Artwork by CATMUNS   BY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC This week the Cinedelphia Film Festival will be screening both Suspiria and Phantom of the Paradise for SOLD OUT screenings, hosted by the wide-eyed star of both films, Jessica Harper. Phantom was Jessica’s first starring role and it led to leading roles in such iconic films as Suspiria, Pennies from Heaven, Shock Treatment and Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories. Phawker got a few moments last week to chat with Jessica in anticipation for her appearances and we discussed not only the two films that are usually at the forefront of most fan’s […]

CINEMA: I Was A Teenage Gorehound

  BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC Slaughter Tales — a feature-length horror movie written/directed by/starring a then-fourteen-year-old South Philly filmmaker Johnny Dickie — changed the way I look at movies. Let me explain: In the mid-1980s, during the rise of the video store, a film lover would be giddy about the freshly-bloomed reality of being able to watch films you would never see on TV or at your local theaters. I was in college studying film at the time, so it was an opportunity to see for the first time classics from Fritz Lang, Buster Keaton and Stanley Kubrick. Being […]

CINEMA: Hard Boyled

  TRANCE (2013, directed by Danny Boyle, 101 minutes, U.S.) BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC When you’re caught in the spell of the projectionist’s light, how much preposterousness is too much? We all know movie watchers who are proud to interrupt a film with the comment, “That could never happen!” but to embrace film means that you not only engage your imagination but exercise your gullibility with the idea “what if this could happen?” British director Danny Boyle has made a career assuming we’d fall for his outlandish plots, and more often than not he’s been right, making us a […]

OUT ON ASSIGMENT: California Dreamin’

  Heading out to LA to join Father John Misty’s coven for a few days. Updating will be light. But today re-enjoy our interview with John Doe who, along with the mighty Loudon Wainwright, will be at World Cafe Live for a post-screening David Dye Q&A with the director and cast of Pleased To Meet Me. Tomorrow look for Chris DiPinto’s book review/personal essay re: a recently published biography of dearly Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and metal guru Randy Rhoads on a Phawker near you!

CINEMA: The Unkown Soldiers Of 20th Century Pop

  BY JONATHAN VALANIA A little known fact outside of musician circles is that the instrumental tracks of many of the most beloved and iconic pop songs of the 1960s — The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” The Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” The Mamas & Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” The Monkees’ “Mary Mary,” Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” to name but a few — were not performed by the artists credited. […]

CINEMA: I Love My Bicycle

I Love My Bicycle: The Story of FBM Bikes Trailer from Joe Stakun on Vimeo. I Love My Bicycle: The Story of FBM Bikes Trailer from BAD BREAKS on Vimeo. BY KYLEE MESSNER It’s hard to pinpoint just when BMX riding began, though there are stories of southern California teens riding their bikes on dirt roads in the early 1970s. It wasn’t until 1981 that the International BMX Federation was formed. Following the evolution of most industries, BMX companies began very hands on and mom-and-pop, only to become more corporate  in the pursuit of a wider audiences. FBM is one […]

CINEMA: Film Festival Guidance

WHAT WE DO IS SECRET (2007, directed by Rodger Grossman, 92 minutes, U.S.)BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC What is no secret is that the old-fashioned Hollywood bio-pic is over-due for an overhaul; why hasn’t first-time director Roder Grossman received the news? Indistinguishable from about fifty percent of VH1’s Behind The Music scripts, this bio of quintessential L.A. punk Darby Crash and his briefly viable band The Germs hits most of the same notes as Judd Apatow’s Dewey Cox parody from last winter. The Germs‘ music still kicks ass and E.R.s Shane West (collecting the Festival’s Rising Star Award at Saturday’s […]

CINEMA: Philadelphia Film Festival Picks

DEFICIT (2007, directed y Gael Garcia Bernal, 75 minutes, Mexico)BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal (Che from The Motorcycle Diaries) tries his hand at directing with this multi-character story of twenty-something college friends meeting at a decaying summer home. Bernal’s roving camera picks up a number of relaxed and funny performances although none overshadow the director’s own, alternating between cockiness and insecurity as a privileged son in a quiet panic as his parents are in the middle of losing their fortune. Ultimately Deficit is lacking the ambition to make much of an impact yet Bernal’s insights […]

CINEMA: The Matriarch, The Mugger & The Little Girl

HORI SMOKU SAILOR JERRY (2008, directed by Erich Weiss, 77 minutes, U.S.) BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC There are few more entertaining films in this year’s festival than this enthralling look at the origins of modern tattooing. Held in highest esteem among ink lovers is Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, who from his shop in Hawaii created the iconic American designs that decorated the chest, arms and backs of soldiers headed into battle in WW2. Hori Smoku makes a convincing case for Collins as a major folk artist and he’s as colorful as his designs, full of pranks, hard-bitten wisdom and […]

CINEMA: The Fraud, The Horror & The Rapture

ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION (2008, directed by Mary Patel & Joe Barber, 93 minutes, U.S.) BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC Philadelphia City Paper columnist Mary Patel teamed up with co-director Joe Barber for this exhausting but not exhaustive look at the gaping flaws in the U.S. electoral system. It’s a Grand Central Station of talking heads, all delivering little more than soundbites. And while I love a diversity of opinion, I’m not sure what unique perspective Elliot Gould and Schoolly D bring to the stew. Freely mixing in the angry and clueless public with disgustingly hardened insiders, Electile Dysfunction never drums up […]

FEST PICKS: Spine-Tingling, Sperm-Injected Revolution

SPINE TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY (2007, directed by Jeffrey Schwartz, 78 minutes, U.S.)BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC It’s hard to resist this documentary bio on the B-Movie King, mostly because Castle himself was such an irrepressible character of child-like enthusiasm. His was a story made for Hollywood: A young boy, orphaned by age 11, finds a home in the theater, then bluffs his way into success as a big-screen producer. Castle hooked up with many of the most colorful showbiz characters of the last century, working closely with Orson Welles, Bela Lugosi, Roman Polanski and, in a humorous episode, […]

FEST PICKS: Afghan Strongmen & The Matrix Redux

BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC AFGHAN MUSCLES (2007, directed by Andreas Dalsgaard, 58 minutes, Denmark) Usually when I’m talking to Festival goers right after the schedule is announced, they proclaim to be unimpressed. Sure they recognize a few titles to get excited about but who’s ever heard about the rest of these films anyway? But what was that song Bo Diddley sang about books and their covers? I certainly had no clue by looking at the blurb for Afghan Muscles that it would be one of the most memorable Festival films I’ve seen so far. I’m not sure what even […]

CINEMA: Philadelphia Film Festival Guidance

BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC In too many ways, Philadelphia is not much of a cinema town. We have fewer screens than most cities our size, no full-time repertory theater (a fact that irks me daily) and too many foreign films just do not open here. But for a the next couple weeks, we can pretend we all live in a first-run town, as the 17th Philadelphia Film Festival spreads out across six area venues to supply more film choices than anyone can consume. The Festival has followed the same basic template since the TLA folks took it over a […]