Kicks’ Flick Picks at The Philly Film Fest:
Guys. The 27th Philly Film Fest is here, and I am super stoked! For the past two years, I have ventured to Canada with my movie pal, MJ’s Fixer, Jaime Davis to attend the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). By the time the Philly Film Fest arrives, we’ve already seen many of the flicks during our adventure at TIFF. But this year is different!
At this year’s fest you not only have the opportunity to see some of the films that were well received at TIFF, but you also have the chance to see movies that have not gotten a lot of festival play. The programing this year is incredible and I am excited to catch some of the movies I missed at TIFF and discover some new favorites. Read below for my picks along with those of MJ’s Best Boy, Ben, and The Fixer, Jaime.
I am not usually one for seeking out movies within the comedy drama, however there is one thing about Egg I am willing to set aside my hesitations with this genre. It is: Director, Marianna Palka. If you don’t know her, you should add her previous flicks to your watch list, especially if you are in the mood for absolute bonkers cinema. Her film, Bitch, that I was lucky enough to see last year in person at Philamoca, was an experience. A woman suffers a nervous breakdown and decides that she is a ferocious dog. Literally. In her latest, Egg, a pregnant stay-at-home wife (Christina Hendricks) and her husband are invited to a dinner party at an artist’s home in New York. During their visit Christina’s character, and her husband’s idea of “social norms” are challenged. With Marianna involved, it is expected this story will not be as straightforward as it sounds.
FRIDAY, OCT. 19 / 4:30 PM / RITZ EAST B
SATURDAY, OCT. 27 / 2:20 PM / RITZ EAST B
Anything Yorgos Lanthimos is making, I am watching. The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer are two of the most unnerving flicks I’ve watched in recent years, and yet I keep coming back for more. Sometimes images from his films just pop into my mind and give me the shivers. He makes films that stay with me and keep me thinking. Set in early 18th century England, The Favourite tells the story of two aristocrats (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone), competing for power in Queen Anne’s court. With Yorgos at the helm, this flick has the potential to be more than your run of the mill period drama filled with colonial style wigs and poofy skirts.
SATURDAY, OCT. 20 / 12:10 PM / RITZ EAST B
SATURDAY, OCT. 27 / 2:50 PM / PHILADELPHIA FILM CENTER
I missed this at TIFF and was kinda bummed about it. A stylized thriller set in the 1960s, involving two mothers whose close friendship changes after a tragic event. From the pictures I’ve seen the film’s keen production design is right up my alley. However, it was reading “a fresh spin on the Hitchcockian genre” that really sold it for me.
MONDAY, OCT. 22 / 5:10 PM / RITZ EAST B
TUESDAY, OCT. 23 / 9:20 PM / RITZ EAST B
Kicks’ Top TIFF Picks playing at Philly Film Fest:
Can we just cancel the Oscars this year and give Barry Jenkins all the awards? Just make the whole night about Barry. His latest movie has it all: great acting, wonderfully crafted story, beautiful cinematographer and a magnificent soundtrack. This movie is YES. An amazing follow up to his previous flick, Moonlight. The story centers around two young lovers who find themselves subject to an unjust system made to keep them apart.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24 / 6:00 PM / PHILADELPHIA FILM CENTER
I don’t know what else to say about this, other than it is probably not for everyone but it was right up my alley. An aging punk rocker Becky Something (Elizabeth Moss), finds herself at a crossroads. The story follows her self-destruction and which will most likely make you react in a variety of ways including: heavy sighs, laughter, eye rolling and cringing. With all of that said, believe me, it is well worth it, because you will be in the presence of G-R-E-A-T-N-E-S-S.
SATURDAY, OCT. 27 / 8:00 PM / PHILADELPHIA FILM CENTER
The latest flick from Steve McQueen in which after being saddled with her dead husband’s (Liam Neeson) debt, his wife (Viola Davis) decides the only way to pay off the debt is to complete the heist he didn’t get a chance to commit. This movie is intense. Immediately upon leaving the theater, I stress ate an entire plate of nachos. You have been warned.
