Image c/o CBS News.
So everyone’s busting out a full-on “Summer Movie Preview” these days. It’s the first week of May and, well, there’s that Iron Man movie. It nearly set first weekend release records again (holding that top spot is, naturally, that Avengers film). Which is a perfectly appropriate analogy for what summer movies tend to be about: being huge. Effects! Razzle dazzle! Big budgets! Comic-book movies! Remakes! Sequels! Adaptations of Already-Great Pieces of Art That Don’t Need to Be Made into Movies! Of course, there’s a bunch of indie movies that’ll win your hearts this summer. But we’ll get to those in time. For now, let’s just prioritize the ones everyone’s going to go see to beat the heat once it plateaus above 85 degrees.
We’ll do it like this: there are a TON of movies coming out before now and September. We’re not even going to touch August because, well, that feels really far away (and there’s actually a bunch of bullshit hitting screens that month). So for the months of May, June and July, we’ll give you a fairly succinct list in order of how excited we are for it and a tidbit about the film via other sources, like the glorious IMDB (the idea of synopsizing all these mediocre movies makes me nauseous). Plus, some trailers.
The Great Gatsby (May 10)
Before Midnight (May 24): “We meet Jesse and Celine nine years later in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on that train bound for Vienna.”
Now You See Me (May 31): “An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.”
Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17): “After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one-man weapon of mass destruction.”
After Earth (May 31): “A crash landing leaves Kitai Raige and his father Cypher stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.”
Fast & Furious 6 (May 24): “Agent Hobbs enlists the aid of Dom and team to help bring a rival gang, led by Owen Shaw, to justice. In exchange for clear records, they must put an end to their schemes, no matter how personal the cost.”
The Hangover Part III (May 24): “This time, there’s no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right? But when the Wolfpack hits the road, all bets are off.”
Much Ado About Nothing (June 7): “A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.”
World War Z (June 21): “United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.”
Man of Steel (June 14): “A young journalist is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.”
I’m So Excited (June 28): “When it appears as though the end is in sight, the pilots, flight crew and passengers of a plane heading to Mexico City look to forget the anguish of the moment and face the greatest danger, which we carry within ourselves.”
This Is The End (June 14): “While attending a party at James Franco’s house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities are faced with the apocalypse.”
White House Down (June 28): “While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the president from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.”
Only God Forgives (July 26): “Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok’s criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s recent death.”
The Lone Ranger (July 5): “Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.”
Pacific Rim (July 12): “When an alien attack threatens the Earth’s existence, giant robots piloted by humans are deployed to fight off the menace.”
The Wolverine (July 26): “Wolverine makes a voyage to modern-day Japan, where he encounters an enemy from his past that will impact on his future.”
R.I.P.D. (July 12): “A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.”
So. PIFA, the Philadelphia International Festival of Arts, is now in full swing and the Kimmel Center, its beating heart, proudly features a “time machine.” Yes, two years ago we celebrated Paris and now we embark on the heady task of time traveling: “PIFA asks audiences ‘If you had a time machine…’” The guide’s introduction says: “This journey takes us from the Big Bang to the invention of casual Fridays, and from a family-friendly puppet show in 1876 to the landing of Columbus in 1492, as the artists feverishly work together across time and space, crossing and blending a variety of styles to reflect PIFA’s core values of collaboration, innovation, and creativity.”
Alright, maintaining a positive attitude, we say this is cool. It’s cool that there’s loads of free programming, it’s cool that our city endeavors a month-long festival of arts that attracts artists of every medium to our city, and it’s cool that unique programming is created specifically for this festival.
But, uh, time travel? Could be cool. We love Back to the Future. But if we’re being real, like we do, some of these things are just so weird. When pushed and constricted by a theme, seems like some whacky stuff came about. Some stuff gets really specific, creating art based on a date in time. While other events stretch over hundreds of years of history.
Here are seven musical moments we’ve got our eyes on:
1. Last Call at the Downbeat (Jazz Bridge): “In November, 1942, 25-year-old trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie is in Philadelphia leading his own quartet at the Downbeat Club. He’s just been fired by big bandleader Lucky Millinder after a stint at the famed Earle Theatre at 11th and Market Streets – right around the corner. It’s war time, and big band swing is all the rage, but Gillespie has been experimenting a bit with a new approach to music. Something most people don’t even know about yet, something called bebop… he’s anxious to play you a little and tell you a lot about Philadelphia jazz – back in the day.”
April 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th at 8pm. $25. Red Room at the Society Hill Playhouse, 300 S Broad Street.
