Recently I was looking for a way to pass a rainy day and turned, as I often do, to Netflix. It then came to my attention that its “Comedy” section includes some questionable choices. You won’t laugh if you select any of these movies, but the fact that Netflix dubs them all comedies is kind of a joke in itself.
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Land Ho!: (One of two exclamation-point films this week! Go figure!) Former brothers-in-law (Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn), now well-aged, travel to Iceland together in order to call-back their wild and freewheeling youth in everything from Reykjavik nightclubs to the alien terrain of the raw Icelandic outback. This American indie film, an unmitigated hit at this year’s Sundance, promises poignant laughs in the appropriately throwback style of the classic road-trip comedies of an earlier era. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%
The Ritz Five in Old City is one of 300-some-odd theaters to screen PAFA grad David Lynch’s latest film, Unstaged, for one night only on September 10th.
Fans of all ages were invited to immerse themselves in the world of new book-to-film sci-fi flick The Giver, at a special event at the Cherry Hill Mall Friday. Guests took part in various activity stations, like spin art, hair-chalking, nail-painting, a candy bar, photo booth and contests by Wired 96.5.
After about an hour the film’s young stars Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush showed up to participate in a Q&A and meet-and-greet, where fans were able to get photos with the actors. During the Q&A, Thwaites and Rush admitted they hadn’t read the book before being cast, which brought groans from the fans—some of whom told me they read it twice.
The Giver opens nationwide on Friday, August 15, and is based on Lois Lowry’s beloved young-adult novel of the same name, which was the winner the 1994 Newbery Medal and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The film also stars, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift. Check out the trailer below.
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Into the Storm: Okay, so it’s another cataclysmic twister flick, but the CGI is impressively disconcerting, the cast is, er, amiable enough, and for those of us who like seeing a charcoal sky with thick, ominous clouds churning like whipping cream, there’s plenty of spectacle hear to admire. Don’t go expecting anything deeply moving, or essential, but for what it is, it gets the job done reasonably well. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 10%
So it has come to this, would-be blockbuster summer: You’ve spent all your big shells, the heavy casings. X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sex Tape, Godzilla, 22 Jump Street all lie spent and useless at your feet. With one last gasp (Guardians of the Galaxy, which is actually a whole bunch of fun) or two, we’ll be done with you at last and can look forward to movies actually intended for adults. But for now, here’s some good stuff you can go ahead and watch at home to tide you over.
Nymphomaniac: Volume 1: A young woman retells her story of a lifetime of intense sexual gratification to a man who rescues her from the street. Lars von Trier is the kind of director you either enjoy being challenged by or dismiss as a pretentious, sadistic boor. This film, which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, and Stellan Skarsgard, features some of his signature agent provocateur material — a young woman with a serious daddy fetish having indiscriminate sex with a great deal of men in a variety of ways—but cuts it with many intellectual discourses on subjects ranging from fly-casting to obscure religious orders.
We’ve done some research to put together this nifty, one-stop-shop of the best ways you can get the most out of that student i.d. card at local arts venues in Philly—everywhere from movie theaters to museums to games at Citizens Bank Park. (Just remember to take said i.d. card.)
Student price: $8.25 weekdays and Sundays, $8.75 Fridays and Saturdays
If this price is still too steep, consider going on $5.50 Tuesdays and use the extra cash to get drinks at the Rave’s bar.
Landmark Theaters (Ritz at the Bourse, Ritz East, and Ritz Five)
Student price: $7.75 except Saturdays and holidays. $7 on “Bargain Wednesdays”
Go for the newest hipster films, stay for the intimate theater experience.
Student Price: $7
Although most screenings are free, take advantage of the cheap ticketed films to watch independent movies from around the world.
Marriage Equality remains a controversial topic for folks on both sides of the issue. Because the battle is so heated, people rarely take time to actually hear arguments from the other side. Filmmaker set out, along with her girlfriend, to open a dialogue between both parties in this political and social war. The result? .
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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%
WAIT FOR DVD
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:
Apparently Olympic skater—and Quarryville, Pennsylvania native—Johnny Weir was doing more than moderating for NBC (and Instagramming his outlandish outfits) at this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics. Amid all the flack he took for being there in the first place, Weir was covertly working with a film crew to document what it was like being gay at the games.