Ticket film critic Piers Marchant shares his favorite flicks as he takes them in at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City:
A brutal but thoroughly enthralling prison film from England, directed by David MacKenzie (Young Adam, Spread). It is highlighted by its performances, and none more so than lead Jack O'Connell, who plays an angry, hyper-violent troubled youth with the perfect amount of swag and pathos. The film does lean toward some of the clichés of the genre (Rupert Friend plays the obligatory therapist who sees some hope in the kid), but with this strong showing from O'Connell and company, you don't mind so terribly much.
Chinese director Yi'nan Diao brings us this celebrated jet-black noir from his homeland, which won top prize at last year's Berlin Film Festival, but you will certainly need to be prepared for its tonal peculiarities. The story involves a detective who gets caught up in a baffling case involving body parts being strewn all over the countryside, and the mysterious femme fatale who may or may not have something to do with it, but along the way, there's bouts of strange comic violence, a long-discussed dry cleaning accident, and a lot of ice skating.
An important doc from James Spione about the disturbing trend under the Obama administration to issue forth charges under the Espionage Act against government whistleblowers. (Only 11 Americans have ever been charged under it, and 8 of them have been under the current administration). The film focuses on two of these individuals — one, a former CIA agent who spoke out against the "enhanced interrogation techniques" utilized by field agents, and suffered a complete career derailment as a result; the other, a former high-ranking official at the NSA, who called attention to the illegal wiretapping of Americans, and paid an extremely heavy price. You don't have to be partisan to be appalled at the government's methods of punishing those who speak out against its moral effrontery and reckless disregard of the Constitution.
A moving Georgian film about a young wife having to make hard choices when her husband is sent to jail on a long sentence. Tinatin Kajrishvili's portrait of a complicated woman forced to weigh her competing impulses of caring for her new husband and finding her own physical joy with others never takes the easy or obvious path, and as a result, the film carries a good deal more heft than it might have. The long closing scene, which involves a conjugal visit that is a good deal more sweet and caring than carnal, feels absolutely perfect.
A mostly winning military comedy from Israeli director Talya Lavie about an administration unit of young Israeli female soldiers and their various conflicts and conundrums along the way of their two-year conscription. With its penchant for outrageous characters, long-suffering CO's and slapstick farce, it plays a bit like a '70s Hollywood comedy, with just enough verve and inventiveness to stay interesting. Consider it a kind of Private Ben-Jamon.
Extra reading: Highlights from Tribeca, Part 1: Equal Parts Mad, Creative Genius
Edward J. Sozanski, since 1982 chief art critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, died on Monday April 14. He was 77. For over three decades Sozanski was the most powerful voice evaluating and commenting on visual art in Philadelphia. In spite of complaints from those whose egos he wounded, the lasting evaluation of his work will be one of appreciation for his clarity and insight and respect for his integrity. Sozanski’s real world influence, like that of most critics, was probably considerably less than his readers imagined. His vocal and strongly reasoned opposition to the move of the Barnes Foundation from the original location in Merion, Pa. stipulated by founder Albert Barnes, to Center City had no effect on the machinations that brought about the current incarnation of the Foundation. Following the move with characteristic frankness his comments about the new installation were largely approving.
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Last week I reported that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will reunite on the big screen again, playing sisters in the Jason Moore-helmed comedy The Nest.
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Penn’s Landing beer garden and outdoor concert hub, Morgan’s Pier announced its summer concert schedule, with a lineup promising all kinds of sound-of-summer fun. Get ready to get outside and dancing with Dave Pianka of Making Time and Dolphin Tavern, international DJs like Booka Shade and Tiga, and free, live performances presented by R5 Productions and Yuengling Lager. The season starts May 1st, with a host of opening-week festivities. Tickets are available here. Check out the lineup below:
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A great deal of Internet ink was expended yesterday over a scene in the third episode of Season Four of Game of Thrones, HBO’s runaway dungeons-and-dragons hit. Spoiler alert: In case somehow you missed it, in the scene Jaime Lannister rapes his twin sister Cersei in the shadow of a bier bearing the corpse of their eldest son, Joffrey, a.k.a. The King Nobody Liked. The commentariat rose up en masse because in the scene, Cersei protests vehemently when Jaime starts to kiss her; her protests heat up even further as his passion (or wrath, or resentment) does; finally, she returns his kisses as they fall to the floor to consummate the act.
