PFF: Closing Night Recap
The 21st annual Philadelphia Film Festival unofficially came to an end last night in the grandest of fashion. With Academy Award Winner Robert Zemeckis in the building, the entire audience was eager to see his latest effort and the festival's Closing Night film, Flight. In the director's triumphant return to live action, Denzel Washington shines as airline pilot Whip Whitaker. At the feature's opening we're introduced to Whitaker in a trashed hotel room with empty beer bottles, recreational drugs and a naked flight attendant. To make matters even worse, Whitaker is expected to man a commercial flight in less than two hours. Then we come to find out that this is all in a day's work for the pilot, who clearly displays serious substance abuse issues. During a routine flight from Florida to Atlanta, Whitaker's plane malfunctions and the gifted pilot pulls some daredevil antics that ultimately saves 96 of the 102 lives on board the plane. However, an investigation into the plane crash reveals Whitaker's deeper issues and sends his life and addiction on a downward spiral.
Flight proves to be an highly entertaining and emotional journey. Washington is at his best and Zemeckis offers an appropriate platform for the versatile actor to astonish the audience. I was quite impressed with the film and had only a few small complaints. First, there's some questionable scenes that go against realistic logic and make you scratch your head. Also, Flight's second act proves to be tiresome. While attempting to hammer home the dark and emotionally destitute state in which Whitaker function's, Zemeckis loses the natural momentum of the film. However, the director sets up for a strong finale and a gratifying resolution. Take away these minor blemishes and Flight is the prototypical awards season movie.
In addition to Zemeckis' Flight, Saturday also featured two solid films in the form of Yaron Zilberman's A Late Quartet and the documentary Brooklyn Castle. A Late Quartet survives and excels on the shoulders of its core actors Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir and Imogen Poots. As for the documentary Brooklyn Castle, the amazing real life story was both eye opening and uplifting. Proving to be one of the finest daily schedules at this year's film festival, Closing Night did not disappoint. Check back in a day or two for my entire festival recap where I dish out my ratings for each film I saw and I hand out some personal festival awards for acting and directing.