The Art of the Steal Filmmakers Debut First Feature Film

Slow Learners movie

Adam Pally and Sarah Burns in Slow Learners. | Courtesy of Chase Bowman

With six documentaries under their belts — including the critic-loved Rock School and The Art of the Steal — Philly filmmaking duo Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce are embarking on new cinematic territory in a film that premieres in Philadelphia this weekend.

Slow Learners is the real-life couple’s first foray into narrative features. It’s a comedy starring Adam Pally and Sarah Burns as platonic friends who set out one summer to add some zest to their humdrum existence in Media, Pa. In the end, as you may surmise, the pair wind up falling in love. Joyce describes it as a summer-sex comedy from the teachers’ perspective, with influences from funny films like 40-Year-Old Virgin and Step Brothers. It gets its Philadelphia premiere on Friday, September 28th, when it opens at the Roxy. 

I caught up with Argott and Joyce over the telephone to discuss their experience making the film. Here’s what they had to say on …

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5 Best New Movies on Netflix Streaming

best of netflix

To be fair, there were back-to-school sales as early as June (which, if I were a kid, I would be enormously offended by), but now we’re truly coming into the homestretch. Summer’s winding down folks, time to flip up the dark glasses and peer into the frigid grayness to come off in the far distance. I mean, not to bum you out or anything, but you have a month left of low-key, relaxed-office, quasi-vacation time left before the grind begins anew and with depressing vigor. Maybe it’s a good time to stock up on some fine visual entertainment before the onslaught, hey? Here are some of our picks for the best and most interesting offerings from Netflix streaming this month.

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Plans to Shoot Three Seconds Have Been Scrapped

Maggie Gyllenhaal | Denis Makarenko /

Maggie Gyllenhaal | Denis Makarenko /

UPDATE [2:29 pm, 8/25/2015]: An earlier version of this story said Three Seconds will shoot in the Pittsburgh area, but that isn’t so, according to Greater Philadelphia Film Office Executive Director Sharon Pinkenson. She emailed to say the project has been completely scrapped and it “will not shoot anywhere.”

ORIGINAL: Philly paparazzo HughE Dillon reports on that plans to shoot A-list indie flick Three Seconds in Philadelphia have been scrapped.

The film, directed by Otto Bathurst, was set to begin filming in Philadelphia on Sunday. It stars Luke Evans, David Oyelowo, Josh Brolin, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Olivia Munn. According to Dillon, the crew had already opened production offices, scouted locations, and the cast had moved into apartments they would stay in throughout the duration of the shoot. (I actually saw Maggie Gyllenhaal riding through town on her bike one day!)

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Former Eagles Linebacker Makes Film Debut in The North Star

Benjamin Jones (Jeremiah Trotter) carries Lewis (John Wooten) in The North Star.

Benjamin Jones (Jeremiah Trotter) carries Lewis (John Wooten) in The North Star.

The feature film debut of former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter will premiere at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center on September 17th. It is Trotter’s first film acting credit.

The North Star was helmed by first-time film director Thomas K. Phillips, who wrote, directed and produced the film. It was shot over 24 days in Bucks County in the summer of 2012 and tells the story of Benjamin Jones (Trotter) and Moses Hopkins (Thomas C. Bartley Jr., a Washington, D.C. native). The two characters are slaves who escaped from Virginia to Buckingham, Pa., in 1849. Read more »

21 Best Horror Films of the 21st Century, According to the Internet

cabin in the woods

Scene from “Cabin In the Woods,” which earned a top spot on a list of the 21 best films of the 21st century.

Movies, Films and Flix! (MFF), a blog and podcast devoted to all things film, has come up with a list of the 21 Best Horror Films of the 21st Century. The writers generated the list by culling user and critic scores from multiple film-review sites, and then asking readers to vote on the ones that were ranked highest.

