MOVIE REVIEW | “Listen Up Philip” best when silent

As I was preparing my thoughts for this consideration of Listen Up Phillip I scribbled down something about how DP Sean Price Williams emulated the look of 16mm very well with his DSLR photography. Turns out that this was filmed in Super 16mm and just happens to look like low-budget DSLR cinema. Budding cinematographers can fuss and debate over whether or not this technical choice paid off, but the end result is the same for me. This film uses many elements to achieve a look comparable to early ’70s faux verite filmmaking. Director Alex Ross Perry quotes Cassavetes as an inspiration in the press kit. Continue Reading

Twin Cities Film Fest 2014, Part II

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.Wednesday presents a wide variety of films. There are a pair of notable docs, Flying Paper and locally originated Hunger in America. Flying Paper offers an original view of an aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it follows some Palestinian children as they make and fly their own kites. Not just flying their kites, but with the goal of breaking the world record for most kites ever flown at once.Hunger in America is produced by local filmmaker Tim Vandesteeg and directed by Zac Adams. Like Flying Paper, this film takes a very personal approach to covering a social problem. Continue Reading

Twin Cities Film Fest preview, part one

The Twin Cities Film Fest 2014 is upon us. The fest runs from October 16th to October 25th, screening at a single location in the Showplace Icon West End cinema. The metro is lucky enough to have several film festivals sprinkled throughout the year, and each one has its own kind of focus. Twin Cities Film Fest looks to aim toward a spot in the upper tier of the indie film festival circuit, showcasing films that have done well at Sundance, South by Southwest and others. Not quite as international as Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, not quite as doggedly independent as Minneapolis Underground Film Festival, the TCFF program focuses on mostly domestic films that are on the cusp of wider release or deserve wider attention. Additionally, there is a very healthy showing of locally filmed or produced movies.

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MUSIC REVIEW | Kill Kancer presents “A Killer Soirée” at Mill City Nights

On Friday, October 10, the non-profit Kill Kancer produced the latest in their series of benefit events. Hosted at Mill City Nights, the event raised money to support Kill Kancer’s mission to increase cancer prevention through awareness and education. “A Killer Soiree” was divided into two parts. The first part was a gala hosted by Robyne Robinson and Kieran Folliard that featured music by The New Standards. The second part was a rock show that featured high-power local acts like Howler, Black Diet, Rebel Queens and Black Market Brass.Howler began the rock show, setting the stage for a high-energy night by ripping through a set of thier back-to-basics style of rock and roll. Continue Reading

MOVIE REVIEW | “Neighborhoods” explores the Somali community in Minnesota at Minneapolis Underground Film Festival

In the last few years there have been plenty of stories told about the Somali community in Minnesota, but very few of them concern the actual lives of the people that live here. Often, they are presented through the filter of a news story or international issue. Neighborhoods, a locally shot short film which stars (Barkhad Abdirahman), takes a look at one event in the lives of three young people who live in Minneapolis.Akbar (Barkhad Abdirahman) and Aisha (Lensa Mohammed) pick up Sharif (Mahat M. Ali) when he is released from jail. As they get closer to the destination, it becomes clear that Sharif is not done with whatever got him arrested in the first place. Akbar and Aisha confront him about his life choices.Neighborhoods, directed by Marcus Castillo, was filmed in the Twin Cities over two days in winter weather which got as low as -5 degrees. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | Buzzcocks get an eager crowd at the Varsity Theater

The world of punk music has a particular problem with eating its own young. Whether it’s compulsive self-destruction, glamorous nihilism or the power of raw instinctive passion, the history of punk music is full of artists who died well before they should have. Someone or other said that these artists spare the rest of us the disappointment of them getting bad or selling out. Their legacy and youthful energy is forever frozen in time. They may be dead, but they never got old. Continue Reading

MOVIE REVIEW | “A Master Builder” creates a bridge from stage to screen

Translating theater to film is often even more tricky than adapting a book. The surface similarities of these time-based forms can make it appear that all you need to do is set a camera in front of the actors and let it play out. Of course, in practice, this is far from the truth. A “stagey” film is removed from everything that makes cinema work, and care should be taken to make there be a reason the play is on film and not the boards where it comes from. A Master Builder, based on the Henrik Ibsen play, is the latest effort to bridge the two forms.In this film, like the original play, Halvard Solness (Wallace Shawn) is an architect who is the “greatest in the land” and is approaching the end of his life. Continue Reading

MOVIE REVIEW | “A Letter to Momo”: Fantasy with heart

In the world of cinema, alienated children often have the ability to see other worlds. At times, this is merely imagination. At other times, the child has a unique view into a phantom world hidden to adults. Sometimes, you never know which one it is. Momo Miyaura, the main character in A Letter to Momo is one of these children. Her father (Daizaburo Arakawa), an oceanographer, dies at sea and leaves Momo alone with her mother (Yuka). Continue Reading

Radical Presence offers radical experience

On July 24th, The Walker Center opened Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art. This is the final presentation of an art survey that has its origins at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and has been presented in New York by The Studio Museum in Harlem and NYU Grey Art Gallery. Curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver, this expansive presentation offers a look at performance art by black visual artists.Radical Presence begins, in linear time, with Benjamin Patterson’s work with Fluxus. Fluxus as a movement, as a style, took performance and art out of the “institution” and into streets, houses and other public spaces. Some practitioners took the work to be anti-art, removing the intellectualism of the art world to focus on experience. Continue Reading