July 18, 2012 |
I'M A SUCKER for a love story. I just never thought I'd see one on "Frontline. " The weekly PBS documentary showcase rivals only "60 Minutes" in its Very Important Coverage of news and public affairs. The last thing you'd expect while watching "Frontline" is to reach for a Kleenex while pressing your hand to your heart and sniffling, "I LOVE these guys…" But if you watch Tuesday night's "Frontline" premiere of "Fast Times at West Philly High," I promise that you, too, will be tearful and smitten.
July 5, 2012 |
To get an idea of whether "The Star-Spangled Banner" is universally sung — or for that matter, known — just log on to YouTube. Boston Red Sox fans keep quiet until the national anthem's end, when they cheer. A group of youngsters at a Phillies game are asked if they know the words, and only a few raise their hands. Various checks of U.S. Olympic athlete footage show mostly lip-synching. We all know Christina Aguilera doesn't know her national anthem, at least when she lost her lyrics in game 6 of the 2010 NBA playoffs.
June 21, 2012 |
It's said that every revolution needs true believers. And no one believed harder or longer — or paid more dearly for it — than Sidney Rittenberg. Rittenberg, 90, is the only American citizen ever admitted to the Chinese Communist Party, a onetime confidant of Mao. In return for his idealism and devotion, he was twice thrown into Chinese prisons on false charges, serving a total of 16 years, all in solitary confinement. Now, the definitive story of Rittenberg's rise, fall, and rebirth is told in a new film, The Revolutionary, produced and edited by Philadelphia-area native Don Sellers.
June 16, 2012 |
Well into One Nation Under Dog, HBO's revealing but difficult documentary about our deep bonds with canine companions, we reach a point that is nearly too awful to watch. With plenty of warning to viewers, the film shows what happens at an animal shelter's last stop — a fate met by a couple of million dogs each year in the United States. A half-dozen dogs are set into a large metal box. They seem eerily resigned to this moment; no snapping, no squirming, no escape attempts.
June 4, 2012 |
Doug Smith has studied brain trauma for 20 years. For most of that time, the Penn professor of neurosurgery said, injuries such as concussions were called the silent epidemic. Doctors knew of their consequences, but the brain injuries were often shrugged off as part of sports, something to be shaken off so athletes could return to play. No longer. The issue has exploded into the national discussion, gaining steam as evidence piles up about the potentially devastating effects of concussions, particularly in football, America's most popular sport.
May 14, 2012 |
THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION. 8 and 9:10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, HBO. By Ellen Gray Daily News Television Critic WOULD YOU PAY someone to tell you that you may need to do something about your weight? That's essentially what HBO subscribers will be doing this week if they tune in for "The Weight of the Nation," a four-part documentary on the consequences and challenges of the obesity epidemic that the premium cable network developed with the help of experts from Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
May 1, 2012 |
A DYING ARTIST, a crooked cop in search of his kidnapped son, a murdered civil-rights pioneer and a woman in love with a mechanical man are taking the Bolt Bus down from New York for a two-night stand in Philly. Four films that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film fete co-founded by Robert De Niro, will play for free at the Trocadero Theatre courtesy of the Awesome Fest. "Our goal from day one has been to bring the best of the best [of independent film] through this city," said Josh Goldbloom, founder of the Awesome Fest.
April 27, 2012 |
Alma, a jonquil-thin blonde with a passing resemblance to Taylor Swift, is 15 and sprouting in the Norwegian town of Skoddeheimen, where there's one bus stop and many, many sheep. She lives with her single mother in a state of chronic frustration, sexual and social. Awash in hormones, Alma has two outlets: sexual fantasy and pleasuring herself. Turn Me On, Dammit!, the disarming and droll first feature from documentary filmmaker Jannicke Systad Jacobsen, is that rare thing, a movie that says shame on sexual shame and double shame on the double standard.
April 24, 2012 |
Many a demographic is super-served throughout the year on the Philadelphia film festival calendar. Cineastes with particular interests are catered to by the Latin American, Jewish, Terror, Gay & Lesbian, Science, Asian American and Animation film festivals, among others, not to mention the overarching Philadelphia Film Festival, which will take place in October this year. Add another group of movie buffs to the list: music fans. Starting this week, the inaugural XPN Music Film Festival will take place in University City, with 20 movies screening, mostly at the Annenberg Center on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
April 8, 2012 |
Jabbed, jostled, punched, choked - that was 12-year-old Alex Libby's bus ride to school pretty much every day. Captured on camera, the boy dubbed "fish lips" by his Sioux City, Iowa, classmates sits limply, helplessly, as he is physically and verbally assaulted. This scene is one of the most heart-wrenching in the new documentary Bully , opening Friday in Philadelphia-area theaters. "I want all the kids to see it," says James F. Kenney, Philadelphia city councilman-at-large.