Monday, April 11, 2011

 Cinefest 2011 produced by Philadelphia Cinema Alliance under the Artistic Direction of Josh Goldbloom, opened last evening with two films, Exporting Raymond and The Catechism Cataclysm.  I had ever intention of seeing both films; I'd heard good things about Cataclysm and it also was to have a post Q & A with the filmmaker and the cast.

However, I was on such a helium high from cackling uncontrollably throughout this comedic documentary chronicling Phil Rosenthal's misadventures while recreating his hit show Everybody Loves Raymond, with a Russian cast, for a Russian audience, in Moscow. Followed by a jocular Q & A with this quick-witted talent; that I decided to skip the second film and just head over to the opening night party.
One of the things that I, like many others, love about the show Everybody Loves Raymond, is the humor comes from the fact that people are funny just being people. And this fact translates universally throughout the world, but recreating this concept does not.  Phil Rosenthal is told by Sony Pictures Television, that studio executives in Russia are interested in having the rights to make their but require Rosenthal's expertise to get them started. So off he goes to Moscow, with very little idea of what's in store for him, other than having been advised to purchase K & R Insurance - kidnap and ransom.

To be fair, the Russian TV industry people he encounters are gracious, but the writers have never seen the original show, and even after Rosenthal has them watch an episode, they can't get their minds around a man being that weak; for Everybody Loves Kostya, the lead must be a dominating male. The costume designer on the show is a Czarina from Central Casting; honestly, look up glamorous, hoity toity, Russian princess in the dictionary and there would be a picture of this stubborn woman, who insists the Russian Debra dress like a high fashion model.
An agreement is finally made with regard to casting Kostya the Russian Ray Romano. To do the show he must take a leave from his theater group. This shouldn't be a problem, right? Everyone in show biz agrees TV or film trumps theater, except in Russia when you are part of the Moscow Art Theater, the epicenter of theater, founded by Stanislavski himself. The Executive Director of M.A.T, adamantly refuses to release the actor, even temporarily to shoot the show, so it's back to the drawing board.

I realize none of this sounds particularly funny, but there is such honest humor in trying to explain what is funny from one culture to another. Plus Rosenthal is king of the one liners and reactions with facial expressions. His real-life parents are the epitome of Marie and Frank Barone, his parents on Skype will make you wet your pants. The film is also cut with great clips from the real Everybody Loves Raymond episodes. It's also really sadly funny that Studio Executives (clueless suits) are exactly the same in Russia as they are in the United States, and I would expect all over the world.

Did you know that the actress Monica Horan who plays Robert Barone's wife Amy on the show is Phil Rosenthal's real-life wife? Well, I didn't know until last night, she along with their teenage daughter were also in attendance at the screening. Moran is originally from the Philadelphia area and had many friends and relatives in the audience and at the opening night party held at Independence Visitor Center.

Listen to post screening,  Phil Rosenthal Q & A 
(Hosted by, no downloading, just press play)

After 3 cocktails (let's give a shout out to the sponsors, Bluecoat Gin, Triumph Brewing Company, Barefoot Wines and Smirnoff Vodka) I was ready to dance! My new friend Sherna, (pictured with old friend Darren) was ready to be my partner and we truly got the party started. Many (I'm certain embarrassing) pictures were taken of me "shaking my groove thing", when they get posted on the Cinefest site, I'll post a link.
Liam, Kaitlyn & Ray at Cinefest Opening Party

I got up too late to see anything this afternoon, and my art opening is this evening, so check back for more Tinsel & Tine film coverage over the weekend from Cinefest 2011!

First a little T & T biz - 
I'd like to thank two new followers for following: 

Thanks guys, also looking for likes on facebook too!

Tinsel & Tine was featured on two sites this month  

The exposure is great and between Cinefest press pass and PFS giving me the opportunity to interview Morgan Spurlock (stay tuned for post) I'm doing great on fun film content; however, I really need help keeping the food content alive. I did attend a networking dinner at Marrakesh Restaurant (stay tuned for post), but I'm looking for a way to off-set the cost of writing about my dining experiences. Hmm....

