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Posts about Movies

Minnesota nice? Twin Cities critics are America's "most scathing"

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: May 10, 2011 - 11:31 AM


Our hero.     Simon Cowell photo: Associated Press.

Our hero. Simon Cowell photo: Associated Press.



The internet film journal "Movieline" has named the St. Paul Pioneer Press's Chris Hewitt and yours truly among the nation's top nine meanest movie critics. In an amusing rundown of savage reviews of the Kate Hudson romantic comedy "Something Borrowed," Hewitt was rated the kindest of the Nasty Nine. Modesty forbids me from spiking the ball in touchdown triumph, so you'll have to click through to see where your friendly neighborhood film critic ranked. 


Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: May 9, 2011 - 12:10 PM


Ethan and Joel Coen

Ethan and Joel Coen. Photo: Associated Press


The Dude would surely lift a White Russian to toast his co-creators, man. Because sometimes there's a … there's a ... ah, I lost my train of thought here. Anyhow, Joel and Ethan Coen travel to Israel's Tel Aviv University May 15 to accept the $1 million Dan David Prize for innovation.

The annual award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in numerous disciplines, goes to the brothers in recognition of "a creative partnership unique in the history of filmmaking, (t)heir control over final cut of their films, their grasp of film genres, black comedy, and their capacity to bring narrative complexity to apparently simple plots."

The Coens won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars for 2007's "No Country for Old Men." They also directed the cult 1998 classic "The Big Lebowski," last year's box office hit "True Grit" and "A Serious Man" and "Fargo," both filmed in Minnesota.

Also honored in this year's award ceremony are Prof. Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School Prof. Gary Ruvkun for their work in the field of gerontology, and Prof. Marcus Feldman of the Stanford University School of Medicine for his work in evolution research.

Working girl

Posted by: Updated: May 6, 2011 - 4:00 PM

Dakota Johnson (right) is a busy woman.

Dakota Johnson (right) is a busy woman.

Dakota Johnson apparently has something going for her other than famous parents (Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson), stepfather (Antonio Banderas) and grandmother (Tippi Hedren). You might have seen her waking up next to Justin Timberlake in “The Social Network,” and now she’s got three new movies in the works: “Goats,” with David Duchovny and Vera Farmiga; “Five-Year Engagement” for Judd Apatow, and a role in the buzzy “21 Jump Street.” See, a Miss Golden Globe CAN amount to something.

The final reel
Bryan Cranston will play the mayor of Los Angeles in the film adaptation of “Rock of Ages,” joining an all-star cast of Tom Cruise, Amy Adams, Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand. …  Christoph Waltz re-teams with Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained.” … Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” stars Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and, of course, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. … Rachel Weisz is in talks to join James Franco and Mila Kunis in “Oz: the Great and Powerful.” … Lisa Cholodenko (“The Kids Are All Right”) will direct a live-action version of the classic kids’ book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” … Saoirse Ronan will play opposite herself in “The Host,” the screen version of author Stephenie  Meyer’s “Twilight” followup.

Who's up, who's down in movies

Posted by: Updated: May 6, 2011 - 3:55 PM

Who’s up?
Current events should put Kathryn Bigelow’s next film, “Kill Bin Laden,” on the fast track.

Who’s down?
Pixar’s John Lasseter confirms that "Newt,” originally scheduled for 2012, had to be scrapped because of its similarity to the recently released “Rio.” 



MSPIFF 2011 announces Best of Fest slate

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: May 4, 2011 - 6:34 PM


These films can;t miss. Hilde de Baerdemaker in the Belgian thriller "Dossier K."

These films can;t miss. Hilde de Baerdemaker in the Belgian thriller "Dossier K."



If you were overwhelmed by choice during the run of the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival, you're in luck. The programmers are offering a second chance to see the cream of the crop. The Best of the Fest slate runs Friday through Sunday. Starred and signed Star Tribune reviews are provided below where available. Buy your tickets in person at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, or go online to www.stanthonymaintheatre.com/times.html .