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In a recent interview Neighbors director Nicholas Stoller leaked that he may soon be working on a new “buddy comedy” starring Philly’s Kevin Hart and Seth Rogen. Here’s what he said in an interview with Slashfilm:
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Sochi Olympic correspondent duo Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski have been hired by NBC to provide commentary on the fashion at next week’s Kentucky Derby. From AP:
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Over on G Philly I’m holding a ticket contest for the Cher and Cyndi Lauper show on April 28th, but I have an extra pair I wanted to Cher, I mean share, with Ticket readers, too.
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What you should do in Philly this week:
Chicago legend Ken Vandermark begins the impressive calendar for the New Paths Festival, bringing his globally inspired, experimental jazz to Philadelphia for the first time in five years. The internationally recognized improvizational MacArthur fellow and his newest ensemble, Made to Break, bring together elements of Ethiopian music, the New Music concepts of John Cage and Morton Feldman, and Dutch Group the Ex to debut a new piece inspired by the Barnes collection. Before the show, Vandermak and Barnes Foundation's Bernard C. Watson will discuss the music's correlation to Dr. Barnes' particular curation. Monday, April 21st, 7 p.m. (lecture), 8 p.m. (performance), $25, Barnes Foundation, 2025, Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The Constitution Center has a bash planned for the world's oldest hero: The earth! Visit local eco-friendly organizations stationed throughout the museum for lessons on greening your life. Take in a few inconvenient truths on the planet and its future with plenty of ecology-themed programming, like an Earth-day video presentation, eco-crafts, paper-making, and a fun quiz. Take the kids for a day of educational revelry. Tuesday, April 22nd, 9:30 a.m., free with admission, National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street.
If you haven't been to any of Cinedelphia's screenings yet, you're missing out on one of the most enjoyable, delightfully freaky film fests to come this way in quite some time. Make up for lost time at Tuesday's screening of the Kubrick classic, The Shining. This is no horror popcorn fest, though, with the film being shown forward and backwards simultaneously to challenging cinematic, and, yeah, trippy effect. Philly sludgesters, Psychic Teens, will provide live scoring. Tuesday, April 22nd, 8 p.m., $10, PhilaMOCA, 531 North 12th Street.
Happy 450th birthday, Bill! Celebrate the Bard's big four-five-oh with a blowout bash at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Central Branch. On the guest list are jugglers, swordfighters, and other period performers thanks to the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre. Entertainment also includes Elizabethan crafts, live music, tight-rope walking, and cake. Wednesday, April 23rd, 12:30 p.m., free, Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street.
Philly funny people Abigail Bruley and Andrew Laputka debut the newest episode of their very funny, very Philly sketch show, Down the Show, at a screening party this week. Watch Philebrities like punk legend Micke McKee, comedian-cum-reality-star Doogie Horner, and rapper Kurt Hunte play stupid-smart in a variety of recognizable locales (sketches are filmed at Fergie's, on Broad Street, on the AC beach, at Penn Treaty Park, among other local institutions). Catch cameos from comedy heavy-weights like Kids in the Hall's Kevin MacDonald and the great Eddie Pepitone. Wednesday, April 23rd, 7 p.m., free, Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill Street.
Kicking off Sunday, April 20th, Philadelphia Black Gay Pride (PBGP) is in full swing all week. It's seven days of celebrating the often under-represented members of the LGBTQ community, with a slew of events to spread awareness, education, and of course, pride. Thursday night's poetry slam, presented by Heartspoken and PBGP promises to combine these major tenets in a night of fun and openness. Check out other events in PBGP week here. Thursday, April 24th, 6:30 p.m., $10, 4 Fathers, 319 Market Street.
You’ll also find lots of local events now through June in our Philadelphia Event Listings.