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PFS Review: Wild Tales

Wild Tales

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Originally Posted on

See it at the Roxy! copy

Beginning with a chills-inducing Twilight Zone-esque vignette aboard an airliner and ending with the quintessential disrupted wedding reception, Wild Tales was a deserved Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film. Superbly directed with a jaundiced eye by Argentinian Damian Szifron, its six separate stories share a penchant for the perverse side of human nature. Overflowing with a cornucopia of black humor, the film is spiked with outbursts of startling if cartoonish violence. I don’t think I’ve had more fun watching a film this year.

PFS Review – The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Originally Published on

Sadly, we cannot undo the unconscionable acts propelled by racism and sexism throughout our history. A large part of fixing these See it at the Roxy! copyproblems is coming to grips with what actually occurred. Viscerally experiencing the shameful humiliations is a good start. In The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino, never one to shy away from harsh realities, holds a mirror to some of the crassest and most unmerciful forms of denial of human dignity.

Draping his hate-filled, postbellum tale around a classic Western genre, Tarantino intensifies the proceedings with glorious Super Panavision 70mm cinematography and a score from spaghetti western veteran Ennio Morricone. The Hateful Eight is meant to be seen on the widest screen possible. Ironically, much of the film takes place in one room, Minnie’s Haberdashery, a roadside rest stop set amidst a Wyoming blizzard.

PFS Review: The Big Short


Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Originally posted on Cinedork.comSee it at the Roxy! copy

Like all superb art about significant political events, The Big Short holds a mirror to human beings caught up in forces beyond their control. Highly entertaining and often comical, the film focuses on several maverick financial rocket scientists who go against the grain, trying to take the upper hand in the way they know best. Betting that the economy will collapse long before the rest of their contemporaries catch on, the geniuses here may be wacko eccentric in completely different ways, but they know how to make money.

Michael Burry (Christian Bale), the most extreme of the bunch, appears to be rather far along the Asperger spectrum. He’s also in charge of investments for a California investment firm. He often works barefoot listening to death metal, and doesn’t pay much attention to his staff. His initial investigation of the mortgage housing bubble convinces him he must bet against what had been assumed to be a rock solid bonds contrived from subprime mortgages. The idea was so foreign at the time that Burry must go to the investment banks and ask them to create a new financial entity–in essence, bond insurance.

Congratulations to the PFF24 Award Winners!

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Uncategorized

Last night, the awards winners for the 24th Philadelphia Film Festival were announced proceeding Closing Night film Where to Invade Next.  Congratulations to all our winners!


Audience Awards // When Voices Meet

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Student Choice Award // The Boy and the Beast

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Best Narrative // Ixcanul Volcano

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Honorable Mention | Best Screenplay // The White Knights

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Honorable Mention | Best Acting // The Club

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Best Documentary // The Pearl Button

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Honorable Mention // (T)ERROR


Best Short // World of Tomorrow

World of Tomorrow

Honorable Mention // Manoman


Sharon Pinkenson for Best Local Feature // Beer Runners

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Archie Award for Best First Feature // Mustang


Film Review – Dheepan


Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Republished from

If you haven’t seen Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet (2010), do whatever it takes to catch up. Also, don’t miss Auduard’s latest, Dheepan, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Dheepan is the story of a “fake family” of refuges from war-torn Sri Lanka. Former Tamil Tiger Dheepan (Antonysaythan Jesuthasan, himself a former boy soldier), in order to escape the battle zone, assembles a pretend family while in the refugee camp. A woman, Yalini (Kalieaswara Srinivisan), searches the camp for orphaned children. She eventually finds nine-year-old Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby), a perfect fit for the dead family whose identity and passports the threesome will now assume.

Film Review – Ixcanul Volcano


Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Republished from

Dirt-poor with no running water nor electricity, and unable to read or write, Maria (unprofessional actress Maria Mercedes Coroy) is set up by her strong-willed, well-meaning parents for an arranged marriage to the foreman of the coffee plantation they inhabit. What transpires is a revealing glimpse into the Mayan culture of the Guatemalan highlands. Maria’s gaze is so intently piercing, it isn’t hard to figure out she is constantly alert for danger. She and her parents, who speak the Kaqchikel language and virtually no Spanish, do things the way they have been done for centuries.

When Maria begins to question things, she proceeds cautiously. Yet her drive for self-expression holds steady through a caldron of superstition and physical danger, including a host of poisonous snakes. I left the film with a deep fondness for these indigenous people, high admiration for Maria’s dynamic mom (a terrific Maria Telon), and nothing but respect for Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante. Bustamante’s excellent helpers include cinematographer Luis Armango Arteaga and veteran sound designer Julien Cloquet, who had me wondering whether the theater’s sound system was going haywire only to figure out that it was actually the eerie roar of the smoldering dormant volcano in the background. When Maria asks her friend Pepe what is on the other side of the volcano, he flippantly replies the U. S. with that little thing Mexico in between.

ixanul volcano will play again on saturday, october 31 at the Ritz Bourse.

Film Review – The Program

The Program

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Don Malvasi

Republished from

The narrative surrounding Lance Armstrong was just too good to offer much public resistance. His overcoming of testicular cancer diagnosed at age 21, his championing of promoting others to fight the disease, and not least, his seven consecutive Tour de France victories all clouded the many signals that something grim was awry. Stephen FrearsThe Program outlines the injections, the blood transfusions, the bullying, and most of all, the self-deception that eventually doomed Armstrong into disgrace. Highlighted by an excellent Ben Foster performance as Armstrong, the film also boasts a very good Chris O’Dowd as the London Sunday Times journalist who led the expose. The film’s compassion for Armstrong centers on his unqualified desire to be a champion. His “everybody’s doping” argument finally subsides when he realizes he’s lost, but not before we get a chilling glimpse into the psyche of an obsessed competitor, equal parts flinty and freaked out.

PFS Interview – Richard Gere & Oren Moverman // Time Out of Mind


Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Alex Gibson

When most people see the title of Richard Gere’s latest film, they will undoubtedly recall the Bob Dylan album of the same name. However, the phrase “Time Out of Mind” did not originate with Dylan, according to director Oren Moverman.Like all great Dylan, [it] comes from Shakespeare, from Romeo & Juliet…and then it turns out it was also rooted in British law.  It means a time in memorial…something that exists beyond memory, beyond time…” Moverman went on to say this idea closely described how he saw Time Out of Mind’s main character.

In the first scene of Time Out of Mind, we find a well-known face – one that has graced the screen and lived in our hearts  as a knight, an officer, a gentleman, a gigolo, and dozens of other characters. Though his face is engrained in our memories, when Richard Gere first appears in Time Out of Mind, there is something harshly unfamiliar about him, with his shabby clothes, scruff, and a curved scar on his scalp. Rather than the debonair character he usually portrays, this time Gere plays George Hammond, a meandering homeless man who spends his days wandering the streets of New York City.

PFS Rapid Recommendation – The Man from U.N.C.L.E

Man from UNCLE1

Written by Alex Gibson on . Posted in Blogs

By Kaya Proctor

The Man From U.N.C.L.E is not your typical Guy Ritchie film, but an ode to 1960’s spy flicks. Yes, it was chalk full of split screens, spinning shots, and high speed action sequences, but it also contained a few surprises. The writing on this film, though slightly predictable, was wonderful! Chalk full of dry humor and comical banter between the two male leads, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. All in all it is a fun watch, and definitely worth checking out.


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Every year I am more impressed with the incredible programming that PFS secures for PFF. I feel lucky to live in a city with such a competitive festival.
Joe Anna Haelig