Friday, May 6
7:00pm - Aftershock
** - This is the kind of film that will play well to a mainstream, less foreign-film-inclined audience. But those looking for something not reliant on clichés and coincidences to move the story along are advised to look elsewhere. "Aftershock" takes the "Titanic" template and sets a fictional story around a real life disaster. After the Tangshan Earthquake of 1976 hits in the beginning of the film, a character actually looks up at the sky, waves her arms and screams: "God, you bastard!" So, yeah, that's what we're dealing with here. (China, 135 min.) --Erik McClanahan

9:30 p.m. - Dossier K *** - From the team that made the vastly underrated 2003 action/thriller "Memory of a Killer" comes another fast-paced police thriller with double crossings, leaked information, shootouts, solid editing and stunning cinematography. When two police detectives investigate a murder of an "Italian" middleman within the Albanian mafia in Antwerp, Belgium, they find themselves dealing not only with mobsters and assassins with lots of weapons but trouble within their own precinct. The twists are fast and furious, and it is refreshing to find an emotional depth in these brutish characters. (Belgium, 121 min.) --Jim Brunzell III

Saturday, May 7
1:30 p.m. - The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
*** - The Pruitt-Igoe development was a handful of high-rise, low-income apartments built in downtown St. Louis circa 1954. In 1972, the then crime/drug infested complexes were imploded on national TV. The presumed culprit? Modernist architecture. But Minnesota-bred director Chad Freidrichs compelling documentary busts that myth, providing another explanation via interviews with urban historians and former residents. Among them: A mid-century exodus from cities, socioeconomic plight and racism. The film smacks of an NPR radio doc and is executed in a clean, thoughtful Ken Burns-ian style. It's a thought-provoking, sometimes heart-wrenching look at urban develo p.m.ent and society at large. (U.S., 83 min.) --Jay Boller

4:30 p.m. - Microphone - Anticipating Egypt’s youth-led January democratic revolution, Ahmad Abdalla’s story about Egypt’s long-supressed counterculture movement is set against the dense cityscape of Alexandria. The follow-up to his widely acclaimed debut, Heliopolis, the film tracks recently repatriated Khaled as he attempts to readjust to life in his hometown. Feeling alone and dispirited, he takes to the streets in search of something, anything, to connect to. What he quickly finds is a vibrant underground arts and music scene, long suppressed by the Mubarak regime. (Egypt, 120 min.) (Film Society summary)

7 p.m. - Hello, How Are You? *** - Interesting: A romance from a culture skeptical about happy endings. In a coincidence as old as "The Pina Colada Song," a timid married couple who have lost their spark meet anonymously in an Internet chat room and fall in love again. But this rueful Eastern European comedy takes unexpected twists en route to a surprising conclusion. The couple's teenage son is an entertainingly sex-crazed lout who despises his parents' vegetative existence and is already dictating his memoirs to the fans he expects to have as a porn star. The adult leads (imagine Sarah Vowell married to Victor Borge) are amusingly woebegone. (Romania, 105 min.) --Colin Covert

9:30 p.m. - Just Like Us - If there's one thing that culturally binds us all, it's that we all love a good laugh.  "Just Like Us" subscribes to that philosophy wholeheartedly, as the film uses the power of stand-up comedy to break down barriers between the west and the east. This documentary sees acclaimed standup comedian Ahmed Ahmed travel to Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt, demonstrating comedy's ability to unite, not to mention his own comedic chops. Oft-documented himself on numerous talk shows, this film sees Ahmed turning an astute camera on himself, and his witty eye on the viewer. (USA, 72 min.) (Film Society summary)

Sunday May 8
1:30 p.m. - Master Class Opera
- What does it take to become the next world-class opera star? Watch as 500 younginternational talents audition for the prestigious Opera Studio, a master class at the world-renowned Bavarian StateOpera, with General Music Director Kent Nagano. (Germany, 95 min.) (Film Society summary)

4 p.m. - Eichmann's End - Based on a true story, a Holocaust survivor who plays accordion in a tango bar and lives among Nazis-in-hiding in 1950s Argentina, is unaware of his neighbors’ dark past. He will eventually make a discovery that leads to one of the most famous war crimes trials in history. (Germany, 89 min.) (Film Society summary)

6 p.m.  - Home For Christmas - Winner of Best Screenplay at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, HomeFor Christmas is based on Norwegian author Levi Henriksen’s collection of interconnected short stories, Only SoftPresents Under the Tree. Set in the snowy small town of Skogli at Christmas time, the fir trees and twinkling lightshave brought with them the usual anxiety, expectancy, hope, and melancholia. (Norway, 90 min.) (Film Society summary)

8:30 p.m. - Rough Tender - Unlikely love blooms between a brooding, explosive loner and an extroverted introvert with a cat and a library habit. A darkly comic, sadly sweet and even poignant tale about finding and keeping love despite the odds. (USA, 89 min.) (Film Society summary)


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