Sunday, November 1, 2015
Tinsel & Tine's Look at the 11 Days of PFF24
|Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson Philadelphia Film Festival Red Carpet Opening Night|
The Opening night film ANOMALISA is a stop motion animation journey into the mind of writer Charlie Kaufman who also is behind such imaginative movies as Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich (all playing during the festival "From the Vaults" click each title for screening dates & times). Anomalisa is directed by Duke Johnson, the co-collaborators were both in attendance on the red carpet and post screening Q&A.
The movie is a bit difficult to describe, the characters "dolls" for lack of a better word all have constructed faces almost like masks with slits at the temples which makes each person look as if they are wearing eye glasses. I was speaking to someone after the film and we were speculating on the symbolic meaning, like do we all wear masks and therefore... But during the Q&A it was explained the slit faces made it easier to give the characters expressions. But I think there is more to it than that, but Kaufman would rather you do, do your own speculation.
The movie is about a man in his early 50's, Michael Stone (David Thewlis) who has been successful in a career of teaching companies good customer service techniques - his book is called "“How May I Help You to Help Them?" He's been invited to speak at another conference, this time in Cincinnati, and we're taken through his day from airplane ride to hotel. He's not really curmudgeonly, but he is suffering with the banality and ennui of his life. What you may not pick up on at first is the fact that everyone he encounters looks the same and has the same voice (Tom Noonan), just different hairstyles and clothing. Upon getting to his hotel room he calls home and even his wife and child have the same voice. But upon emerging from a very funny shower scene, Michael hears a voice that sounds different. It's a female voice, and he rushes to find the speaker and meets Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
Below my "I choked" Red Carpet Interview with
Charlie Kaufman and Mini Reviews of :
- The Lobster
- Man Up
- Our Brand is Crisis
- Besito & Burnt
- A Rising Tide
- Synecdoche New York
- Where to Invade Next w/ Michael Moore in attendance
- Mini Restaurant review: Taste of the World
- Beer Runners
- Jury & Audience Winning Films
So I knew I'd be interviewing both Charlie and Duke on the red carpet, and knowing the types of movies Charlie writes, I wanted to have a more unique, thought provoking question. But as you'll see in the below video of us on the red carpet, I wasn't able to pull off my deep, intellectual query and should have instead gone with a signature foodie type question instead. The movie makes mention a few times of how awesome the chili is in Cincinnati, why didn't I ask about that!?!!
T&T question - I read a review that said "Anomalisa" is a frequently hilarious inquiry into solipsistic challenges. I had to look up the word "solipsistic", which is the theory that only the self exists, and everything else must be proven to exit. How does that description resonate with each of you?
Note: video will not be visible to those receiving Tinsel & Tine via RSS Feed. Click HERE to view
And here's Charlie Kaufman's answer:
The Opening Night Partywas held at 1925 Lounge (111 S. 17th Street) Great spot. Plenty of cozy chairs to sit in conversation, but I think this may be the 10th renaming and redecorating of this same venue in the last 10 years.
|The Crew from Allied-THA Jessie, Andrew, Lisa, Rachel, Gina|
|David aspiring writer, Dustin T&T subscriber! I asked the her name twice but didn't write it down and my old Film Fest Friend Ted|
|Pic w/ me and festival attendee Richard Stein, PhD Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology! We hung around a bit last night, in fact we look rather cute together, but of course he has a girlfriend back in NYC.|
Friday, I couldn't make it to the festival until evening, at which time I screened ROOM directed by Lenny Abrahamson / written by Emma Donoghue. I've seen Brie Larson in a number of movies over the last few years - The Spectacular Now, Don Jon, Digging for Fire, Trainwreck and I always think, that actress is very natural, but I'll forget who she is from one movie to the next. I'll never forget again. Larson's role as a victim of kidnapping and rape, being held inside a shed for 7 years trying to raise a child inside the confines of this small space - has set her apart, I'm sure not only for me, but for the movie industry. Not only is she remarkable in this role and the actor who plays her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) but on the whole, hands down, this is the best film I've seen all year!
It's hard to even put it all into words, and I'm glad I don't have to, as T&T's blog contributor Mikhail Revlock has written the expanded version of the "Room" movie review. But I will note, that I don't agree with his assessment that the movie goes off track in the second act. Not true for me at all. One of the things that impresses me most about the film, is it doesn't lose momentum or make a wrong turn once the pair are freed; nor does it feel like the confinement is just a build up to their freedom; instead it's evenly paced and really good storytelling!
----------DAY 2 (10/23) Cont.----------
As previously mentioned, #PFF24 is doing a retrospective on writer Charlie Kaufman's films. So since it had been a long time since I'd watched ADAPTATION, I decided to screen it as my 2nd movie of the evening.
For anyone who hasn't seen the movie, Adaptation (2002) is a life imitating art, imitating life, type movie. The main character (Nicolas Cage) is named Charlie Kaufman and he's a screenwriter hired by a studio, represented by a very young and still pretty Tilda Swinton, to write a screenplay based on an actual book, which was actually based on a New Yorker article by an actual writer Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) called "The Orchid Thief". The real Charlie Kaufman, truly did lose sleep over trying to adapt this book into a screenplay and wound up writing himself into the story and eventually, instead of making a movie based on "The Orchid Thief" he just uses the idea of Susan's interviews with "the thief" John Laroche (Chris Cooper) as a jumping off place for a more lurid and surreal tale. SEE article the True Story Behind Adaptation.
What most people have questioned over the years, is whether or not Donald, Kaufman's twin (in the movie, not in real life) is a figment of his character's imagination, or an actual character in the movie who easily writes a Hollywood-esque screenplay without any trouble or angst and cares little about what people think of him. You get the feeling this brother doesn't really exist, but represents the person Kaufman's character, and perhaps Kaufman in real life, wishes to be at times.
Love Donald's line: "You are what you love, not what loves you back, I decided that a long time ago" - So simple, eliminates all expectation. If many of us could apply this statement to our lives, just think how much anxiety and disappointment it would erase.
NEXT from #PFF24: "The Lobster & "Man Up"
Didn't attend #PFF24 on Saturday, instead I covered the 1st Annual Philadelphia Cheesesteak Festival click for RECAP
I had my mind completely open for THE LOBSTER. Here's the synopsis: The Lobster is a dark comedic love story from talented Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) centering around a dystopian future in which newly single people are given 45 days to find an appropriate mate before they are turned into an animal of their choosing and set free in the wild.
So you don't approach such a film without knowing you're in for strange. But even a dystopian future, needs to be more clear on the rules of things. It all felt so willy nilly. The hotel where the protagonist David (Colin Farrell) and Lisping Man (John C. Reilly) meet, does not seem to be government owned and operated, and it leaves you to question is this just one of many hotels to "shop" for a mate? And if your life depends on finding someone, why does everyone seem so relaxed about it? If you're about to become a 4 legged creature in 45 days time, just pick anyone willing to form an alliance; who the hell cares at that point if you're compatible!?!
And why were those that ran away into the woods, "The Loners", even more strict about not hooking up, then those advocating couple-hood? One of the loners (Rachel Weisz) gets dealt the most horrible of punishment which really put me off the movie. I will say, before it lost me completely, there is a scene with each loner in the woods, adorned in a rain cape, dancing individually to the beat of their own headphones, which is absurdly hilarious! Very reminiscent of A Charlie Brown Christmas. But bottom line: the film really meanders in the second half, and what's worse, no lobster pay off what so ever!
Rom/Coms always seem to have a devil of a time coming up with a good movie title. "Man Up" I suppose is a better name than those totally forgettable cliched statement titles like "As Good As It Gets" Or "How Do You Know". Title aside, "Man Up" Directed by Ben Palmer and written by Tess Morris is a really decently constructed Rom/Com with quick, plausible dialog and excellent chemistry between the prerequisite couple Nancy (Lake Bell) and Jack (Simon Pegg) about to embark on a bumpy road to love after a situation comedy meet cute.
