Cha Cha Real Smooth | Sundance Film Festival 2022 Review
After his first feature film Shithouse won the Grand Jury Prize for Best narrative Feature at SXSW in 2020, writer/director/actor Cooper Raiff is back with his second film, Cha Cha Real Smooth, and it’s sure to be the crowd-pleasing film of Sundance 2022.
After having recently graduated from college, 22-year-old Andrew (played by writer/director Cooper Raiff) is stuck back at home living with his family in New Jersey unsure of his career path going forward. After taking his younger brother David to a bar mitzvah, Andrew discovers one thing that he is very good at- partying. This makes him the perfect candidate for a job starting parties at all the local bar and bat mitzvahs.
It’s at one of these bar mitzvahs that Andrew meets single mother Domino (Dakota Johnson) and her autistic daughter Lola (played by Vanessa Burghardt, an autistic actor) and he finally discovers a future that he wants after striking up a strong bond with both Domino and Lola.
Much like with his first film Shithouse, Raiff fills Cha Cha Real Smooth completely full to the brim with emotion and with characters that feel so real and honest. Raiff proves himself as an absolute gem both behind the camera and in front of it as it’s a film that has so much heart to it. The cast are all fantastic which only fuels these characters and makes them stand out even more so that they really feel like real people.
Once again Raiff has created such complex characters with so much beneath the surface to the extent that if anyone of these characters were the protagonist it would still be an interesting film. If the film focused on Andrew’s brother, or his mum, or Domino or Lola instead of making Andrew the protagonist it would still be just as interesting a film. And so to have Andrew as well as all of these other characters makes for a really compelling film.
As the title of the film hints at, we do get to experience the Cha Cha Slide at one of the bar mitzvahs in the film and it’s a wild one. But as well as being very funny, Cha Cha Real Smooth is incredibly emotional. There’s a conversation around the midpoint of the film about depression and about what it feels like and the writing hits so hard, along with Raiff and Johnson’s fantastic delivery that you can’t help but start welling up.
Cha Cha Real Smooth is charming in every single aspect and it’s the best film of Sundance 2022 so far. Raiff is certainly one to watch going forward.
Cha Cha Real Smooth premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Philadelphia Film Festival Announces 31st Festival Lineup | Tickets Available Now
Now that the NYFF is winding down, it’s about time for the regional film festivals to begin heating up as the awards season begins. The 31st Philadelphia Film Festival — which I am thrilled to be covering — will begin on October 19 and will commence on October 30. With some of the year’s best major releases that are set to come later this year and in 2023 and all of the indie darlings, the Philadelphia Film Festival is one you won’t to miss if you can make it. First, I will highlight a number of the films I have seen or am dying to see at the festival and you can see a full list of the titles below.
The full Festival schedule and digital Festival Program Guide are available now on www.filmadelphia.org/festival.
Screenings for the 31st Philadelphia Film Festival will take place at the below venues:
● Philadelphia Film Center (1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102)
● PFS Bourse (400 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106)
● PFS East (125 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106 – Formerly Ritz East)
Tickets are on sale now.
31st Philadelphia Film Festival Full Line-up
ᐩ Part of the PFS on Us Complimentary Tickets Initiative
Opening Night Film
○ The Banshees of Inisherin, Director Martin McDonagh. 2022, United Kingdom, Ireland, USA.
Closing Night Film
○ All The Beauty And The Bloodshed, Director Laura Poitras. 2022, USA.
○ Armageddon Time, Director James Gray. 2022, USA, Brazil.
○ Empire of Light, Director Sam Mendes. 2022, United Kingdom, USA.
○ Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Director Rian Johnson. 2022, USA.
○ The Inspection, Director Elegance Bratton. 2022, USA.
○ She Said, Director Maria Schrader. 2022, USA.
○ Till, Director Chinonye Chukwu. 2022, USA.
○ The Whale, Director Darren Aronofsky. 2022, USA.
○ White Noise, Director Noah Baumbach. 2022, USA.
○ Women Talking, Director Sarah Polley. 2022, USA.
○ An Evening with Dream Video Divisonᐩ
○ Magic Mike XXL, Director Gregory Jacobs. 2015, USA.
○ RRR, Director S.S. Rajamouli. 2022, India.
Masters of Cinema – The latest films by a new generation of acclaimed auteurs and established directors who continue to reshape the cinematic landscape.
○ A Compassionate Spy, Director Steve James. 2022, USA.
