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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The improbable rise of the apes continues, both in the film’s narrative and in the minds of critics, who continue to swoon over this series, written by husband and wife team Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. The brilliant chimp Caesar (played by Andy Serkis), a decade after the events of the first film, remains a shockingly convincing and sympathetic hero, a mightily conflicted Shakespearian protagonist stuck amongst war-monger apes and humans, alike. The film takes its sweet time to build to its shattering climax, also an anomaly in a season where most films—action or otherwise—are all too quick to try and appeal to a jacked-up audience’s fast-twitch ADD tendencies. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
WAIT FOR DVD
Venus in Fur: A thoroughly striking film from the ever-controversial Roman Polanski, based on the Tony-winning Broadway play by David Ives. It concerns the extensive auditioning of a bedraggled actress (Emmanuelle Seigner, Polanski’s wife) by the director (Polanski doppelganger Mathieu Amalric) of a theatrical adaptation of the infamous Austrian S&M novel. The power dynamics between the couple—always a Polanski obsession—shift back and forth until the lines get sufficiently blurred to set up the film’s fascinating conclusive flourish. We suggest waiting for the DVD only because the nature of the production—two people in an empty theater, lashing out at one another—would likely play as well on a flat-screen as it would on a silver one. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
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The Discoverers: It’s been far too long since Griffin Dunne has had a role of sufficient significance. Sure, the After Hours star has maintained steady work, but in recent years he’s been more a TV pinch-hitter, blowing onto a set for a couple episodes and just as quickly moving on. This comedy from writer/director Justin Schwarz, making his feature debut, promises a more rewarding Dunne experience. He stars alongside John C. McGinley, and Dreama Walker as a beleaguered patriarch who takes his grown kids on a rambling Lewis and Clark reenactment adventure. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
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Wilmington native and Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza goes zombie in her latest project, Jeff Baena’s Life After Beth. The film—due out August 15th—concerns a teenager named Zach (Dane DeHaan), whose girlfriend (Plaza) dies, and then comes back to life when her parents, the Bible-thumping Maury and Geenie (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon, respectively), use a little magic from the Old Testament.
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Starting on June 18th, the PFS Theater at the Roxy will begin hosting a BYO movie night every Wednesday through August 27th.
Those who want to bring a bottle of wine to accompany their flick will pay $14 for a “premium ticket.” The price includes the film, a corking fee, glassware, and, duh, a fantastic buzz.
The theater is currently screening Josh Boone’s touching coming-of-ager The Fault in Our Stars, which may definitely make you weepy after a few glasses. Then, starting June 20th, Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys — starring Villanova grad Vincent Piazza — will take over Roxy’s big screen. (Trailers for both films below.)
Wednesday screenings begin at 7 p.m. Showtimes and tickets are available here, or in the theater’s box office.
Look out for Philly’s Kevin Hart next week when he makes a sure-to-be-ridiculous guest appearance on WWE Raw. He’ll be on the show to promote his next film, Think Like a Man Too, which hits theaters June 20. WWE released a teaser for the episode in the YouTube video below.
Indie films and delicious food will meet again on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this summer, with the second year of Film al Fresco, an outdoor film series presented by The Galleries at Moore College of Art and Design that features independent films by emerging artists from the Philadelphia area.
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Our weekly roundup of new releases, ranked for your viewing pleasure, by their indispensability and watchability. Yes, we made up that word.
Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in “Edge of Tomorrow.”
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Edge of Tomorrow: Please don’t take this as an endorsement of this latest Tom Cruise futuro-action-thriller. It’s not great, it doesn’t make much sense, and the ending is downright lousy. But visually it wins, thanks to the enigmatic Doug Limon, who has incorporated spectacular special effects involving a bunch of whippet-fast, ropey aliens. (Oh, and Emily Blunt’s not so bad, either.) This is another one of those flicks that, if you actually plan on seeing it, you might as well see it as big as you can. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
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Here we are in that glorious sweet spot of the year — finally beyond all that damned ice and snow and right before the execrable heat and humidity of deep summer. The sensible thing to do would be to go outside! Over and over! Soak up all of Philly’s splendid spring before things turn damp and dire. But, failing that, there’s always the option of holing up in your living room and watching movies. Here are our picks for the best new movies on Netflix streaming for the month of June.
Breakdown: A neurotic comedian falls in love with a stylish woman, and endures the consequences.
What's the Rumpus? Yes, like all Woody Allen movies these days, one must put his personal baggage off to the side if you wish to enjoy one of his films. But this 1977 Oscar winner remains one of his most sparkling and enduring efforts. Funny, poignant, and strewn with seminal moments (Annie's brother — played by a young Christopher Walken — has a particularly hilarious cameo). It recalls happier times in the House of Allen.
Breakdown: An older woman and her dog team up with an elderly song-and-dance team to locate her grandson, who was kidnapped as he was competing in the Tour de France.
What's the Rumpus? Sylvain Chomet's hallucinatory animated spectacle is like watching a twisted Disney movie while strung out on a powerful psychedelic. And I mean that in the best way possible. Witty and charming — and uniquely visionary — it found an enthusiastic audience in children, film critics, and discerning visual aficionados alike.
Breakdown: A supremely gifted secret agent is forced to hunt down a sadistic arms dealer who kidnaps his wife and tortures him in the process.
What's the Rumpus? Any doubts of the late, roly-poly Philip Seymour Hoffman's insane range (he was the acting equivalent of diva who can sing in eight octaves) were well put to rest here. He plays a villain so smugly evil and terrifyingly under control that we truly fear for Ethan Hunt's life, even though we should know better. J.J. Abrams, a TV wunderkind, was perhaps the perfect choice to revitalize this franchise after the vastly disappointing original sequel, made by action stalwart John Woo.
Breakdown: The fight for the preservation and display of Philly's Barnes Foundation, a $25 billion art empire, is documented.
What's the Rumpus? In a story well-known to a Philly audience, the often bitter back-and-forth between the Barnes' purists — who wanted the collection to remain in its cramped original location in Merion, as Barnes himself so decreed before his death, and those city officials who insisted the priceless collection be moved to a suitable facility in the city is incredibly engrossing. Don Argott's documentary meticulously lays out the battle lines between the art activists and the power-player politicians who simply couldn't let a dead man's last wishes stand in the way of a reputable revenue stream.
Breakdown: A middle-aged former composer arrives at a school for troubled boys in late-'40s France and starts a chorus singing group for the students as a way of encouraging discipline.
What's the Rumpus? Nothing wrong with a bit of sweeping, emotional uplift now and again, especially if it's as well-presented and non-saccharine as this French drama from director Christophe Barratier. It was compared favorably to other such melodramatic musical fables as Mr. Holland's Opus, but, thankfully, it does not share that film's penchant for weepy indulgence. Instead, it earns its heartening inspiration with well-rendered characters and a certain kind of emotional honesty.
Variety has the scoop on a new new project starring Philly’s Will Smith, a drama based on GQ article “Game Brain,” which takes on the controversy surrounding concussions in the NFL. More from Variety:
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Robert Drake revisits Ireland for the first time since his attack.
Where I Am — Pamela Drynan’s 2013 documentary concerning Philadelphia writer Robert Drake — is now available to stream instantly on Netflix. The film catches up with Drake 15 years after he was severely beaten and left for dead by two men he met in a bar in Sligo, Ireland. More from G Philly:
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