18½ Philadelphia Film Festival

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Philly is having another festival in the fall. Traditionally, the festival is held in the Spring (and I’ve attended for the past few years), so I’m not sure if this fall festival will be a permanent change or simply an addendum to the existing festival. Either way, it’s an interesting idea and would allow Philadelphia to play films that premiered at other, larger festivals like Cannes, Toronto, and Venice. This year’s fall festival is relatively small: 5 days, 37 films. That being said, a number of them caught my eye (alas, only a couple probably qualify as horror movies and are thus suitable for my 6 weeks of Halloween marathon). Amazingly enough, four of my choices fall on one day and are not conflicting, so I’ll probably end up seeing more of these fall films than I did in the Spring festival. Here’s my schedule:

  • Stingray Sam: The PFF site lists genres for each movie, and for this one it lists: Comedy, Feature, Musical, Sci-Fi, Western. That’s quite an eclectic combination. The only part that worries me is the musical part, but otherwise, the description reminds me a lot of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, which means that this movie could be awesome or an absolute disaster. Another odd thing: it’s only about 60 minutes long, which is pretty unusual in itself. Still, it sounds fascinating.
  • Bronson: I remember seeing the trailer for this a while ago and thinking that it looked like a ton of fun and that I probably wouldn’t get a chance to see it until DVD… So I’m glad this one is playing. Not really sure it will be one of my favorites or anything, but it looks pretty off-the-wall, which could be fun.
  • Rembrandt’s J’accuse: The description of this documentary, which focuses on Rembrandt’s most famous work, pretty much sold me:

    In what plays out as a detective story of sorts, Greenaway takes the painting apart, line by line, vector by vector, plane by plane, and reads it the way it was read in 1642 after Rembrandt completed it: as an outrageous piece of theater in which the painter bit the aristocratic hand that fed him by embedding within the painting a sensational charge of murder. With The Night Watch, which Greenaway calls the fourth most celebrated painting in the world after the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, and the Sistine Chapel, Rembrandt delivered a work that charged Amsterdam’s leading citizens with a successful plot to eliminate a financial rival.

    This sounds pretty fascinating to me.

  • Red Cliff: John Woo used to be such a great director. Then he came to Hollywood and started putting out crap. So it’s my hope that this return to Chinese cinema is also a return to form for Woo. In this case, we should not expect any operatic gunfights, but rather a period piece pitting massive armies of soldiers against one another in an epic battle. Maybe some martial arts? I’m going into this film mostly blind, so here’s to hoping that Woo does not disappoint.
  • The Eclipse: Not sure if I’ll end up seeing this, but it looks like an interesting mix of horror, romance and drama. I get a distinct gothic vibe from the description as well, but who really knows?
  • We Live in Public: Another documentary, this time examining a guy named Josh Harris, who apparently made a name for himself by designing a series of 24-hour surveillance projects and experiments. Another one I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it to, but it does sound interesting.
  • Antichrist: This is a controversial film by controversial filmmaker Lars von Trier, and I’m only mildly interested in seeing. Mostly because it’s billed as a horror film. The controversy aspect kinda bores me and so does von Trier (who is talented but pretentious and annoying). I probably won’t see it, but I’m still considering…

I’m excited, even if I wish there were more horror options available…