BlackStar Film Festival Starts Today

Lambadina, directed by Messay Getahun, gets its East Coast premiere on Friday. It's part of the four-day BlackStar Film Festival.

Lambadina, directed by Messay Getahun, gets its East Coast premiere on Friday. It’s part of the four-day BlackStar Film Festival.

BlackStar Film Festival @ University City | August 4-7
This fifth annual film fest showcasing movies by and about people of African descent from across the world kicks off today with a series of features and shorts, followed by an opening reception tonight at Johnny Brenda’s. The festival’s theme is “migration,” with more than 60 films being screened over four days, mostly at International House and Drexel University’s Pearlstein Gallery, along with artist talks, panels and workshops. On Saturday night, the Kimmel Center is the site of the BlackStar Awards, hosted by actors (and spouses) Dorian and Simone Missick. Filmmaker Julie Dash — she made Daughters of the Dust, which likely inspired Beyonce’s Lemonade — is being honored at the awards ceremony. Read more »

EDITOR’S PICKS: My Top 10 LGBTQ Movies on Netflix

Oscar winner Michael Douglas won an Emmy award for his role as flamboyant entertainer Liberace.

Michael Douglas won an Emmy for his turn as flamboyant entertainer Liberace.

1. The Kids Are All Right (2010)

This Oscar-nominated comedy/drama stars acting heavyweights Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as they navigate lesbian parenting and love in one of the most reflective gay films of the decade.

2. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Hillary Swank won her first Oscar for this emotional biopic on the troubled life of Brandon Teena, a transgender lover who lost his life due to a hate crime in a Midwestern town. Read more »

REVIEW: Manon Lescaut is a Triumph

Kristine Opolais and Roberto Alagna in Puccini's "Manon Lescaut". Photo: Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera.

Kristine Opolais and Roberto Alagna in Manon Lescaut. Photo: Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera.

Sometimes there is an opera staging that is so artistically sound that lovers of the art form can take a deep breath and think, “We’re okay!” Sir Richard Eyre’s luscious new production of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, which opened at the Met Opera on Friday evening, is one of those moments.

The icing on the cake for local opera fans is that the staging will be broadcast live on March 5 at a host of Philly-area movie theaters for those who can’t make the trip to New York (the list is below), although you really ought to grab a train or a bus and catch the gorgeous soprano Kristine Opolais and her dashing co-star Roberto Alagna in-person. Read more »

Temple Grad Directs Sort-of-Sequel to J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield

The trailer for the upcoming 10 Cloverfield Lane — which the Inquirer reports was released without warning on January 15th — is downright eerie, to say the least. We have first-time director, Philly area native and 2003 Temple graduate Dan Trachtenberg to thank.

Everything seems fine at first. Three people pass the time with puzzles and board games in a cozy bunker set to “I Think We’re Alone Now” — until we see that something more sinister is going on.

As per IMDB, in Trachtenberg’s sort-of-sequel to Cloverfield (2008), a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) hunkers down with two men, (John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr.) but her suspicion grows that she has been abducted. They insist that a chemical attack has rendered the outside world uninhabitable and that they saved her life after she was involved in a terrible car accident. Read more »

How Clemson’s Football Coach Used Creed to Inspire His Players

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In case you missed it in the New Year’s Eve madness, the Wall Street Journal last week published an article about Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney’s habit of having his team break down film the day before its games. Nothing new in that. But Swinney isn’t screening footage of Clemson’s opponents. He’s showing his team the latest Hollywood flicks. And since his team is undefeated and ranked number one in the nation, his method must be working. Clemson plays Alabama in Monday’s national championship game. Read more »

10 Best Movies of 2015

best-worst-movies-2015

This year was a rich phantasmagoria of features and strong performances, capped off by a slate of better-than-average prestige pictures into December. Some years we get lucky, I guess. Here’s one critic’s take on the best the year had to offer (and the worst, which you can skip to here). Please note a couple of these films have not actually been released yet. Their opening dates are listed where applicable.

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15 Outstanding Philly Arts Moments in 2015

Ticket arts writers weigh in on what they think are the most important local arts moments of 2015. 

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Lisette Oropesa’s in Opera Philly’s “Traviata”

Brava, Diva!

It’s been a banner year generally for Opera Philadelphia, but Lisette Oropesa’s Violetta in Traviata (her first performance of the role) was special. The beautiful young soprano met every vocal demand — fiendishly difficult as they may have been – and acted it superbly. Opera lovers around the world pay attention to debuting Violettas – the great ones are so rare. Here in Philly, we found one. —David Fox

Philadelphia Film Society Saves the Prince

The gorgeous Prince Theater seemed to be in quite a bit of limbo: The resident production company had vacated a number of years ago, and their presentations were random at best. With PFS purchasing the building, the theater has becoming a bustling hub not only for movies (it’s now the only mainstream movie theater in Center City) but performing arts, and their Razz Room is hosting some of the hottest NYC cabaret acts around. —Bryan Buttler

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5 Questions With Malvern-Raised Director Adam McKay

The economic meltdown of 2008 came from a number of factors, but the single most glaring one was the banks’ reliance on the subprime mortgage loan. Some years before the collapse, one group of canny investors bet big on the eventual housing market meltdown, a maneuver that ended up making them very, very rich. The Big Short, a fact-based drama based on the book by Michael Lewis, comes from Malvern-raised director Adam McKay, known primarily for his work with Will Farrell on comedies like Anchorman, and Talledega Nights. While the film is concerned with serious, mostly dry, material, the Temple alum infuses it with amusing asides, fourth-wall breakage, and other comic staples. Here, he talks about how he made high-finance approachable, the way DraftKings emulates Wall Street, and the one piece of advice he learned about playing the Market.

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