Okay, back to Cinefest:

Project Nim Director James Marsh / Featuring Nim the Chimp

Quick About: It's 1973 and a hippy mother of 6 agrees to raising a hairy 7th child, Nim, a chimpanzee, as part of a language experiment at Columbia University, headed up by Professor Herbert Terrace. Over the 26 years of Nim's life, people come and go, most with good intentions, but ultimately chimps are not people and raising one as such and then abandoning him when the project fails, is more than a mistake, it should have been a crime. 

Pleasing: It's very compelling, not boring even for a minute. So well edited. The interviews with those involved some 40 years later are heartfelt, except for Professor Terrance who basically was a womanizing, clueless "tool". He comes off as the villain in the piece, accepting his part, yet feeling no remorse.  The reenactments are done to perfection. There's one scene in which they describe Nim having killed a dog by throwing it against a wall. You don't see the gruesomeness of this act, but by seeing the yappy poodle and then the blood smear on the wall, you feel as though you have.
Not So Pleasing: Okay, so I'm no bleeding heart PETA type, and Nim was no saint, but it's hard to watch when he's taken to a experimental drug facility and kept in a cage, when his whole life he was free to run around and sleep in human beds.

Brother & Sister (Dos Hermanos) Director Daniel Burman (Argentina)

Quick About: Susana (Graciela Borges) and Marcos (Antonio Gasalla) are siblings past middle age, who become somewhat dysfunctionally closer after the passing of their mother. Marcos is staid, quiet, patient and a bit lost after having devoted a good portion of his adult life to the care of their mother. Susana is a bit of a con-artist, always impeccably dressed if not a bit over done. She holds herself as a woman of means and elevated station, when in truth that life has forever eluded her.

Pleasing: It's a very nice film. It's the kind of thing you want to watch in the theater on a rainy afternoon, when you're playing hooky from the world. The beats of the film are subtle, the humor is underplayed with funny one-liners that take you by surprise.  There's a great food in film scene of Marcos preparing risotto for a local theater director he's befriended, with undertones of romance.

Not So Pleasing: I felt the description in the guide book leaned toward this being more of a farce. Bigger, funnier, louder, more plot. It's fine that it wasn't, but I hate to be in the mood for one tone and find myself watching something entirely different.

The High Cost of Living  Director Deborah Chow (Canada) Featuring Zach Braff

Quick About: Henry (Braff) is an American with an expired Visa living in Montreal making a living by dealing illegal pharmaceutical drugs. Nathalie (Isabelle Blais) is 8 months pregnant, happily looking forward to motherhood despite the fact that things are not very satisfying between she and her husband Michel (Patrick Labbe). Henry and Isabelle's world's collide one night while Isabelle is waiting for a cab to take her to the hospital and Henry is driving drunk going the wrong way on a one way street - bam! Hit and run. Days later he finds her and befriends her without revealing his identity as the driver.

Pleasing: Going in I was skeptical about Zach Braff credibly pulling off a low-life character. Fortunately, they don't try to go this way.  He is a drug dealer and he is guilty of driving drunk, but early in the film he's shown to also be a caring, likable guy. He doesn't form a relationship with Nathalie to cover his tracks, but rather is drawn into her pain and anguish and wants to make amends.

Not So Pleasing: I'm not sure. Hard to put my finger on why I wasn't really engaged in the goings on. It's not too slow. It's not too sentimental or too romantic or even implausible. It's just watchable, nothing more. The plot does kinda remind me of Ben Affleck's The Town, but you care about that deception and reveal, a good 80% more than you do this one.

 Vampire  Director, Iwai Shunji (USA, Canada)

Quick About: A gray toned drama that interestingly examines the giving and taking of life.This is not Twilight or Vampire Diaries or Bram Stoker. The main character Simon (Kevin Zegers) does feel the need to drink blood, but he's completely human. He's a caring high school biology teacher, who also cares for his Alzheimer stricken mother. All his victims are seeking death; believing they are entering into a suicide pack, not becoming a vampire's sustenance; still you've got to give him credit for not taking the life of innocent victims.

