Friday, December 26, 2014

Archive: July, 2013

POSTED: Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:04 AM
This film publicity image released by The Weinstein Company shows Michael B. Jordan in a scene from "Fruitvale Station." (AP)

“The violence in this country, especially as it effects African-American men and boys, is not a problem,” Mayor Michael Nutter said last night at a screening of the new film, Fruitvale Station. “It is an epidemic, it is a disease…. We need to do something about it.”

Standing before a packed theater of invited guests from  Philadelphia youth groups, including the Mayor’s Violence Prevention Workshop, the Youth Violence Reduction Partnership and other city and community initiatives, the Mayor introduced the film – a wrenching dramatizion of the events leading up to the New Year’s Day, 2009, shooting death of Oscar Grant, a young, black Oakland, Calif., resident. Returning home from New Year’s Eve celebrations in San Francisco , Grant, 22, unarmed, was killed by a transit police officer on a station platform. Michael B. Jordan stars as Grant in the Sundance Film Festival prize winner.

Standing in front of the Ritz Five screen, accompanied by Gerard McMurray and Ephraim Walker, a producer and consultant, respectively, for the film,  Mayor Nutter offered  brief but emotional comments to the audience of  teens and city officials.

POSTED: Thursday, July 25, 2013, 11:36 AM
Richard Cohen, president and ceo of Public Health Management, a fast-growing Philadelphia government health contractor, is moving 800 social workers and other staffers from the dowdy Atlantic building on South Broad Street to Comcast's former headquarters on Market St., the Centre Square East Bldg, 1500 Market St., in one of the biggest Center City real estate deals of the year and another sign of the weak market for Philly offices. This is Centre Square East in the middle. ( Clem Murray / Staff Photographer )

Movie-going residents of Center City and its burgeoning neighborhoods to the north and south have long bemoaned the shortage of serious film venues here. (Or funny ones, for that matter.)

Compared to New York, say, or San Francisco, Philadelphia is woefully underscreened. So, while we wait for the Philadelphia Film Society to finish its long and rocky rehabbing of the Roxy on Sansom Street, and for the new operators of the Prince to beef up its film programming (the 20th anniversary re-release of Steven Spielberg's Schindler’s List is set there for Sept. 12), it’s welcome news to hear that the folks at the Kimmel Center now have a real cinema on their hands.

The 650-seat Perelman Theater in the Kimmel’s Broad and Spruce Streets complex has been outfitted with a high-def digital video projection system with 3-D capability and surround sound audio. In cahoots with Sharon Pinkenson and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, the plan is to book major studio events, local filmmaker premieres, offer its screen up for film festivals and college and university programs, along with other public and private bookings.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 1:41 PM
Photo courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

Jason Osder spent ten years making Let the Fire Burn, a harrowing documentary account of the confrontation – and ensuing conflagration – between members of MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department, resulting in the death of six adult members of the Afrocentric back-to-nature organization, and five children.

The documentary -- which incorporates archival video from the MOVE Commission, police video, TV news footage, and a deposition interview with then 13-year-old Birdie Africa (now Michael Moses Ward), the sole child inside the MOVE compound to survive – premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Now, Zeitgeist Films has acquired Let the Fire Burn for theatrical release. The indie distributor, with Hannah Arendt currently in theaters, will open Osder’s picture on  Oct. 2 at the Film Forum in New York.  The film will debut in Philadelphia and other markets in the weeks thereafter.  

POSTED: Thursday, July 11, 2013, 9:46 AM
Siboney Lo gets down and dirty, from "Hidden in the Woods."

Calling all horror freaks: Two hardcore Spanish-language shockers – Hidden in the Woods, from Chilean scaremeister Patricio Valladares, and Memory of the Dead, from Argentine Valentin Javier Diment -- both fresh from the festival circuits will get their area premieres Thursday, July 18, at the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art. The double-bill comes courtesy of the Philly-based Artsploitation Films, PhilaMOCA and Danger After Dark.

Hidden in the Woods, with an English-language remake in the works (by Valladares himself, with Evie Thompson, Electra Avellan and Michael Biehn starring), is about two sisters and their deformed brother, tortured and held captive by their crazed drug-dealing dad, who make an escape into the Chilean forests. Gruesome, grisly stuff ensues. Siboney Lo and Carolina Escobar play the sisters in the 2012 original.

In Memory of the Dead,  a young widow (Lisa Henni) invites a few of her late husband’s closest friends over to her big, gothic manse, telling them that she plans, with their help, to summon her spouse back to life. But she’s got other plans – like the ritual sacrifices of her unsuspecting houseguests. Gory, funny, a salute to vintage Argento and Raimi…. an orgy of occult terror!

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 srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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