Twin Cities Film Fest 2014, Part II

Photo courtesy Time Lapse

The 2014 Twin Cities Film Festival is about at the halfway point, and it looks like things are moving along pretty well. Several sold out screenings and good buzz are making TCFF a serious calendar item in the local cinema scene. As I said in the first post, I can’t make specific comments about the films, but here’s a survey of the closing movies that I think are worth mentioning.

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THEATER REVIEW | Theatre Pro Rata's "1984": A vision of the future fit for Halloween

(Photo by Charles Gorrill) Winston Smith (Grant Henderson, foreground) under the watchful eye of The Interrogator (John Middleton) in Theatre Pro Rata's 1984

George Orwell’s 1984 is perfect entertainment for the Halloween season. There are few things scarier than this futuristic dystopia. Since 1984 was first published back in 1949 (back when 1984 was still over 30 years into the future), Orwell and 1984 and its surveillance state overlord Big Brother have become so ingrained in popular culture that they’re in danger of becoming their own well-worn cliches (after all, we’ve got a long-running reality TV show called Big Brother). It’s good to be reminded how frighteningly prescient the material still is today—three decades beyond that fateful year of 1984. Michael Gene Sullivan’s adaptation of Orwell’s novel boils it down to its essence, and Theatre Pro Rata gives the story a sharp and unsettling production.

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THEATER REVIEW | "33 Variations" crescendos at Park Square Theatre

Photo courtesy Park Square Theatre

There are few times when a play production achieves true theatricalism. But Park Square Theatre’s production of 33 Variations accomplishes this elusive target in its crescendo scene during the half-way point of the show. This scene, alone, renders this production worthy of both your attention and attendance.

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THEATER REVIEW | Gadfly Theatre's "Girl Gumshoe and Detective Dad": The case of the empty nester

Lauren Diesch and G. Zachariah White as the title characters in Girl Gumshoe and Detective Dad; photo courtesy of Gadfly Theatre Productions

I didn’t think this would happen again so soon (on the heels of Freshwater Theatre’s recent production of the new play The Man In Her Dreams), but with Gadfly Theatre’s production of Eli Effinger-Weintraub’s new comedy Girl Gumshoe and Detective Dad, I may have run across another piece of theater for which I’m too well acquainted with the subject matter and the artists to be entirely objective. But I’ll give it a go.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Pearl Jam worth the wait at the Xcel Energy Center

Photos By: 
Chad Rieder

White stage lights streamed horizontally over a sea of heads, silhouettes stealthily moved and found their places, 18,000 voices exploded in greeting, and Eddie Vedder seemingly floated to the front and raised a bottle of wine to return that greeting. Without a word, the “Pendulum” started to swing with the tapping of a hi-hat and a soft haunting resonating from piano keys. Vedder’s voice, deep and melancholy, slowly pushed forth the words “Can't know what's high, 'Til you've been down so low” and space was taken up by the entrancing tone produced by his vocal chords.

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MUSIC PHOTOS | Bastille at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium

Photos by Patrick Dunn

Sunday night October 19th may have been family concert night at St. Paul’s River Center where parents could have been reliving their passion for 90s grunge rock at the Xcel Energy Center with Pearl Jam, while the kids where next door at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium going crazy for the new sound of their generation courtesy of British rocker’s Bastille. The band’s solid debut album Bad Blood has lit up the charts and earned them more than 2 million likes on Facebook including Late Night with Seth Meyers and Conan O’Brien.

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THEATER REVIEW | "33 Variations" explores Ludwig van Beethoven at Park Square Theatre

Dr. Katherine Brandt (Karen Landry) tries to determine Beethoven (Edwin Strout)'s intentions despite the composer's notoriously bad handwriting. Photo courtesy of Park Square Theatre.

One of the most memorable moments in the film Amadeus depicts Antonio Salieri seeing a score of Mozart’s music for the first time. As his eye passes over the page, the music sounds in his head and Salieri describes each musical entrance and change in the composition’s texture with wondrous amazement. It is an experience, to the film’s viewer, of hearing something familiar again as if for the first time, so great is the difference when the details and elegance are made apparent. This is a scene that has made many lovers of classical music out of proud plebians, and one for which viewers of the stage play on which the movie was based wait in vain, as it was added especially for the film. Such a scene is found, however, in Moisés Kaufman’s play 33 Variations, now playing at Park Square Theatre.

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THEATER REVIEW | "Nice Work If You Can Get It" at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts: Old dog, new tricks

Jimmy Winter (Alex Enterline) has lots of problems, and being loved by the female ensemble of Nice Work If You Can Get It is most of them. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but by golly the team behind Nice Work If You Can Get It has given it the old gangster try. This Gershwin jukebox musical passes the time pleasantly, forgoing musical innovations for tried and true melodies and a farce of a plot that steadily amps up the ridiculous complications.

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MUSIC PHOTOS | The Rural Alberta Advantage at First Ave

Photos by Tom Baker

It's fun going into a show with no expectations. That's what happened Friday, October 17 when I went to go photograph The Rural Alberta Advantage. I had only listened to a couple of their songs, as I was only recently introduced to them by a girl that I like and she was going to the show. So, my nautral reaction was to go with her and I figured at the very least I would come out of it with a few good photos, and perhaps impress her with my camera skills and awkward dancing in a very crowded room at the same time in the hopes she'd want to see me again. I was blown away. They elated the room and created a fan in me. Without research, I couldn't name a single song or album title to save my life. Thank God for Spotify, where I will begin to do diligent listening in anticipation to the next time they come around as I will be sure not to miss them. And yes, I will be seeing the girl again as she is all the more cooler for introducing me to a such a stellar band.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Love over Gold, The Icicles, Erik Koskinen and the Real Phonic Radio Band at the Hill Library

Mayor Chris Coleman welcomed the crowd to Real Phonic Radio at the James J Hill Reference Library Thursday, October 16. And I have to say, our Mayor is a good sport, reading in the usual iireverant appraoch of regular spokesman, Thom MIddlebrook. He astutely observed that while we had enough entertainment for three shows in Minneapolis, it was all hitting one stage in St Paul—as it does every third Thursday.

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