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Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival: from police drama to pickled herring

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: October 17, 2014 - 5:06 PM
"Dancing in Jaffa" IFC Films.

"Dancing in Jaffa" IFC Films.

With a dozen films over 15 days, the 2014 Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival is a showcase of zany comedy, dark police drama and heart-warning historical documentary. With screenings at both Minneapolis’s Sabes Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Community Center of the Greater St. Paul Area, the series offers features in English and subtitled Hebrew, German, Spanish and Arabic, running from Oct. 19 through Nov. 2.
The charming “Dancing in Jaffa” opens the festival at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Sabes JCC. Getting fifth-grade boys and girls to dance together is tough. It’s tougher still when the students are a diverse mix of Palestinian Israelis and Israeli Jews. That’s the challenge ballroom dance champion Pierre Dulaine took on. When boys and girls dance together, Dulaine’s theory goes, they will see a person, not a vilified abstraction. A fey, theatrical fellow, Dulaine is a natural camera subject. Whether the cross-cultural friendships begun here will stand the test of time is anyone’s guess, but it’s a start.
On Thursday at 7:30, the subject is the legendary New York fish market “Russ& Daughters,” whose history since 1914 (including four generations and 1,800,000 pounds of pickled herring) is celebrated in “The Sturgeon Queens.” The 52-minute documentary interviews scores of the late owner Joel Russ’s descendents and fans as diverse as actress Maggie Gyllenhaal and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The screening is at the St. Paul JCC.
Oct. 23 at 7:30 there’s “Zero Motivation,” an Israeli “Private Benjamin”-style satire of female military misfits. Variety called the film – nominated for a record-maker 12 Ophir awards, the equivalent of Oscars – “a biting, darkly comic look at the life of the women of the Israeli military [that] showed audiences that for these female secretaries and paper-pushers, boredom can be just as dangerous as battle.”
For a full listing of films and accompanying events, visit http://tcjfilmfest.org/films-and-events.php. You can purchase tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/producer/247176, call the Box Office at 952-381-3499, or email tickets@sabesjcc.org.

'White Bird in a Blizzard' soundtrack is Bananarama-free

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: October 16, 2014 - 4:21 PM
Shailene Woodly and director Gregg Araki. / AP photo.

The new Gregg Araki movie, "White Bird in a Blizzard," opening in the Twin Cities Oct. 24, is set in the late 1980s. As expected from Araki (see his "Nowhere" soundtrack CD, with Marilyn Manson, Blur, Hole, Chemical Brothers, Elastica, more), this movie has great music, all of it drawn from the darker side of the '80s pop, i.e. no Bananarama, no Bangles, no Go-Gos. I think I have every song in my dust-gathering vinyl collection.

The R-rated movie stars Shailene Woodley as a smart, sensible, hormonal teen growing up with nutty mom Eva Green and semi-catatonic dad Christopher Meloni. Mom's sudden disappearance drives the plot, along with the hookups of Woodley's character, Kat.

Araki, who has always been good at picking good music to set a mood and establish a time period, uses moody, synth-y songs, including ones by Cocteau Twins ("Sea Swallow Me"), Psychedelic Furs ("Heartbreak Beat"), and New Order ("Temptation"). Other acts represented in the movie include The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, This Mortal Coil, Pet Shop Boys, Echo and the Bunnymen and Everything but the Girl.

Walker hosts Turkish cinema's profound perfectionist, Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: October 14, 2014 - 6:32 PM
Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, center, accepts the Palme d'Or from director Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman during the awards ceremony for the 67th international film festival in Cannes, France, last May 24. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, center, accepts the Palme d'Or from director Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman during the awards ceremony for the 67th international film festival in Cannes, France, last May 24. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Sweden had the filmmaking genius of Ingmar Bergman. Italy had Federico Fellini. Today Turkey has Nuri Belge Ceylan, a master recognized as one of the most accomplished and influential auteurs of his age. A favorite of arthouse audiences and a regular recipient of international acclaim, he is a repeat winner of the Cannes Film Festival's greatest awards.Since seeing my first of his seven features 12 years ago, I have considered Ceylan a master of stunning visuals, exposed nerves, stark beauty and philosophically awesome questions about human nature.

Ceylan will make his first visit to Minnesota next month. He will appear in person at Walker Art Center's presentation of his winner of newest the Cannes top prize, "Winter Sleep." The film is an examination of Turkish society as a wealthy but tight pocketed  owner of a mountaintop hotel creates seething resentments, not only among his rural community, but his wife and sister as well. The film will show on Nov.1, a month before its official U.S. theatrical release by Adopt Films, a locally linked distributer of world cinema. 

Three of Ceylan's earlier films are also scheduled. On Nov. 2, it's "Climates," the story of a failing romance between a Turkish professor (played by Ceylan himself) and his younger TV producer girlfriend following a sweltering summer vacation in Italy. "Once Upon A Time in Anatolia," a tale of a difficult murder investigation in a remote province, shows Nov. 5. Nov. 12 concludes the series with "Distant," a story of a troubled relationship between an Istanbul photographer and his jobless small-town cousin who arrives in town desperately looking for work. Its view of troubled human relations is as stark and beautiful as its view of the nation's domes and minarets.

For screening and ticket information, visit http://www.walkerart.org/calendar.

British 'Streetcar' at the movies this week

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: October 7, 2014 - 11:34 AM

Gillian Anderson in "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Young Vic in London. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

A recent London production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" that stars Gillian Anderson ("The X Files," "The Fall") as Blanche Dubois elicited rave reviews from critics.

It can be seen Tuesday and Wednesday (7 p.m. Oct. 7 & 8) at St. Antony Main Theater in Minneapolis as part of the NT Live series. Tickets are $20. The play runs about three hours.

Directed by Benedict Andrews, this "Streetcar" also stars Ben Foster as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby as Stella. It takes place in a contemporary milieu on a slowly rotating set, with music that includes songs by Patsy Cline and PJ Harvey.

The reviewers heaped praise on the production and on Anderson's turn as Williams' most famous heroine, calling her and the show "hypnotic" (Hollywood Reporter), "electrifying" (Evening Standard), "an absolute knockout" (Telegraph) and "powerful" (The Guardian).

'The Nance,' starring Nathan Lane, coming to PBS

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: October 3, 2014 - 5:11 PM

"The Nance," starring two-time Tony winner Nathan Lane as a bawdy gay entertainer in the waning days of burlesque in New York City, is coming to "Live from Lincoln Center" on PBS.

Locally, TPT, Channel 2, airs it at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10.

The show, which played at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway in 2013, tells the story of Chauncey Miles, played by Lane, whose broadly comic stage shows are jam-packed with swishy double entendres that make him a minor star and allow him to fly under the radar until censors take note and pressure theater owners to get rid of Miles and his fellow performers. Offstage, Miles falls in love with Ned (Jonny Orsini), a romance that must be kept secret.

The play takes place in 1937, on a revolving set (by John Lee Beatty) that turns to reveal a burlesque stage, the backstage area, an Automat frequented by gays, and Miles' apartment. Other cast members include Lewis Stadlen, Cady Huffman, Jenni Barber and Andrea Burns. Jack O'Brien directs.

"The Nance," by Douglas Carter Beane, was nominated for five Tony Awards, including a Best Actor nod for Lane.

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