Winter storm/Nor’Easter Damon might not have packed a powerful punch in the Philadelphia area but it’s wreaking havoc along the Coast and New England. Case in point? Wintery conditions delayed Chris Rock’s plane on his press junket to visit five cities in one day to promote his new film Top Five, opening Friday, December 12th.
Twenty-nine-year-old writer/director Damien Chazelle has found himself in career overdrive. He made quite a splash at this year’s Sundance festival with Whiplash, his latest work about a maniacally hard-driving jazz teacher and his equally obsessed drum student. (The film took home both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize.) The film, which offers star-making turns for both leads J.K. Simmons and Downingtown native Miles Teller, is an uncompromising exploration of true artistic attainment, and the heavy price of achieving it. It is also a brilliantly executed and savage back-and-forth between pupil and student that leaves the film’s audience shifting allegiances and sympathies—not unlike so many time-signature changes in a Thelonious Monk composition.
Ticket spoke with Chazelle over the phone the evening before his film finally opened outside the festival circuit.
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.
Movie-O-Meter: One of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Final Films, the Philly-Set God’s Pocket, Opens at Ritz Five
Capsule reviews of the weekend’s new movies. Should you see it, wait for DVD, or skit it altogether? We lay it out below.
SEE IT NOW!
God’s Pocket: A surprisingly assured debut from first-time director John Slattery, whom you know as the white-haired, incorrigibly charming Roger Sterling from Mad Men. Not so surprisingly, the film features great performances from his actors (including Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his last roles), but it’s really the carefully sardonic writing that sets it apart. Based on the low Rotten Tomatoes score, I’m apparently in the distinct minority on this one. Bonus: It’s based on former Daily News columnist Pete Dexter’s novel, and is set in a dingy Philly neighborhood. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 33%
Our weekly roundup of the new movies opening this weekend in Philadelphia. This week, only two: Ashgar Farhadi’s The Past and Gimme Shelter starring Vanessa Hudgens and Rosario Dawson.
THE PAST: If you’re going to see a new movie this weekend make it Ashgar Farhadi’s follow-up to 2012’s critically acclaimed A Separation. From Indiewire: “After four years apart, Ahmad returns to his wife Marie in Paris in order to progress their divorce. During his brief stay, he cannot help noticing the strained relationship between Marie and her daughter Lucie. As he attempts to improve matters between mother and daughter Ahmad unwittingly lifts the lid on a long buried secret.” Indiewire gives it an A-, as does Philadelphia City Paper, and it gets a 96-percent critic review on Rotten Tomatoes. Our summation? Go see it, but you could wait till it comes on DVD. (Ritz Five)
Starring: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis, Jeanne Jestin, Sabrina Ouazani, Babak Karmi, Valeria Cavalli
Director: Asghar Farhadi