Archive: October, 2011
Check this space all week for coverage and reviews of the 2011 FirstGlance Film Festival.
Set in nearby Mt. Airy, Controlled Burn asks viewers just how far one human can go to support another. Does one life have the right to live if it overtakes another? Echoing the sentiments of a forest overrun with foliage and grasping vines, the short film shows how a controlled burn can ultimately let the standing trees shine. Local filmmaker Dan Van Wert based the short piece on his father’s own short story, entitled "The Firebringer." Juxtaposing love and common comfort with the dramatic tones of fire, betrayal and independence, this film works hard to offer an intimate space of troubled love. The cinematic elements — the way light provides both intimate space and confusion — are what keep the narrative alive. While the premise questions basic assumptions about humanity and will surely spark many a philosophical conversation, the prize really goes to the actors (including locals Nancy Boykin and Dan Kern) for their interaction with the scene around them.
CITY PAPER GRADE: B
Sat., Oct. 15, 3:15 p.m., $8, screens with Little Hero, More to Live For, Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St., firstglancefilms.com/philadelphia.
Each week, Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald puts together a rundown of book-centric events that’ll keep you “lit” like a Cuban stogie all week long.
[ tonight ]
➤ Paz it On
On this day in 1990, poet and essayist Octavio Paz (pictured) won the Nobel Prize for literature. Throughout his career, Paz was surrounded by political and cultural turmoil in Mexico and believed that he would best understand his world by reflecting on history and tracing social evolutions through time. Many of his works model this process. For instance, the 17-page Sunstone is modeled after the poet’s muse, the ancient Aztec cyclical calendar. Sit down with Eliot Weinberger’s translation and watch how each stanza could stand alone as a kernel of the whole. All day, back porch, $9.95, Sunstone: Piedra de Sol.
[ wednesday ]
➤ Occupy Yourself
If you haven’t celebrated Philadelphia’s involvement in Occupy Philly, take this low-risk option to throw your fist up. Or, if you've been protesting since last Thursday, take a break to shower, and then come by the Wooden Shoe. Alongside your fellow city anarchists and author Keith McHenry, discuss the unjust and sometimes illegal actions that have been inflicted on silence political activists, such as wire-tapping and violent force. McHenry’s End the Criminalization covers the current fight against world poverty and hunger in detail, who’s to blame and who can help. Ask him questions and convince him to walk to City Hall with you. 7-9 p.m., free, Wooden Shoe Books, 704 South St., woodenshoebooks.com.
[ thursday ]
For this month’s Book Discussion and a Film, the Northeast Regional Library will host Dennis Lehane’s page-turning thriller, Shutter Island. Charge onward into the ever-passionate battle between literature and Hollywood’s adaptations to decide which medium was able to portray the horror and suspense more effectively. As you drive home from the event and walk into your empty house alone, just be grateful it ain’t Friday (the 13th). 1 p.m., free, Northeast Regional Library, 2228 Cottman Ave., freelibrary.org.
Check this space all week for reviews and coverage of the 2011 FirstGlance Film Festival.
Already winning awards right and left, Michelle Steffes' The Interview is a testament to the “dark comedy” genre. Only 12 minutes long, the short packs in well-scripted comedy, incredible effects, amazing attention to detail and a poignant socio-political taunt. Set in a post-apocalyptic Earth, the last man alive seeks a job from the second-to-last man, a radio host. Traveling past realistic burning cities and empty streets, young Sam Cohen (played by Abington, Pa's Adam Shapiro) comes to sit in front of Howard for a job position as the executive of the radio station — a job recently vacated by a bird-flu victim. Noting his strengths (a great immune system and stellar social skills), Sam should be a shoe-in for the only corporate position left in the world. But then again, all of his references are dead. Perfectly scripted dark humor ensues, touching on the soreness and almost-preposterous scenarios and situations in the current job market — one that doesn’t look too dissimilar to an end-of-times interview.
CITY PAPER GRADE: A
Thu., Oct. 13, 8 p.m., $12, screens with Bad Days, Chord, Calendar Girl, Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St., 215-448-1200, firstglancefilms.com.
Sports nut Massimo Pulcini rounds up a week of everything Philly sports. Two points!
Philly Sports fans, it's been a truly terrible weekend — a weekend marred by disappointment, insult, injury and just bad sports. It marked the actual end of the Phillies baseball season and a probable end to the Eagles’ hopes for a successful campaign. A weekend like this has me scratching my head and asking a bunch of "what ifs" about the state of our teams, our franchises and our city.
But the most important (and scariest) question is this: Is Philly’s time as perennial contenders over? Has Philly sports died?
