The Philadelphia Film Festival Round Up (#PFF22)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The 22nd Annual Philadelphia Film Festival, produced by The Philadelphia Film Society (Home of the New Roxy Theater) ran from Oct 17 - 27, 2013

Here's a Little Round Up of Tinsel & Tine's Coverage

Received Press Release on Oct 1st and wrote end of a romance remembrance/announcement of Centerpiece screenings post  - It's Time for the 22nd Philadelphia Film Festival! #PFF22

Click links to jump to films:
I had a crushing job interview on 10/16 so on opening night I tweeted:

Oct 17 - This year instead of the Annenberg, the Philadelphia Film Festival's Opening was in the Perelman Theater at the always impressive Kimmel Center- the opening film - director J.C. Chandor's All is Lost starring Robert Redford.

As I was waiting to take pics of the director on the red carpet, I remained hopeful that perhaps Robert Redford would make a surprise appearance. No such luck.  I did get to ask Chandor, a NJ native, about his favorite Philly/Jersey foods. His response - He had been in the mood for a Taylor Pork Roll sandwich earlier, but the person he mentioned it to had no idea what he was talking about.  I knew what he was talking about, pork roll is a close second fav to scrapple, when it comes to breakfast meats!

All is Lost is ambitious in terms of minute details and creative shots. For those of you unaware, the film has no other characters (not counting the boat the Virginia Jean) and almost no dialogue other than a couple of Mayday/SOS type stuff and one very much earned expletive from Redford's character who has no name, we know not why he's on a sail boat in the Indian Ocean, we only know from his letter that he does leave behind some loved ones, but it's not specific.

During the Q&A Writer/Director JC Chandor said the letter was the impetus for the film. He also talked about having dinner with Redford nightly, hearing tales about All the President's Men and that Redford wanted the role so much he lied about having former sailing experience.

I have to admit having some impatience with All is Lost. It's not as easy to stay focused with as some other Solo Survivalist films like:Castaway, Buried, 127 Hrs, Life of PI or Gravity. But, you gotta give it to Redford who is still rugged and strong in his 70's and remains movie star quality!

The Opening Night Party was downstairs in the vault of Del Friscos Steak and Seafood, a restaurant of which, I still have yet to dine.  When it first opened, I went for cocktails, but dinner...$$$

Oct 19 - During the fest I wrote a post on The Suspect, a Philly made heist film based on racial bias and profiling - here's the link - Greater Filmadelphia: THE SUSPECT (#PFF22)

August: Osage County -Razor-sharp adaptation of Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, featuring an all-star cast (Sam Sheppard, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Juliette Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Chris Cooper) A family crisis brings three sisters whose paths have diverged back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

I was so in the mood for this movie. It just really hit the spot!  Nothing like incest, addiction  family dysfunction, and watching "Margaret Thatcher" roll around in a tussle on the floor with "Pretty Woman". The movie really keeps you on the edge of your seat, with a smug grin on your face, thinking - my family's bad, but not this bad!

I would have loved for there to have been more scenes with Sam Sheppard, he's like a mixture of  your favorite college professor and the grandfather you wish you knew better. A few flashbacks of Shepard's character with various members of the family, would have served the movie well. Of course the movie is mostly served by the incomparable Meryl Streep. If  you think you've seen her completely morph and transform into her previous characters, you ain't seen nothing til you see her as the cancer ridden, pill popping, critical, secret keeping matriarch of the Weston clan!

Grand Piano - stars Elijah Wood as a concert pianist returning to the stage after a self-imposed 5 year hiatus, brought on by his failure to master a very difficult piece of music to perfection. A score in which only the deceased composer was ever able to play and unlocks more than just musical talent. What makes this film more interesting than it may sound, is that it's a musical/thriller! (not MJ) The majority of the film takes place during the pianist's concert, so a full orchestra and Wood's fingers flying across the keys is happening simultaneously while a mad man (John Cusack), is killing patrons at the theater and threatening the life of the pianist and his wife (Kerry Bishé) with a sniper's red dot. Think Phantom of the Opera meets The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Rising Star Recipient Kerry Bishé (Blue Highway) was in attendance for a Q & A after the screening discussing her work in Argo, her process for preparing for roles, her ambitions to direct films and that Terrence Malick is the director she most hopes to work with one day. I tried a 3rd party hosting site to embed the audio, but it didn't work. If Bishé's star keeps rising and she becomes the next Jessica Chastain, then I'll go through the trouble of creating a video from the audio.

Days of Heaven Farmhouse

Oct 20 - Speaking of Sam Shepard and Terrence Malick, I saw Days of Heaven as part of PFF's From the Vault screenings. Up til now I've only seen Malick's film Tree of Life which left me "To the Wonder" what the heck was everyone making such a fuss about.  But now I get it.

Days of Heaven (1978) stars Richard Gere and one of my favorite actresses from back in the day, Brooke Adams (married to Monk's Tony Shalhoub). It's set in 1916 in the Texas Panhandle.  Talk about beautifully depressing, that lonely score, so many scenes looking across vast expanses of wheat, farmland and oppressive nature. The movie does a great job of reminding you that people were made of sterner stuff once upon a time. And the detailed, up close, lengthy shots of animals and such didn't do anything for me in Tree of Life, but it added to the time and place of this film.  The story, also written by Malick, has such shading for something as over used as a lover's triangle.  If, Gere and Adams characters had been greedy opportunists, than you would have felt they got what they deserved; but they weren't, they were doing their best to survive and make the best of an opportunity. The different kinds of love that Adam's felt for both men, was plain and easily understood, yet so compelling.  I can now add my assent to Days of Heaven being deserved of all it's critical-acclaim.