○ All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Director Laura Poitras. 2022, USA.
○ Broker, Director Hirokazu Kore-eda. 2022, South Korea.
○ Brother and Sister, Director Arnaud Desplechin. 2022, France.
○ Decision to Leave, Director Park Chan-wook. 2022, South Korea.
○ EO, Director Jerzy Skolimowski. 2022, Poland, United Kingdom, Italy.
○ One Fine Morning, Director Mia Hansen-Løve. 2022, France, United Kingdom, Germany.
○ R.M.N., Director Cristian Mungiu. 2022, Belgium, France, Romania.
Spotlights – This year’s highly anticipated titles featuring some of the biggest names in front of and behind the camera.
○ Alice, Darling, Director Mary Nighy. 2022, Canada, USA.
○ Call Jane, Director Phyllis Nagy. 2022, USA.
○ Causeway, Director Lila Neugebauer. 2022, USA
○ The Lost King, Director Stephen Frears. 2022, United Kingdom.
○ Lynch/Oz, Director Alexandre O. Philippe. 2022, USA.
○ “Sr.”, Director Chris Smith. 2022, USA.
○ Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb, Director Lizzie Gottlieb. 2022, USA.
○ Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Eric Appel. 2022, USA.
World View – Works that demonstrate the diversity and vitality of contemporary international cinema from some of the globe’s most exciting filmmakers.
○ A E I O U – A Quick Alphabet of Love, Director Nicolette Krebitz. 2022, Germany, France.
○ Aftersun, Director Charlotte Wells. 2022, United Kingdom, USA.
○ Alcarràs, Director Carla Simón. 2022, Spain, Italy.
○ The Beasts, Director Rodrigo Sorogoyen. 2022, Spain, France.
○ Before I Change My Mind, Director Trevor Anderson. 2022, Canada.ᐩ
○ Before, Now & Then, Director Kamila Andini. 2022, Indonesia.
○ The Blue Caftan, Director Maryam Touzani. 2022, France, Morocco, Belgium, Denmark.
○ The Box, Director Lorenzo Vigas. 2021, Mexico, USA.
○ Boy from Heaven, Director Tarik Saleh. 2022, Sweden, France, Finland.
○ Burning Days, Director Emin Alper. 2022, Turkey, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Greece, Croatia.
○ Close, Director Lukas Dhont. 2022, Belgium, Netherlands, France.
○ Corsage , Director Marie Kreutzer. 2022, Austria.
○ Falcon Lake, Director Charlotte Le Bon. 2022, Canada, France.
○ Holy Spider, Director Ali Abbasi. 2022, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, France.
○ Leonor Will Never Die, Director Martika Ramirez Escobar. 2022, Philippines.
○ The Line, Director Ursula Meier. 2022, Switzerland, France, Belgium.
○ Love Life, Director Kôji Fukada. 2022, Japan, France.
○ Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Director Antonio Lukich. 2022, Ukraine.
○ Millie Lies Low, Director Michelle Savill. 2021, New Zealand.
○ Oink, Director Mascha Halberstad. 2022, Netherlands.
○ Pamfir, Director Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk. 2022, Ukraine, France, Poland, Germany, Chile.
○ Return to Dust, Li Ruijun. 2022, China.
○ Subtraction, Director Mani Haghighi. 2022, Iran, France.
○ Viking, Director Stéphane Lafleur. 2022, Canada.
○ Xalé, Director Moussa Sene Absa. 2022, Senegal, Ivory Coast.
Non/Fiction – Compelling and provocative, these contemporary docs encourage viewers to see the world through a different lens.
○ American Pain, Director Darren Foster. 2022, USA.
○ Butterfly in the Sky, Director Bradford Thomason, Director Brett Whitcomb. 2022, USA.
○ Chop & Steele, Director Ben Steinbauer, Director Berndt Mader. 2022, USA.
○ Crows Are White, Director Ahsen Nadeem. 2022, USA, Japan, Ireland.
○ Good Night Oppy, Director Ryan White. 2022, USA.
○ Nothing Lasts Forever, Director Jason Kohn. 2022, USA.
○ The Picture Taker, Director Phil Bertelsen. 2022, USA.
○ Tantura , Director Alon Schwarz. 2022, Israel, USA.
○ The Thief Collector, Director Allison Otto. 2022, USA.
○ The YouTube Effect, Director Alex Winter. 2022, USA.
After Hours – Bringing together the odd, eerie, thrilling, and downright weird, this is the home of cult classics in the making.