Pleasing: The commitment of the filmmaker to the style, and tone of the film, so lonely. Not haunting, just bleak.  The awkward, yet open dialogue that takes place between Simon and each of his "victims", before he drains their blood.

Not So Pleasing: The ending scene where we hear him saying in his head, "I'm anemic", seems too much like a last minute decision to create an explanation for the character's actions, when an explanation wasn't required.

Also the fact that Simon looks uncannily like my last boyfriend who was a Dracula authority, Bela Lugosi's been his idol since he was 6 years-old. I'm mean truly, if Kevin Zegers was a little older and larger, I would have sworn I was seeing my ex up on the screen. Now I just feel glad that I made it out of the relationship with all my blood intact.

Mini Reviews on Terri, Living Alone & Womb 
Mini Review on Ceremony 

My intention for Sunday was to attend church, leave my car in the free church parking lot, give thanks for St. Luke's complimentary coffee and goodies, and get some exercise by walking to my first film of the day.

Instead, running late as usual, I missed services again for like the 4th Sunday in a row, had to pay $4.50 for parking, and another $4.50 for coffee and a scone at the Ritz, not to mention, 3rd day in a row - no exercise.

Terri - Director, Azazel Jacobs / Featuring John C. Reilly

Quick About: Terri, a low-keyed, pajama clad, kindhearted, over-sized kid (Jacob Wysocki) is coming of age in some woodsy middle America, expected to take care of his Alzheimer stricken Uncle and still get to school on time.

Pleasing: The dark humor that always accompanies these types of slice of life, Indy dramas. More interesting than the relationship Terri develops with the school's Vice Principal (Reilly) is the casual friendship that takes place between him and the other outcast of the school, Chad (Bridger Zadina); this scrawny kid, yanking himself bald, is a powder keg looking for a match.

Not So Pleasing: It's pretty typical stuff throughout, a bit long, and it's disappointing that Terri never stops wearing the PJ's.

Summary: John C. Reilly is such a talented actor, and it's understandable that he'd be drawn to this quiet film; but for a change, I really didn't see where Reilly brought something unique to the role.

Living on Love Alone (D'amour et d'eau fraiche) Director Isabelle Czajka

Quick About: Julie a 23 year-old recent college graduate searches for an entry level career position; gets fired twice and while deciding on her next move meets a dark, sexy, amateur gangster, Ben (Pio Marmai), who leads her down a bad path.

Pleasing: The beautifully shot nudity, both male and female. Actress, Anais Demoustier's natural and relatable portrayal of Julie.

Not So Pleasing: The plot development is interminably long. Her struggles with work were particularly depressing and anxiety causing for me. Although the film is subtitled, the struggles of finding employment, constantly having to sell yourself for jobs you don't have any interest in doing anyway, is the same in any language.

Summary: Would have liked to get to the "Bonnie and Clyde" stuff much sooner. The description in the film guide actually reads, exciting and fast-paced - NOT

Womb (German, Hungary, France) - Director, Benedek Fliegauf

Quick About: Adolescent, Rebecca (Eva Green) and Tommy (Matt Smith) meet on a very cold beach and develop a deep friendship. Rebecca is visiting her aged grandfather, but soon moves to Japan with her mother and doesn't reunite with Tommy until they are young adults. All is beautiful until Tommy is killed in a car accident and Rebecca decides to birth a new Tommy through artificial inseminating cloning.

Pleasing: Eva Green (I first discovered her in my recent post about the new show Camelot click HERE for post) She acts with her eyes and I like the enigmatic quality she brings to this role. The unfolding of Rebecca and Tommy's friendship, shot with small, child-like scenes of little dialog and lots of atmosphere. The intentionally claustrophobic nature of the relationship between Rebecca and the Tommy clone; enhanced by their isolated little cabin on the beach.

Not So Pleasing: The scratched film stock, at first I assumed was intentionally used as effect, but later realized the film needs restoring. The constant cold, frigid weather of every single scenes, the slow, snails pace build up to absolutely nothing. In fact, they actually use a snail as a symbol of love between Rebecca and the original Tommy.

