What to See at the BlackStar Film Festival

Michael K. Williams in "They Die By Dawn," screening Sunday during the BlackStar Film Festival.

Isaiah Washington in “They Die By Dawn,” screening Sunday during the BlackStar Film Festival.

The 3rd annual BlackStar Film Festival kicks off this Thursday, July 31st. The event comprises screenings of more than 40 feature and short films, and panels made up of filmmakers, artists, and other film-industry industry professionals.

BlackStar celebrates cinema by and about people of African descent, highlighting works from emerging filmmakers across the globe. The festival includes works from a range of genres—narrative, documentary, experimental, even music video—and seeks to cultivate an open space for dialogue on the varied landscape of black life.

Read more »

Movie-O-Meter: Our Take On Lucy, A Most Wanted Man, Happy Christmas, and More

SEE IT NOW!

Lucy: Luc Besson’s bugnuts quasi-action-thriller-cum-time-and-space-meditation stars Scarlett as a student living in Taipei who gets embroiled in a nasty Asian drug cartel and accidentally ingests an enormous amount of a synthetic drug that allows her to access up to 100 percent of her brain capacity. It’s not a great action flick, and it’s pretty silly as anything more serious, but somehow his energy—and Johansson’s powerful performance—make it more than the idiotic sum of its parts. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

Read more »

INTERVIEW: Boyhood Director Richard Linklater

Writer/Director Richard Linklater has released a steady stream of critically adored indie films since 1988′s It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, but it’s taken the Texan much longer to connect with larger audiences. He doesn’t move in grand plot schemes or subversive genre machinations, his films are content to spend their time exploring lengthy, engrossing philosophical discussions between protagonists—be they young, yet-to-be-lovers in Before Sunrise, an animated character exploring a dream world in Waking Life, or an undercover cop in the near future who tries a new drug and begins to unravel in A Scanner Darkly.

His new film, Boyhood, takes the idea of time passing (another frequent obsession in his work) and actually builds it into the fabric of the film. The result, shot over 12 years, begins with a 6-year-old protagonist and follows him through the day he leaves home for college. It is easily one of the best films of the year. He spoke with us about his body of work, his life outside filmmaking, and the female protagonist with whom he most identifies.

Read more »

Movie-O-Meter: Boyhood Shines, Sex Tape Fizzles + Our Take On Other New Releases

SEE IT NOW!

Boyhood: Easily one of the most-anticipated films of the summer by film critics and indie fans since its debut at Sundance this past January. Richard Linklater’s concept film was shot over the course of some 12 years, chronicling the childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood of one boy, Mason (Eller Coltrane), as he navigates the difficult and confusing waters of growing up with two loving-but-divorced parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette). Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Read more »

Rapid-Fire Questions With a Grumpy Zach Braff

wish i was here zach braff

Zach Braff in “Wish I Was Here.”

Zach Braff is best known as the affable Dr. Dorian on the long-running TV comedy Scrubs, but the actor/writer/director has also made his own films, beginning with 2004′s Garden State. Making the press rounds in support of his newest effort, the grammatically questionable Wish I Was Here, the 39-year-old South Orange native has clearly grown in the decade between film releases: The film concerns a winsome father of two whose acting career and marriage are floundering as he finds out that his father, played by Mandy Patinkin, is dying of cancer.

We caught up with him on the phone from a Chicago hotel relatively early in the morning.

Read more »

Movie-O-Meter: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Could Be the Summer’s Best Blockbuster

SEE IT NOW!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The improbable rise of the apes continues, both in the film’s narrative and in the minds of critics, who continue to swoon over this series, written by husband and wife team Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. The brilliant chimp Caesar (played by Andy Serkis), a decade after the events of the first film, remains a shockingly convincing and sympathetic hero, a mightily conflicted Shakespearian protagonist stuck amongst war-monger apes and humans, alike. The film takes its sweet time to build to its shattering climax, also an anomaly in a season where most films—action or otherwise—are all too quick to try and appeal to a jacked-up audience’s fast-twitch ADD tendencies. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

WAIT FOR DVD

Venus in Fur: A thoroughly striking film from the ever-controversial Roman Polanski, based on the Tony-winning Broadway play by David Ives. It concerns the extensive auditioning of a bedraggled actress (Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife) by the director (Polanski doppelganger Mathieu Amalric) of a theatrical adaptation of the infamous Austrian S&M novel. The power dynamics between the couple—always a Polanski obsession—shift back and forth until the lines get sufficiently blurred to set up the film’s fascinating conclusive flourish. We suggest waiting for the DVD only because the nature of the production—two people in an empty theater, lashing out at one another—would likely play as well on a flat-screen as it would on a silver one. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Philadelphia Orchestra Meets Outdoor Cinema at Movie Nights at The Mann

Movie Nights at the Mann kicks off with "Gladiator," featuring a live score from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Movie Nights at the Mann kicks off with “Gladiator,” featuring a live score from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts is taking Philly’s summer obsession with al fresco movies to a new level.

Next week, Movie Nights at The Mann kicks off, bringing a series of three movies to the incredible outdoor venue, each one accompanied by a live score from The Philadelphia Orchestra. Could there be a better way to experience a movie?

Read more »

Movie-O-Meter: Save Yourself From Transformers: Age of Extinction, Go See The Discoverers Instead

SEE IT NOW!

The Discoverers: It’s been far too long since Griffin Dunne has had a role of sufficient significance. Sure, the After Hours star has maintained steady work, but in recent years he’s been more a TV pinch-hitter, blowing onto a set for a couple episodes and just as quickly moving on. This comedy from writer/director Justin Schwarz, making his feature debut, promises a more rewarding Dunne experience. He stars alongside John C. McGinley, and Dreama Walker as a beleaguered patriarch who takes his grown kids on a rambling Lewis and Clark reenactment adventure. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Read more »

« Older Posts