2. Bond and Beyond (Peter Nero and the Philly Pops): “Agent 007 has the suave sophistication needed to thwart the evil plans of Dr. No, Goldfinger, and Mr. Big – and so des his musical motif. Relive the thrill and adventure as The POPS, led by Michael Krajewski, play the iconic music of James Bond and other themes of espionage. Audience favorite Debbie Gravitte lends her sultry soprano to these tantalizing tunes for an evening you won’t want to miss. After all, you only live twice!”
April 26th-28th. $30-$114. April 26th, 8pm, April 27th & 28th, 3pm. Verizon Hall, 300 S Broad Street.
3. The Children’s March (Singing City and the SC Children’s Choir): “May 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama – a major catalyst for bringing about the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The newly commissioned work by Philadelphia composer Andrew Bleckner and acclaimed Philadelphia storyteller and narrator Charlotte Blake Alston features Singing City and the Singing City Children’s Choir, and tells the story of one moment that changed the course of civil rights in America. The concert will be followed by a conversation with the artists.”
April 26th, 8pm. $20-$30. Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street.
4. Casual Friday (Stone Depot Dance Lab): “Stone Depot’s Casual Friday begins with a Happy Hour in the Ruba Club’s inviting lounge, sponsored by Philadelphia Brewing Company, and continues on a wild ride through an unorthodox history: a performance for anyone who has braved the work force, navigated the social strictures of bosses and co-workers, or simply needs a Casual Friday for any reason.”
April 12th and 19th, 6:30pm & 8:30pm. $15. Ruba Club Lounge, 414 Green Street.
5. Aquarian Exposition: A Trip Back to the Original Woodstock (Sharp Dance Company): “Join us for a night dedicated to the unique and controversial decades of the 60’s and ’70s. Aquarian Exposition: A trip back to the Original Woodstock taps into the spirit of love, acceptance and exploration that made the hippie movement one that will transcend time. Enjoy some of the most prolific music in history performed as dancers embody the groovy sixties through new and original choreography set by Diane Sharp-Nachsin. Audience members will feel like part of the performance… including a contest for the best dressed audience member in hippie gear! Don’t miss this beautiful homage to Woodstock.”
April 12th-21st, April 12, 13, 19, 20, 8pm, April 14 and 21, 7pm. $20. The Box, 2628 Martha Street.
6. SENDMSG (Dan Deacon): “Internet Hall of Fame inductee Ray Tomlinson sent the first email from one computer to another in 1971. For the past forty years the evolution of his contribution has grown to see over 3 billion email accounts in existence today and the generation of new social communication technology. Enter instrumentalist, composer and DJ Dan Deacon, who uses this moment as a springboard to creat an evening where the audience is as much a part of the performance as he is. Using smartphone technology, Deacon and the audience will creat a shared musical experience to open and close an evening filled with a unique show not to be missed.”
April 12th, 8:30pm. $15. Perelman Theater, 300 S Broad Street.
7. Songs in the Key of Life: Robert Glasper Presents a Stevie Wonder Tribute: “Firmly planted in the worlds of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B, Grammy-nominated Robert Glasper bring together an all-star cast featuring the Experiment Band (Derrick Hodge, Mark Colenburg and Casey Benjamin), Lalah Hathaway, Stokley Williams, and Eric Roberson, dedicated to Stevie Wonder’s timeless body of work. This performance, commissioned by Harlem Stage, includes new arrangements and new compositions written by Glasper, inspired by Stevie Wonder.
April 14th, 8pm. $25-42.50. Verizon Hall, 300 S Broad Street.
Unfortunately, due to space, I wasn’t able to mention in this week’s art column the full line-up of events and performances that Plato’s Porno Cave: The New World still has in store inside Little Berlin (2430 Coral St.)
I can assure, even if you missed the outrageous opening festivities, you’re still going to want to experience The New World for yourself while you still can.
Weds/20: Archival Film Night – During the third and final archival film night of PPC’s run, folks will have a chance to catch three different films: The Phantom of Liberty (1974), Aria (1987) and Fallen Angels (1995). The $5 dollar suggested donation will score you a bowl of popcorn and PBR. (8pm-1am. $5)
Fri/22: Ms. Teena Geist in “The Stairwell Symphony” – Local performance artist, Ms. Teena Geist will lead audiences on a journey through “the fog of adolescence” as she attempts to find her true self and “silence all the haters” through a variety of techniques including, improvised vocal mantra, guided meditation, herbal remedies, and live action painting. “Should be interestingly weird,” says PPC curator/creator, Marshall James Kavanaugh. “I look at it as the suburban evolution of the New World.” (8pm-12am. $5-$10)
Sat/23: Erotic Word Exchange – During this free-for-all evening of soulful philandering, anyone and everyone is welcome to share a little bit of erotica, whether it be in the form of a song, story, joke, rant or philosophy. Either sit back, listen and enjoy the free stimulation, or get up and be apart of the conversation. (8pm-1am. Free.)