Nancy is only 34, but feels damaged by her last relationship which ended 4 years prior and is less than hopeful about ever finding love. On the train to her parents 40th Anniversary party, she happens to sit across from a perky 24 year-old who recommends a self help book. Nancy promptly tunes her out and takes a nap. Upon waking from her nap she finds the 24 year-old has left the book with a sticky indicating Nancy should open to a chapter entitled "Your Negative Energy is Ruining Your Life and Everyone's Around You". Nancy attempts to find the girl in the train station and forcefully return the book, but instead gets mistaken for the perky Miss, by Jack, who's there to meet a blind date holding said book.
The resulting false identity date, complete with bowling montage, fights and major baggage revealed on both sides, all make for what you look for in a good romantic comedy.
#PFF24 - TODAY'S (Tues 10/27) VISITING TALENT!Rick Alverson, Director / ENTERTAINMENTRitz Bourse / 7:00 PMJosh C....
Posted by Tinsel & Tine on Tuesday, October 27, 2015
#PFF24 FOOD & FILM #FEAST 10/26 2:30pm "An" @RitzBourse dir Kawase Bond btw confectioners https://t.co/MGIr8CEodc pic.twitter.com/3KAmKdXKl2— Tinsel & Tine (@tinseltine) October 26, 2015
I shouldn't be so flippant, there are some very nice moments of second chances in this film and the shots of the cherry blossoms are eye candy. But I kept thinking two things - Why does he cook the beautiful, lemony looking batter until the pancakes are almost burnt? Turn them quicker! And why didn't the old lady just wear gloves?
In the evening I went to "Our Brand is Crisis" with Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton, this screened during #PFF24, but on Monday it was just part of my regular preview screening calendar - Review to come.
Film Festivals can't run without volunteers - Here's just 3 of the many - Tina, Sam, Lindsay- Or without sponsors - I think many of us got addicted to this Core PH balanced water received at every Prince Theater Screening.
Didn't attend #PFF24 on Tuesday, instead I was invited to Saxbys Coffee Headquarters for a work session. Then invited to dine at new upscale Mexican Restaurant Besito for an "In the Spotlight" restaurant profile (click for post). Then headed to King of Prussia for Bradley Cooper's foodie film - BURNT (click for post)
Sam is a culinary school trained chef and the last thing he wants to do is take orders from his father to make simple dishes, but he'd already tried opening up his own restaurant in New York, failed, lost everything and was forced to come back home. Sarah is that perfect kind of blonde beauty who is not stunningly pretty, but has really good genes and looks the part of a wife to a successful businessman; and that's what she is. The successful business man, Roger (Jonathan Togo) is a full of himself, Wall Street-ish type, who Sarah has already stopped loving even before meeting soulful eyed Sam.
Heckernell, said he really wanted to make a movie about wanting something at all costs and the steps to get there, the food in film aspect of things wasn't really his motivation. But because it has some foodie scenes, I asked about the food stylist.
Click below for the audio of the post screening Q&A.
Below video is my red carpet exchange with acclaimed documentary filmmaker Michael Moore:
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT : I didn't want to see this move from the title. I figured it was about the Middle East and whether boots should or shouldn't have been or will be again on the ground, and how much the US spent on military operations etc... Not that these issues aren't important, but they're not my cup of tea. I'm happy to report this is NOT what the movie is about!
Where to Invade Next is an uplifting, humorous, almost wistful look at Quality of Life and what that looks like in other countries. Moore makes it clear that these countries may have other difficulties, but each one has something that works really well and should be adopted, or rather re-adopted back into the United States. We start in Italy where normal working class people are given 8 weeks vacation, 5 months maternity leave, paid honeymoon, and 2 hour lunches.
