PFF27

Work got the better of me as day two of the Philadelphia Film Fest started. I was trying to nail down a feature for a weekend issue before heading out to catch some flicks. 

But what I thought could be turned around Friday morning did not materialize until that afternoon, cutting out at least two screenings for me. 

Alas, I did manage to get two films in for the day so I'm OK with that. 

The first film I saw in the dazzling schedule of over 110 that were ready to be devoured by cinephiles was the Romanian documentary "Infinite Football." This short and very dense film looks at a man who tries to change the rules of soccer with a barbaric concoction of subteams and new boundary lines after a soccer-related injury scarred him as a young man.

I couldn't believe this was a documentary, a) because this man was so relentless in thinking he had the "fix" for the world's most popular game and b) even if this man wasn't real and this was a "mockumentary" of sorts he was so convincing into making me feel like he had to be made up. It's a very meticulous film that is a merry-go-round of the same conversations about opening up soccer to be more free. 

I loved the last three to five minutes which is a very slow dolly-in to the countryside of Romania at daybreak. These slower, tender shots of openness is countered with narration about life and our place in the world. I enjoyed the film overall because it was so weird and played with my emotions about whether the man was a joke, or naively serious.

Next up was "Galveston" by French ingenue-turned-director Melanie Laurent. A man named Roy escapes death and picks up an escort worker named Rocky as he flees from the town where he was sure to find his demise. The two battered, lonely characters form a peculiar relationship in the underbelly of Galveston, Texas. 

I thought the film was just OK. I loved Laurent's direction! She can do some real magic with long tracking shots and creating a palpable atmosphere under protection of the night. Laurent and her cinematographer create sharp shots that are really clean, and dirty when the story calls for it.

But her direction out-weighted such a so-so story. Too often I found the characters just getting by with small fights or moments of happiness to make the time stretch. It wasn't like "No Country for Old Men" where one was incessantly being chased by another. Roy and Rocky hangout at a fleabag motel and wait for... ?

There is a full slate for day three starting with the two-time Venice Film Festival winner "The Favourite." I love Yorgos Lanthimos so to see him put his extremely dry and dark humor in a period piece should be nothing short of brilliant.

Oh, and I skipped the first day of the festival which was the opening night film "Ben is Back." I haven't gone to opening night since "Anomalisa" started the fest back in 2015. The ticket prices aren't worth what I can see for free at a press screening at a later time. Also, I bet no more than half of the films that play at the festival will ever get a theatrical release, so I'd rather find them out now than watch them on a streaming platform - if they even get that far - on my computer. 

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