Like a phoenix risen from the ashes, the Philadelphia CineFest is back, opening tonight and running through next Thursday. After a 2010 hiatus prompted by a lack of sponsorship, it appears festival organizers have utilized the gap year well, offering up an impressive collection of hits from this year’s biggest film festivals. Since we’re prone to superlatives this week, Street makes some preliminary judgments on this year’s festival oeuvre.
Best Comedic Salute to Deliverance
The Catechism Cataclysm
This opening–night feature actually has nothing to do with Deliverance, aside from its watery setting. Described on CineFest’s website as “If Satan rolled a joint, this is what it would taste like,” The Catechism Cataclysm is sure to offend some in its dark, parodic take on religion. A hit at Sundance, the outrageous comedy puts a disgraced priest and his pothead buddy in a canoe and sends them up river on a strange journey full of quote–worthy dialogue and stoner–friendly absurdity.
Best Catharsis for Your Hatred of Deer
Two Gates of Sleep
This largely–silent meditation on the brutality of nature features an unflinchingly graphic opening sequence of the killing and skinning of a deer. Such disturbing images are juxtaposed with beautiful scenery, prompting reviewers to compare director Alistair Banks Griffin to the great Terrence Malick. Expect an uncompromising feature sure to alienate as many as it mesmerizes.
Best Anti–Capitalist Entry
POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Supersize Me documentarian Morgan Spurlock is back with an ambitious project with a contradictory premise: make a film about product placement completely funded by product placement. Titular POM Wonderful pomegranate juice donated $1 million to Spurlock’s cause — a bold move considering the treatment of McDonald’s in Spurlock’s last film. Another possible victim of Spurlock’s condescension: capitalism. Because there has to be at least one anti–capitalist political piece at any indie film festival.
Best Way to Let Your Date Know That You’re A Freak
Coming out as a freak to the person you’re dating is no easy topic of conversation. Before things get awkward in the bedroom, it would be a good idea to take your date to the newest film by controversial indie director Lucky McKee. The disturbing film follows the “taming” of a wild woman by abusive means, sure to please few and unsettle all. If whoever you dragged to the film is still around by the time the credits roll, you’ve found yourself a keeper.
Best Way to Let Your Bi–Curious Flag Fly
The festival’s obligatory LGBT romance The One is also one of the festival’s lighter offerings. An engaged investment banker falls in love with a former classmate, prompting sexual confusion and putting a damper on his future plans for marriage. Anyone whose amorous interests have ever been complicated by homosexuality on either party’s part (read: 95 percent of Penn’s population) will find much to identify with in this romantic comedy.
Best Movie to Make You Feel Better About Living In West Philadelphia
Cost of a Soul
As much as we all love our Philly hood, the occasional robbery or shooting sometimes calls us to question our choices. Cost of a Soul shines light on an extremely bleak corner of Philadelphia, making University City and its neighbors to the west look like Beverly Hills in comparison. Two returning Iraq war veterans move from one war zone to another, becoming entangled in a web of crime and corruption in their hometown neighborhood of North Philadelphia.