Actor Martin Bakari gives “Wise Blood” new vision

Based on Flannery O’Connor’s 1952 Southern Gothic novel, “Wise Blood” transformed The Soap Factory gallery into a non-traditional walkthru performance space. The large scale installations/sets were built by Minneapolis multi-media artist Chris Larson and director Michael Sommers into a place of unusual false perception and illusory wonders unlike any we’d experienced before.
The unusual wonders of the space are not the only thing special about this opera exhibition. Continue Reading

A haunting score for a haunted film

Musical artists Jackie Beckey and Jonathan Kaiser perform their original live score for the 1921 Swedish silent film classic, Phantom Carriage, in the ASI historic ballroom Wednesday evening. Their musical compositions and improvisation for Phantom Carriage incorporate Beckey’s viola and Kaiser’s cello with amplifiers, electronics and sound effects to create richly textured and sparse soundscapes for this haunting ghost story, featuring ahead-of-its-time special effects and storytelling devices. Beckey and Kaiser, known for their work with bands Brute Heart, Myrrh and Dark Dark Dark, share a passion for cinema and for scoring silent films together. Phantom Carriage is their latest collaboration, a haunting, ethereal film that is a perfect match for their music style and experimentation.

Cyn Collins: How did you first begin collaborating? How did you have the idea to score silent films?

Jonathan Kaiser (JK): …We played music together for a long time, as a configuration for other people and as a duo and in bands and improvising. The scoring for silent films came from Jackie’s Brute Heart being commissioned for “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” for Walker Art Center Music and Movies. They invited me to join them for that. I’d worked on a couple film scores with Dark Dark Dark so I was in a certain mode of working in that kind of thing. So I and John Marks who plays synthesizer and electronics joined them for that. It was a really fun working experience and it was a great combination of five people working on the project. That was kind of the beginning of talking about film and music stuff and working together on film stuff. Continue Reading

Not Ready to Die

The creative life of young Iranian-born Swedish pop singer, Laleh Pourkarim is revealed in candid interviews with Laleh, people who’ve worked with her and performance footage in “Not Ready to Die.” Born in underground Iran, she and her parents who opposed the Islamic regime in Tehran, fled to other cities in Russia and Germany before settling in Sweden when she was 12. A consummate musician, she learned to play guitar as a teen, and later taught herself percussion and saxophone while attending music school in Gothenburg. At age 12, she lost her father, watching him drown while trying to save a woman. Death has often been a theme in her music, there is sadness and yet positivity in her music such as her renowned single, “Some Die Young.”
While working on her self-titled debut, Laleh found she couldn’t concentrate with other producers and writers around, so she requested of Warner Sweden she have her own studio. They agreed, sending an entire studio to her home piece by piece. Continue Reading

The Beatles are back!

Four teenage boys of Oslo, Norway – Kim, Gunnar, Ola and Zeb – are friends “just like the Beatles.” It’s Beatlemania era – the four lads hear the Beatles and form a band. Yet they don’t have instruments or a place to play.This enchanting coming-of-age Norwegian film Beatles is adapted from Norway’s bestselling 1984 coming-of-age novel, Beatles, by Lars Saabye Christiansen, set between 1965 and 1974. Beatles follows the adventures of this band of friends in their mid-teens, poignantly depicting their growing pains, joys and insecurities, as they discover their identities in the mid-60s, a time of social and political turmoil.Kim Karlsen puts Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band on the turntable, as the boys view the album art in awe. The needle drops, while narrator Kim observes, “It was like when God said, ‘Let there be light.” The friends listen in enrapt wonder and their lives are changed, they forget all other stuff boys like, for music. Beatles warmly and humorously depicts the wonders of discovering music as a teen.The teens form a band, The Snafus (Situation Normal All Fucked Up)  – each taking on a Beatles persona. Continue Reading