○ Attachment, Director Gabriel Bier Gislason. 2022, Denmark.
○ Christmas Bloody Christmas, Director Joe Begos. 2022, USA.
○ Huesera, Director Michelle Garza Cervera. 2022, Mexico, Peru.
○ Kids vs. Aliens, Director Jason Eisener. 2022, USA.
○ Mister Organ, Director David Farrier. 2022, New Zealand.
○ Sick, Director John Hyams. 2022, USA.
○ Sick of Myself, Director Kristoffer Borgli. 2022, Norway, Sweden.
○ Smoking Causes Coughing, Director Quentin Dupieux. 2022, France.
From the Vaults – Film classics come alive as they were meant to be seen – on the big screen!
○ A Confucian Confusion, Director Edward Yang. 1994, Taiwan.
○ Orlando, Director Sally Potter. 1992, United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, France, Netherlands.ᐩ
● 30th Anniversary
○ Pink Flamingos, Director John Waters. 1972, USA.
● 50th Anniversary
○ Rittenhouse Square, Director Robert Downey Sr. 2005, USA.
● Presented in 35MM
○ Sorcerer, Director William Friedkin. 1977, USA.
● Presented in 35MM
● 45th Anniversary
Filmadelphia – Showcasing the most dynamic and talented voices from the Greater Philadelphia area.
○ A Woman on the Outside, Director Lisa Riordan Seville, Director Zara Katz. 2022, USA.
○ Gradually, Then Suddenly: The Bankruptcy of Detroit, Director Sam Katz, Director James McGovern. 2022, USA.
○ Land of Gold, Director Nardeep Khurmi. 2022, USA.
○ Not for Nothing, Director Tim Dowlin, Director Frank Tartaglia. 2022, USA.
○ Rittenhouse Square, Director Brandon Eric Kamin. 2022, USA.
○ This Is My Black, Director Stephen Adetumbi, Director Jarrett Roseborough. 2022, USA.
○ Your Friend, Memphis, Director David P. Zucker. 2022, USA, Italy.
Made in USA – Lo-fi gems and new indie classics that offer a fresh perspective on today’s America.
○ Blood Relatives, Director Noah Segan. 2022, USA.
○ Every Day in Kaimukī, Director Alika Tengan. 2022, USA.ᐩ
○ Nanny, Director Nikyatu Jusu. 2022, USA.
○ Next Exit, Director Mali Elfman. 2022, USA.
○ Something in the Dirt, Director Justin Benson, Director Aaron Moorhead. 2022, USA.
Cinema de France – Sharing a language with some of cinema’s most revered classics and legendary auteurs, these new films have that certain je ne sais quoi.
○ Five Devils, Director Léa Mysius. 2022, France.
○ Forever Young, Director Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. 2022, France.
○ The Innocent, Director Louis Garrel. 2022, France.
○ The Night of the 12th, Director Dominik Moll. 2022, France, Belgium.
○ The Passengers of the Night, Director Mikhaël Hers. 2022, France.
○ Return to Seoul, Director Davy Chou. 2022, France, Germany, Belgium, Qatar.
○ Rodeo, Director Lola Quivoron. 2022, France.
Green Screen – In Honor of the Philadelphia Film Society’s inaugural year producing the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival, introducing Green Screen. From animal welfare to the effects of climate change, these thought-provoking films address urgent environmental issues.
○ All That Breathes, Director Shaunak Sen. 2002, India, United Kingdom, USA.ᐩ
○ How to Blow Up a Pipeline, Director Daniel Goldhaber. 2022, USA.
○ Rebellion, Director Maia Kenworthy, Director Elena Sanchez Bellot. 2021, United Kingdom.
○ The Smell of Money, Director Shawn Bannon. 2022, USA.ᐩ
Sight & Soundtrack – Featuring rockumentaries, musician biopics, and films centered on the unifying power of music.
○ Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues, Director Sacha Jenkins. 2022, USA.
○ Meet Me in the Bathroom, Director Will Lovelace, Director Dylan Southern. 2022, United Kingdom.
○ Rebel, Director Adil El Arbi, Director Bilall Fallah. 2022, Belgium, Luxembourg, France.
○ The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlisle, Director Kathlyn Horan. 2022, USA.
○ Taurus, Director Tim Sutton. 2022, USA.
State of the Union – Stories of some of the most significant figures and events in American politics and diplomacy, which continue to shape the future of the nation’s democracy.
