Philadelphia Film Festival 2012: ‘Greater Filmadelphia’ Section

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Future Weather

To call Future Weather a ‘coming-of-age’ tale would likely be to make the assumption that the 13 year-old lead, Lauduree (Perla Haney-Jardine) has a Stand By Me moment somewhere around the climax of the film. Though Lauduree has her scene, the folks that come-of-age in Jenny Deller’s debut feature are the adults.

Lauduree is a precocious girl with big, environmental-science aspirations. Her mom Tanya (Marin Ireland) is an aspiring makeup artist, but a bit of a feckless parent. Her grandmother Greta (Amy Madigan) is love-lost, and more of a parent than Tanya seems capable of.

Haney-Jardine handles some difficult material with grown-up poise, and those childlike adults play their roles with equal parts moderation and complete abandonment.

Future Weather is a small film that looks big. Deller and cinematographer Zak Mulligan magically transform suburban Pennsylvania to a beautiful rural wonderland, and Deller’s assured direction makes her work feel worlds away from a typical freshman entry.

Detonator

Keir Politz and Damon Maulucci’s debut feature-film is a tightly coiled mash-up of suburban disappointment and big-city recklessness that leads to a small, but satisfying detonation.

Sully (Michael Lawrence Levine) used to play in the punk band Detonator. Now he’s another short-sleeved, white-collared dad driving a minivan. But Mick (Benjamin Ellis Fine) never changed. He’s back in town. And on a mission that, whether Sully likes it or not, includes them both.

Sully is sort of like a tamer William Foster (Michael Douglas from Falling Down). He’s not wreaking havoc in Los Angeles, but you kind of get the sense that he wants to.

Co-directors and writers Politz and Maulucci steer the film away from the many easy stereotypes it might fall into: Sully’s relationship with a much younger girl (the excellent Sophia Takal), an over-the-top chase scene involving Detonator’s former manager (Robert Longstreet giving a fun performance), and Sully’s wife (Dawn L. Hall) absconding with their young son.

Instead, the film sets us up for a series of explosions, but keeps the time bomb ticking. It’s a more successful form of suspense.

This Time Tomorrow

An apocalyptic relationship film, Shane Bissett’s debut film This Time Tomorrow supposes the end of the world (according to the Mayans) not as a rain of fire and brimstone, but as a sometimes tender, sometimes talky way to mend relationships.

December 21, 2012 is mere hours away and Stacey’s (Dave Coleman, who must defend the confusion between name and gender multiple times in the film) bucket list is short. Chiefly: visit his ex-girlfriend Parker (Jade Elysan) in Philadelphia.

Bissett’s film is improvised in the way recently popularized by Drake Doremus and it leads to good and bad moments. The actors are believable, and their mid-20s dialogue feels pulled from any bar, on any night, with any group of post-college, pre-30s friends. But some of Stacey’s rants become tiresome quickly.

Though the handheld camera and constant soft focus get aggravating, a film shot in a seven-day period that has some emotional core deserves its share of praise. Coleman and Elysan are charged with a whole lot of screen time, and both do a serviceable job. However, it’s the supporting cast of Philadelphia characters – drunk friends and potential hookups – that get the best bits of dialogue (a scene about our perception of color is particularly funny).

Neal Dhand

The Philadelphia Film Festival celebrates 21 years and runs from October 18 to October 28, 2012. For a complete schedule of films, screening times, and ticket information, please see the Philadelphia Film Society’s official site.

1 Comment
  1. Joanna Adams says

    I found Sophia Takal boring in Detonator. She acts the same in every movie.

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