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Philly Film Fest Day Four: Scary Monsters

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We had beautiful weather in Philly today, so of course I spent a lot of it in a movie theater. But lest you think I missed out entirely, it’s a 20-minute walk from my apartment to the Ritz, where all of these films screened. Went there and back three times. Got plenty o’ sun. For starters…

David Boreanaz, ladies and gentlemen. Sleeping with three ladies. Well, teens. It’s not as sketchy as it sounds. Well, maybe it is. But it’s handled with comic flair in These Girls, from writer/director John Hazlett (he blogs, so I like him already), who was on hand to answer questions like “When is this coming out?” with answers like “In Canada, already. In the States, just DVD on May 16th.” (I paraphrase).

I’m less surprised now when I hear about films like this not getting a theatrical release even after securing distribution. It’s often a smart route, although in this case I think the film could make a buck or two in a limited theatrical run. Films that can demonstrate crowd-pleasing potential tend to be an easier sell in that market than, say, more downbeat art house fare.

Speaking of which, I had forgotten how good Boreanaz’s comic timing was, but it comes in handy here. As it turns out, he’s from Philly and really wanted to be at the fest. In fact, the director hung out with Boreanaz’s dad last night.

Incidentally, you have to be a pretty big Angel geek (like myself) to find irony in the fact that Boreanaz’s daughter in the film is called Jasmine and his first teen hookup is named Glory. Anyone? Ya feel me?

Later in the day, after snarfing down free samples at Whole Foods (you would not believe how good a vegan brownie could be), I walked back to the Ritz for Half Nelson, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year. Remember how I was saying that Akeelah and the Bee is the only film I can think of where a little black girl is the lead and appears in almost every scene? This movie comes close. Except the actress’ name is Shareeka Epps and she’s freakin’ unbelievable. It’s rare to see a child actor give an understated performance, but that’s exactly what happens here. She’s only in about half the scenes, so I’d call her a co-lead, but the other co-lead is the incredible Ryan Gosling, as the falling-apart-at-the-seams-teacher-who’s-really-cool-except-maybe-for-the-crack-habit protagonist.

Came home and watched the trailer for the new Simpsons movie. Pretty lame, but of course I’ll be there opening night.

Then I walked back one more time for The Descent. I’ll be honest, the flick basically treads water for the first 30 minutes or so until they actually encounter the monsters. But once they do…Whole. E. Shit! That’s good monster movie. I took the following lessons away from this film: Spelunking without monsters – actually pretty frightening; spelunking with monsters – I don’t want to shock you, but it’s far worse. If you’d like to learn more about spelunking with monsters, visit your local library.

One more thing about The Descent: Most horror films feature one, or at most two, really strong female characters. Part of the premise of The Descent is that the main characters are all women who are into extreme sports, so the cast is composed entirely of strong female characters. That, combined with the fact that they actually stand a fighting chance against these things (they’re not like velociraptors or aliens where once you’re in the room with them, it’s pretty much over), makes the film much, much scarier.

Also, it’s a bad idea to run in a cave. Just saying.

Tomorrow: A table read.

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