And what's most astonishing is the fact that the corporate leaders have no qualms about it. They don't begrudge their employees these days and make them feel guilty about taking them. It's just understood that too much work causes stress and stress causes sickness and that basically human-beings were not put on this earth to work 50-60 hour work weeks. Taking a long weekend here and there, where you're still basically tied to your laptop and phone is not sufficient down time.
|PFF Artistic Director Michael Lerman PFS, Filmmaker Michael Moore and Producer Tia Lessin|
Then we go to France where we visit an ordinary public school in a modest neighborhood, we're brought into a meeting which looks like faculty discussing an important matter pertaining to the students. It is important, and it's not just faculty attending the meeting, also included are nutritionists and community officials and what they are intently discussing is the menu that the school cafeteria will prepare and serve the students. We're not talking about sloppy joes, mystery meatloaf, pizza and hoagies. This is 4 star dining, farm to table ingredients, sauces, courses - well balanced meals. And the kids don't just scarf it down in a hurry and get to their next class; rather they have time to eat leisurely, they get taught how to serve each other, converse over the meal, and drink water instead of cans of sugary sodas. It's unbelievable!!!
|Greater Philadelphia Film Office President Sharon Pinkenson introducing Michael Moore #PFF24|
Journalist Buzz Bissinger didn't see it as picking the best of. He felt manipulated by the film. Below video shows him getting heated with Michael Moore and Moore's response to the criticism:
Buzz was just crotchety. I wanted to stand a cheer at every concept presented in the film. I pray this movie doesn't just preach to the choir, but instead sinks into "the powers that be" that these policies discussed in "Where to Invade Next" are important to society, and would wholeheartedly improve the quality of our lives!
|Closing Night Masquerade Party - full size images found on our Facebook page|
I did get to see provocateur Gasper Noé's film "LOVE" in 3D. Both he and actress Aomi Muyock were in attendance for the Q&A which I live broadcasted on Periscope, which is great, but perhaps I need to make room on my phone because it never saves it to my Gallery.
I asked Aomi (who's teeth were gaped in the movie, but missing in person) How she prepared herself mentally for such an exposing and overly intimate role. She tried to explain, but with language barrier and nervousness being an issue, that although she's not formally an actress, she just looked on the sexually explicit role of Electra as a game.
The film guide description: "Love" is a sexually explicit examination of love in its most primal, sensual form, portrayed in stunning 3D.
My description: "Love" is porn, with interesting backdrops; made completely in 3D to capture the effect of one scene, where the main character's male genitalia comes straight at the audience as he's releasing, so to speak. The audience reaction was laughter. We were forewarned, but when cum is happening in a room full of people, you've gotta react somehow. Not sure if hilarity was the reaction the filmmaker wanted or not.
I only saw one minute of the 3 minute opening scene of a fixed shot with the couple manually pleasuring each other, because for the first time in 5 years, I was forbidden to enter a movie with my Cinema Sneak n Snack! The effrontery. I had to either scarf down my Wendy's combo or trash it before entering the theater :( At first I was really mad and felt cheated that I arrived just in time for the climax. But the movie contains so many sexually explicit scenes that by the end you're honestly bored of seeing acceptable porn.
T&T Quick Synopsis: aspiring filmmaker Murphy (Karl Glusman) feels trapped in a life with his young, model-like girlfriend Omi (Klara Kristin) and their infant son name Gesper. The drab voice over of his thoughts impart to us just how dissatisfied he's become. A voicemail from the mother of an ex-girlfriend Electra (Aomi Muyock) asking if he's seen her, as she hasn't heard from her daughter in over 3 months, starts Murphy on a reverie of his past relationship with Electra and through flashbacks he's reminded of how much he still loves and misses her and their once-sexually-adventurous relationship.
I attended this screening with my friend Daryl who said he felt like Noé's depiction of romantic love was like an infectious disease, causing madness and a need to self-medicate to find relief.
And humorously he added, "Thank God we don't yet have Smella-D. Can you imagine leaving the film saying the 3D was fine, but oohh honey, the whole theater smelled like ass!"