Summary: Well, you know I'm a Sci-fi junkie and love to think about stuff like cloning.  Even though the movie Never Let Me Go (come to think of it that clone's name was Tommy too) has some unevenness, I liked the manner in which that film handled the subject. Womb tries to do the same by making the concept an established, somewhat familiar part of life. However, the desire of this film was not to discuss cloning, but rather explore the taboo of the Oedipal complex.

The big success of the festival is a gritty tale set in North Philadelphia, made by Philly filmmaker, Sean Kirkpatrick and features many local actors. Cost of a Soul, is a story about two vets returning home from Iraq to find their own home life is more dangerous than the war they just fought.

Will Blagrove and Nakia Dillard
Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the film, but I did attend the after party at Triumph Brewery, where I caught up with two of the actors from the movie, Nakia Dillard and Kamal Bostic Smith (not pictured). I cast these two guys in their training roles a million years ago for an Outreach program through AMTF (Prince Theater) called The Rainbow Company.

Cost of a Soul will have a wide release May 20, 2011.

Hope I didn't miss any funnel cake at the Cinefest fair Saturday afternoon (held in the cobblestone circle between Ritz 5 and Positano Coast). I got in town too late to really check it out, caught the tail end set of a band called Mage. At least I think that was their name, asked a couple of the people gathered and everyone told me something different, but one woman knew the drummer, (whose face is totally blocked in my photo), Wayne Smith, Jr., she talked him up like he was a local music celebrity. Supposedly he was just sitting in with the band. Anyone familiar with him or a band called Three Blind Mice?

With time to kill before my film, it pained me not to patronize one of the many, many wonderful eating establishments in Olde City.  That really was my original intention with Tinsel & Tine, to dine between films while covering a festival, perhaps trying to match the meal to the setting of the film.  Maybe one day...

Had I gotten in earlier, my first film of the day would have been The One (Director Caytha Jentis), not your typical Rom/Com, as the protagonist is a man, and the love triangle involves him being torn between being in love with the perfect woman and falling in love with the perfect man. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to screen it during QFest in July.

The film I did see also turned out to veer away from standard romantic comedy trappings -

Ceremony - Writer/Director Max Winkler (Son of The Fonz!) Starring Uma Thurman, Michael Angarano (Jack's son, Elliot from Will and Grace) & Lee Pace

Quick About: Sam a 23 year-old boy (Angarano), tricks his best friend into coming with him to crash a weekend party in the Hampton's, with the secret intention of thwarting the wedding plans of the woman he loves; the captivating and free-spirited, Zoe (Thurman) who is determined to marry the insufferable, overblown documentary filmmaker, Whit (Pace).

Pleasing: All the natural light filming at the beach. The quirky nature of the film, tone of angst being a bit of Wonder Boys meets Sideways. The sweetness of Sam's devotion to Zoe. The strain put on the friendship between Sam & his friend Marshall (Reece Thompson). The Soundtrack is pretty good and Rebecca Mader (Lost & No Ordinary Family) has a small part; I find this flame-haired actress extremely watchable.

Not So Pleasing: Marshall is reading an F.Scott Fitzgerald novel in the beginning of the film, recommended to him by Sam, and it feels as though all the dialogue throughout the first half of the movies is written like a novel, very verbose and intentionally unnatural, combined with too much nervous energy on the part of Sam. But thankfully this heightened sense of reality ends shortly after they crash the party.

Summary: I'm sure Henry is quite proud of his off-spring's debut offering, as well he should.
Nathan Lerner, Film Critic, caught up with Cinefest Artistic Director, Josh Goldbloom (who by the way has a fabulous mother, Phyllis, that I met in the ladies room at Ritz East)

Goldbloom - “Are we a little edgier this year? Yes. Are we bringing a little more attitude? I have an edgier taste in cinema, so some of that might shine through a little bit. But we’ve got a little something for everyone.”

