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Posts about Movies

Beer and a movie on the bikeway

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: August 21, 2014 - 5:16 PM

Weather looks iffy, but the Bike-In Movie is on for Thursday night (Aug. 21) on the Midtown Greenway. The 4th annual event features food by Taco Cat, beer by Indeed Brewing Co. and a screening, about 9 p.m. or a bit earlier, of "Elemental," a documentary about three committed eco-activists in different parts of the world. In case of rain, the event will take place inside Freewheel Bike Shop.

A pre-movie mixer is scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. More Info: facebook.com/events/440636552743931
On Twitter: @aigamn #bikeinmovie

TV critic Neal Justin: Memories of Robin Williams

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: August 12, 2014 - 11:03 AM

Robin Williams/ AP photo

I won't pretend for a nano-second that I really knew Robin Williams, although our paths crossed a few times.

The last occasion was this past January during a visit to the set of "The Crazy Ones," a sitcom unjustly cancelled by CBS after just one season.

I noted at the time that the comic genius seemed more at rest than he had previously when he could often suck up all the oxygen in the room with his manic energy. He said something telling that January afternoon that may go a long way in explaining the demons he was battling:

"It's not a contest, but it is a joy. You get a laugh, you go, 'Yeah, I'm OK now.' Sometimes it works and other times, no. Then it becomes very sad for a moment. The desperate comic boy comes out."

I also had the pleasure of seeing Williams in 2008 when he did three shows at the intimate Acme Comedy Co., in prepartion for a HBO special in Las Vegas. I was seated in the front row, which made me and my companions the all-too-willing targets of his improv humor.

In 2009, while he was promoting that HBO concert, he told me he had fond memories of his time in the Twin Cities:

"I was enjoying playing a place that was literate, where you could make references to Shakespeare's newest work, 'So That's the Way You Like It,' and have people go, 'I got it. Thanks.'"

In that same interview, Williams delivered one of his best lines as he talked about his recent heart operation:

"It was interesting that I had the surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. And I woke up, going , 'Where am I?' And they said, 'Cleveland.' And I kept going, 'Why?'"

Sadly, Williams time at Hazelden earlier this summer wasn't as successful at healing him.

He leaves us with a great legacy, work both celebrated and underappreciated. Here are 10 contributions that will stick with me:

"An Evening With Robin Williams" (1982): Williams' legacy begins and ends with stand-up. If you've never seen his entire, exhausting act, start with this HBO special taped in his beloved San Francisco.

"The World According to Garp" (1982): He would go on to make better movies, but this was the first that made us sit up straight and realize that Williams could do more than just vomit out one-liners. He's quite touching as John Irving's ultimate protagonist.

"Comic Relief" (1986): I'm deliberately leaving "Mork & Mindy" off the this list. While it served as a great showcase for Williams' fast-paced talent, it was actually a less-than-average sitcom that almost always spun out of control. Williams' greatest gift to television was "Comic Relief," the long-running telethon he hosted with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg that helped raise $80 million for America's homeless. The trio dug deep into their Rolodexes to bring together the best and brightest in the comedy. Williams gave constantly to various charities, including the LiveStrong Foundation and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. 

"Dead Poets Society" (1989): Seize the day, indeed.

"The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1992): Everyone remembers that Carson's last night with guests included Bette Midler singing "One For My Baby" through tears. But let's not forget the evening's other guest was Williams. The fact that the King of Late Night selected him for that penultimate show speaks volumes.

"Aladdin" (1992): There was talk that Williams should have gotten an Oscar nomination for his voice contributions to this animated classic. Hard to remember that when he signed up, big-name actors didn't do cartoons. That soon changed.

"Homicide: Life on the Street" (1994): Much has been made of Williams' ability to throw out the jokebook and tackle dramatic work. Three years prior to winning an Oscar for "Good Will Hunting," he played a tourist on this critically acclaimed crime series who goes through grief and anger when his wife is murdered. It remains one of Williams' most devastating performances.

"Good Will Hunting" (1997): His role as a loner shrink who tries to break through Matt Damon's shell could have been unbearable, but Williams managed to sidestep every cliche and collect his well-deserved Oscar.

"Blame Canada" (2000): Williams had nothing to do with "South Park: The Movie," but he was the ideal candidate to perform the film's centerpiece number when it was nominated for an Academy Award. It's a vigorous performance that pretty much stole the show.

"Louie" (2012): WIlliams played himself in a super-short, strangely sentimental story about he and Louie CK being the only ones to show up to the funeral of a despised comedy-club owner. To honor the man, they decide to visit his favorite strip club where they learn some startling things about the deceased. It's not Williams' best work, but it's the one that keeps rolling around in my head.

Minnesota talent represents at the Toronto International Film Festival

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: July 25, 2014 - 2:08 PM

There’s a fair amount of Minnesota heat at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

The prestigious Opening Night slot goes to “The Judge,” written by Minneapolis native Nick (“Gran Torino”) Schenk. The film boasts the world’s biggest movie star, Robert Downey Jr., as a cosmopolitan superlawyer who finds himself in his corn belt home town, defending his estranged father (Robert Duvall) on a murder charge. First Clint Eastwood as a testy retired auto worker, then Duvall as a peppery retired jurist. Schenk sure has something about grumpy old men.