Cambodia’s golden age of music illuminates at MSPIFF

April 17 marks 40 years since the Khmer Rouge devastated Cambodia. It also tried to wipe out the country’s incredibly vibrant rock, soul, and pop music and performing artists.For the first time, mysteries of this lesser known, yet no less vibrant music scene are revealed in American filmmaker and director John Pirozzi’s extraordinary film Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock ‘n’ Roll– his love letter to Cambodia’s all but lost music, the artists and audiences in their happy heyday.  This breathtakingly beautiful, stunning film features vintage 1960’s and ‘70s films made by King Sihanouk, captivatingly warm, soft, dreamy coloration of musicians, their audiences and Cambodian culture all found by Pirozzi. Paintings and poppy, bright, playful album covers pop up during interviews with musicians, fans, family members of artists lost. Radio DJ’s candidly share their joyful and ultimately heartbreaking stories.“Music is the soul of the nation,” Prince Sihanouk said of the huge importance of arts in Cambodian culture. Sihanouk, a son of a King who was a musician and mother, the head of a ballet company, was himself a filmmaker and a popular leader of the people, as King.Upon becoming independent from the French in 1953, Cambodia’s arts and cultural scene blossomed” Numerous young musicians in Phnom Penh were deeply inspired to perform fun, buoyant pop, rock ‘n’ roll, surf, Cuban and cha cha cha music by U.S. French, British and Latin they heard. Continue Reading

Rain Taxi Presents: A Literary Tribute to Grant Hart and Husker Du

A dozen Husker Du and Grant Hart inspired poets and writers came together Friday night sharing their literary homage to Husker Du and Grant Hart, presented by Minneapolis-based literary organization Rain Taxi as an AWP conference event. Writers from near and far shared how Husker Du and Grant Hart’s music inspired their art. Poetry and prose – a few named after Husker Du songs – ranged from Joel Turnipseed’s Zen Arcade featuring booze-soaked pot cookies, to one of Daniel Mahoney’s  (Bar Harbor, Maine) imaginary music reviews, Silence More Profound than Pure Silence; Brooklyn textile artist/poet Maria Damon’s punk-inspired textile/text slide show and embroidery performance art to Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life.  Brooklyn’s Justin Taylor shared Husker Du “origin stories, not theirs, mine” about his teen “nerd punk” friend and a ‘zine. Minneapolis poet, Paula Cisewski, shared an essay and a poem inspired by Husker Du songs, and Toronto’s Hoa Nguyen shared poems inspired by Husker Du music that was “informed by other things, such as the cover of Mary Tyler Moore theme song, Love is All Around and Eight Miles High.Providence, Rhode Island writer Matthew Derby regaled his adolescent influence by Husker Du “but maybe not how they would have wanted,” comparing Guns ‘n’ Roses drug references on Appetite for Destruction, to Husker Du’s on Candy Apple Grey.” Hilariously analyzing song-by-song, Guns ‘n’ Roses’ drug references were not clear, whereas Candy Apple Grey songs such as Crystal were crystal clear, and this was an anti-drug album by inducing sheer terror, making drugs sound “terrible.”“No one will ever want to do drugs after hearing that song, which puts you in the mind of an addict. It’s scary when you’re sober, imagine if you hear it while on drugs!”He had the audience cracking up in peals of uncontrollable laughter. Continue Reading

Blogging about sex when little ones are afoot: TMI?

Dear Cyn,

My friend leads an active sex life, and she’s pretty public about it—she tweets, Facebooks, and blogs about the guys she’s been with. In detail, if you know what I mean. But here’s the thing: she’s a single mom. She has two kids who are preschoolers. I asked her if it’s really appropriate for her to be so public about her sex life when she has two young kids, but she says (a) it doesn’t involve them, since they won’t meet any guys except ones she’s seriously and exclusively dating; and (b) sex is a natural part of human life, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Still, I think she should keep things under the covers where they belong. What do you think? Continue Reading

Prescription for getting over a breakup: Travel, friends, exercise, “Glee,” and sex

Dear Cyn,

I ended a long-term relationship several months ago. Needless to say, it was hard. I’m starting to look at other relationships, but I want to take it slow and don’t expect—or necessarily even want—lightning to strike overnight. So I’m looking at the prospect of a long winter of singlehood, and wondering, how should I handle the loneliness? I don’t want to just grab some guy for a rebound, and I’ll keep busy enough—but crowds can be lonely too. What’s the healthiest way for me to get through this? Continue Reading

When to have the exclusivity talk? The sooner, the better

Dear Cyn—

A guy friend of mine is actively dating-and by “actively dating,” I mean he’s hooking up with multiple different people. Some he sees pretty regularly, others are one-night stands. My question is: what does he have to tell them, and when? I told him that before he hooks up with anyone, he has to tell her that he’s seeing different people. He says he doesn’t need to get into it unless someone asks him to be exclusive. What do you think? Continue Reading