get it together, meet the right guy, be a success, and really start living, rather than constantly reaching and looking.  All themes of which I can relate, all too well.  30 seems to soon to feel this degree of desperation, but perhaps if I had panicked much earlier, my reaching and looking days could be a thing of the past.

Food in Film: Tracy's pasta purchase panic
Great line: "I'm so annoyed with Spirit right now"

T &T's LAMB Score: 4 outta 5 






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BlackStar Film Festival 2015 Round Up

Sunday, August 30, 2015

 

The 4th Annual BlackStar Film Festival was held in 

West Philadelphia July 30 - August 2, 2015. 

Artistic director, Maori Karmael Holmes' mission for the festival is a celebration of cinema focused on work by and about people of African descent in a global context. BlackStar highlights films that are often overlooked from emerging, established, and mid-career directors, writers and producers. In light of the #BlackLivesMatter grassroots campaign, this year BlackStar's focus was social injustice.

For the second year in a row, the last weekend in July has turned out to be a busy one for me. This year, I was already committed to attend an Affiliate Marketing Summit (click for T&T Summit Photos) in New York, so I was only able to attend the Thursday opening of BlackStar.  Tinsel & Tine contributor, Terri Heard was able to cover Saturday, so here's a quick round up of some highlights:

Panel: Black Women & Indie Film

This panel featured Indie Filmmakers/Producers/Media Consultants who are all women of color. These females represent storytellers and bridge-builders in the industry. They spoke on how their identity has impacted their work; why they think it’s important to claim space in film, and what fears they still hold as they continue to make strides in a still primarily white industry.

Panelists included: director/producer Loira Limbal (Estilo Hip Hop), director/producer Denise Greene (I’ll Make Me A World, Malcolm X: Make it Plain), filmmaker Frances Bodomo (Boneshaker, Afronauts), and producer/executive Nikki Webber Allen. The panel was moderated by curator/producer Elissa Blount-Moorhead (Dreams Are Colder Than Death).

The below video is just a short excerpt of the discussion, yet enough to give you a  taste of the thoughtful responses and insights these women brought to the table:


Note: video will not be visible to those receiving Tinsel & Tine via RSS Feed. Click HERE to view.

Mini Reviews of BlackStar films by Terri Heard


BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, 2015, 90 min., feature documentary. dir. Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon


It took three women to direct this highly anticipated documentary on the living legend and poet laureate Sonia Sanchez and it’s easy to see why. The filmmakers had to wrestle Sanchez’ impact as one of the seminal writers of the 1960s Black Arts Movement, her influence on jazz and later hip hop, and her legacy as a Civil Rights activist. That they succeeded is apparent in this richly drawn portrait that shows how Sanchez’ activism both reflected and shaped America’s struggle toward racial justice. The documentary deftly combines spoken word poetry events featuring actress Ruby Dee and Sanchez herself as well as interviews with academics and artists such as historian James Brody Jr. and Roots drummer Questlove to show both the breadth and immediacy of Sanchez’ influence. Most affecting, are Sanchez’ own insights on “How I became this woman with razor blades between her teeth” and her passionate devotion to her art. As she says in the film, asking a poet if they have a poem is like “asking an alcoholic if they have a hidden stash of alcohol.”

The filmmakers interviewed Sanchez extensively and followed her on her travels to performances, a visit to Max Roach’s grave, a peace rally, and around her neighborhood. The result is a satisfyingly cohesive look at Sanchez’ multifaceted life. If there is one weakness in this documentary it is the shorter shrift given to the poet’s personal life. Documenting a living subject can be tricky. Viewers crave a deep dive into the subject’s private life. But how does one offer all the relevant details without invading the subject’s privacy?

The documentary covers the territory admirably with Sanchez’ comments on the pain of losing her mother at an early age, shuffling from one relative’s house to the next, her sister’s molestation, her father’s discouragement of her writing career and the loss of custody of her daughter, while discreetly steering away from a more detailed look at subjects that still brings tears to Sanchez’ eyes and elicit a quietude that stands in contrast to her fiery public persona. Nevertheless, the documentary leaves viewers with a grounded understanding of why Sanchez matters. 

Although the Sanchez documentary was clearly the marquee event, there was an impressive array of shorts. Highlights included:


Mulignans (2014, 6 min, short narrative comedy, U.S., Philadelphia premiere) turns the racial hierarchy on its head, by depicting Blacks as stereotypical – emphasis on stereotype – Italians bemoaning the influx of whites (“those people”) into their previously all Italian neighborhood. The result is a mind-bender that mixes the social commentary of Do the Right Thing with the gleeful absurdity of the "Whassup" commercials from the 90s as well as a subtly unsettling look at the deep unease that lies between different racial groups.


