Monday, June 27, 2011

watch mpls has moved

Hello everyone.  I recently moved the website to  There will be no more postings on this blogger site.  Please update your subscriptions and bookmarks to be directed toward the new site.  Thanks for reading everyone.

Friday, June 24, 2011

mpls movie screenings: weekend of june 24 (happy anniversary mom & dad!)

You all go to the 48 hour film fest ceremony last night?  Any surprises or craziness you want to share with us all here?  I missed the event due to a familial obligation (darn those familials), but I'm sure it was a blast.

The Black Pirate; Fri & Sat - 7:00 & 9:00; Sun - 5:00 & 7:00 (Pirates! Pirates! Pirates!)
There's a lot of good trivia on this film: Fairbanks fired the original director, Fairbanks performed his own stunts, this is only the third film shot in technicolor, etc.  While the film is apparently public domain and therefore able to be viewed for free, I would think that Fairbanks' impressive stunts, including riding down a sail using the blade of his knife, are better suited for the big screen.

The Heights
Midnight In Paris; Fri & Sat - 2:20, 4:40, 7:10 & 9:30; Sun - 2:20, 4:40 & 7:10
In Our Name; Sun - 11:00 (From Britain With Love)
The film In Our Name, about a veteran of the Iraq war whose paranoia and sense of guilt negatively impact her family and her ability to care for her child, won the main actress, Joanne Froggatt, a British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer, and Time Out London says the film shows traces of Ken Loach.  Midnight In Paris, on the other hand, is directed by Woody Allen, the opposite of a newcomer (an old-timer?).  The film is on the cover of the most recent copy of Film Comment, and once I get through it I'll let you know what they say.  Or I suppose you could just go out and see it yourself without knowing what I've read about the movie.  Your call.

Film Society at St. Anthony
Earthwork; playing nightly Friday through Sunday
When I hear crop artist I for some reason think seed art at the Minnesota state fair.  Seeing as crop artist Stan Herd is being played by Minnesota-born John Hawkes, I like to think he was channeling those same seed artists for the role.  The film was a hit at the Santa Fe and SXSW film festivals, garnering an audience award at the former.

Also this weekend we have a few movies playing in the park, including Grease tonight at Folwell, and Saturday screenings of 4 Little Girls at MLK and Michael Jackson's Is This It at Minnehaha (all at sundown), some late night retro flicks are playing at Willow Creek (Psycho), Riverview (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), and Uptown (The Room), and also playing at Uptown is the sure-to-be-hilarious Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon improvisational comedy feast The Trip, which got a nice write up in Switchblade.

Now get watching!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

'round cyberspace: vegetables, netflix envelopes, miranda july

"Sometimes a Vegetable is Just a Vegetable." A NY Times discussion with A.O. Scott, Mahnola Dargis, and Dan Kois.
This article doesn't delve very deep, and doesn't necessarily ask intriguing questions, but this back and forth on slow versus boring cinema is a worthwhile read for film fans at any level.  Scott gets the best of this article, but I do disagree on one point:
I don’t feel guilty about not caring for “Last Year at Marienbad“ or persisting in my skepticism that the films of Pedro Costa are as transcendent as some of my colleagues believe. But until I can argue my case, the benefit of the doubt goes to Mr. Costa and the burden of proof rests on me. 
I would think it would be the opposite, with the directors and the fans having to prove themselves while the unmoved critic has nothing to prove. Thoughts?

"Netflix Envelope Doodles".  Netflix art.
I wouldn't think to do this, but I'm not much of a doodler.  (H/T Unplggd)

"(Almost) 20 Questions With Miranda July." A questionnaire by the folks at the Walker.
On Friday, July 8th, Miranda July comes to town to present her second feature, The Future.  In anticipation of this event, the Walker posted an interview with the director on their blog.  Her first film, Me And You And Everyone We Know, was a fun, light-hearted affair, and I'm certainly interested to see what she has in store this time, some six years later.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

what am i watching?: beginners, yojimbo, odds against tomorrow and keith haring

Beginners: Uptown Theater
Starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, this Mike Mills film is stuck somewhere between populist and flim-snob territory.  It's not necessarily a bad place to be, so long as there's something charming or endearing about the characters and the story.  Seeing as there's no real resolution and the main character is completely depressing, you wish the film had been more challenging.  Instead, the light-hearted moments tend to be a bit confusing and out of place.  It's not a bad film, but it just seems to be stuck somewhere in the middle between mass and niche appeal.