Fri/29: Cirque Skeletique – Given that The New World opened with a “Big Bang,” you best believe it’s going to close with a bang, albeit a slightly smaller one. This Philly/Brooklyn-based nouveau cirque orchestration uses a fusion of music and movement narrative to tell a story, a story set in the apocalyptic “New City.” Get it? The individual featured performances include everything from sword swallowing, stilt walking, knife throwing and contortion to juggling, dancing, aerial acrobatics and other freak-show acts. Needless to say, this is not your average circus. (8pm-1am. $10)
On Monday morning, another big announcement happened with a Michael Nutter photo op: Philadelphia Live Arts and Philly Fringe are combining efforts, solidifying a headquarters, expanding their scope, renovating a new space, and as Emily Guendelsberger put it, thankfully, shortening their combined names into FringeArts. This is big news. Not only is the nature of Philly Fringe and Live Arts morphing before our eyes into something bigger and better, they’re carving out a space for themselves across from the beautiful new Race Street Pier underneath the Ben Franklin Bridge. It’s going to be a massive space with multi-functioning spaces and a BAR. Oh, and public restrooms that’ll be open to the public all-year-round.
Take it from the horse’s mouth via their press release:
“Our future home is located across the street from Race Street Pier at the corner of Race Street and Columbus Boulevard. The 1903 historic former pumping station will be transformed into a year-round center for contemporary performing and visual arts; the 10,000-square-foot building will feature:
+ 240-seat Theater
+ Restaurant and Bar
+ Outdoor Plaza
+ Permanent Festival Hub
Programming under the new FringeArts banner will expand to include not only the annual 16-day Festival but also a year-round series of high-quality contemporary dance, theater and music performances both local and international; commissioned public art installations; and a residency program that continues to expand and grow as a state-of-the-art incubator for artists.”
As noted in Emily’s post, there might be a teeny, tiny problem – train and car traffic and the resulting noise. She said that even with a mic, when a NJ Transit train passed by, it’s all you could hear. But that’s outside. Even though an outdoor performance space sounds cool, you’ve gotta be crafty about what you do and when you do it. The theater sounds totally rad, though. We won’t say no to these kinds of things filling up our city.
With Morgan’s Pier, that damned beautiful Pier and Sugar House and all that, it looks like the city’s actually trying really hard to make that waterfront a thing. And while there’s plenty of room for improvement, they’re getting there. Like, can we do something with that monstrous Dave and Busters? Can we connect Old City more seamlessly with these new waterfront attractions? We gotta try.
With Third Ward and the looming reno and reuse of The Dolphin, it really feels like this city’s on the cusp of an explosion of art. With Union Transfer, we’re becoming a city with a world-class diversity of spaces. It’s happening, you guys!
There’s one other thing. Does Philly have enough actual art and artists to keep these enterprises humming? Maybe all this means that talent, voices, thoughts and art’ll be looking at our city with a keener eye; Philly has the resources and the spaces to facilitate every kind of show that can be dreamed up.
I got a rare opportunity today. Disclaimer: my friend, Jestis Deuerlein, is going to be a major player in this exciting cultural movement coming to Northern Liberties. She’s going to be helming some event planning and has a ton of infectious enthusiasm about the space, what’s going to go down there and how so many Philadelphians are going to reap the boundless potential of this incredibly multi-functioning space. Before I get down to the virtual tour, feel free to do a little reading up on exactly what 3rd Ward is. Here’s the two-second version of what they do from the horse’s mouth:
“3rd Ward is a multi-disciplinary workspace and education center. Here, you can take advantage of our Wood Shop, Metal Shop, Photo Studios, Jewelry Studios and Coworking Space, as well as learn new skills in one of our many classes. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a creative outlet, or a seasoned professional in search of a full-time workspace solution, 3rd Ward can help.”
And they’re bringing this spirit of creativity and community to Philadelphia in a matter of months. We won’t try to name a date at this time but you can bet you’ll be kept abreast of the space’s grand opening (almost definitely with a big, fat party).
For one, as a music journalist, I’m pumped about this as a space for dance parties, music events, performances and art parties. There will basically be two performance/event spaces; one on the first and one on the second floor which extends out onto an open-air roof-top deck. The third floor is a sickeningly sprawling and beautiful co-work space, but more on that later.