Adventures of Jamel: the Time Traveling B-Boy (2015, 20 min, short narrative comedy, U.S.) This web series created by Jayson Musson follows the exploits of breakdancing, track-suited, kangol-wearing Jamel, an office janitor at Illuminati headquarters who accidentally steals a time machine and sends himself back to the slave era. In the 2 episodes screened (out of a planned 6-episode series), Jamel bumbles his way through the antebellum South, encountering a runaway slave and his pursuing overseer, Abraham Lincoln and his raunchy wife Mary Todd, as well as a comically conflicted John Wilkes Booth. Each episode finds Jamal breakdancing his way out of one jam and into the next in happily dippy sketches that could have come from Mad TV. Like that erstwhile show or the still-going Saturday Night Live, the jokes can go on long past their sell-by date. The plots are thin and stretch believability to the breaking (no pun intended!) point. Still Jamal is endearing in his B-Boy madness, backed up by a truly nutty Booth. Between those elements and the supporting cast that unashamedly goes for broke, it’s not totally inconceivable that Jamel might actually dance his way off the web and into a regular series slot network or cable TV.


Blackcard (dir Pete Chatmon, 2015, 14 min, short narrative, comedy, U.S.) This satire was a standout among this line up. The film serves up a paranoid alternate reality where everyone has a Black Card certifying the authenticity of their Blackness and The Commission polices infractions with a vengeance. Prefer skiing to basketball? Lose points on your Black Card. Dating inter-racially? Lose even more points. Rack up enough points, you lose your card. So what do you do when you come home from work and your spouse tells you “I lost my Black Card”? Both suspenseful and funny and offering a bang up ending worthy of the film noir staples, Blackcard is definitely a feature film waiting to happen.

Please follow writer Terri Heard on Twitter

 


There's still two highlights I'd like to include in this BlackStar Film Fest Round Up, mainly the opening night film - Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee. I have footage of the Q&A featuring the filmmaker who is the grandson of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. So hopefully before the 5th Annual, I'll get that up. Also, Terri attended a panel she'd like to include as well. So check back!

 

While You're Here 

Check Out Tinsel &Tine's Recap of the NAACP Convention held in Philadelphia








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Connor's Corner: WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tinsel & Tine would like to introduce a new contributor - my neighbor, Connor Bartholomew, a relatively new blogger with two sites. I really love the natural rhythm to her writing. Check out her review and bio below :)

Movie Review - We Are Your Friends

By Contributor, Connor Bartholomew

Some moments stick with you. Maybe they’re no fun at all—like sitting next to a crying baby on a plane or missing the El (Philly Subway) by that much—or maybe they’re the good sort, like hitting every green light on Chestnut Street or a wildly fun night out with friends; the best sort of moments stick with you as much as the bad ones. But the best moment for Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), at least, is this: the moment before it starts.

I walked into We Are Your Friends without any idea what I would be watching. I knew it starred Zac Efron as young DJ Cole Carter. I knew it was directed by Max Joseph. I knew it took place in and around Los Angeles, a place I visited for the first time in June. That was about it. I didn’t know Wes Bentley would show up as a relatively famous DJ, James Reed. I didn’t even know exactly where the San Fernando valley was. (East Coast problems. Sorry, friends.) On top of all of this, I had little to no knowledge about electronic dance music. In all honesty, I would probably be one of the girls asking the DJ to play “Drunk in Love.” … Okay, maybe not “Drunk in Love.” I’m more of a “Flawless Remix (ft. Nicki Minaj)” or “Run the World (Girls)” sort of person myself.


Beyoncé preferences aside, I was not expecting the film I saw. The use of various graphics was a complete surprise. Joseph blends Cole and Reed’s first meeting, for example, with an odd, Warhol-esque animation that’s all bright colors and twisted realities as the two partake in hallucinogenic drugs before attending a party at an art gallery after meeting outside of the club Cole and his friends promote. When Cole works his first non-side-room gig (a pool party at Reed’s house), he explains to Reed’s assistant/girlfriend Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski) how he likes to play a crowd, slowly working their hearts into the beat of the music.

We hear his explanation, but the screen cuts to different texts and images of what he describes: a history of music textbook, a diagram of the human body, an animation that translates Cole’s words into rhythmic sound waves racing through the listeners, hurtling through veins to end up in their thumping hearts before distributing his rhythm out to every inch of their bodies.

After Cole succeeds in getting a crowd of people who “don’t dance before midnight” on their feet and moving to the music, Reed brings him into the studio and listens carefully to Cole’s track. When the song ends, he tells Cole to make his music honest. Cole argues that all EDM is, by nature, electronic and computer-generated “But you can make it organic,” Reed tells him. Those lines haunt Cole for the rest of the film, through a festival in Las Vegas and long runs in the Valley. Cole begins to study not just rhythms, but sounds.

