How do you solve a problem like Maria? Go watch her with a bag of popcorn and a huge soda, that’s how. Read more »
How do you solve a problem like Maria? Go watch her with a bag of popcorn and a huge soda, that’s how. Read more »
The lo-fi indie horror genre has gotten a tremendous boost from the festival circuit over the last couple years. In 2014, we had the spooky, unleashed id of Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, which premiered at Sundance a year ago; now we have David Robert Mitchell’s psycho-sexual predatory nightmare It Follows to savor after commanding runs at TIFF, Sundance, and Cannes (and the upcoming The Witch from this year’s Sundance lineup).
It Follows revolves around a simple yet terrifying idea: One night a young woman has sex with a relative stranger in his car and in the process, like a form of particularly virulent VD, a horrific phantom gets transmitted to her from her apologetic partner. This phantom can take any form—a friend, a family member, a complete stranger—and it moves very slowly and deliberately, but there is no escaping it. Once attached, it will track you down and kill you most gruesomely, unless you can pass it on by having sex with someone else. The phantom goes in order, so as long as enough other people end up between you and it, you can survive.
Very often if you see one film you really enjoy, you can find other films that echo some of the things you really loved about the original. Here, we round up five movies you should dig if you like It Follows.
It Follows opens March 27th at the PFS at the Roxy Theater (2023 Sansom Street).
Piers Marchant is a film critic and writer based in Philly. Find more confounding amusements and diversions at his blog, Sweet Smell of Success, or read his further 142-character rants and ravings at @kafkaesque83.
March 23rd marks the kickoff of Gershman Y‘s Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival (PJFF)’s CineMondays.PJFF director Olivia Antsis explains that the festival showcases six Philadelphia premieres that examine various aspects of the Jewish experience. “This past fall, we presented our best festival ever, with an increase in attendance, ticket sales, sponsorships,and audience ratings. … We look forward to serving the community with more exciting and thought-provoking films and programs this spring.”
Catch this year’s picks starting tonight, March 23rd and running every Monday through May 4th. Tickets are available here. We’ve got the full schedule—with IMDB descriptions when applicable—below:
Deadline reports that the Disney Channel is in the process of developing a film based on Philadelphia Taney Dragons star pitcher Mo’ne Davis. Throw Like Mo will portray Davis’s rise to fame following the Little League World series last summer, covering some of her biggest accomplishments, like becoming the first Little League player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.
The best part of my experience with Focus was going to get Dairy Queen before it started.
That is to say, there’s not that much to say about Focus itself. It’s a middling, corporate con-movie that suffers from a painfully self-confident script and reliance on the interplay between main Will Smith and sidekick/lover/protege Margot Robbie. It has no real antagonist—well, I mean, Rodrigo Santoro, kinda—and lurches from plot point to plot point as though it were a series of first-season TV episodes crammed into a movie.
Ultimately, there’s more wrong than right with the movie (real quick: the criminal psychologist from Law and Order: SVU engages in a Ken Jeong-style portrayal of a Chinese high roller; Gerald McRaney delivers what will go down in history as one of the most terribly pitched monologues ever; and a hugely important plot point takes place at the ugliest, fakest movie faux-Super Bowl ever—brought to you by Mercedes-Benz and Bud Light.)
As reported by Amy Kaufman in the L.A. Times, Kevin Hart’s newest comedy, Get Hard, co-starring Will Farrell, made its world-premiere Monday night at Austin’s Paramount Theater for SXSW. Despite the goodwill the actors built up before the screening (both were on stage, making yuk-yuks with the crowd), the reaction to the film, which posits Farrell as a rich, white dude busted for a bunch of financial crimes and sentenced to hard time. He hires Hart’s character—whom he naturally assumes has spent time in the joint—to prepare him for his oncoming ordeal.
Apparently, even though it got major laughs throughout the screening, the post-screening Q&A with first-time director Etan Cohen started to go seriously downhill after one patron called the film “offensive.”
On Monday night, Philly-bred comedian Kevin Hart was at SXSW to premiere his latest film Get Hard. The buddy comedy co-stars Will Ferrell as a man who’s about to go to prison, so he solicits the help of Hart’s character to get him prepared for all the typical things we hear happen when you’re behind bars. Unfortunately, a lot of tasteless jokes are made at the expense of race and gay sex. Variety even goes so far as to call it “the most high-profile comedy ever made about the subject of prison rape.” But instead of being eye-opening, it turns out to be rather cringe-worthy and downright offensive.
Disney’s latest trend of updating their animated classics with live-action retellings continues with the release of Cinderella. Like Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent before it (no, Snow White and the Huntsman wasn’t Disney), Cinderella takes a beloved classic from your childhood … and ruins it. No, it didn’t neuter the greatest villain of all time and bog her down with a rape-y backstory like Maleficent, or become a convoluted mess like Alice (the whole point of her going into Wonderland was to make her own decisions because she was a strong, independent female. AND THEN SHE IS FORCED TO FOLLOW HER DESTINY THE ENTIRE TIME AND RETURNS TO THE REAL WORLD READY TO LIVE A COMPLACENT LIFE. Great message for young girls, Disney. Real nice), but it commits what is possibly a far greater crime than any before … it does nothing.