This is a pretty odd neighborhood, let’s be real. I used to live over here. Just a few blocks north of Girard and west of Front isn’t what you’d call a vibrant or distinct neighborhood. Sure, there’s a bunch of great things in this odd mix of Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Kensington and North Philly: the robust strip of 2nd Street between Girard and Spring Garden, the newly-bustling Super Fresh, and stuff like Johnny Brenda’s, Kung Fu Necktie, El Bar and Fishtown Tavern. This is all to say ‘This space is going to do good by lots of people, including the neighborhood.’
So let’s start at the ground floor. The two main entrances will open up to a big combo restuarant/cafe/performance/art show space (above, left) and to a reception-y welcome center. Curious about the restaurant space? Check out Stone Park Cafe in Brooklyn – they’ll be related. In the back is a massive metal and wood shop. The cafe space will also feature loads of outdoor seating, perfect for its slated summer opening. The second floor is a home for a handful of classroomy spaces including what will be a huge work kitchen, and, perhaps the crown jewel of this whole endeavor, a lovely small/mid-sized outdoor patio (above, right) with room for a projection wall, maybe a small bar, a DJ booth and around 100 people. I can already see the artsy folk in their shorts and sun dresses mingling under the stars.
Upstairs, on the top and third floor, is one of the biggest and most beautiful co-op/co-work spaces I’ve ever seen. This puts the Flavorpill office in SoHo where I interned five years ago to shame. Beautifully restored finishes and wood floors, endless snaking cubicles and phone call booths will make this one whacky-ass floor full of people looking for a home base for their young company or their freelancing needs. As our economy still figures out what’s going on and young folks are smacked in the face with the reality that freelancing is the future, not staff jobs, it’s possible this space will be a bustling and thriving epicenter of Philadelphia’s already-strong-but-still-blossoming intellectual and literary culture. Not to mention all the artists/crafters/designers/printers/tech nerds that’ll benefit from work spaces and opportunites to get their work seen (and bought).
The space is freakin’ 27,000 square feet. PW will definitely be keeping an eye on the opening, the class and events lineup and welcome newly-hired members of a powerful 3rd Ward team.
Last week, the Jenkintown native and undeniable super-hunk officially nabbed himself the Oscar nom for his role in the critically acclaimed and locally filmed, Silver Linings Playbook. And while Cooper might have beaten by Daniel Day Lewis on Sunday at the Golden Globes (which is almost guaranteed to happened again at the Academy Awards), he has been successful in inspiring locals to take up ballroom dancing.
As you’ve may have briefly noticed in the film’s trailer, Cooper’s character, Pat, competes in a ballroom competition at a “local hotel” alongside his equally unstable love interest, played by Jennifer Lawrence (who did shock everybody when she took home the 2013 Golden Globe for “Best Actress.”).
According to Society Hill Dance Academy owner, Shana Vitoff-Heidorn, since the film hit theaters, enrollment in her introductory ballroom classes has shot up a whopping 50 percent.
“We have been pleasantly surprised by the renewed interest in ballroom dancing, especially the Waltz,” says Vitoff-Heidorn, adding that this interest has been shared by Philadelphians of all different ages.
Should you yourself want to steal Cooper’s moves, SHDA has several upcoming open “Social Ease” classes at both their Center City (409 S. Second St.) and Manayunk (4401 Cresson St.). Although the waltz is the easiest ballroom dance for beginners to master, SHDA also covers salsa, the cha-cha, tango and fox trot. Best of all, these classes are open everyone—no partner or reservation required.
If this list is any indication, I’ve had a pretty weird year. In no particular order…
1. Obama’s Reelection
YESSSSSSSS!!! So happy I’m not writing this blog post from Canada right now.
2. Lena Dunham/Girls
Oh, Ms. Dunham. Thank you for coming into my life and giving birth to what was hands down the best new show of 2012.
3. Nick Foles
In hindsight, he may prove to be the silver lining of The Philadelphia Eagles’ horrendous 2012 season. He also kept me tuning in every Sunday.
4. Cowboy Boots
Seriously, I want to wear mine everyday, with every outfit. I also want like ten more pairs.
Never has a TV show has ever caused me so many sleepless nights.
6. Binders Full of Women
I don’t know about you, but I needed some comedic relief by the final presidential debate.
7. Chris Hemsworth
Fuck Snow White—the movie should have been called The Huntsman & His Seven Sexy/Angry Facial Expressions.
8. Jose Ole’s Taquitos
The most delicious microwaveable Mexican food you can ask for in just 60 seconds or less. Not sure how I would have survived these past 12 months without them.
9. The Philadelphia Live Arts/Fringe Festival
I honestly can’t even tell you how many awesome shows and performances I had the pleasure of seeing. Ten, maybe?
10. This Video…
Doesn’t get much cuter than this, folks. And after a mind-numbing election, devastating natural disaster and horrific mass shooting, I think we could all use more videos of adorable kittens doing adorable kitten things.