 The heart of this film, though, doesn’t lie in the CGI or even the music and sounds Cole creates and collects. While the graphics showcase a certain level of multimedia I haven’t seen in mainstream film and the music is certainly the guiding force of the plot, Cole’s life is anchored not around his new connections and opportunities but around his three friends: Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez), and Squirrel. The film opens with them carpooling to work, follows them as they move from promoting club events to working real estate and dealing with their reactions to the underhanded business deals their boss cuts.

The silences of this film speak louder than any of the music, and the silence is always loudest when the music stops. Shortly after moving into their own space, an unexpected twist forces the friends to handle some rather grisly consequences of their choices as the bottom drops out of their partying lifestyle and they’re left struggling to breathe.

Cole deals with the fallout by turning back towards his music. On the stage of his first big gig, we see him bring the crowd through the stages he explained so carefully at the pool party—the beating hearts starting to sync with the beats of the music. He uses everything that brought him here: Squirrel spinning a coin, Mason using a nail gun on the pool house roof, a voicemail from Sophie, wind chimes from Cole’s own long runs. Everywhere we’ve seen him go, everyone we’ve seen him talk to, every moment we’ve seen him experience has brought him to this moment, this gig, this track. He wraps all of himself into this track, hoping to bring the crowd to the best moment. Not the moment before it starts, as Squirrel would have it—but the moment it finally begins.

Connor is a twenty-three year old college grad who spends most of her free time reading too many books at once, and can be found at pimpernels.wordpress.com.
She is also the co-founder and co-editor at Femini feminiproject.wordpress.com, a new blog project tackling reviews of everything from favorite Philly ice cream shops to comic books and television shows. She has a tendency to speak in hyperbole and make really bad puns.

T &T's (Connors) LAMB Score: 3.5 outta 5






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Food n Film: CHEF

Food n Film: CHEF
Much of the movie centers around the father/son relationship, and how much they learn from each other. But the real star of the film is all the food preparation, every other scene made me groan with want of everything up on that screen! Particularly the perfectly roasted and rubbed brisket, the crispy fat of the pork belly, sizzling bacon and the much ballyhooed Chocolate Lava Cake. READ POST

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT
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Dinner + Movie = Dating! AfroRomance

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...young Hassan, a soulful-eyed boy with lush, thick eye lashes, places his face into the sea urchin basket, and breathes in the exotic briny scent. He sticks his fingers into the aquatic ooze, takes it to his mouth and is transfixed by the taste. The vendor, oblivious to the thrusting arms of frenzied women, notices the boy and realizes he is the only one worthy of this oceanic prize; he is the one who can “truly taste.” ... READ MORE

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA
Personally, I like the unevenness of it, because I fell in love with the post World War II, Parisian sights, sounds, food and romance between Julia and Paul. I always felt a bit jarred back into reality when the scenes returned to Julie's meltdowns and cramped kitchen.READ POST

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE
Six months into my 38th year of this life, I had my first panic attack. I didn't know that's what it was until months later. Symptom after symptom starting piling up on me until there were days I could no longer move my arms or neck. The doctors told me I was suffering from an auto-immune condition that they felt was most likely Lupus. And so began my much deeper journey and exploration into the world of spirit, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation and Eat, Pray, Love. READ POST

Food n Film: TODAY'S SPECIAL

Food n Film: TODAY'S SPECIAL
With a film like this, food plays a main character in the story and I was lucky enough to get an interview with the film's Food Stylist, Janine Kalesis.READ POST

Food n Film: WAITRESS

Food n Film: WAITRESS
In this 2007 film, Keri Russell stars as Jenna - a desolate diner waitress seeking solace in the art of pie-making. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she’s eager to escape her husband and her small-town hell and sets about to make a run for it by entering an out of town pie baking contest. READ POST

Food n Film: BABETTE'S FEAST

Food n Film: BABETTE'S FEAST
Those of us in attendance were not only given the opportunity to see Babette's Feast, the Oscar winning, Danish film, considered one of the all-time great "food films"; we also got to taste Babette's menu! READ POST

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"

Philly Food and Film

Videographer Oliver Gallini 5 min short featuring organic-chemist-turned-chef, Townsend Wentz, who got his start at The Four Seasons Philadelphia.

Philly's Prince Theater Has Been Rescued

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Ozery Bakery Morning Rounds & Uniquely Greek Feta Spreads

Ozery Bakery Morning Rounds & Uniquely Greek Feta Spreads
Tinsel & Tine got an offer to review two nutritious, delicious, free from artificial preservative products at the same time. Products which just so happened to compliment each other, so I decided to do a combo post. READ POST

Tinsel & Tine on Paper.li

Tinsel & Tine on Paper.li
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About This Blog

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.
-tinseltine@gmail.com


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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