Check out the full interview on

I often find at the end of a film festival, some of the films I chose to see will unintentionally deal with the same topic on some level: Brother & Sister, Terri and Vampire all dealt with care for an elderly parent, two of which had Alzheimer's. Womb explored an Oedipal complex and Brother & Sister performed a staged version of Oedipus. If I thought about it longer, I'm sure I'd find more cross references.

I enjoyed my movie dates with the two "D"s - It was never intentional, but I often found myself at the same film as either David or Darryl; and they weren't stalking me either, but if we saw each other in line, we would sit together (never both at once) to watch the film and discuss after. I was going to take a picture of each of them, but for some reason, I felt odd saying "Can I take your picture for my blog?", felt it would smack of Reality TV blogging.  Although, I take pictures of people for blogging purposes all the time.

For instance, I had a great time talking to these two guys at the Closing Night Party at Positano Coast.

Adams and Dalbey
Jon Adams and Chris Dalbey (bishopdalbey) are a screenwriting team with 5 screenplays presently being shopped around.

I wanted to be sure to get a picture of the Cinefest Artistic Director, Josh Goldbloom (far right), pictured here with Jim Mahoney (Producer of Good Day For It) and Greg Dusdow.
Mahoney, Drusdow and Goldbloom

And I talked a bit with Tim who was a Jury Judge.  He recommended going to the Film Festival in Rehoboth, (November) says it's surprisingly well done each year and room rates are reasonable. I just may do that.
Tim the Juror
 Positano Coast is one of my favorite restaurants, not so much for their menu, but rather for the layout and ambiance.  The Closing Night Party was unfortunately, cash bar, but what normally is a $12 glass of wine was only $5.  Of the butlered app's my favorite were the miniature potato croquette balls, served on silver spoons, but as you can see, I got comfortable and forgot to even snap food pics.

In summary, what I experienced of Cinefest 2011, was well run and decently attended. I was disappointed no one showed up for Karoke at the Mexican Post on Wednesday, I left around 10:30pm, and there were a few too many Kung Fu movies on the schedule for my taste, but otherwise kudos to PCA for pulling off a festival in just 3 months.

Party Guest with Spurlock
I'm not going to include the closing night film: Pom Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold in this post, I actually first saw the film at a press screening through Philadelphia Film Society, who also set up the interview with director, Morgan Spurlock, so that post will be up on the PFS site and T & T later this week.

Here's the list of Cinefest film's that won awards and because I like to support film in Philly, I'd like to also acknowledge the sponsors who allow it all to take place:

Best Feature Film: Lapland Odyssey
Best Documentary Film: Project Nim
Best First Film: Kinyarwanda
Best Director: Azazel Jacobs for Terri
Best American Independent Film: Hamill
Festival of Independents Award: Calendar Girl
Best Feature Film: Cost of a Soul
Best Documentary Film: The Interrupters
Best Danger After Dark Film: Stake Land

Presenting Sponsors: Philadelphia Cinema Alliance, TLA Video, Visual Sound, Scrapple TV.
Official Sponsors: Positano Coast, DIVE, State of Pennsylvania, Wells Fargo, Pennsylvania Film Office, Pennsylvania Festivals.
Patron Sponsors: FilmThreat, PIFVA, TD Bank, The Trocadero, Opa, North Bowl.
In-Kind Sponsors: Bluecoat Gin, Glaceau/Smart Water/Vitamin Water Zero, independence Visitors Center, Barefoot Wine & Bubbles, Mexican Post, Smirnoff, National Mechanics, Triumph Brewery Company, The Legal Intelligencer, The Prime Rib, Stan Gym, 24/7 Comedy Radio, Lovash Restaurant.
Industry Sponsors: Sony Pictures Classics, Magnolia Pictures, Samuel Goldwyne, Screen Media Films, Mage Works Productions, Indomina Productions, Terry Hines & Associates, The Promotions Group Corporation, IFC Midnight, Allied Advertising.
Community Sponsors: French-American Cultural Foundation, Bryn Mawr Film Institute, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, Arden Theatre Company, The Philadelphia Film Society, the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, City of Hope, Relache.

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Food n Film: CHEF

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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

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


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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.

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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