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
For the Phillies, the requiem began ringing during game five of the National League Divisional Series where the Phils were eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in a 1-0 loss. Despite Roy Halladay only allowing one run in his eight innings of work, the Phillies offense came out like a flat tire and couldn’t produce a single run against St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter. Phillies first basemen Ryan Howard, who was responsible for the final out in last year’s disappointing National League Championship Series loss, was once again the last man standing at the plate with two outs left and no men on base in the ninth. Once again he failed to deliver as the ball grounded out to first, collapsing Philly’s World Series dreams.
To make matters worse, the Phillies season wasn’t the only thing that tumbled — in a 60-feet-from-first crash (pictured), Howard ruptured his Achilles tendon. “I felt a pop,” he later said. “It went numb and it felt like it was on fire.” Now the Phillies end their season early, making that magical 2008 World Series run seem even farther away.
There’s a new fashion mag on the scene. SKLTN showcases a range of local designers and fashionistas from young Philly's point of view.
The man behind SKLTN, Marcus Branch, finds Philadelphia incredibly inspiring. “The moment I began the idea of a magazine, I immediately thought ‘It has to be out of Philly,’” he says. “I see things around here that capture my eye, and I'd like to expose them to others, as well. Philly is such an artistic city, from its murals to its residents. I'm just exploring it.” Branch, a student of photography at UArts, finds many of the mag-featured fashions while he's out on the street. If he spots an intriguing outfit, he’ll stop the person to chat. He looks for style off the beaten path and seeks to include whatever he finds there.
Cool features in the current issue include “Fossilis ‘Dug Up," a photo-stacked trip down memory lane with an '80s-style lover and “Concrete” (pictured), a set of seriously haute hairstyles. SKLTN can be viewed online.
What’s life without a few curb stomps and chainsaw massacres to ease the stress of your day?
Gears of War 3 comes packaged with all of the action-packed, gory goodness you would expect from Epic Games’ multi-platinum action-shooter series.
But beneath the hard exterior masked by loads of f-bombs and blood-spurting madness is a story that has more scope and depth than the average 15-year-old player might be able to grasp, with eerie comparisons to be made between the game’s primary natural resource and one of the real world — oil.
Yet it’s doubtful that even oil could reach the same level of “oh my god we’re all going to die” panic induced in the world of Gears of War 3. The game begins by once again introducing main character Marcus Phoenix, who is in refuge with his fellow COG members trying to avoid the emulsion-born lambent species as he sorts through his daddy issues. The bulk of the campaign has you trekking through all sorts of destructive and ooey-gooey locations as you make your way through the final chapter in the Gears saga, which I will admit, is quite satisfying.
The story provides something many video game “trilogies” (looking at you, Halo) have failed to in the past: closure. Gears of War 3 finds itself shining best when observed as part of a three-part package rather than as a single entity, despite what money-hungry game designers say about the game being perfectly fine as a stand-alone for newcomers. Watching Marcus Phoenix prance around the world of Sera in search of his father undoubtedly seems more Luke Skywalker to the unknowing audience than ever intended.
But with all of its crude humor and testosterone-overloaded one-liners, the series’ conclusion does find its moments of sentimentality, without ever feeling too over-the-top, sappy, or sacrificial of what makes the game so great in the first place. And just as you start to tap your fingers impatiently, the game picks back up and keeps your eyes glued to the television screen, making the roughly 15-hour experience one that is neither too long nor too short, but just right.
On the whole, the gameplay within Gears third entry remains largely untouched, staying true to the age-old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage. Gears of War has always been such a blockbuster title because it dares to be different in a consistent way – it’s the anti-“run ‘n gun,” the salty alternative to your piece of tooth-decaying chocolate cake. This game’s atmospheric, cover-based, strategy-emphasized gameplay mechanics are no exception.
And the multiplayer? As competitive as ever, even if you’ll find major enhancements to be few and far in between. All the same, Gears of War 3 offers more multiplayer modes and roster calculations than I could possibly list in a review, with that alone making the game well worth its $60 price tag.
As the franchise prepares to take its rightful place among the video game greats, one can only hope that the Gears series will go more the way of The Sopranos and less that of Sex and the City; know when to let a good thing die.
The FirstGlance Film Festival has come a long way from its 1996 debut venue — a dingy, Center City basement. And this year's local-heavy lineup is shining proof that the indie film community in this town is on the up-and-up, too.
“Philadelphia’s scene is on the rise … there are a lot of talented people in our area that believe in it and they’re really turning out fantastic projects," says local filmmaker John Guarnere (pictured). "You weren’t getting that five years ago.”
Be sure to check this space all week long for our reviews of all the flicks making up Philly's contributions to the festival — including every genre from feature film to music video.
Thu.-Sun., Oct. 13-16, various times, $8-$60, Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St., firstglancefilms.com/philadelphia.
Reporter Meg Augustin takes you inside some of Philly's most fab dwellings to showcase our city's unique grasp on design and architecture.
