The 2015 Philadelphia Film Festival reaches its end, with plenty of name titles yet to hit, plus some carry-overs you should catch if you missed them last weekend. Visit the site for the schedule and tickets.
Set and shot in Philadelphia — the city sparkles — “The Benefactor” is an obvious redemption tale about Franny Watts (Richard Gere), a philanthropist with more money than sense. His pet project is Olivia (Dakota Fanning, underused), the pregnant daughter of his late best friends, and her husband Luke (Theo James). Franny overcompensates for his guilt by giving Luke a job, and the couple a house before his deep, dark secrets come to light. In a juicy role, Gere is charming and cringe-inducing, and his mercurial performance is compelling even when “The Benefactor” is at its most ludicrous and melodramatic. (Gary M. Kramer)
‘The Birth of Sake’
Heavy on mood but hardly short on intel, this look at a 140-year-old Japanese brewery is a hushed and contemplative affair, over half of which is hypnotic stares at rice being raked and liquid being heated. (It’s shot in the rectangular-shaped cinemascope — a rare stylistic move for a doc.) It’s as gentle as the workers, but equally mournful. Their job is monastic, forcing them to spend half the year away from their families and holed up, much like shipworkers off on a long stint. That they’re practicing a dying art doesn’t help either; the number of breweries has dropped over the last century by over a fourth, and they worry that they may be dedicating their lives to a tradition that’s on the way out completely. (Matt Prigge)
In this slow-burn French import, Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a beefy soldier with PTSD. Taking a personal security job for Whalid (Percy Kemp), he is asked to “babysit” Whalid’s wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) and their son Ali (Zaid Errougui-Demonsant) for 48 hours. Vincent takes his work seriously — possibly too seriously — as he eavesdrops, observes, and perceives threats. Director/co-writer Alice Winocour shrewdly uses sound, silence, and video to immerse viewers in Vincent’s mindset, and she ratchets up the tension as he dutifully protects his clients from chaos. As a character study, “Disorder” may be a bit thin, but Schoenaerts is superb. (GMK)