Dustin saw 38 films during the festival - Impressive! Check out Dustin's LETTERBOX LIST of 13 Must See films from #PFF24!
2015 Philadelphia Film Festival Award Winners:BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE::
Ixcanul Volcano (dir. Jayro Bustamante)
Honorable Mention for Best Screenplay: The White Knights (dir. Joachim Lafosse)
Honorable Mention for Best Acting - The Club (dir. Pablo Larrain)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE The Pearl Button (dir. Patricio Guzman)
Honorable Mention for Best Producing - (T)error (dir. Lyric R. Cabral, David Felix Sutcliffe)
BEST SHORT: World of Tomorrow (dir. Don Hertzfeld)
Honorable Mention - Manoman (dir. Simon Cartwright)
Honorable Mention - Palm Rot (dir. Ryan Gillis)
SHARON PINKENSON AWARD (for Best Local Feature): Beer Runners (dir. Justin Wirtalla)
ARCHIE AWARD (for Best First Feature): Mustang (dir. Deniz Gamze Ergüven)
STUDENT CHOICE AWARD: The Boy and the Beast (dir. Mamoru Hosoda)
AUDIENCE AWARD: When Voices Meet (dir. Nancy Sutton Smith)
Honorable Mention for American Independents - Krisha (dir. Trey Edward Shults)
Honorable Mention for Centerpieces - Brooklyn (dir. John Crowley)
Honorable Mention for Documentary Showcase - The Great Alone (dir. Greg Kohs)
Honorable Mention for FEAST - King Georges (dir. Erika Frankel)
Honorable Mention for The Graveyard Shift - The Invitation (dir. Karyn Kusama)
Honorable Mention for Masters of Cinema - Taxi (dir. Jafar Panahi)
Honorable Mention for New French Films - Learn By Heart (dir. Mathieu Vadepied)
Honorable Mention for Sight & Soundtrack - Mavis! (dir. Jessica Edwards)
Honorable Mention for Spanish Language Stories - Embrace of the Serpent (dir. Ciro Guerra) Honorable Mention for Spotlights - Remember (dir. Atom Egoyan)
Honorable Mention for World Narratives - Mustang (dir. Deniz Gamze Ergüven)
Once again The Philadelphia Film Society, Allied-THA and all the volunteers and Sponsors did a phenomenal job! See you for the 25th!
Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog
It took me so long to finish my Recap of the 23rd Philadelphia Film Festival, that it doesn't quite feel like a year since we got to experience: Opening Night, Closing Night, Centerpiece Screenings, From The Vault, Spotlights, Filmadelphia, Shorts, Sight & Soundtrack, Gravyard Shift, World Cinema, Masters of Cinema and Tinsel & Tine's favorite - Feast films!
THE 24TH ANNUAL PHILADELPHIA FILM FESTIVAL #PFF24Over 130 films from 28 countries to screen during 11-day event, which runs from Thursday, October 22 – Sunday, November 1, 2015 Philadelphia, PA
“I’m thrilled with this year’s fantastic line-up of films, bringing so many incredible features and shorts from around the world to Philadelphia for our 24th edition,” said Executive Director J. Andrew Greenblatt. “From our Opening Night screening of the Venice Grand Prize winner Anomalisa to the Closing Night screening of master documentarian Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next - this year’s slate is not only incredibly strong and diverse, but fully represents what a film festival truly is: the gathering of a community of film lovers experiencing some of the most exciting, challenging, innovative, prestigious and thought-provoking films of the year, with many of the artists behind these films in attendance.” "It’s bursting at the seams!” said Michael Lerman, Artistic Director. "With our biggest program in several years, we’re very lucky to be showcasing a collection of work that is overstuffed with gems, featuring over twenty works from world renowned directors (including our bold and fantastic opening and closing night selections) along with plenty of great surprises from first timers." The Philadelphia Film Society is honored that Michael Moore, the Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author behind Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine, will be joining the #PFF24 Closing Night Celebration at the Prince Theater.