Film note: No-go “Largo”

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For those of you who don’t know, Largo is a Los Angeles music and comedy club. Largo is a film about this popular venue, created by Mark Flanagan and Andrew van Baal.

Largo, a documentary film directed by Mark Flanagan and Andrew van Baal. Screening at the St. Anthony Main Theater on October 25 (3:00 p.m.) and on October 28 (9:00 p.m.) as part of the Sound Unseen film festival. Admission $8. For more information, see soundunseen.com.


The footage is in black-and-white, a medium that works well in a club setting because of the high contrast between light and dark when performers are onstage. The film is choppy and artsy, with the performers sometimes being way off to the side of the screen and some inessential object, like bar glasses, at the center. I think the directors wanted to convey a sense of timelessness, but it comes off feeling like an old country-western crossed with a circus flick.

Opening shots are of the city, palm trees, and people of all walks of life going somewhere or other. Then we are taken inside the club with waitresses setting the tables, the host getting ready, and the general bustle that happens before a show. Clips from performances follow: usually one song per artist and one skit or joke per comedian. There’s plenty of blue language—don’t bring your kids to this unless you mind having them lead the family in a “motherfucker” singalong on the way home.

One of the first performers is Fiona Apple. Her long hair largely hides her face, but as she sings you can see the joy and pain in her face. This is a soulful and sorrowful performance; a far cry from her breakout “Criminal,” which was filled with youth and sexuality.

A couple other outstanding performances feature comedian Sarah Silverman, with her quirky take on religion, and Asian guitarist Bic Runga. Runga sings with a beautiful voice and her face seems to change with every syllable. Other notable performers who appear in the film include Jackson Browne, Nickel Creek, Aimee Mann, and Colin Hay.

Despite the quality of the performances, the film itself is awkward, dry, and without passion. A show at the Largo is doubtless much better than the film Largo. Keep this one permanently at the bottom of your Netflix queue.

Melissa Slachetka is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Minneapolis and contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.

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