After decades away from the director’s chair, longtime producer William Pohlad  takes the helm with “Love & Mercy,” a biographical drama about the Beach Boys’ troubled genius Brian Wilson. Since directing his first film, 1990’s “Old Explorers,” he’s collaborated with the likes of Ang Lee, Steve McQueen, Robert Altman, Terrence Malick, Doug Liman and Sean Penn. It should be interesting to see how the Twins scion has upped his game. His new film stars Paul Dano, John Cusack and Paul Giamatti.

The there’s “Wild,” a new drama from Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club”) based on the memoir by Minnesota native Cheryl Strayed. Reese Witherspoon plays Strayed as she copes with personal issues on a long-distance hiking adventure that challenges and heals her.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 4-14.

New movie channel debuts in Twin Cities

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: July 1, 2014 - 11:51 AM

Movie lovers: There's a new player in town.

Starting Tuesday, Get TV is available on WUCW, 23.2. The channel, which launched nationwide in February, offers pre-70s classic movies like 'The Talk of the Town," "From Here to Eternity" and "Suddenly."

The channel is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The Twin Cities joined the family Tuesday morning,along with Oklahoma City and Madison. The channel is currently in roughly 35 markets.

Bobby Z's Purple Hearts Club Band at First Ave, Apollonia at Paisley Park

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: June 30, 2014 - 2:21 AM
Brian Setzer and Cory Wong "Rock This Town"

Brian Setzer and Cory Wong "Rock This Town"

Why shouldn’t somebody celebrate “Purple Rain” this summer at First Avenue?

While Prince is adverse to celebrating anniversaries and looking back, his former drummer Bobby Z toasted the 30th anniversay of “Purple Rain” in a big way Saturday at First Avenue at his third annual Benefit 2 Celebrate Life for the American Heart Association.

Bobby Z, drummer for Prince & the Revolution, found an array of local guests – and one out-of-towner, “Purple Rain” co-star Apollonia – to play songs from “Purple Rain” as well as some of their own selections.

Four years ago, Bobby Z suffered a near-fatal heart attack. So he has organized an annual benefit to raise awareness about heart health. He gave a little speech and showed a quick video but the “educational” highlight was when one of his doctors, Dr. Uma Valeti, said: “It’s easier to save a man’s life than to put up a show like this.”

Amen. The scheduled opening act didn’t arrive on time. So, the music began with a surprise guest, pinch-hitting for a stuck-in-transit performer. Yes, Bobby Z called on Brian Setzer, Minneapolis’ most overlooked guitar hero, to open the show with the house band – which the pompadoured guitar man dubbed Bobby Z’s Purple Hearts Club Band.

And, apparently without rehearsal, Setzer and the the band tore through a rockabilly number and two Stray Cats classics, “Stray Cat Strut” and “Rock This Town.” Indeed, Setzer did rock this town. And to show you what kind of guy he is, he usually let Cory Wong from the house band take the first guitar solo - - and there were solo opportunities for the other band members, as well.

Then the expected kickoff act showed up: hip-hop hero Slug, of Atmosphere, just back from Milwaukee. He threw down a rap/sing version of “Let’s Go Crazy,” and then it started raining “Purple."

“American Idol” finalist (from Season 5) Paris Bennett declared “Baby, I’m a Star,” with some star-like testifying at the end. Her mother, Jamecia Bennett, raised the bar by taking “When Doves Cry” to church with the help of Sounds of Blackness.  The Grammy-winning choir stuck around for some of their own selections, including “Optimistic.”

Then it was star time with Apollonia offering “Take Me with U,” which apparently Apollonia 6 recorded before Prince reclaimed it for himself for “Purple Rain.”

Apollonia returns to First Avenue

Apollonia returns to First Avenue


Dr. Fink, formerly of Prince and the Revolution, showed why he has a PhD in keyboards, as he played “Do Me Baby” as a wedding march and offered “Father’s Song,” composed by Prince’s dad John Nelson for the movie soundtrack.

Then it was time for a little Purple detour, with G Sharp of Dr. Mambo's Combo, who does the best vocal impression of Prince of anyone in the Twin Cities, delivering “Dirty Mind.”

Paul Peterson took the stage next to ask: What time is it? If you can’t have Morris Day, then Peterson, a Time replacement member for “Purple Rain,” sang the Time’s “Cool” and “Jungle Love” that were featured in the movie.

The show concluded, of course, with the entire cast (save Setzer) doing “Purple Rain.”  Wong’s guitar defined the song as several vocalists took turns. But, in the end, when Jamecia Bennett wailed and Wong’s guitar kept rising, there were chills like when Prince himself performed “Purple Rain” at First Ave.

What do you do for an encore? Show “Purple Rain,” the movie, in its entirety on First Avenue’s big screen.

For her encore, Apollonia headed to Paisley Park where Prince and 3rdEyeGirl gave her a private concert at 3.a.m. plus a tour of his complex. She hadn't been in the Twin Cities since she filmed "Purple Rain" here in 1983. 

At 4:42 a.m. Sunday, Apollonia posted an item on her Facebook page but it was later taken down. Still, Consequence of Sound republished her post, which said, in part:

"They play loud and HARD. Heard new music that was dope! He had a cool chair for me on the stage at his side and I sat there transfixed on every note, every move, every vocal. After every song I yelled and clapped my ass off. It was so amazing it made me sweat. These ladies are so talented and beautiful. I was charmed. And Prince….my heart still skip’s a beat. Paisley Park is a fun place. He showed me all my images painted on the walls. 'Hey thats me!!!' I said, he just laughed in that cool way he that does. The biggest room will be The Purple Rain room….he will have us painted there, huge murals. 'My big head gonna be up there?' He just laughed and laughed."

 

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