Tag Archives: film

Catching up with My Friend Dean

IMG_2081Well I’ve seen four movies in the last two weeks. I guess I really am failing at me trying to be me in 2016 when I was watching the equivalent of a movie a day.

In reality, toward the end of the DLM Challenge, weekends would mean watching several movies in one day and thinking that if things went south during “Sleepwalk With Me” my obit writer from The New York Times could at least lead with “She died doing what she loved.”

For those of you fascinated with The New York Times, (see also “Page One: Inside the New York Times), there is a new documentary with an inside look at the obits department … wait for it … “Obit,” and the process the writers use to have information on those who are still with us at the ready to publish when they become the opposite. Two of the film’s subjects, Bruce Weber and Margalit Fox, were recently interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Even if you can’t stand her voice like me, it’s a good listen. Good news, “Obit” is coming soon to the Lagoon Cinema and there are several other screenings listed on the film’s website.

I also saw a sold-out screening of “Dean,” Demetri Martin’s first feature film at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Festival.

Judging from the crowd and audience’s reaction, and its festival buzz, this film will make the rounds at independent theaters again this summer.

Martin stars in the film as Dean, a wayward writer coping with his mother’s death and how his father is coping with it by selling the family home. Dean runs away to Los Angeles to work on his book only to find old and new friends and a healthy dose of complicated romance. The mix of sadness and comedy in the film seemed a little uneven at times, to the point where you may forget what the premise of the story is, but maybe that’s the point. Who really wants to think about what’s making them sad when they can go on impromptu road trips and chill at the beach?

The film is also illustrated with Martin’s own drawings to depict Dean’s feelings, which adds to the distance from his struggle with processing mortality (for the viewer) while you see him try to woo Nicky (Gillian Jacobs) at a party in LA.

The mortality theme comes back with full force in the end, ultimately making the whole audience cry, from what I could tell. That said, you may want to watch “Dean” at home and really let it all out. Then you can watch some of his stand-up comedy as a palate cleanser.

I returned to the film festival the next night for a Finnish film “Little Wing” and a Q&A with the lead actress Paula Vesala.

It also stars Linnea Skog as the young girl in the film, Varpu, struggling with her own independence while in some ways taking care of her mother. Varpu defines her independence by stealing a car and driving overnight to find her birth father.

That journey ultimately brings Varpu and her mother closer together. Vesala talked about the music she wrote for the film and the connection between the title “Little Wing” and a Jimi Hendrix song of the same name. Skog, who is 12, won the Finnish Academy Award for her performance and it’s one that deserves more attention in the United States if the film gets distribution here. Unfortunately Vesala said they’ve struggled with video on demand rights and other streaming distribution, but if you can find it I definitely recommend this film. I also listened to the song “Little Wing” today and can see the connection and inspiration between the lyrics and the character of Varpu.

“Well she’s walking through the clouds
With a circus mind
That’s running wild
Butterflies and zebras and moonbeams
And fairly tales

That’s all she ever thinks about

Riding the wind

When I’m sad she comes to me
With a thousand smiles
She gives to me free

It’s alright, she says
It’s alright
Take anything you want from me
Anything

Fly on, little wing.”

The story has a happy ending overall, so you shouldn’t need any comedic relief after watching it.

If you need some anyway try Pete Holmes’ new special on HBO “Faces and Sounds” or Maria Bamford’s “Old Baby” on Netflix.

I ordered a T-shirt I am going to try to incorporate into my wardrobe … not pajamas … just because Bamford’s special is so wonderfully uncomfortable and brilliant comedy.

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I’ve watched “Faces and Sounds” twice now and will again because with Pete Holmes, joy is everywhere.

It’s also the perfect follow up to any episode of season 2 of “Fargo,” or anything from “Breaking Bad” or “The Sopranos” in case you’re still catching up on those. For me, each episode of “Fargo” is 45 minutes of worrying that Jesse Plemons’ character is going to be brutally murdered. Landry Clarke CANNOT Die. Wait, wrong show, but you know what I mean.

Last thing (I am not in the best writing mood today and my usual perfect transitions are just not coming to me) there is a podcast for all of you Fargoheads “Aw Jeez: A Fargo Podcast” that analyzes each episode based on historical accuracy, the actors’ Minnesota accents and a view hidden plot points.

Okay, that is all for today. Bye!

 

 

 

 

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 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!