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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THEATER REVIEW | “Ghost The Musical” flashes more than shines at the Orpheum Theatre

What is the key to a successful movie-to-musical transformation? Ghost (1990) was a sleeper blockbuster and is now considered a classic. The story is a bitter-sweet, cliché-ridden good vs. evil, embellished by the spirit world and ultimately crowned by the satisfying power of love. The movie starred Patrick Swayze at the height of his career, Demi Moore donning a cute pixie haircut and tearing up on demand, and Whoopie Goldberg, who won best-supporting-actress Oscar for the role. Ghost The Musical is anything but quiet or intimate, but remains true to the story. Wall Street banker Sam, murdered in a botched mugging, is stuck on earth as a ghost to help his artist girlfriend Molly who is in danger. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Cinema in the Cemetery series presents Buster Keaton’s “The General” among the headstones

At 8:30 pm on Saturday, May 24, Buster Keaton’s silent comedy-adventure The General will show outdoors at a rather unusual venue for a night at the movies–the Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery at Lake Street and Cedar Avenue. The event, a fundraiser for the historic cemetery, is part of the Cinema in the Cemetery series, co-presented by Take-Up Productions, the Trylon Microcinema, allstarvideo.org, and the Friends of the Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery.Local musicians Dreamland Faces will accompany the film with a live, original score, and food trucks will be on hand to stave off moviegoers’ hunger pangs. Admission is $8 in advance, $10 at the gate, with advance tickets available at take-up.org. Holders of Take-Up Discount cards get free admission but pay $2 for the music. Children under 12 are free, but donations from all attendees are appreciated. Continue Reading

Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2014: New festival vibe and recommendations for the final weekend

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival‘s vibe is different this year. I am not really sure how to describe it–maybe a veneer of professionalism. Less rough and tumble, more polish, less scrappy local flair, but still the clear commitment to the diversity of the film world. One thing remains, unlike big festivals, there are no press conferences with visiting filmmakers and actors, but rather a cozy Q&A in the cinema. They did however add the logo-laden backdrop common at big festivals to the area behind the  panelists.  As I chatted with the staff, one clear technical change this year is that there are no 35mm prints being shown. Last year there were six. The year before, I remember one filmmaker worried about the safe projection of his 16 mm film. Shipping of 35mm prints is extremely expensive, so a world of film options is open in this brave new world of technology. The world is officially 100% digital. Continue Reading

6th Annual Italian Film Festival: Politics, history, and intimacy

The Twin Cities is blessed with a cornucopia of cultural and ethnic film festivals: Nordic, Black, International, Cuban, Polish, African, Latin, Asian. This past weekend, March 6 – March 9, the 6th Annual Italian Film Festival, organized by the Italian Cultural Center with the support of the MN Film Society, took place at the St. Anthony Main Cinema. Curated by Anna Bonavita, a local chocolatier and co-founder of the Cultural Center, this year’s selections went beyond the stylized Oscar-winning film The Great Beauty (incidentally not a particularly popular film among the Italians I spoke to opening night). Watching these films you go on a real journey—documentaries and independent films that go deeper into Italy.  Unlike travel films or American films, by attending international film festivals, moviegoers settle into a culture and see it as it is represented for that culture. You may not understand the nuances of some references in the films, but you will feel more inside the place than if you are standing somewhere on a piazza.   Continue Reading

FILM REVIEW: Burt Lancaster in “The Killers,” Nov. 1-3 at the Trylon Microcinema

“Lancastic!” a retrospective of eleven Burt Lancaster films, kicks off at the Trylon Microcinema on November 1 with Lancaster’s debut film, The Killers (1946). A film-noir classic, The Killers was directed by German-born Robert Siodmak, a master of shadow and light. Film critic Pauline Kael called Lancaster “a great specimen of hunkus Americanus.” But in his first screen appearance, playing a none-too-bright boxer who took more beatings than he ever gave, he is more like a bruised lily.The film’s first 13 minutes recreate almost word-for-word Ernest Hemingway’s short story “The Killers.” A couple of men turn up in a nowhere town. One fat, one thin, they look like a comedy duo. They’re not. Continue Reading