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Tinsel & Tine's Coverage of the 23rd Philadelphia Film Festival (#PFF23) Part 1

Sunday, November 2, 2014

 

The Philadelphia Film Festival produced by The Philadelphia Film Society opened on October 16th with a double feature: 

St. Vincent starring Bill Murray and Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) starring Michael Keaton. The festival was set to open at The Kimmel Center, but a last minute technical difficulty with the Kimmel projector, had the Festival organizers scrambling to migrate the screenings a few blocks away to the Prince Music Theater. Which is why it's so tragic to see the Prince slated to close its doors at the end of the month (click for story), unless some wonderful organization comes to the rescue and saves this amazing venue.

PFS pic: Jaeden Lieberher Opening Night Red Carpet Prince Music Theater
I'd actually seen a preview screening of St. Vincent a few days earlier, it reminds me of one of my favorite movies About A Boy , only director Ted Melfi's St. Vincent is a bit grittier and of course less British.  Bill Murray plays Vincent, a misanthrope who seems to be just hanging out waiting to die - drinking, gambling, getting just enough money together for a weekly assignation with a pregnant stripper/hooker (Naomi Watts), when a soon to be single working Mom (Melissa McCarthy) and her adolescent son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move next door. It's not long before the kid gets locked out of his house without a cellphone, and Vincent begrudgingly allows him to come in to call his mom, who upon picking her son up, offers Vincent money for allowing Oliver a relatively safe place to stay till she could get home. Vincent eying the cash, offers his "babysitting services" on a daily basis; an offer this desperate mother would prefer not to take, but reluctantly agrees.

Below is a video excerpt from the #StVincent Q&A featuring director Ted Melfi and Philly native Jaeden Lieberher (RSS feed Readers can view it on T&T's Youtube channel):


For me, St. Vincent works mainly because Lieberher is a natural.  During the Q&A he seems pretty much like a regular kid, but in the movie, he can deliver humor with the deadpan brilliance of a seasoned comedian.  Also, the story provides a genuine unfolding of just who this man, Vincent, used to be, and how he came to this point in his life.

T &T's LAMB Score: 3.5 outta 5

Opening Night at Kimmel Center Lounge  lft to rt. Ted who I met 2 Festivals ago, (me) Le Anne & Darryl who I met 3 Festivals ago.



Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is written and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who has won critical acclaim for the films Babel with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and Beautiful starring Javier Bardem.  Birdman is quirky to say the least, but I felt it was just this side of artistic without seeming too self-indulgent or dense.

Michael Keaton plays an actor, famous for portraying an iconic superhero (a definite nod to his Batman past) looking to revive his career by writing, starring and directing a Broadway play based on the writings of Raymond Carver.

Using the short story artist Raymond Carver, as director Robert Altman did in “Short Cuts,” is a stroke of narrative genius. The more you know about Carver, the better the backstage drama works, because much of what the author expounds upon becomes the angst of Riggan and his fellow travelers. It is love that all the characters are searching for, either of themselves or others, and Carver authored that longing as well as any American writer. READ MORE... PatrickMcD Hollywood Chicago.com
I feel like there are a lot of these insider type things hidden in the movie in terms of films references, short stories, actor's history, graphic novels and stage plays, which probably went completely over my head. What I did like was the live theater feel of the whole movie, a lot of hand held cameras and backstage dramas. I also admired the swift movement of time from one scene to another by having the camera travel through the theater where another scene is taking place, which you understand is not happening simultaneously from the last, but there's no ending of one scene to begin another.

The punctuated drumming, Emma Stone's diatribe on relevance, Both Ed Norton and Michael Keaton in their underwear, (different scenes) and much more makes "Birdman - (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) a work of art. Only, it's not really my cup of tea, so I didn't give it as high a score as it probably deserves.

T &T's LAMB Score: 3.5 outta 5


My favorite film of the Festival Housebound was screened the 2nd night - a quasi horror flick written and directed by Gerard Johnstone. Housebound features a bad ass girl (Morgana O'Reilly) who tries to steal the whole canister out of an ATM machine and gets caught. It's obvious she's been in trouble before this stunt, but instead of throwing her in jail, the judge places her under house arrest for 9 months and remands her to the custody of her mother.  The mother (Rima Te Wiata) is one of those awkward, overly talkative, annoyingly well meaning type people, who happens to believe her house is haunted. Her daughter has no time for such non-sense until childhood memories of a long forgotten playmate and the discovery of the original history of the house, makes it hard for O'Reilly's character to ignore the strange happenings in the house.

"Housebound" is a standout, though, because of its satirical mood and its multiple scenes of almost screwball comedy. It's a strange mix. It works. Johnstone's humor seems to come from an acute sense of the absurd, and maintaining a tone of both horror and absurdity is one of his major accomplishments...READ MORE Sheila O'Malley Roger Ebert.com

T &T's LAMB Score: 4.5 outta 5



Asked this couple their favorite films of the fest- Charlotte said the closing film "Wild" with Reese Witherspoon. Charlotte's a local hiker but doesn't think she'd ever take on walking the PCT trail. Shawn's favorite was "Teacher of the Year" which he called a great comedy.


NOTE: I screened 18 films during the fest, so believe me, I won't get around to writing about all of them, but with a few more including video/audio director Q&A's


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The 23rd Philadelphia Film Festival was made possible through the generous support of its sponsors including Official Sponsors: 500 Walnut, 6ABC, Comcast Xfinity, Lincoln Motor Company, Philadelphia Magazine, Southwest Airlines, Sweat Fitness; Premiere Sponsors: The Condo Shops, Dock Street Brewing Co., Tito's Vodka, Top of the Tower, Stella Artois, Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District; Patron Sponsors: Allied Integrated Marketing, Amtrak, Cozen O'Conner, Glenmede, Iroko Pharmaceuticals, Landmark Theaters, Pep Boys, The Nouveau Image, TV5Monde; Participating Sponsors: Circuit Six, Dive Visual, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, Entertainment Partners, Koordit, Positano Coast, Prime Stache, Wawa; Community Sponsors: After School Activities Partnerships, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Food Should Taste Good, Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Honest Tea, Honeygrow, Insomnia Cookies,The Food Trust Philadelphia, Scüncii, Spodee Wine, WHYY, WXPN; Friends of the Festival: The Arts Blog, The Barnes Foundation, Curtis Institute of Music, Free Library of Philadelphia, InLiquid, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia Gay News, PIFVA, ReelBlack, World Cafe Live


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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.

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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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