Oct 21 - During the fest I wrote a post on Nebraska by Alexander Payne (The Descendants)  - here's the link to Just a Taste: NEBRASKA (#PFF22)

Oct 22 - Tasting Menu (Menú degustació) I was supposed to see this on Sun and assumed wrongly that I could show up for this little foodie Ireland/Spain World Narrative film minutes before the screening and get in without a problem.  Well, foodie films are more popular than you'd think, it was sold out!  Which meant I had to see it on Tues, unfortunately that meant missing Coherence.

A friend of mine asked if Tasting Menu (Magnolia Films) is based on the famed Catalonia elBulli restaurant, once run by chef Ferran Adrià. I didn't know, so I set about to do some research. For those of you as unsophisticated as I was about the whole thing, Restaurant Magazine judged elBulli to be Number One on its Top 50 list of the world's best restaurants for a record five times—in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, and #2 in 2010, then Adrià decided to close the restaurant in 2011. 

I couldn't find a decent interview with the director Roger Gual, but I did find a post on Grub Street to corroborate this film is elBulli-esque.  Well, all this is quite a build up to say, I really didn't enjoy the film very much.  It was rather like a boring episode of The Love Boat. 

Various and assorted characters come to experience the last dinner being served at an illustrious and critically acclaimed seaside restaurant run by Chef Mar's (Vicenta N'Dongo) and her partner Max (Andrew Tarbet). Veteran actress Finnoula Flannagan plays the Countess who along with her now deceased husband, put the place on the map; although the main story revolves around a couple who made their dinner reservations a year ago, but have since separated and agreed to dine together as to not lose such a coveted table on this historic night of haute-cuisine.

The dishes being served are very photograph-able, the kind of artfully arranged, sparse, miniature creations that are only fun to look at and rather dissatisfying to eat.  I much preferred my "Cinema Sneak n Snack" of Thai Style Chicken Fried Rice from Pagoda Noodle Cafe.

The closing film Labor Day by writer/director Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult) is a lot less wry than these other films.  Labor Day is more sincere and romantic, **slight spoiler alert*** in fact, the ending is sappy enough to make Nicholas Sparks jealous.  Most of the movie is seen through the eyes of a 12 year-old boy, Henry (Gattlin Griffith) who feels responsible for his mother, Adele (Kate Winslet) who is suffering from depression and a bit of agoraphobia.  On the Friday leading into Labor Day Weekend, Henry convinces his mother to take him shopping for back to school clothes.  While at the department store, Henry encounters Frank (Josh Brolin), a man who's bleeding from a wound. Frank both appeals to Henry's compassionate nature, and intimidates him into making Adele cooperate and aid his escape.

Over the course of the long weekend, Henry and Adele go from hostages to almost Stockholm syndrome victims. Well, it would be hard to turn in a guy who can cook, and Frank knows his way around the kitchen.  In fact, the movie gets real foodie - you see him making chili from scratch, and biscuits, sensually teaching Adele how to knead dough for a peach pie, which we see bubbling and crisping up in the oven.  Frank also knows about baseball, cars, cleaning out drain pipes, he's just a sexy, fixing, cleaning hunk of a man, you couldn't ask for a more helpful, well-rounded escape convict to hide out in your home.

Winslet & Brolin have a palpable chemistry, yet I felt the movie was best served when told from Henry's point of view; which would have thankfully eliminated the flashbacks of back stories for both Frank and Adele, and given the movie a more notable Indie film quality.

At the R2L closing night party, I spoke to the director of Awful Nice, Todd Sklar,

who's film I missed seeing, but not unlike it's director, I heard it had great off-beat humor and quirky style.

The closing night party and film took place Friday night, but that still left two whole days of screenings.  As much as I wanted to see 1982,  I skipped Sunday and finished up my screenings Saturday starting with...

Vic & Flo Saw a Bear (France Director: Denis Côté) - The title is wonderfully absurd and the main characters (Pierrette Robitaille and Romane Bohringer) being lesbian ex-cons, intrigued me quite a bit.  Guess what? It's terribly boring and depressing for the most part, and then gets down right brutal.
Actor David Morse

Philly's own David Morse has a new movie filmed right here in the City of Brotherly Love - McCanick.  You think it's a gritty police crime novel come to life - but no, similar to Woody Harrelson in Rampart, being a policeman is just a backdrop to the personal turmoil going on inside the man behind the badge.
Look-Alikes -Mike Vogel and Josh C. Waller

I took red carpet shots of the director Josh C. Waller and McCanick's partner in the movie played by Mike Vogel. Morse came in time for the Q & A, which I have video of however, it contains spoilers so I'm not going to post it yet.

The real star of McCanick is the late Cory Monteith, not a hint of Glee's Finn in his performance. So surprisingly genuine. Makes his death all the sadder. David Morse couldn't help but get a bit choked up when talking about working with the 31 year-old who's life and career should still be ahead of him.

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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.

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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