SATURDAY, OCT. 20 / 7:20 PM / PHILADELPHIA FILM CENTER
A heart wrenching story about a dude who is trying to do the right thing but is mixed up with all the wrong people. The performances were wonderful, specifically from the film’s star Marcello Fonte. I truly felt something for this character. His choices were made based on his everyday life challenges and these choices came up with a huge cost. On a happier note, there are tons of doggos in this flick and none of them were injured…which pleased me.
SATURDAY, OCT. 20 / 2:15 PM / RITZ EAST A
TUESDAY, OCT. 23 / 2:15 PM / RITZ EAST B
Best Boy’s Flick Picks:
I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather lately but hopefully I’m back to normal in the next few days because! HOLY COW! The Philadelphia Film Society has a heck of a lineup slated for the upcoming 27th Philadelphia Film Festival. Here’s a few that I’m especially looking forward to.
First off, there’s Pig. This is an absurdist political comedy coming out Iran. Written and directed by Mani Haghighi and starring Hasan Majuni, Pig tells the story of a blacklisted director that appears to be the only one that isn’t a target of a serial killer beheading the country’s best directors. This movie has the potential to be funny, poignant and enlightening. What more could you ask for in a film fest?
TUESDAY, OCT. 23 / 9:40PM / RITZ EAST
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24 / 2:40PM / RITZ FIVE
The next one I’m excited to see is General Magic. This is a documentary directed by Sarah Kerruish and Matt Maude about a 1990s company that first developed the concepts of what we (nearly) all use today, smartphones. Reportedly, this is not only a look at the development of the technology, but also the teamwork needed to develop it and where those creators have gone since. If you are ever curious about the backstory to that minicomputer that you carry around in your pocket all day, this seems like a great movie to check out.
MONDAY, OCT. 22 / 8:10PM / RITZ FIVE
TUESDAY, OCT. 23 / 12:10P / RITZ FIVE
Finally there’s one of the (sadly) few local submissions, Zeroes. This one is directed by Charles Smith and follows a pair of roommates that drunkenly and inadvertently thwart a robbery in Kensington and become infamous vigilante heroes around Philly. This all sounds like a great time to me. The only problem I’m gonna have is if it lacks the realism of random Philadelphians booing the heroes and throwing batteries at them.
SUNDAY, OCT. 28 / 4:55PM / PHILADELPHIA FILM CENTER
In addition to those, I wanted to point out a movie I was lucky enough to see last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. Bodied was directed by Joseph Kahn who cowrote it with Alex Larsen. I was really torn about how interested I was in seeing this. Everything about it could cut two ways. Eminem produced it. I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing. The story centers around a nerdy white guy who immerses himself in one aspect of hip hop culture, battle rap. (“Hey! That could be ME!) Is this going to play off exploitative, funny or be compelling? It was anyone’s guess!
I don’t want to go too much into describing this one. Everyone is going to have their own take on this movie after watching it because it makes an effort to address multiple points of view, whether it be racially, economically, or by gender. You go in thinking it’s strictly about this white guy but there are several points in which the story flips and we see it from a different angle. In the end, I think everything played out great. Bodied holds a mirror up to society for us to look at ourselves. It doesn’t have any answers or solutions it’s trying to cram down your throat.
When we get to the final scene, I’m definitely still relating with the main character, but I don’t like him very much at all. He didn’t really learn or grow as much as he should have. Maybe I need to pick up where he left off. Shit. That’s a pretty fucking heavy feeling to walk out of this movie with. Especially considering I was laughing throughout. This is a good film and I think it’s telling some stories that really need to be told right now and in an entertaining way.
FRIDAY, OCT. 19 / 8:50PM / RITZ EAST
THURSDAY, OCT. 25 / 10:00PM / RITZ EAST
The Fixer’s Flick Picks:
I think Chinese cinema, while different from Hong Kong cinema, is one of the most fascinating scenes right now - there’s a lot of governmental control within the Chinese film industry yet we’re seeing some of those barriers slowly starting to break down. Ash is Purest White is one of the films reflective of what I think is a coming revolution in Chinese cinema. For my day job, I’m a higher education consultant and work with Chinese students applying to universities in the US. One of my students, a current undergrad film student at Pratt who wants to attend a top three MFA film program, excitedly told me about Zhangke Jia’s latest about a woman in love with a gangster, and the lengths she goes to protect her relationship. His enthusiasm for this one was infectious, and I can’t wait to check it out.
SUNDAY, OCT. 21 / 6:50PM / RITZ EAST
THURSDAY, OCT. 25 / 12:20PM / RITZ EAST
I recently watched an adorable Japanese romance called Tremble All You Want - it’s melancholic whimsy spoke directly to me in a way other films just haven’t and I made a note to try and explore more contemporary Japanese films. The minute I read about Asako I & II when picking my TIFF films this year I knew this was right up my movie alley. Sadly, it wasn’t playing when I was at the fest so I had to miss it. You have no idea how overjoyed I am it’s at PFF! Based on the novel Night and Day by Tomoka Shibasaki, Asako I & II is a mystery romance (ooooh how I love that combo); Asako loves and loses Baku mysteriously, only to later meet Ryohei - he looks just like Baku but is vastly different. I’m pretty obsessed with reading books that films are based on, either before or after watching the film versions, so I was bummed to learn there’s no English translation for this one. How fast can I learn to read Japanese?
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 24 / 2:15PM / RITZ EAST
SUNDAY, OCT. 28 / 12:30PM / RITZ EAST
Director Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki is the tale of two women, both daughters of political opponents in Nairobi, who fall in love amidst political and social oppression. The film was initially banned in Kahiu’s native Kenya, but luckily it’s playing at PFF. This is another one that I couldn’t work out schedule-wise at TIFF, and even though it’s screening later at night I HAVE to see it. I love love, especially between two women (I’m just biased, I guess).
SATURDAY, OCT. 27 / 10:00PM / RITZ EAST
SUNDAY, OCT. 28 / 10:30PM / RITZ EAST
The Fixer’s Top TIFF Picks playing at Philly Film Fest:
Like Rosalie, I also loved If Beale Street Could Talk, Dogman, and Widows (my fave from everything I saw at TIFF this year), but it was the Belgian film Girl that rocked me the most emotionally. Lukas Dhont’s story of a young trans ballerina struggling to accept her body and self while trying to overcome bullying at her competitive ballet school is actually based on a real life woman who acted as consultant on the film. Some have been critical of the casting of a CIS-gendered male playing the titular girl Lara but Dhont argues he met with 500 potentials; the role required someone who could perform the complicated balletic sequences flawlessly while handling the complex emotional scenes and I have to say star Victor Polster does both with grace. Girl also features one of the most loving father-daughter relationships I’ve seen onscreen in a long time.
FRIDAY, OCT. 19 / 2:15PM / RITZ EAST
SUNDAY, OCT. 21 / 4:30PM / RITZ EAST
Green Book is a serious crowd-pleaser, y’all. It’s the type of film you’ll want to go see after gorging on Thanksgiving or holiday dinners, the type of fllm your grandma and dad and ma and younger siblings and weird aunt will all enjoy. Directed by one of the THOSE Farrelly Brothers, Peter Farrelly, it features some of the most fun, immersive performances of the year. Viggo Mortensen is flawless as a New Yawk Italian racist who, yes of course, comes to change his stripes when he’s hired by cultured musician Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali, amazing) to escort him on his tour dates across the Jim Crow south. I expected very little from this and came away uplifted and dazzled by this gem. Yes, it’s commercial and accessible but highly entertaining. I bet we could use a little more of that in our lives right now.
FRIDAY, OCT. 19 / 6:00PM / PHILADELPHIA FILM CENTER