Yojimbo: Instant Netflix
Just yesterday the Criterion Collection took another step towards moving their catalog from Instant Netflix to Hulu Plus when they removed works by Jean Renoir and Akira Kurosawa, among others.  Before they did so I watched this samurai flick that inspired Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars.  There are better Kurosawa flicks, but I always love old Japanese films that contain lessons on life during depressions and how that makes individuals and societies reach lows they previously thought were impossible.

Odds Against Tomorrow: Instant Netflix
I saw this after a friend recommended I check out the work of actor Robert Ryan.  One of the things that struck me about this film noir was the extent to which the interior spaces seemed to completely dwarf our two main actors (Ryan being one, Harry Belafonte being the other).  I also found it interesting that, while both of the protagonists were total sleazebags, the film goes a little way toward redeeming Belafonte's character in certain scenes while doing absolutely nothing for Ryan's.

Rare Keith Haring Clip: YouTube
Keith Haring, the 80's graffiti/pop artist, is "boogieing on a Saturday night."  That's supposedly a criticism leveled at him in this video, but I can't trust anyone who uses the term "boogieing" seriously.  If I had to guess, I'd say this clip comes from a taped episode of 60 Minutes.  So to whoever kept their nearly 30 year old VHS of this episode: kudos.

best of the 48 hour film fest: thursday at riverview

This Thursday there will be an award presentation and screening of the best films from this year's 48 Hour Film Project at the Riverview, starting at 7pm.  For the competition, contestants had exactly 48 hours to conceive, write, produce and edit their short features.  Tomorrow night's festivities will include screenings of the ten finalists for Best Film as well as the award ceremony.  Following the show there will be an after party in the lobby and at the Riverview Wine Bar across the street.  The event costs $15.

Monday, June 20, 2011

mpls movie screenings: week of june 20

Summer starts tomorrow.  Which reminds me, aren't there movie screenings in parks right about now:

Mpls Park Screenings
Letters to Juliet @ Father Hennepin Bluffs Park; Tues - 9:15
Goonies @ Luxton Park; Wed - 9:15
Mega Mind @ Bottineau Park; Thur - 9:15
There was supposed to be a screening of Shrek tonight, but it looks like it was cancelled due to weather.  I'm familiar with Goonies and Mega Mind, but how did last year's Letters to Juliet completely fail to register in my mind?  Maybe having Amanda Seyfried and Gael Garcia Bernal trying to carry a Hollywood film by their lonesome isn't the best idea.

The Big Uneasy; Tues - 7:00 & 9:00 (Trylon Premiere Tuesdays)
Harry Shearer trades in mockumentary for documentary in this examination of the flood in New Orleans following Katrina.
Tampopo; Wed - 7:30 (Trash Film Debauchery)
I'm totally unfamiliar with the genre "noodle western" (and really, that name does nothing to distance itself from the more popular "spaghetti western").  This 1985 Japanese film seems different from most trash film screenings, but there looks to be plenty of laughs, stemming from a variety of characters coming in and out of this fast food noodle shop (something about "erotic noodle foreplay" just sounds funny, no?).

St Anthony
Never Stop Singing; Mon - 7:00
Thicker Than Water; Tue - 7:00
Rough Tender; Wed - 7:00
The Film Society continues their run of MSPIFF favorites, this time showing locally-produced award winners.  Tuesday and Wednesday feature the winners of MN Made Documentary and Fiction Feature, respectively, and Monday night features a free screening as part of Film Society's series "Documenting America."  Director Peter Myer will be on hand to discuss his film Never Stop Singing, a documentary on Minnesota's rich choral history.