Not a single change is made to the story of Cinderella. Nothing is different. I don’t really need to go into a long plot description because unless you grew up in a household where magic is evil or have spent that last 15 years in a bunker with Kimmy Schmidt (which, by the way if you haven’t watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix yet, that is how you should spend your next weekend), you know the story of Cinderella. Her mother (Hayley Atwell, TV’s Agent Carter) falls ill and dies while Ella (Lily James, TV’s Downton Abbey) is quite young. Her father (Ben Chaplin, TV’s Mad Dogs) decides to remarry and brings home for Ella two new sisters (Holliday Grainger, TV’s The Borgias and Sophie McShera, also TV’s Downton Abbey … were there no movie stars available?) and a stepmother (finally an actual star: Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine). The new women in Ella’s life are not particularly nice to her, but remembering the dying words of her mother to be kind and brave, she takes it in stride. Her father dies suddenly while away on business (this film averages one dead parent every half-hour) and poor Ella is left alone with these wicked women who treat her more as a servant than a member of the family. Thankfully the now nicknamed Cinderella has a gaggle of computer generated mice and a goose to be her friends.
A chance encounter with her kingdom’s prince (Richard Madden, TV’s Game of Thrones) and his captain (Nonso Anozie, Game of Thrones) causes Cinderella to get all googly eyed and the prince himself to throw a ball to meet the girl of his dreams and wed before his ill father (spoiler alert: dead parent No. 3) kicks the bucket. Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters are thirsty and attend the ball with the hopes of landing themselves the prince, but leave poor Cinderella behind. Before Cinderella’s tears can even dry, out pops her fairy godmother (a very blonde Helena Bonham Carter, the aforementioned Alice in Wonderland) who transforms her rags into a beautiful gown, mice into horses, a pumpkin into a stagecoach, and some dingy old shoes into a stunning pair of glass slippers—one of which will ultimately be left behind on some steps at the stroke of midnight. It’s all very by the book … literally.
Where Alice and Maleficent frustrated me with their changes from the stories that we all know and love, Cinderella frustrated me with changing nothing at all. I know I’m sounding like a contradiction, but there really is a happy medium that can be achieved when you honor the characters but change the story or present it in a unique way. At least the other two had stunning visuals and a little action. Cinderella has two vibrant transformation sequences that by no means save an otherwise drab film.
The acting is all fairly standard with the glaring exception of Cate Blanchett. You’d think no one told her that she was starring in a Disney film as she serves straight up drag queen, parading onscreen wearing the finest window dressings in all the land. Her wardrobe is a thing of pure decadence (as are the film’s costumes in general) and looks incredible onscreen, only adding to the condescension Cate brings to every word and look made by the most wicked of stepmothers. Lily James does a decent job as the titular Ella, but there were definitely times when I was yearning for Into the Woods’ Anna Kendrick or hell, even Brandy to shake things up as I tried not to reach for my phone for the 800th time.
The worst crime of the live-action Cinderella is forcing me to question whether Disney’s animated masterpiece has always been boring and I never noticed before, or if this film is just bland. I haven’t dug up my clamshell VHS copy to investigate, but I hope it’s the latter. Clocking in at two hours (if you include the cute short Frozen Fever which you get before the film) Cinderella is a commitment that you might not want to make unless you’re a die hard Disney princess aficionado or have small children. Then again, if the two kids in my theater running up and down the aisles were any indication, it may bore them, too. With less than ten minutes left in the film, when Cinderella encounters her prince again, a random woman in the theater shouted, “Get it girl so I can go home!”
That pretty much sums it up.
Now Playing at: UA Main Street, The Pearl at Avenue North, Rave University 6, UA Riverview Plaza
It might seem as if he just sprang out of the kiln with 2009’s The Hangover, but Jenkintown’s Bradley Cooper has actually been a professional actor since 1999. Now, with his thoroughly convincing turn as Chris Kyle in American Sniper—officially the highest-grossing film released in 2014—Mr. Cooper is finally coming in to the rarefied air of some of our most celebrated male actors. That isn’t to say that everything he’s made has been gold (ahem, Serena), in fact, it’s really only in recent years that he’s been allowed to showcase his considerable talents in serious films. Regardless, here are our picks for his five best performances to date, and where you might be able to see them, in chronological order.
Bradley Cooper just received a special gift from his Hangover co-star and champion boxer Mike Tyson. And no, it wasn’t a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear.
Yesterday on Live with Kelly and Michael, Tyson explained that he gifted the Jenkintown star one of the belts he won when he was crowned World Boxing Council (WBC)’s heavyweight world champion in the ’80s. According to Tyson, he had his daughter take it to Cooper when she attended a recent performance of The Elephant Man, which Cooper was starring in on Broadway.
Tyson said he wanted to give Cooper the memento, “because he deserves it … Look at what he’s accomplished since The Hangover. Look at how far he’s come … ”
Tyson held his WBC heavyweight world champion title from 1986 to 1990, when he lost it to Buster Douglas. He turned around and won it again in 1996.