The result is a pretty solid and extremely varied list, though there’s not a ton of Philadelphia on it. Local thriller-film god M. Night Shyamalan is nowhere to be found—either here or on the original list—but PAFA alum David Lynch‘s Mulholland Drive makes a nice show in the top ten. I know what you’re thinking—is Mulholland Drive really a horror film? MFF writer and list curator Mark Hofmeyer explains that, “that question infects most of David Lynch’s films, as the narrow-minded idea of tropes and sub-genres does not really apply to them. Lynch is an original; he does not follow any rules or aesthetic cues of horror, he creates them.”

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Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj Rent Out Entire Theater to Watch Straight Outta Compton

Theater-goers scurried to movie multiplexes around the country this weekend to catch the debut of Straight Outta Compton, Ice Cube’s biopic about the lives of N.W.A. The film came in at No. 1 at the weekend box office, pulling in an impressive $56.1 million in ticket sales.

A sizable chunk of that came from Philly rapper Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj, who rented out an entire theater so they could watch the film privately with some of their crew. “When u & bae rent out the entire theatre to watch #StraightOutttaCompton with the team,” she shared in an Instagram post. The photo shows her peeking her head in from the side, while Meek, with tons of bling around his neck, gets ready to dig into what looks like a box of movie nachos.

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Awesome Fest Concludes with East Coast Premiere of Deathgasm

deathgasm awesome fest

The Awesome Fest’s eight-week summer movie screenings at Liberty Lands Park end this Friday with the East Coast premiere of Deathgasm, a gory, but hilarious, independent horror-comedy film.

The Awesome Fest, created in 2010 by Josh Goldbloom, is “a scrappy DIY community project designed to showcase innovative and cutting edge independent cinema in unique and non-traditional spaces throughout the City of Philadelphia.” Every summer since their debut, The Awesome Fest has held annual outdoor film and music festivals with more than 200 screenings, concerts, stand-up comics and art installations, all free and open to the public.

To conclude this summer’s movie screenings, held at Liberty Lands Park on North 3rd Street between Poplar and Wildey streets, Goldbloom and his team will show what they call “the most insane film we’ve ever screened outdoors.”

Deathgasm first premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival back in March. “It’s a gorefest comedy and it really goes for the jugular,” Goldbloom says. “It’s a ton of fun, its hysterical and the production value is though the roof. Personally it’s one of my favorite films I’ve seen all year.”

The film has been playing at different film festivals all around the world and is going to be released in theaters and on DVD by October. The blood-spattering gore and crazy comedy of Deathgasm can be compared to cult classics such as Evil Dead and Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive.

After the film series ends in Philadelphia this week, Awesome Fest plans to head out to Chicago to work on the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival. “It’s such a big deal to us to work with horror legend Bruce Campbell,” Goldbloom says.

Deathgasm will screen this Friday, August 14 at 9pm at Liberty Lands Park, and is not appropriate for children. Goldbloom calls it the “craziest outdoor film Philadelphia will ever see.”

Leonardo DiCaprio Cast as Serial Killer Who Was Imprisoned and Executed in Philly

Variety reports that Leonardo DiCaprio will play the role of H.H. Holmes in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film Devil In the White City. The film, based on the best-selling novel by Erik Larson, tells the story of Holmes, a murderer whose brutal killing spree came to a halt right here in Philadelphia.

Holmes is known as America’s first serial killer. It’s believed, Philly Mag writer Liz Spikol wrote in 2003, that he killed at least 100 people—though “popular estimates at the time placed the toll as high as 200.”

He lived in Philadelphia in the 1880s, where he worked as a keeper at the Norristown Asylum, now Norristown State Hospital. Later he moved to Chicago but came back to Philly and was imprisoned after being suspected of killing his personal assistant Benjamin Pitezel in Philadelphia. Spikol writes about his eventual confession of the murder:

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Kevin Bacon Campaigns for More Male Nudity in the Movies

In a new video filmed by Mashable, Philly’s Kevin Bacon introduces a tongue-in-cheek (but maybe also a little serious) PSA to bring more full-frontal male nudity to the big screen.

“In so many films and TV shows we see gratuitous female nudity. That’s not okay,” he begins. “It’s not fair to actresses and it’s not fair to actors, because we want to be naked, too. Gentlemen, it’s time to free your bacon. And by bacon, of course, I mean your wiener, your balls, your butt.”

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