○ Boycott , Director Julia Bacha. 2021, USA.ᐩ
○ The Exiles, Director Ben Klein, Director Violet Columbus. 2022, USA, Taiwan, France, China.ᐩ
○ The Grab, Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite. 2022, USA.ᐩ
○ Loudmouth, Director Josh Alexander. 2022, USA.ᐩ
○ Retrograde, Director Matthew Heineman. 2022, USA.ᐩ
○ Shouting Down Midnight, Director Gretchen Stoeltje. 2022, USA.ᐩ
○ A Short Story, Director Bi Gan.
○ Beware of Trains, Director Emma Calder.
○ Bump, Director Maziyar Khatam.
○ The Cave, Director Kim Jinman, Director Chon Jiyoung.
○ Chaperone, Director Sam Max.
○ Craze, Director Bianka Szelestey.
○ Deerwoods Deathtrap, Director James P. Gannon.
○ Five Cents, Director Aaron Hughes.
○ The Flying Sailor, Director Wendy Tilby, Director Amanda Forbis.
○ Goodbye Jérôme!, Director Adam Sillard, Director Gabrielle Selnet, Director Chloé Farr.
○ I (heart) Jack LaLanne: A Cartoon Memoir, Director LeAnn Erickson.
○ Ice Merchants, Director João Gonzalez.
○ It Feels Personal, Director Hugh Clegg.
○ Kylie, Director Master Sterling.
○ Le Pupille, Director Alice Rohrwacher.
○ Long Line of Ladies, Director Rayka Zehtabchi, Director Shaandiin Tome.
○ Meal on the Plate, Director Chenglin Xie.
○ Memnon, Director Cameron Clay.
○ Persona, Director Moon Sujin.
○ Ro & the Stardust, Director Eunice Levis.
○ She Got Balls!, Director Cheryl Hess.
○ Something in the Garden, Director Marcos Sánchez.
○ The Stand, Director Andrew Bilindabagabo.
○ Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver, Director Lewie Kloster, Director Noah Kloster.
○ Tank Fairy, Director Erich Rettstadt.
○ Warsha, Director Dania Bdeir.
○ Zoon, Director Jonatan Schwenk.
Please see individual film listings, screening schedule and guests anticipated to attend on https://filmadelphia.org/festival.
The 31st Philadelphia Film Festival is made possible through the generous support of its sponsors, including AKA and iHeartMedia.
Instant Gra-TV-Cation: A Free Online Panel Discussion at London Film Festival
This year’s 66th London Film Festival is taking place between 5th-16th October in London as well as in select cinemas around the country. But that’s not all, the LFF For Free lineup includes a number of events that can be enjoyed for FREE!
One of these wonderful events is Instant Gra-TV-Cation, a panel discussion featuring industry professionals looking at the rise of high-end television and what sets TV apart from film.
Taking the form of a panel discussion, Instant Gra-TV-Cation will dive into the world of streaming. The panel will look at viewing habits and our growing obsession with TV to discuss why our watchlists might be too full. And given the rise in actors crossing over from the big screen to the small screen, just where do we draw the line between film and TV? This online showcase will feature a panel discussion which will launch on the BFI YouTube channel on October 14th.
The panel will be made up of Lisa Kerrigan, Senior Curator of Television at the BFI National Archive, Oliver Lyttelton, screenwriter and creator of Cheaters (2022) and Wedding Season (2022), and Hanna Flint, film critic and author of Strong Female Character. The panel will be hosted by LFF’s Series & Episodic Programmer, Rowan Woods.
Instant Gra-TV-Cation promises to be an excellent event and a great way to enjoy the wonders of London Film Festival not only from your own home, but also for free. You can find out more about the event here.
Aftersun | Movie Review | Cannes Film Festival
Every year at the Cannes Film Festival, there are one or two titles that catch fire and become the talk-of-the-croisette. Ruben Östlund’s raucous Palme d’Or-winning Triangle of Sadness made the most audible amount of noise this year (justifiably so). However, another film was on the tip of everybody’s lips and became a must-see sensation; Aftersun. The feature debut of Scottish filmmaker Charlotte Wells screened as part of the director’s fortnight section and is the little-indie-movie-that-could of not just this year’s Cannes Film Festival but of all of 2022. This special film has captured the hearts of all those who have seen it and will continue to do so for years to come. It’s why we keep coming back to the cinema: to discover exciting new voices and be completely absorbed in a story.