The Heights
The Pirate; Mon - 7:30 (Pirates! Pirates! Pirates!)
Of course there's a movie in the "Pirates! Pirates! Pirates" series simply titles The Pirate!  Although it should be noted that this pirate film is a musical (in case having Judy Garland and Gene Kelly in the lead roles didn't give it away).  Although this is one of the lesser known works by Vincente Minelli, that's no reason to skip out on a film by one of the greatest directors of American musicals (An American in Paris) and melodramas (The Bad and the Beautiful).
Laura; Thur - 7:30 (The Lighter Side of Homicide)
This film, on the other hand, is one of the more popular films in this director's repertoire.  Ebert had this to say on the Otto Preminger noir classic (via wikipedia):
Film noir is known for its convoluted plots and arbitrary twists, but even in a genre that gave us The Maltese Falcon, this takes some kind of prize ... That Lauracontinues to weave a spell—and it does—is a tribute to style over sanity ... All of [the] absurdities and improbabilities somehow do not diminish the film's appeal. They may even add to it ... [T]he whole film is of a piece: contrived, artificial, mannered, and yet achieving a kind of perfection in its balance between low motives and high style. What makes the movie great, perhaps, is the casting. The materials of a B-grade crime potboiler are redeemed by Waldo Lydecker, walking through every scene as if afraid to step in something.
That should suffice for now.

Friday, June 17, 2011

mpls movie screenings: weekend of june 17

You all going to Rock the Garden this weekend?  The Saturday concert might explain why the Walker isn't showing any movies this week.  That's ok, cause we got all of these folks to pick up the slack:

Captain Blood, 1935 (Pirates! Pirates! Pirates!).  Fri (7:00, 9:15), Sat (7:00, 9:15), Sun (4:45, 7:00).
Michael Curtiz directed 5 films in 1935 (and unofficially directed another), none of which really suggest he'd go on to direct one of the most loved American films of all time seven years later.  The all-star cast of Errol Flynn (Robin Hood), Olivia de Havilland (Gone With The Wind), and Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), helped earn this tale of piracy in the Carribbean a nomination for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

The Heights
Water For Elephants, 2011. Fri (4:25, 7:10, 9:30), Sat (1:45, 4:25, 7:10, 9:30), Sun (4:25, 7:10)
Toast, 2010 (From Britain With Love). Sun (11:00).
Sons of the Desert, 1933.  Sun (2:00).
The Heights begins their series "From Britain With Love: UK Independent Film Showcase" this Sunday with a screening of the Toast, a tale of a boy and his stepmother and their household culinary battles in 1960's Britain.  The film played at the 2011 Berlinale and stars Helena Bonham Carter at that boy from Finding Neverland (you were wondering what happened to him, weren't you?).  Also playing is one of Laurel and Hardy's greatest features, Sons of the Desert (I haven't seen it, but I'm sure it's no Music Box), as well as some film with Reese Witherspoon and a vampire.

St Anthony
"Minnesota Reel: Movies From Our Own Backyard"
All this weekend and continuing into next week, The Film Society is screening locally made films of both the independent and blockbuster nature.  In addition to big-budget Hollywood features like The Mighty Ducks and Grumpy Old Men, they're showing MSPIFF winners for best local films Rough Tender, the documentary Thicker Than Water, and this Monday they have a free screening of the documentary Never Stop Singing with director Peter Myer in attendance.  Check the site for screen times.

