Our weekly round-up of new releases, ranked for your viewing pleasure, by their indispensability and watchability. Yes, we made up that word. Read more »
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A Summer’s Tale: You lucky people get to watch a veritable masterpiece from famed French auteur Eric Rohmer, originally from 1996, but finally being released now for the first time on American screens. The film, the third installment of his “Four Seasons” quadrilogy, is both extremely light on its feet and utterly captivating. The story concerns a young man (Melvil Poupaud) on the eve of his first professional job, who takes a seaside vacation and gets caught up in a complicated romantic triangle with his off-again/on-again girlfriend (Aurélia Nolin) and a young woman (Gwenaëlle Simon) he meets on the shore. Francophile cinema freaks are literally bouncing off the walls in ecstasy for a chance to finally see this treat on the big screen. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
August may rarely find us cuddling on the couch with a remote and bowl of popcorn in hand, but it’s important to take stock of our LGBT-viewing options as we meander into this last month of summer.
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Guardians of the Galaxy: Consider the summer movie season saved. What sounds like an unlikely sort of superhero action flick—seriously, two of the heroes in question are a giant, walking plant, and a feisty, weapons-expert raccoon (voiced by Philly’s Bradley Cooper)—in the hands of director James Gunn becomes more fun than you might believe. It’s equal parts funny, touching, and exhilarating in a most unexpected way. Scoff if you must, but you’ll be hearing a great deal about this one in the next couple weeks. A summer blockbuster triumph. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Get On Up: The Godfather of Soul gets the full bio-pic treatment at last, but can you imagine the number of auditions they had to go through to find a suitable James Brown? In the end, director Tate Taylor went with Chadwick Boseman (fresh off his turn as Jackie Robinson in 42), who has the unenviable task of trying to bring the energy and fearsome showmanship of the hardest-working man in show business. From the sound of things, the producers have gotten a lot of things right. Expect great things from Boseman amidst an absolutely devastating soundtrack. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
Code Black: You want a breathlessly interesting way to access the health care debate in this country? Ryan McGarry’s enthralling documentary about L.A. County’s fabled emergency room—one of the first in the country to utilize what would now be considered standard emergency care—follows the trials and tribulations of the dedicated doctors and interns of the hospital’s trauma bay, having to make life-saving decisions on the fly on a regular basis, even as their badly injured patients, by nature of their immediate need, bypass the existing health-care system in order to get care. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
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Alive Inside: A documentary about the power of music to overcome mental deterioration, this Sundance audience winner from director Michael Rossato-Bennett sounds like it crams a good deal of uplift in its short-running time (the film clocks in at 75 minutes.) It follows Dan Cohen, a social worker, as he criss-crosses the country speaking the gospel of music as a healing restorer of identity, memory and self to those afflicted souls in need of some kind of cognitive therapy. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%
Magic in the Moonlight: A colossal misfire from Woody Allen, and a crashing bore to boot. Allen has assembled yet another top-notch cast—including Colin Firth and Emma Stone—and shoots in yet another picturesque part of Western Europe (this being the South of France.) But his script is so half-finished and shoddy, the whole enterprise collapses. The story involves a magician (Firth), who loves debunking self-described soothsayers and oracles as frauds, until he meets a fetching young woman (Stone), whom, to his shock, actually seems legit. I actually feel sorry for Firth, who is given the impossible task of trying to make his boorish character seem believable; and Stone, for having to fall in love as a result. Rotten Tomatoes Score:
For your Pride month viewing pleasures, I’ve rounded up all the best new gay movies on Netflix streaming. I see big gay movie marathons in your future, with the release of the entire “Eating Out” series and Orange is the New Black. There’s also Alain Guiraudie’s captivating French thriller Stranger By the Lake, which follows a dangerous tryst between two fellas on the shores of a popular cruising spot. And, while it’s not particularly gay, documentary Unhung Hero deals with a subject I think most gay dudes will find particularly interesting. Check out all 16 selections below.
Capsule reviews of the weekend’s new movie releases. Should you see it, wait for DVD, or skit it altogether? We lay it out below.
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We Are The Best!: A brilliant, keenly observed Swedish film from Lukas Moodysson (Together) about a trio of 13-year-old girls who form a punk band in early-’80s Stockholm. Equal parts wry and wrenching, Moodysson’s film is a perfectly wrought time-capsule of the age in one’s life when many such improbable ideas can still be fulfilled. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Having survived the long, cold winter scowl, April brings us the beginnings of renewal and rebirth, you know, all that crap. But that doesn’t mean you should drop your home film and TV binging, no sir, not on our watch. Behold some of the glory newly available to you from your Netflix streaming account.
Looking to see something good in theaters? The Philadelphia Film Society just announced its upcoming mini spring film festival. Find more details and a screening schedule here.
A few weeks ago we reported that M. Night Shyamalan will re-team with Bruce Willis for the locally set film Labor of Love, but before he starts on that, the Philly director has a “microfilm” to get out of the way first.
Shyamalan’s Twitter feed has been all abuzz with news about a small-budget flick he’s filming in town called Sundowning, which only has a cast and crew of 10. Slashfilm.com suggests that Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington may make an appearance in it, but that’s not confirmed.
He started tweeting about it on Feb. 14, which, if you’ll remember, was in the midst of Winter Storm Pax. Here’s what we know about it so far:
Here we are: snowstorm No. 9 (10? 11?) and we have another snow day to contend with. To help you while away your cozy day at home, I asked Philly Mag staffers to help me come up with a list of flicks and TV shows you can stream instantly.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — Joel Mathis
Three reasons to watch The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: 1. It just arrived on Netflix, and you never know how long you’ll get a great classic movie like this available before it disappears again. 2. It’s three hours long, so it’ll fill up most of your snow afternoon. 3. It has one of the greatest scores in all of cinema history, highlighted by a wailing theme you’ll never forget. It’s almost too much awesome for a snow day.
QFest is getting ready to kick off its 18th edition on July 12 (through the 23rd) with 107 films this year, including 13 documentaries, 52 short films, seven world premieres, two U.S. premieres and 26 Philadelphia premieres.
The LGBT film festival opens with Elliot Loves, the story of Dominican-American Elliot Ayende at two stages of his life: as a nine-year-old who is sidekick and confidant to his struggling single mom, and as a 21-year-old looking for love in New York City. The closer is the comedic follow-up to TLA Releasing’s BearCity - BearCity2: The Proposal. In it, Kathy Najimy plays den mother to the returning cast of bears, boys and cubs, for a Bear Week bachelor party in Provincetown.
Other notable films include:
Cloudburst, which stars Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as Stella and Dotty, a lesbian couple from Maine who embark on a Thelma and Louise-style road trip to Nova Scotia to get married after Dotty is moved into a nursing home by her daughter.
Check it out: