Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Archive: October, 2011

POSTED: Monday, October 31, 2011, 8:42 AM

The Philadelphia Film Festival had its gala closing night premiere Saturday – with a screening of the most-excellent George Clooney starrer, The Descendants -- and presented its juried prizes. Here’s the list:

Best Narrative Film – Policeman, the Nadav Lapid-directed tale of an Israeli anti-terrorist unit.

Best Documentary - Where Soldiers Come From, Gillian Wearing’s chronicle of three buddies from rural Michigan whose National Guard unit is sent to Afghanistan.

POSTED: Friday, October 28, 2011, 11:30 AM

Check out the new trailer for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, coming in December from Incredibles filmmaker Brad Bird --  doing for live action what he did for animation. That is, making it look very, very cool.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 10:03 AM
Bulger mugs for the camera. Damon will play him on screen.

In an interview in GQ, Matt Damon – busy working on Neill Blompkamp’s Elysium, and getting set to play Scott Thorson opposite Michael Douglas in Liberace – confirmed that he and old buddy Ben Affleck are hatching a Whitey Bulger biopic.  Bulger, the infamous chieftain of South Boston’s Winter Hill Gang, had been in hiding, on the run, for 16 years.  Wanted for multiple murders and other crimes, Bolger was finally found out, and nabbed, this June. Damon will play Bolger, and Affleck, with three directing jobs under his belt (Gone Baby Gone, The Town and the recently wrapped Argo), will boss Damon around on the set.

Damon tells GQ’s Amy Wallace that he’s getting ready to try his hand at directing, too. Co-written with The Office’s John Krasinski, the untitled project, Damon says, “is about a salesman who goes to this small town, and how the salesman is changed by his experience there."

P.S. -- As Media Bistro's Richard Horgan points out, Damon's already played opposite Jack Nicholson, who was doing his impersonation of an Irish-American Boston crimelord not unlike Bulger in Martin Scorsese's The Departed.  

POSTED: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 4:14 PM
Felicity Jones examines Anton Yelchin's neck for deer ticks, bed bugs, or the first signs of falling out of love.

The 20th annual Philadelphia Film Festival opened Oct. 20 with a near-capacity crowd at Penn’s Zellerbach Theater taking in Like Crazy, the Anton Yelchin/Felicity Jones love story, and then took in Jones and her writer/director, Drake Doremus as they fielded questions afterwards.  Other appearances over the first week of the fest’s busy, all-over-town run, include Undefeated directors Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin; filmmakers and castmembers from Streets; Chuck Wepner, the titular hero of The Real Rocky; a Q&A with Collaborator’s Martin Donovan and (local boy) David Morse, and Mark Duplass, co-writer/co-director of Jeff, Who Lives at Home, who flew in from Austin to introduce and then discuss his likably strange stoner comedy. On Monday, Jonathan Demme dropped in to show, and talk about, his post-Katrina documentary, I’m Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful.

Fest exec director Andrew Greenblatt promises that many of the filmmaker and star Q&As will soon be available on YouTube and Vimeo, so keep tabs of the fest on its site. More big names and big talents to come as the fest rocks and rolls into its second week.

POSTED: Friday, October 21, 2011, 11:20 AM
Elmo and Kevin Clash

Andrew Greenblatt, executive director of the Philadelphia Film Festival – and of the Philadelphia Film Society, which presents the 15-day event just under way – was kind enough to send over his list of personal picks from this year’s batch of 145 titles. Here goes:

1) The Artist – “Quite possibly my favorite film in Cannes this year.”

2) Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey – “A doc that takes you on a fantastic journey with a very happy ending.  Plus, we have Kevin Clash (aka Elmo) in attendance for the 10/28 screening!”

POSTED: Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 10:41 AM

The Ritz Film Bill, a free magazine for patrons of the Ritz theaters, folded two years ago. New publishers have brought back the concept, redubbed Ritz Film Magazine. It debuts Friday.

George Clooney, looking pensive on the Hawaiian sands, is there on the cover (a shot from Alexander Payne’s destined-for-Oscars new  film, The Descendants.) Inside, there’s an “Ask Ritz Film Magazine” column by local filmmaker and film maven Andrew Repasky McElhinney, aka “the Movie Doctor,” that gives readers the chance to learn about the origins of films, about casting news, about soundtracks, about the best Christmas movies – basically any question you want answered, and that McElhinney feels like answering. There’s also an interview with Happy, Happy director Anne Sewitsky, a round-up of local eateries and shops,  essays from area notables about their fondest Ritz memories,  and, of course, pages of programming info about the films currently on screen and coming soon.

Since the Ritz Film Bill went away, Ritz goers – me included – have been at a complete loss as to what to do in the seemingly endless 5 to 15 minutes before the movie starts. Finally, some good reading matter! Kudos to publisher Lisa H. Rafter and her crew.

POSTED: Friday, October 7, 2011, 4:16 PM
"I look just like Johnny Depp, don't I?"

Johnny Depp has acquired the rights to the life story of one Theodor Seuss Geisel, the late New England cartoonist and author who, under the slightly-better-known moniker Dr. Seuss, published a few books you may have heard of. A master of trisyllabic meter, of nonsense names and inspired rhymes, Seuss produced some 60 titles over the course of his 70 years in publishing, selling kabillions of copies of such essential bedside printed matter as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who! and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Depp’s no stranger to adaptations of kid lit, nor portraits of kid-literati: he’s assayed Willy Wonka and the Mad Hatter for Tim Burton, and Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie (Finding Neverland, for Marc Forster) .

The Hollywood Reporter’s Risky Business column reported the Depp/Dr.Seuss deal. And, if you can't wait, there's an animated version of The Lorax,  Seuss’ eco-masterwork, coming in March. Danny DeVito is the voice of the tree-hugging title character, and Zac Efron, Taylor Swift and Betty White are onboard. Despicable Me’s Chris Renaud directs. But that’s a whole other kettle of one fish two fish.

POSTED: Tuesday, October 4, 2011, 3:15 PM
Messers. Harrison, Starr, McCartney and Lennon get coiffed by fans between takes on "A Hard Day's Night."

Is A Hard Day’s Night the greatest rock and roll movie of all time? Ray Morton, author of a new book devoted to the Beatles’ breakthrough black-and-white 1964 pic, thinks so. A just-published title in a nifty series called Music On Film from Limelight Editions, A Hard Day’s Night examines the Richard Lester-directed Fab Four vehicle frontwards and back, inside out and outside in. (The other new Music On Film book is on Grease, and past titles include lively studies of West Side Story, This is Spinal Tap and Cabaret.)

Less a critical analysis than a step-by-step account of the film’s lightning-fast development, production,  box office and critical reception, Morton’s book is full of cool details, like the fact that Lester (a Philadelphian transplanted to London) and screenwriter Alun Owen tagged along with George and John and Paul and Ringo as they settled in Paris for a three-week stint at the Olympia. Much of the behind-the-scenes, mucking-about-hotel-rooms business depicted in the film was gleaned from this trip.

A Hard Day’s Night took from the British New Wave and the Marx Brothers, from Peter Sellers’ old Goonies programs and Elvis Presely’s movies, offering charming, mirror-image personas of the real Harrison, Lennon, McCartney and Starr. The film succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams -- not just as a marketing tool, fueling worldwide Beatlemania – but in the way it incorporated music and image, narrative and mood. Even today -- especially today -- the invention, inspiration and knockabout insanity of A Hard Day’s Night can be detected in countless music videos and music films. Morton’s book is a great “making of” document, and more.

About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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