If you think artist communes died with flower children and Peter Simon’s photos of free nudity, then you haven’t been to the house of Adam Wallacavage (pictured right). The local photographer and artist bought his South Philly home 11 years ago and, much like those artistic havens of yesteryear, it’s been evolving ever since. Wallacavage has spent the last ten years developing an iconic piece of modern, indie décor— the octopus chandelier. Developed from an interest in all things nautical, Wallacavage began creating intricate porcelain chandeliers shaped like the bottom-of-the-sea-living cephalopods . And today, they are renowned and sought all over the world. Want proof? When I stopped by for a walk-through, the living room was crowded with boxes of chandeliers that were just used in an Adam Sandler movie shoot in Paris.
But you already know about the chandeliers. Today, I want to focus on Wallacavage’s house, which came about in much the same way as his famous fixtures of light. He says the three-story Victorian that he calls home didn't hook him until he peered into its porthole-and-sea inspired basement. When he moved in, the former carpenter of the Navy’s Construction Battalion, immediately removed the basement portholes and reconfigured them in the home’s former back office. This room, which he affectionately calls the “Jules Verne Room,” is now flourished with turquoise and gilded molding, a massive sea mural and, of course, one of the original octopus chandeliers.
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of a pop culture-loving Philly dude.
I spent the weekend absorbing comedian Patton Oswalt's new CD, Finest Hour. My feelings? It's not necessarily his funniest hour, but it's consistent with his hyper-literal, pop-cultural back catalog. And this time he's added some tales about his misadventures in parenting.
Oswalt — known for portraying the buddy in King of Queens and the voice of Remmy in Ratatouille — extols the virtues of sweatpants, singing alone in the car and Ambien dreams. He still touches on big-picture issues like religion and gay marriage, but unlike some of his previous efforts, he keeps those topics on the sillier side (i.e. a discussion about how Jesus' superpowers would fair in a comic book.)
Patton has definitely improved his word economy, which I personally have mixed feelings about. His jokes may be tighter, but Patton has always been unique in his ability to weave an enjoyably evocative tapestry of verbosity. Therefore, unlike most comics, a bloated word bureaucracy has always helped rather than hurt Patton's act. Now that he's stripped down, the material relies more on the sheer power of his premises, which, while they remain way above the national average, are not the best in his portfolio.
But that's fine with me, because most über-successful comics would face the onset of a family as vacation time. Patton, on the other hand, has incorporated his youngster into his work ethic and, keeping to his album per every two years schedule, achieved a solid CD that's worth plenty of laughs.
CP reporter Brandon Baker fills you in on what went down at Outfest this weekend.
With Beyoncé blaring on one end of Locust Street and Lady Gaga on the other, it didn't take much to clue folks in that something huge and gay was happening in Center City yesterday . It was Philly OutFest (or Philly Pride 2.0) and it drew an estimated crowd of 25,000 gays and allies alike.
The main stage, located at the intersection of 13th and Locust streets, played host to a variety of LGBTQ-themed contests and speeches, including a workout session by a pec-tacular 12th Street Gym trainer, a classic rabbit-out-of-the-hat-type magic show. and a surprise appearance by PA Attorney General candidate Patrick Murphy, who delivered an energizing speech about the wrongs of sexual orienation discrimination in the workplace.
Additionally, Mayor Michael Nutter made an appearance at 2 p.m. to dedicate the second LGBTQ historic marker in the state to Giovanni’s Room, the oldest LGBTQ bookstore in the country.
Other random attractions at the show included the now-traditional mechanical bull, iCandy’s seductive tent of underwear-donned studs and — my personal favorite — a rotating orb where I spotted a sassy girl clutching onto her lit cigarette with her lips as she rotated in a circle for five minutes.
- Arts Events
- First Person Fest
- Last Chance
- On the Fringe
- Philly Artists
- The Curator
- Visual Art
- Arts News
- Artist Profile
- Arts Preview
- Street Art
- Been There, Done That
- Big Ups
- LOL With It
- Critical Mass
- Friday Fill-in
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Just Do It
- Just Opened
- Art Phag
- Film Fest
- Movie Review
- On set
- 10 Track Mind
- Album Review
- Concert Review
- Local Support
- Now Hear This
- One Track Mind
- Philly Bands
- Somebody Else Was There
- The Showdown
- concert photos
- DJ Nights Blogged
- Night Watch
- Now See This
- Poetic License
- Printed Matter
- What We Heart
- Idol Hands
- Mad Men
- True Blood
- Useless Lost Recaps
- Couch Potato
- Shore Trash
- Turned ONN
- Video Games
- Free Online Game
- PlayStation 2
- The 1-Upper
- Web Junk
- CAGE MATCH
- Free Online Toy
- Weekend Omnibus