WRITTEN BY NATHAN LERNER
For Digital First Media
“A Borrowed Identity (Dancing Arabs)”
This coming of age film is set in the late ‘80s. Eyad is a young Arab boy, who is enrolled at a prestigious Israeli boarding school. He’s shunned by virtually all of his classmates. However, two of them, a young female and a wheelchair-bound one, prove to be more tolerant.
The film garnered Israeli Academy Award Nominations for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction, and Best Sound. This is the newest work from Eran Riklis, who boasts an impressive resummé. It includes “The Syrian Bride,” “The Lemon Tree,” and “The Human Resource Manager. The director is scheduled to be in attendance for a Q & A.
On Sunday, March 29 @ 7 p.m. as part of the Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia. Ritz East (125 South 2nd Street) No MPAA rating 104 minutes (In Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles) For further information, visit www. iffphila.com.
The comedy joins Will Ferrell and the ubiquitous Kevin Hart. Ferrell portrays a millionaire businessman, who is convicted for tax evasion. He is scheduled to be sent to San Quentin Prison to serve hard time. How does he prepare to survive this new milieu? He hires Hart, who he mistakenly believes is an ex-con, to school him on prison survival techniques.
Funny? We’ll see about that.
Opening wide on Friday, March 27. R (for pervasive crude and sexual content and language, some graphic nudity, and drug material) 100 minutes.
The animated comedic children’s film is adapted from the book, “The True Meaning of Smekday,” by Adam Rex. Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons) is fleeing from his own planet. He meets Gratuity “Tip’ Tucci (voiced by the singer, Rihanna), who is an earthling, but also an outsider of sorts. Vocal talent also includes Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin.
Opening wide on Friday, March 27. PG (for mild action and some rude humor) 94 minutes.
“It Follows” is a low budget, indie teen horror film, which was written and directed by David Robert Mitchell. The film’s premise arises from a recurring nightmare that used to plague Mitchell. In it, he was stalked by a menacing figure predator that heads slowly towards him
“It Follows” aggressively spurns the use of CGI in favor of old time practical effects. There is an absence of any recognizable actors. Despite this, “It Follows” had elicited an enthusiastic audience response when it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and later played at the Sundance Festival. This has been augmented by near universal critical acclaim.
Opens at the PFS Roxy Theater (2043 Sansom Street) on March 27. R (for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language) 100 minutes.
“Merchants of Doubt”
This documentary focuses on faux experts, who are hired by corporate entities to sow doubt and obfuscate the scientific consensus on everything from nicotine addiction global warming. It is directed by Robert Kenner, who had helmed “Food, Inc.,” another eye-opening documentary. The film enlivens an erudite book of the same name by Naomi Oreskes, Professor of History and Science Studies at Harvard University, and Erik M. Conway, historian at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.
Opens at the Ritz Bourse (4th and Ranstead streets) on March 27. PG-13 (for brief strong language) 96 minutes.
“The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer”
This biopic focuses on Isaac Bashevis Singer, a chronicler of Jewish life in the Eastern European shtetl, before it was eradicated by the Holocaust. Singer was born in Poland at the beginning of the 20th century, when it was still under the rule of the Russian Czar. He fled to the United States in 1935, four years before the German invasion of Poland and the extermination of the native population of Jews.
Writing exclusively in Yiddish, Singer became a leading proponent of the form. He was prolific, penning 18 novels, 14 children’s books, as well as numerous memoirs, essays and articles. Widely hailed for his artistry, Singer won the 1978 Nobel Prize for literature and two National Book Awards.
What inspired the bespeckled, scholarly looking Singer? The documentary, “The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer” details the writer’s secret life as an unlikely lothario. The film details his active sex life with the dozens of women, who translated his Yiddish writings into English.
Oh, you sly dog you!
Monday, March 30 as part of the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival @ 7:30 p.m. Gershman Y (401 S. Broad Street). No MPAA rating 72 minutes. For further information, visit www.pjff.org.
“Queen and Country”
This dramedy is the sequel to “Hope and Glory,” which had been set during World War II. That heartwarming film garnered five Academy Award nominations. The protagonist is now nearly a decade
older and is drafted into the British Army during the Korean War. Like its predecessor, this semi-autobiographical work is also written and directed by John Boorman. He has helmed 22 films, including another Oscar-nominated work, “Deliverance.”
Opens at the Ritz Bourse (4th & Ranstead Streets) on March 27. No MPAA rating. 115 minutes.
Based on a novel of the same name by Ron Rash, this historical romance is set in North Carolina during the Depression. It reunites Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. They duo had previously played love interests in “Silver Linings Playbook” and also were both in the cast of “American Hustle.” Here, Cooper portrays the operator of a struggling timber company and Lawrence plays his wife. The film is directed by Susanne Bier, who had previously helmed “After the Wedding” and “In a Better World.” The latter won an Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film. It may sound like a winning combination. However, the early buzz on the film has been quite negative.
Opens at the Ritz Five (214 Walnut Street) on March 27. R (for some violence and sexuality) 109 minutes.
Women’s Film Festival
In its inaugural year, the Women’s Film Festival is an ambitious three-day event. It includes 17 shorts, several panels, a self-defense class, and several other components.
The event has issued an interesting mission statement. According to it, the festival “establishes a forum in which men and women can showcase and discuss the artistic presence of women on screen and off. We will inspire and cultivate a movement of bad-asses who celebrate and collaborate the power of women in the film and entertainment industry.”
From Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29 at the Ethical Society (10-6 s. Rittenhouse Square). For further information, visit www.thewomensfilmfestival.org.
Nathan Lerner sees over 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at email@example.com