September often brings mixed reviews with the turning of season, and blockbuster hype (or blockbuster bomb) enthusiasm with going back to school, along with early leaks of Halloween and Christmas decorations. For me, September means TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival. Last year, unable to volunteer at TIFF, I started my own film festival (that only I knew about) in Philly. Due to high audience demand (me), and nostalgia of my TIFF years, I once again dug out my Festival 2015 orange t-shirt to tour Philly’s movie cinema scene for this year’s 2nd edition of PIFF.
Similar to this year of overdone sequels, PIFF this year brought me less emotion and sentimentality. I felt a little less connected to TIFF, and a little less sad about missing out on the festival. I guess that happens with time and distance. Yet, the indie-filmmaker-getting-asked-to-make-the-new-Star-Wars-film-energy filled my heart, and my schedule. I love movies. I love them. And I will forever love TIFF. So from September 10-15, I caught movies from eight different TIFF inspired programs at theaters around Philly.
Beach Rats: The Random Indie. I tend to have a soft spot for coming of age movies, especially if they’re about a gay male (kind of nice to see a story related to mine on screen). Beach Rats is a moody, polished piece about a Brooklyn teen who’s been dealt a tough hand and who may or may not being trying to rise above it. I tried so hard to find someone to rally behind, to care about, and there just was not one moment to cheer, or tear up for. I really wanted to connect but I couldn’t find anything to hold on to. As the lights came up at the end, I felt like the whole theatre made a collective “huh?” There’s no real resolve. Maybe that’s the point. An important story to tell. Haunting, yet frustrating. out of 5
The Hitman’s Bodyguard: The Finally Seeing It Blockbuster. You know what- I laughed a lot more than I thought I would. The cast generally seemed like they were having a great time, so it was easy for the audience to get on board with them. Will this win an Oscar? No. Will it win the Person’s Choice at this year’s PIFF? Doubtful. But was it fun, explosive, and entertaining. Absolutely. 🙂 🙂 🙂 out of 5
It: The Midnight Madness Hit. I know a few (million) of you have already seen this, but if you haven’t, go! It’s not the terrifying horror movie that it tries to sell itself as it. It’s a terrifying, bothersome, fear filled horror movie with a surprisingly amount of 80’s humor and story. Now, I haven’t read the book, nor watched the original 90’s movie, so I went into this like a clown walking into a 7 year old’s birthday party. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, as I found the Stand by Me feeling a little distracting at times; but I think it was a better movie because of it. And, well, because of It. I will never look at red balloons and yellow raincoats the same again. 😮 😮 😮 😮 out of 5
Logan Lucky: The Big Star Comeback Movie. Wellllllll… not exactly Katie Holmes’ movie, but I will always have a soft spot for Joey Potter, even if she only has about 9 minutes of screen time. I had much higher hopes for this one: it looked like it was a great cast (it was), it looked clever (mostly was), and it looked funny (not so much). I found this sputtered and dragged as it went around the race track, yet it did manage to cross the finish line with help from its odd ball heart, and the standout sister (not Katie Holmes, sigh!). 🙂 🙂 .5 out of 5
Hazlo Como Hombre: The Random Foreign Film. I read about this one on the way to the theatre. It’s Spanish film about 2 best friends: One is married with a baby on the way, and another is engaged to the best friend’s sister, when he decides to come out. The best friend spends most of the movie either denying that his friend is gay, or trying to “make him straight again”. With a lot of screen time on the straight best friend, his journey is often revolting. Yet I came to an appreciation for this generally, as I assume this is often an untold journey of someone “coming out” as the best friend of the gay guy. Thankfully, almost everyone else around is extremely accepting. At times hard to watch, but I can appearance the perspective it was trying to share. 🙂 🙂 🙂 out of 5
Home Again: The Quiet Simple Little Motion Picture. Being divorced at 40 with 2 kids never looked so good! (I told my husband that I wanted a divorce, and to move into Reese Witherspoon’s California guesthouse after seeing this: he was not onboard). A slight spin on the romantic comedy, as we see a family work it’s way through separation, and the adventures that follow if you open yourself up to them. Charming cast. Especially the children (and I’m generally harsh on child actors haha!). Really, it’s a slice of real life, polished up a little with a fire place in every room, and the LA sun shining down. The movie’s secondary plot surprisingly sparkled for me. Early on, there is a outside yard scene that connected me to the life I once thought I wanted, and it unexpectedly triggered a reflective mini crisis (insert crying here). As it continued, that said wanted life played out exactly how I thought I wanted my life to go. It was kind of nice to see. I left surprisingly sentimental, and hopefully happy. 😀 😀 😀 😀 out of 5
Wind River: The Story Everyone Should See: Fully upsetting. This is the snowy story of an aboriginal woman found dead, and the efforts, or lack of efforts, to solve her murder. Great cast. Bleak yet beautifully shot. It moves along well, while directly raising some important commentary about how we value other people’s lives. We need to do better, and this film reminds us of that. 😦 😦 😦 😦 out of 5
Mother!: TIFF Today, Wide Release Tomorrow. This article does a much better job of setting you up to see this movie than the trailer did. This is not a horror movie. This is not the movie I expected. My mind was pleasantly blown. Remember, this is from the director of Black Swan. It’s a slow build, and challenging to watch. Trust it, follow it, and talk about it until the pieces all click together. It’s an incredible cinematic creation. Visually beautiful, and stunning. Cast are fully committed, and unhinged. Our friend Pierre also makes a big screen appearance (hey movie star!). Days later, we’re still talking about it. Breaking it down. Asking questions. Making sense of it. This my friends, is a sign of a good film. 😮 😮 😮 😮 .25 out of 5
2017’s Festival was once again a huge hit: during a citywide event that no one else knew was happening, 8 films over 6 days were watched this year’s PIFF. Still reeling from the loss of my Grandma, struggling with the increasing anger in the country, and missing home a little more these days, this classic distraction partnered with the intensity of a film festival came at just the right time.
So as the credits roll on my 50th blog post on Lost and Found, I will end with the news you all have been waiting for in anticipation: The Awards! The ballot was tallied, checked, and confirmed by the folks who announced this year’s Oscar for Best Picture. Here is this year’s PIFF Person’s Choice winners.
2017 PIFF Person’s Choice Award Sentimental Runner Up:
And a mother(!) of a congratulations to the 2017 PIFF Person’s Choice Award (and actual 2017 TIFF Movie) Winner:
3 comments on “Tying Up the Summer of Sequels: PIFF Is Back!”
Thank you Mike
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Mike. Why don’t you become a film critic. You would do s great job of it.
Thanks Dave! I’ve toyed with the idea for years actually. This is a fun outlet for now but I’ll put it back into my head space to ponder 🙂