Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Kings of Summer

I think I’ve fully recovered from the long and terrifying, yet somehow completely heartwarming, scene with a snake in “The Kings of Summer.”

The trailer features a glimpse of said scene and I figured I could just look away, but it is actually very important to the story. Don’t look away, trust me, don’t look away.

“The Kings of Summer,” isn’t your average coming of age story.

Sure, the film is about three friends who run away from home to build a house in the woods while dealing with family issues, girls and finding their way in the world but I’ve really never seen anything like it.

The filmmakers’ (director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and writer Chris Galletta, among others) use of imagery and unique cinematography alone sets the film apart from the pack.

Then the performances by Hollywood newcomers Nick Robinson (Joe), Gabriel Basso (Patrick), and Moises Arias (Biaggio) just left me in awe of this piece of art.

I realize I am stumbling through some cliché terms to describe this film, but I am kind of at a loss of how to summarize my admiration for it.

As for the style of the film, including the visuals and dialogue, it took some time to get into, but in the end it just works.

Beneath the surface of Joe and Patrick, with Biaggio tagging along, setting out on their own because they are not happy with their family life, the story focuses on father-son relationships, the bond of friendship as well as coming to know yourself.

One of my favorite scenes is actually between Joe and Patrick’s fathers, played by Nick Offerman and Marc Evan Jackson.

They are fishing together well after both their sons have disappeared.

“I guess maybe we did something wrong.”  – Mr. Keenan (Patrick’s father)

Joe’s relationship with dad, Frank, is more strained than that of Patrick and his father.

Joe’s mom passed away and in the beginning of the film he says he wants to leave home before he becomes like his Dad.

But Joe and Frank are reunited in a time of need for both and all is right with the world.

Everyone survives, broken friendships are mended and (spoiler alert) the snake dies.

Biaggio says it right with, “You should never quit on a friend.”

If there is one theme to the film, it’s that.

From what I can tell, everyone in this film sought to make something close to their heart in some way. They didn’t want fame or fortune, just for the story to be told.

I will say, especially of Robinson, Basso and Arias, this is just the beginning of their careers.

Keep watching Offerman, too. While I love what he brings to Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation,” I want to see more of his range as an actor.

“The night is still young.”

The Bling Ring

The power is out at my apartment until, perhaps, Wednesday so this blog is coming to you from Paul Westerberg’s house. I just thought I’d check it out and luckily the key was under the mat.

Just kidding.

There is in fact no power at my place, but I did not resort to breaking and entering  just to write this. Fresh off of seeing Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring,” I am pondering the obsession with fame that would lead someone to break into the house of a person they admire.

I think that is the point of the film. It is based on the true story of a group of wayward teens living in the Valley in California who go on a burglary spree at celebrities’ houses.

Coppola used Nancy Jo Sales’ article in Vanity Fair, “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” as the backdrop for her screenplay.

In the film, Marc (Israel Broussard)  is the new kid at Indian Hills alternative school in the Hollywood Hills. He is soon taken in by Rebecca (Katie Chang) to hang out after school and go to clubs.

Coppola did not use the real names of the teens in the film.

Marc and Rebecca’s time together soon turns away from surfing the web after school and getting coffee. They, along with a crew of their classmates, party, do drugs and eventually become serial burglars in the Hollywood Hills.

Rebecca is definitely the ring leader and the most obsessed with famous people and their material possessions. They raided Paris Hilton’s house several times and also broke into the homes of Lindsey Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Rachel Bilson.

Coppola’s visual depiction of the teens’ escapades is a plus of the film and viewers who favor her stylistic choices will appreciate it on that level.

She mixes loud music and party scenes with those of silence and dialogue well, but there is not much connection to be had with the characters. I think the actors (mostly unknowns except for Emma Watson) cast as “The Bling Ring” were realistic in their portrayal of superficial and naive teens.

It seems Coppola stayed very true to her source material and maybe there just isn’t any depth in the real-life characters for the average viewer to relate to.

But, if that is any part of the story, I wish Coppola would have explored it a little bit more.

Overall it is a fascinating story and “The Bling Ring” fits into, at least for me, the escape of going to the movies.

I need to explore more of Coppola’s work, but the films I have seen focus on different facets of fame.

Watch (and then watch again and again) “Lost and Translation,” and give “Somewhere” a try before seeing “The Bling Ring.”


The 48 hour film project

Change is a good thing, right?

According to David Carr, you shouldn’t have nostalgia for nostalgia.

Information is so instant and changes so often nowadays, do we even have time to miss it?

If that’s the case making a film in 48 hours and moving on isn’t a bad idea.

I actually think it’s a great idea having just seen films that made it into The 48 Hour Film Project  at the Riverview Theater.

Filmmakers who were up for the challenge, which is done nationwide, are given a handful of rules on a Friday night and must turn in their creation by Sunday night.

The films must include a character, prop, line of dialogue and follow the genre issued by the project creators.

This year it was a Bobby or Betty Bulmer, a farmer/gardener, a lamp and “She told me it’s a secret.”

Thousands of filmmakers have made thousands of films across the world under two days of pressure. This year, it includes 120 cities and at least 60,000 people participating behind and in front of the camera.

I must say I was quite impressed by the films I saw.

Genres ranged from comedy to horror with themes of love, deceit, fear and the trending zombie apocalypse.

In the end the audience voted on three favorites and there will be a Best of Screening at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at the Riverview Theater.

Check. It. Out.

The Riverview Theater in itself defines nostalgia (see photos below by Amber LeRoux) and it is a really great place to take in a film.

I also recommend The Walker Art Center, which is where I saw Noah Baumbach’s latest “Frances Ha.”

Festivals coming up include the Twin Cities Film Fest in October and the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, which should come around again next spring.

Those festivals often have screenings at multiple theaters throughout the Twin Cities.

If you’re more into the history of film and the stars, the Weinstein Gallery has an exhibit of candid celebrity photos open through July 27.

I know this post is a bit of a different format for me, but the short films I saw this week are a reminder of how much else is out there in the art world.

Plus, as much as I would like to just write about it forever, I have already shared my analysis of “Frances Ha.”

Today a customer (I am a journalist by day and movie theater part-timer by night) asked what I thought about “Frances Ha.”

I simply said I enjoyed it enough to see it twice. She responded that it seemed fitting for someone my age.

I am going to go ahead and take that as a compliment.

Frances would want it that way.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!