The Philadelphia Film Festival hits its final weekend

Rachel McAdams is in love with a time traveling Domhnall Gleeson in "About Time." Credit: Murray Close
Rachel McAdams is in love with a time traveling Domhnall Gleeson in “About Time.”
Credit: Murray Close

‘About Time’
2 Globes
The name of writer and director Richard Curtis has long been synonymous with a specific kind for romantic-comedy — films like “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Love, Actually,” where awkward but dashing men stammer declarations of love against gruesome pop songs. His latest is a time travel romp — and of course, it’s one where our self-effacing hero (Domhnall Gleeson) uses his superpower chiefly to orchestrate a life with a pretty American (Rachel McAdams). The first half is a hoot, in large part due to Bill Nighy, who plays his dad with full Bill Nighy swagger. But all along Curtis’ sentimentality hangs like the Sword of Damacles, and it comes crashing down to cause a sappy second. Not that even Curtis’ most shameless bits aren’t unfortunately affecting anyway, including a father-son bit that’s like the end of “Field of Dreams” times ten. (Matt Prigge) Fri., Oct. 25, 5 p.m., Ritz East

4 Globes
When the titular dancer (Souleymane Deme) can’t earn enough money to support his hospitalized uncle, he asks Moussa (Cyril Guei) to help him smuggle petrol. However, after a few risky attempts, Grigris claims to have been robbed, and incurs Moussa’s wrath. This engrossing drama by Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun may be a familiar tale of love and crime, but Deme is terrific — pure poetry in motion, especially when he dances — and the film’s finale really packs a wallop. (Gary M. Kramer) Fri., Oct. 25, 2:45 p.m., Ritz East

‘Illo Illo’
3 Globes
Living during Singapore’s 1990s financial crisis, a mom (Yann Yann Yeo) is pregnant and often called away from work to deal with her son, Jiale (Koh Jia Ler), who gets into trouble at school. When the family hires Terry (Angeli Bayani) a Filipino maid, each character comes to realize their self-worth. Thankfully never sentimental, and wisely resisting an easy, happy ending, “Ilo Ilo” is a surprisingly satisfying import. (G.M.K.) Sat., Oct. 26, 5 p.m., Ritz East 

‘Like Father Like Son’
4 Globes
Having already calmly handled death (“After Life”), latchkey kids (“Nobody Knows”) and android sex (“Air Doll”), Japanese director Hiroakzu Kore-eda soberly deals with two families whose sons were switched at birth? Do the kids go with their biological parents, stick with the family that raised them or is a third way? The parents try each, but there’s clearly no easy answer — and few better directors working right now to deal with this kind of headache. (M.P.) Sun., Oct. 27, 5:15 p.m., Ritz East

‘Motel Life’
4 Globes
This poignant drama is all about storytelling. Various anecdotes and animated vignettes are used to create hope and provide an escape for down-on-their-luck brothers Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff) and Frank (Emile Hirsch). Eking it out in Reno, Jerry Lee accidentally kills a boy in a hit-and-run. Frank busts him out of the hospital and they flee to Elko, where Frank seeks his ex. Hirsch astutely conveys Frank’s emotional burdens as “The Motel Life” shuffles along to a not unexpected ending. However, this evocative drama features outstanding cinematography—and a particularly nifty tracking shot—creating an appropriately flinty mood. (G.M.K.) Fri., Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m., Ritz East

Dania Gurira plays a new wife trying to get pregnant in "Mother of George." Credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories
Dania Gurira plays a new wife trying to get pregnant in “Mother of George.”
Credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories

‘Mother of George’
4 Globes
Andrew Dosunmu’s atmospheric drama is set in Crown Heights, in a Nigerian community that has recreated a facsimile of home amid asphalt and tiny row home apartments. There, Adenike (Dania Gurira, of “The Walking Dead”), a recent Brooklyn transplant, tries to give her new husband (Isaach de Bankole) a son. But he’s as barren as he is stubborn, and when he won’t see a doctor, she considers other, outside-the-box options. Though plot ultimately takes over, the majority of the film simply soaks up the feel of the place, its culture and its people — an otherworldly scene that could be charged with anthropological condescension were its maker not one of its own. With painterly dim lighting by rising cinematographer Bradford Young (“Paraiah,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”), it’s a world easy to live in. (M.P.) Fri., Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Ritz Bourse

3 Globes
Inspired by true events, the intimate and earnest “1982” portrays the impact of crack addiction in the African American community by focusing on one Philadelphia family. The domestic tranquility of Tim (Hill Harper, in a nice, low-key performance), his wife Shenae (Sharon Leal), and their bright daughter Maya (newcomer Troi Zee) is shattered when Shenae becomes an addict. Writer/director Tommy Oliver’s low-budget film does not exceed its ambitions, but the power of this important story feels diluted as the narrative veers into increasingly more melodramatic territory. (G.M.K.) Sat., Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Prince Music Theater

‘Remote Area Medical’
3 Globes
It almost plays plays like sick sketch comedy: For four days, a truck plants itself in the NASCAR speedway in Bristol, Tenn., offering free medical, dental and vision care to the area’s low-income residents. But it’s no joke, and directors Jeff Reichert (“Gerrymandering” and Farihah Zaman calmly observe, and bro down with, the many who show up, seeking that which their country promises to one day fund themselves. Even more than a political thumb in the eye, what emerges is a strong sense of community, even as some struggle to score the despairingly too few appointments. (M.P.) Fri., Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Ritz East

Also playing

‘Labor Day’: Jason Reitman goes straight-up dramatic with this tale of a family (ruled by Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin) who happen upon a mysterious, potentially dangerous stranger (Tobey Maguire).

‘Le Week-end’: Director Roger Michell and writer Hanif Kureishi reunite to send older couple Jim Broadbent and Linsday Duncan on a trip to rekindle their romance in France, where they run afoul of Jeff Goldblum.

‘Let the Fire Burn’: This doc looks at the tragic 1985 MOVE burning, wherein city police tried to invade the group’s West Philly headquarters and ended destroying 60 homes and killing 11.

‘We are the Best!’: It’s been awhile since Sweden’s Lukas Moodysson (“Show Me Love”) was fun, and this look at a girl punk band is by all accounts tons of it.


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