From April 7-20, movie theaters across the city will participate in the Philadelphia Film Festival. Visit the festival's website (www.phillyfests.com) for more information on the movies and their screenings. Here's a preview of some films that will be playing. Go out, watch these and feel all cool and indie.
Directed by: Todd Solondz
Starring: Ellen Barkin, Sharon Wilkins
Aviva just wants to get pregnant. When she does, Palindromes takes on the controversial issues of abortion, pedophilia, Jesus-fanaticism and depression. Eight different actresses play Aviva, the morose 13-year-old at the heart of this dark story. This dramatic effect serves to show that we all are, like palindromes, the same both backwards and forwards. Black Aviva, Jewish Aviva, redhead Aviva, Jennifer Jason Leigh Aviva: each wears belly shirts, paints her nails and hates her mother; it is our own bias that informs how we see her. Palindromes is scary and relentlessly depressing; its achievement, however, once you can assure yourself that it's only a movie, is its ability to provoke thought about its controversial central issue, abortion.
-- Claire Stapleton
Music from the Inside Out
Directed by: Daniel Anker
Music from the Inside Out, a documentary directed by Daniel Anker, follows around select members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, who view music as a means of constructing meaning in life and connecting with each other (apparently, they've never listened to Lil' Jon). Anker occasionally feels the need to cheapen his material with an overly symbolic and trite shot of a winding road or placid lake, but for the most part he lets the music and stories speak for themselves. Music, with its conventional documentary style, won't blow your mind, but it will give you an inside look at a vibrant local community.
-- Ben Crair
Starring: Robert Downey Sr.
Directed by: Max Raab
Rittenhouse Square is a block where, since the 19th century, dogs, college students, perverted old men and other Philadelphians have come to embrace in each other's company. The cleverly-titled documentary Rittenhouse Square, a series of interviews by Robert Downey Sr. (yes, his father), attempts to show how vital the park is to Philly's heart and soul.
Unfortunately, in framing this hagiography, Downey and director Max Raab gloss over much of the park's shady history. In one interview, for example, a patron tells how the Square was a "needle park" in the '80s and, before that, an acid haven for beatniks. But that's the last we hear of that, which significantly damages the film's message, as some elaboration would've added serious depth to the oft-mentioned "renaissance" taking place in the Square as we speak. But nevertheless, if you love Philly circa 2005, you'll love Rittenhouse Square.
-- Jim Newell