You can also see My Fair Lady at the Loring Theater on Sunday, late night screenings of The Princess Bride at Riverview, Pretty Woman at Willow Creek, and Sixteen Candles at Uptown, and finally three MSPIFF favorites (Just Like Us, Beginnersand 13 Assassins) and two previous Walker screenings (The Robber and The Tree of Life) are playing at Landmark this weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

further readings: terrence malick & philosophy

I came across this article on director Terrence Malick this morning, courtesy of 3quarksdaily.  It's an extremely dense take on Malick and his 2005 film The New World.  I stopped reading once the author started talking about the film itself, but the beginning is a good read for anyone who is interested in seeing, or has seen, Malick's latest, The Tree of Life, playing at Uptown today and the Lagoon starting Friday.  A couple of key selections:
What exactly are these ineffable truths for which Malick is allegedly “longing,” but that he cannot put into words? Answers will hardly be forthcoming. The very premise is insidious: that there exists some special critical language into which films ought in principle to be translatable, such that any one that resists such translation may be said to express “longing,” or to be in the business of “manifestation.” As though there were some betterway to describe these ideas or feelings than the film itself.
The article also touches on the desire of critics to refer to his work as mystical or coming from an unknown, higher place.  Such talk just serves to distract from more useful arguments and detracts from the work as a whole.  I know I'm guilty of falling into that trap when I'm feeling particularly lazy or am struggling to appropriately describe what I'm viewing.
Malick’s movies, let us imagine, may not be “arguments or descriptions,” but they might help us to see what makes such procedures possible; they may not be illustrations of Heidegger (or Wittgenstein, or Cavell, or Thoreau) but, so to speak, companions to them. In this light, the question of whether his films are or are not philosophy, are or are not mystical, loses its power to distract. Instead, the question becomes where to look for Malick’s own “relevances,” that we might “share his purposes.”
This is the last thing the author leaves us before using The New World as an example to flesh out this idea.  I admit that it's a bit beyond me.  It might be helpful if I was a student of philosophy (or at least knew the slightest bit about of the works of Heidegger and the rest), or if I actually read the rest of the article.  Before I do that, though, I should probably watch the movie.  Mostly I wanted to share this with all those who have seen The Tree of Life because, if you're anything like me, the moment you finish watching a Malick film you just want to consume as much info and writings on the director and his films as humanly possible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

uncle boonmee at trylon

I've been MIA this past week as I was out of town for the past five or six days, and I hope to get back into the swing of things soon.  In the meantime I thought I would share this press release I just received a few minutes ago from Take-Up:

June 28 and July 5 screenings:

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s new film is a gentle and dreamy meditation on death and the magical possibilities of reincarnation. Boonmee is a man at the end of his life who is visited by spirits and visions of his past from the dense jungles of Northern Thailand. Although technically not a Twin Cities premiere, this 2010 Palme d’Or winner deserves more than one screening. 

Tuesday, June 28, 7:00 and 9:15
Tuesday, July 5, 7:00 and 9:15
I saw this film at the Walker a few months back, and the picture was mesmerizing, to say the least.  This definitely isn't a film for everyone (I'm looking at you, grandpa!), and at times it comes across as a challenging watch.  But at its most basic level this film is visually rich, showcasing some beautiful jungle scenery (not to mention a vivid jungle soundtrack).  While there's plenty to think about in this film, don't let it distract you from appreciating Weerasethakul's unique storytelling and the movie's stirring visuals.

Monday, June 6, 2011

mpls movie showings: week of june 6

I'm not sure if it's the heat or the lack of internet in my apartment, but I haven't been very functional for about the last week (I could go so far as to say all last month, but I can't really blame that on heat or lack of connectivity, now can I?)

Trylon's serving up the French tire-gone-murderous horror story Rubber for the second and last time this Tuesday, followed by a Wednesday screening of the music film Cure for Pain, telling the story of the late Mark Sandman of the band Morphine.  The director will be present and there are only 14 tix remaining for the 9pm showing.

The Heights is back in action after closing last week for roof repairs.  They got theirs and Take-Up's homicide series going on this Thursday with a screening of the classic detective flick The Thin Man, not to mention their Tuesday night ballet showing of Coppelia.

This weekend has more pirate films at the Trylon, some late night films at Riverview and Willow Creek, and a talk by John Waters at the Walker (part of his curating gig there this summer).  Hopefully I'll have more info on that later this week, but I'm also heading out of town for the next week starting Wednesday... also that whole thing about not being functional....