September 18, 2015 |
ON THE EVE of the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party, founded in 1966, comes a new documentary to recount the movement's lively history. And, while children of the '60s and '70s may find much that is familiar in "Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution," most also will find something to discover in the film, assembled by veteran PBS documentarian Stanley Nelson. He uses vintage photos and music to place the movie in time, and finds insiders and eyewitnesses to explain the unique excitement created by the Panther "brand" - from the outset so much more ferocious than the mainstream civil-rights movement.
August 21, 2015 |
Patrick Stewart displays his preternatural prowess for absurdist comedy, and producer Lorne Michaels proves he can be as innovative today as he was when he developed Saturday Night Live , in two brilliant new comedies. Strange, off-the-wall, and even slightly mad, Blunt Talk , featuring Stewart as a cable-news host with a penchant for self-destruction, premieres at 9 p.m. Saturday on Starz, and IFC's Documentary Now! , a more uneven anthology series that presents a new mockumentary per week kicks off at 10 p.m. Thursday.
August 21, 2015 |
A retired plumber in Magnolia who is a Civil War buff, his musician/optician brother from Barrington, and a Voorhees video editor have teamed up to make a documentary. And it's a powerful piece of work. The South Jersey premiere of Civil War Prisons - An American Tragedy is set for Civic Hall on the Blackwood campus of Camden County College at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26. Featuring professional voice actor Scott R. Pollak's polished narration, 300 evocative historical images, and a wistful soundtrack, the 77-minute movie is elegiac and unequivocal.
July 31, 2015 |
Sonia Sanchez wonders how she became "this woman with razor blades between her teeth. " "That's a great line, I think," she says of the imagery from her poem "Woman. " "I love how stuff comes through the body - starts at the toe jam and goes all the way up!" She makes jazzy hand motions from her feet all the way through her body. The 80-year-old award-winning poet, educator, mother, and activist sits on a couch in her airy Germantown home, African sculptures decorating the walls or standing at attention.
July 27, 2015 |
According to the remarkable documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? , we have the Curtis Institute of Music to thank for jazz vocalist and songwriter Nina Simone's blazing career. Trained from early childhood as a classical pianist, the then Eunice Waymon of Tryon, N.C., was in New York with a one-year scholarship to Juilliard when, in 1951, she applied for admission to Philadelphia's storied tuition-free conservatory. She was rejected. Liz Garbus' new film, released last month by Netflix, more than implies that Simone was turned down not because her audition wasn't up to snuff, but because she was black.
July 15, 2015 |
The camera sees what the eyes cannot. Consider The Impressionists and the Man Who Made Them , Phil Grabsky's documentary complementing the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting . To appreciate the art Durand-Ruel championed, the film biography encourages audiences to see through the keen eyes of the premier dealer of avant-garde painting, the inventor of the modern gallery....
July 10, 2015 |
CONTRARY to Amy Winehouse's own self-created myth, when they tried to make her go to rehab, she actually said yes, yes, yes. Her most adamant "no" came when they tried to force her onstage to honor contracts she was in no condition to fulfill. And who, exactly, is "they"? The engrossing new documentary "Amy" invites you to draw your own conclusions, but the movie's access to candid material makes devastating judgments about her inner circle, including her father, who enabled the documentary and has since angrily disowned it. Winehouse, we learn, grew up talented and troubled in working-class London - she left home as a young teen to escape what a friend described as "trouble at home.
July 8, 2015 |
Don't look for light cinematic fare for the opening Tuesday of the Philadelphia gay film festival qFLIX. Its second annual iteration, which runs through Sunday, will lead with a moody romantic drama, Beautiful Something , set here and shot by local director Joseph Graham. And the weighty stuff continues, with documentaries whose titles speak to global LGBT struggles, among them A Sinner in Mecca andthe savage, Ugandan-made Outed: The Painful Reality . One film being buzzed about in Philadelphia's gay community, however, has a comic streak as wide as the United States: Be Who You Are , a deceptively simple, charming, buoyant documentary to premiere at 7 p.m. Thursday at Prince Music Theater.
June 12, 2015 |
THERE IS a fascinating documentary to be made about "Saturday Night Live," the comedic institution that celebrated its 40th anniversary this season. But Bao Nguyen's "Live from New York!" acts more like a primer for newbies unfamiliar with the show's history, giving no real insight into Lorne Michaels' long-running creation. Nguyen, making his full-length documentary debut as a director, relies on cast members and regular guests of old to do the narration (the riotously funny Leslie Jones is one of the rare members of the current cast to get a chance to speak)
May 18, 2015
COMING THIS WEEK By Steven Rea Tomorrowland Disney has been keeping a tight lid on news about its big-budget sci-fi feature, which takes its name from the theme parks and looks to be taking George Clooney on a wild ride across space and time. The good news: Brad Bird of The Incredibles, Ratatouille , and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol directs. PG Lambert & Stamp The Beatles had Brian Epstein, the Stones had Andrew Loog Oldham, and the Who. . .? The Who had a couple of guys with no experience, no connections, but who somehow managed to talk themselves into representing Daltrey, Moon, Townshend, and Entwistle.