Philadelphia Film Society's Spring Showcase boasts newbies and oldies
Upcoming films as well as a complete Alfonso Cuaron retrospective are up for grabs at the Philadelphia Film Society's Spring Showcase festival.
During the coming week, the Philadelphia Film Society’s Spring Showcase offers casual moviegoers and cinephiles alike the chance to sneak a peek at some forthcoming fare, including “Belle,” a lavish-looking costume drama about race and class in 17th-century England, and “The Double,” Richard Ayoade’s comedy about a man (Jesse Eisenberg) and his encounters with the title character, his doppelganger.
Over the weekend, viewers can take in an eclectic mix of cult films. One of the highlights is "Duck Season" writer/director Fernando Eimbcke’s “Club Sandwich,” a poignant coming-of-age story told in the filmmaker’s patented style of long takes and subtle dramatic epiphanies. Paloma (Maria Renee Prudencio) takes an off-season vacation with her teenage son, Hector (Lucio Gimenez Cacho). They are very close, but when Hector meets Jazmin (Danae Reynaud Romero), she offers him a different kind of intimacy. “Club Sandwich” is a small, unassuming film, but it has a satisfying payoff. And there is a terrific scene in a hotel room when Paloma, Hector and Jazmin play a game that starts out friendly but soon turns fiendish.
Michel Gondry’s enchanting “Mood Indigo” chronicles the playful romance between Colin (Romain Duris) and Chloe (Audrey Tautou) before the latter develops a unique illness: a water lily on her right lung. The film boasts witty animated visuals and great inventive gags, like the "pianocktail," an instrument that makes drinks from the notes being played. There are sublime moments (a floating cloud car) and silly ones (a go-cart race in a church before a wedding) before the whimsy turns serious. “Mood Indigo” weakens as Chloe does, but it is bolstered by Duris’ aplomb as a physical comedian.
The late night feature “Moebius,” by South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk, is a dare for even the most jaded viewers. Like his excellent “3-Iron,” this new drama has no dialogue. But that is not what makes it challenging. “Moebius” concerns a mother (Lee Eun-woo) who castrates her son (Seo Young-ju) as a way of punishing her cheating husband (Cho Jae-hyun). What unfolds are more graphic scenes of genital mutilation, penis transplants, rape and incest, plus some nasty violence. See it at your own risk.
The mini-festival also includes an eight-film tribute to Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron. Viewers can take in everything from his breakout hit “Y Tu Mama Tambien” to his Oscar-winning “Gravity.” Completists may want to give his 1991 film “Solo Con Tu Pareja” a look but, unfortunately, his feature debut is a dull and dated sex farce. A handsome hero, Tomas Tomas (Daniel Giménez Cacho), beds two women in the same night, only to have one of them — nurse Silvia Silva (Dobrina Liubomirova) — find out and falsify his HIV status. This strained comedy features obvious humor when Tomas is caught naked in a stairwell or while climbing across Juliet balconies, and a dumb repetitive joke about suicide by microwave. On the bright side, Cuaron shows his promise as a visual filmmaker with some nifty camerawork.
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