MOVIES | Top ten movies of 2010: Erik McClanahan’s picks

Most critics and cinephiles have come to the conclusion that 2010 was a weak year for films. I respectfully disagree. It all depends on the type of films you sought out. If cinema is your thing, then Minneapolis is a near-utopia. The Walker Art Center, the Trylon Microcinema, St. Anthony Main Theatre, the Uptown Theatre, the Lagoon and Edina cinemas, along with the countless film festivals that befall the city and state every year…it’s rife with cinematic possibilities. Continue Reading

MOVIES | Trylon Premiere Tuesdays begin with “Valhalla Rising,” the first good Viking movie. Ever.

Take-Up Productions continues to spread the filmic love for Minneapolis cinephiles with its latest new series, Trylon Premiere Tuesdays, which showcases a Twin Cities premiere of a new film on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at the Trylon Microcinema. Spearheaded by Minneapolis film blogger Kathie Smith (my co-host on KFAI’s Cinema Shanty), the series starts strong with Valhalla Rising, a graphic, brooding Viking tale that will surely show up on my year-end top ten list.

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MOVIES | Olivier Assayas’s “Carlos” fills five gripping hours

The posters for Edgar Wright’s wonderful comic book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. the World came with the tagline, “An epic of epic of epicness.” It was all too appropriate, given that film’s attitude towards its clichéd, hipster doofus of a main character. Take that same line, but drop the irony, totally literalize it, and you have a perfect fit for Olivier Assayas’s latest film, Carlos, screening this weekend at the Walker Art Center as the closing film in the director’s month-long retrospective.

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MOVIES | Gaspar Noé’s “Enter the Void”: First-person, first rate

The opening credits of David Fincher’s Fight Club (1999) were a revelation. The camera, the size of a dendrite, begins in the brain of our main character, the unreliable narrator played by Edward Norton. It pulls back through the frontal lobe, seemingly capable of going anywhere as it hastily makes its way through the skull casing, out a sweat gland, up a hair follicle, down his nose and up the barrel of a gun. Camera focuses in on Norton’s face, we see the gun in his mouth. Less than two minutes into the film, set to the dynamic score by the Dust Brothers, (relatively) mainstream audiences had just been introduced to a host of exciting new possibilities.

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MOVIES | Make it in Minnesota? Yes you can, says the Minnesota Film and TV Board

When the Minnesota Film and TV Board (MNFilmTV) implemented new software on their website to aid filmmakers in searching for locations to shoot their projects, they knew Minnesota had become typecast. A well-known actor who came to the state for some location scouting, assuming Minnesota to be a year-round frozen tundra, packed only his warmest winter clothing—despite the fact that he was visting in May. The MNFilmTV crew spent the first day with said actor shopping for some more weather-appropriate clothes.”[There’s] a lot of myth busting,” said Christopher Grap, director of production services at MNFilmTV—an organization, also known as a film commission, dedicated since 1981 to create jobs by building and promoting the state’s film industry. Grap often asks people who’ve never been to Minnesota what they know about it. Top three things: “Snow, Mall of America, and A Prairie Home Companion.”The new location scouting software is called Reel Scout. Continue Reading

MOVIES | John C. Reilly on “Cyrus,” Mumblecore, and his magnificent career

John C. Reilly has starred in over 40 feature films since the late 80s. For a while, Reilly, 45, could have been called a “character actor”—someone you recognize but whose face you can’t quite put a name to—but nowadays he turns up in everything from leading-man roles to comic cameos. He’s been in films made by some of the biggest directors in the world: Brian DePalma (Casualties of War), Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York), Robert Altman (A Prairie Home Companion), Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) and Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia). In 2002 he appeared in no fewer than three of the five films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards (The Hours, Gangs of New York, and Chicago, for which he received a Best Supporting Actor nomination). Most people, though probably know Reilly best, for starring in comedies with Will Ferrell (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers). Continue Reading

MOVIES | The best of CGI, from “Tron” to “Avatar”: Landmark films in the use of computer-generated special efects

This weekend at the Trylon, the monthlong retrospective of select Steven Spielberg films, subtitled “Father of the Blockbuster,” concludes with screenings all weekend of Jurassic Park. The 1993 film has been hailed as a landmark of computer-generated special effects, which now completely saturate multiplexes from coast to coast. Here’s a look at some landmark films in the history of this game-changing technology. When I wrote about the Spielberg series in the June 3 edition of, I mentioned this about Spielberg: “While the series title is accurate—with Jaws, Spielberg did, in effect, create what we now know as the summer movie season—people tend to forget just how well acted, written, and directed his blockbusters are…The four older Spielberg titles in this series will remind you how the director captures your imagination with spectacle, while grounding it all in likable, three-dimensional characters. Too few blockbuster directors can make that claim.” Continue Reading

MOVIES | A conversation with Debra Granik, director of “Winter’s Bone”

Winter’s Bone, winner of the 2010 Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize (essentially best picture for the festival), opens Friday at the Uptown Theatre. The official synopsis via the press notes:
17-year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) sets out to track down her father, who put their house up for his bail bond and then disappeared. If she fails, Ree and her family will be turned out into the Ozark woods of Southern Missouri. To find him, Ree confronts the dangerous world of the Dolly family. With the reluctant help of her hard-bitten uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) and her best friend Gail, Ree defies her outlaw clan’s code of silence, hacking her way through their lies, evasions, and threats to piece together the truth. Continue Reading

MOVIES | “Micmacs”: Fun for casual filmgoers, but those who live for Jeunet will be disappointed

The other night, I caught a screening at the Lagoon of the newly released Iranian film, No One Knows About Persian Cats, with my friend Nick Bell. As per our usual get-together routine, we listed off and discussed all the films we’d seen since we last met. We did all this before the screening started, letting each other know what we thought about each film, why we liked or disliked them, and then the film started.I told Nick, whose film blog you should all be reading, that I’d finally seen Micmacs, the latest film from director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, opening at the Uptown Theatre this Friday. We’re both quite fond of the fanciful, Rube-Goldberg-obsessed French filmmaker, so suffice to say we look forward to any effort he releases. However, Nick, who way back in September wrote about the film for MNDialog from the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, declared it a fun film, worthy of a look (mainly because anything from Jeunet is worth your time, to which I agree wholeheartedly), but ultimately he called it a disappointment, ranking it number 27 of 33 among the films he saw at the festival.At the time, I thought Nick was nuts. Continue Reading