What’s remarkable about Aftersun (besides this being the debut of Wells) is how unremarkable and yet utterly captivating the story is. Set in the nineties, the plot follows a young single dad named Calum (Paul Mescal) who takes his spright 11-year-old daughter Sophie (breakout newcomer Frankie Corio) on a summer holiday to Turkey – and that’s pretty much it. For a film that lacks very little dramatic tension or conflict, Wells keeps you firmly and emotionally engaged throughout the breezy 95-minute runtime.
Sometimes, the little films about everything and nothing ring true the hardest and leave audiences the most moved. Stories that aren’t particularly flashy but manage to capture the beauty within the mundane little moments of life. Aftersun is one of those movies that will leave you weeping in your seat and wanting to call your parents after you’re done. Drawing from her own experiences with her father, Wells explores the dynamics of this paternal relationship without ever resorting to clichéd domestic squabbling that you’d typically expect from a premise like this. Thanks to her honest script and the marvelous performances from her two actors, it is joyful simply watching this father and daughter duo hanging out on vacation, discussing life, romance, drugs, hopes, and dreams with such candor.
Wells crafts a dignified two-person character study that is heartwarming but tinged with sadness. Her screenplay perfectly balances the two perspectives of the relationship allowing you to empathize with both characters. Sophie represents the bliss of youth as well the excitement of pending independence. At the same time, Calum represents the melancholy of youth-gone-by. Given the relatively small age gap between the two of them, Calum is often mistaken for Sophie’s older brother. While Sophie is clearly the light of his life, the drawback to becoming a father so young is that Calum sacrificed most of his own adolescence in the process. In a very touching scene that sees father and daughter sharing one single bedspread, Calum laments to his daughter that life didn’t exactly turn out the way he wanted, but we can see he wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s an absolute lightning-in-a-bottle pairing of actors, quality writing, and beautiful direction. The chemistry they share and the magic they create you can’t fake or teach.
Mescal’s ability to show internal hardship and regret with such subtlety is the reason why he is fast becoming one of the most sought-after talents of his generation. He’s had a tremendous few years with meaty projects such as Normal People, The Lost Daughter and his other hard-hitting drama to premiere at Cannes this year; God’s Creatures. Meanwhile, Frankie Corio is a revelation as Sophie. She effortlessly commands the screen with an emotional maturity well beyond her years. You would not know this was her first time in front of the camera from watching her performance. Memorize her name now, as this girl is undoubtedly destined for stardom.
Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins served as an executive producer on Aftersun, and one can practically feel his steady guiding hand is resting on Wells’ shoulder. Given Jenkins’ propensity for creating films that sizzle with poetic chemistry, you can see he’s passed down sage advice to Wells on how to formulate an atmosphere that’s effulgent enough to bottle. It takes most filmmakers years of trial-and-error to master what Wells has accomplished on a first try. She confidently allows the story to flow naturally with a lazy holiday pace without ever becoming stagnant. Her ability to capture a moment in time is outstanding and extraordinarily impactful. Anybody that’s ever been on a package holiday to Europe will feel an immediate kinship with her story, and those who haven’t will still feel something anyway. Her emphasis on the little details; the arcade games, evening karaoke, doubles games of pool, screaming children at water parks, and eager holiday representatives cringingly trying to get tourists to do the Macarena – it’s all so familiar and makes Aftersun such an emotionally resonant watch. She also takes some risks with her narrative structure which certainly pays off, particularly with the last shot, which is slightly abstract but will bring a tear to your eye, leaving the audience on an achingly bittersweet note. She also uses brief flash-forwards that help recontextualizes the camcorder holiday footage that bookends the entire film.
Aftersun is a little miracle of a film that marks the ceremonious arrival of both filmmaker Charlotte Wells and her young star Frankie Corio. It also features a never-better performance from Paul Mescal, which at the very least should generate some awards-season discussion for the young 26-year-old Irish actor. Thanks to Wells’ wonderfully human characters, astute direction, and stellar performances, Aftersun truly is about the little moments that seem insignificant at the time but become the precious stuff we treasure as adults. It’s the type of film we’re lucky to have in our lives as it offers the viewer a window into the soul of a sensitive and wonderful new storyteller.
Aftersun premiered as part of the directors fortnight at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Aftersun is being distributed by MUBI for theatrical distribution in UK-Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Latin America, Austria, Turkey and India. And A24 has acquired the North American rights. Stay up to date with Luke’s coverage from the Cannes Film Festival via Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and TikTok @lukehearfield
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