PFF: Friday Night Recap
The Philadelphia Film Festival's Friday night at the Prince Music Theater in Center City was anything but low key. As the large audience packed into the theatre for David Chase's major motion picture debut Not Fade Away, it was clear that the excitement for this year's festival is clearly unprecedented. Unfortunately, the Soprano's creator gave the crowd a first effort that left plenty to be desired. With the anticipation for Not Fade Away rising through the roof, Chase's film offered no sense of direction. The picture fails to find a necessary purpose or a valued theme. Not Fade Away begins and ends as the type of meaningless story that you kindly smile and nod through. And although the film delivers some powerful moments throughout, Chase clearly struggles to settle on an appropriate conclusion. There were a few instances when I expected Not Fade Away's credits to begin rolling, however, I was left to continue pushing on through the muck. Lost within itself, Not Fade Away proved to be nothing more than a mediocre set of jumbled ideas and head scratching sequences.
Following Not Fade Away and playing as the final feature of the evening at the Prince Music Theater was Damon Maulucci and Keir Politz's Detonator. The film spans one evening in the lives of two former prominent punk scene musicians about a decade after their underground stardom came to a halt. Detonator offers an intriguing look into the struggles of musicians as they lose the battle to adulthood. The film resonated with me since I too was a musician playing in the Philly Punk Scene about a decade ago. Just as Maulucci and Philadelphia native Keir Politz demonstrate so well, there's an impenetrable urge for musicians to desperately cling onto their dream for as long as humanly possible. While the idea for Detonator is both original and genuine, the film follows a cyclic pattern where most of the second act feels redundant and its 90+ minute runtime begins to wear on the audience. However, Detonator concludes in a satisfying fashion that ultimately does the film justice. The feature is a solid effort from the pair of Columbia grads who are sure to continue branding innovative ideas through their film company Mortar Films.
A Look At Today:
On the docket for today is a string of four consecutive movies at the Prince Music Theater once again. The schedule is filled with big-name features and some sure fire Oscar bait. First up is The Sessions which premiered at Sundance this year and boasts awards season buzz for the performances given by John Hawkes (Winter's Bone) and Helen Hunt (Cast Away). The Sessions will be followed by Stand Up Guys starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin. With a star-studded cast such as this, you can imagine my massive level of excitement. Then, my third film of the day is from a first time director who needs no introduction, Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman's Quartet is a British comedy about a retirement home for opera singers that has garnered tons of praise, especially for the performance of its leading star Maggie Smith. To conclude my four-feature day will be the documentary The Missing Piece, which tells the story of the infamous man who stole Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" from the Louvre in 1911. It should be a busy, but entertaining, day of film. Remember to keep in touch for the latest from the festival!