PFF27: EGG, DIAMANTINO, Animated Shorts
The 27th Philadelphia Film Festival is underway, and we’ll be there everyday checking out films, giving recommendations, and providing capsule reviews! Here’s what we saw yesterday:
Egg (dir. Marianna Palka)
Egg is a 5-character study in how a person holds within them an ideology, feelings, and a point-of-view, and how sometimes those can be contradictory. Written with a deep sense of empathy and a sharp wit by Risa Mickenberg, how you react to each of these characters will largely depend on your own feelings about the issues of gender roles, having children, and love.
But this prism-esque quality doesn’t mean that the film doesn’t have anything to say on its own. Rather, the film becomes an exploration on gender roles after gender roles have been deconstructed. What do we do when we can’t simply follow our social programming and actually make our own choices, and then live with the consequences?
Bolstered by charming and powerful performances from Christina Hendricks, Alysia Reiner, David Allan Basche, Gbenga Akinnagbe, and Anna Camp, each is able to find both the humor and emotion in the situation. Egg doesn’t provide the answers, but it gives us a place to ask the questions. -Ryan Silberstein
Egg is also playing next Saturday, October 27 at 2:20PM at the Ritz East. Tickets and info
Diamantino (dir. Gabriel Arantes, Daniel Schmidt)
Early on, you see the puppies. Giant Pekingese, fluffy and cute, parading around on a soccer field of fluffy pink clouds. They are surrounding, almost celebrating, the title character Diamantino (Carloto Cotta), a famous soccer player on the Portuguese national team. It's almost time for the World Cup final, and he's got a lot on his mind–but the puppies are there to help calm him down, like a zen meditation to help him focus his athletic talents in the right direction. You see, a close encounter with a boat full of refugees while lounging on his yacht in the Mediterranean has gotten to him, and it ends up causing him to screw up his final penalty kick, losing Portugal the game. From there, the dimwitted, Forrest Gumpian Diamantino finds himself an unwilling pawn in various intersecting plots of nefarious moral intention- including a neo-fascist campaign to lead Portugal out of the European Union, a fringe science experiment trying to map his brain, as well as a secret service investigation into his family's connection to a money laundering operation.
If it sounds like there is a whole lot going on there, that's because there is. Yet it is a joy to watch it all unfurl, as you have to repeatedly pick your jaw back from off the floor. The laughs (or humorous gasps?) come fairly non-stop for nearly the entire first half, as directors Arantes and Schmidt use their unique brand of surrealistic satire to repeatedly blow your mind- all as they move the dozen or so plot chess pieces into place.
The one piece that ends up mattering the most is the one that sees Diamantino forging a bond with Aisha (Cleo Tavares), the secret service agent who goes undercover as Rahim, a supposed refugee boy from Mozambique, who is there to snoop around and find out more about his money laundering. It is at this point that the movie slows down considerably, starting to suffer under the weight of all those pieces.The is-this-really-happening laughs come every five minutes instead of every five breaths. Yet, the story takes us deeper into a place I didn't expect- ultimately becoming a tale of gender-fluid queer love. You can't help but come away from this movie with the idea that love and happiness, on your own terms, is the ultimate act of rebellion in a crazy world- where something as mindless as viral memes can be so much more- an antecedent to the downfall of democracy.–Andy Elijah
Diamantino is also playing next Saturday, October 27 at 5:40PM at the Ritz East. Tickets and info.
Animated Shorts Program (dirs. various)
I love animated films, and shorts in particular, and this year’s slate at the Philadelphia Film Festival is a joy. None are appropriate for families, but each has something interesting to offer, and each has a strong visual style and voice. The standouts in this program all share a slice of life feel, with the lead off shorts Nevada and Agua Viva each rendering their worlds in a way that ring true to the author’s voice and point-of-view. Nevada in particular is my favorite of this bunch and reminds me of the kind of sweet, yet a little gross, examination of sex found in Master of None or Girls. My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes is almost a misleading title, but this animated documentary is a wonderful investigation of parenting cycles and what we leave behind. The Driver is Red also employs a unique visual style and composition to tell an engrossing story drawn before our eyes. This is a great and varied program, not to be missed.
The Animated Shorts Program is also playing next Sunday, October 28 at 9:50PM at the Ritz East. Tickets and info.