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Minnesota filmmaker Robert Ham mel's dance documentary, "Solo 1 x 2," will screen Thursday (7 p.m.) at Saint Anthony Main Theater as part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, and it is a screening that couldn't come at a more appropriate time.
The documentary follows the work of dancers and choreographers who won McKnight Fellowships a few years ago, including Abdo Sayegh, Karla Grottig, Mifa Ko, Laura Selle-Virtucio, Colette Illarde and Tamara Nadel.
The McKnight dance fellowships recently were buffeted by news about dancers going unpaid by sponsoring organization The Southern Theater. The McKnight this week announced it was moving sponsorship of its dance/choreography fellowships to another group, Springboard for the Arts.
The McKnight has asked the Southern to return $300,000 in grant funding. The Southern has declared a financial crisis and is attempting to raise $400,000 by April 30 to avoid closing.
Hammel will be present at Thursday's screening, and the Southern Theater's current dilemma will likely come up in the evening's conversation. Hopefully the film itself will steer any dialogue away from dollars and cents and more about the dancers themselves. Check out the trailer for "Solo 1 x 2" below.
If you think of Swedish cinema as a rich heritage of artistic achievement, your focus is overly narrow. "Swedish Sensationsfilms" (Bazillionpoints Books, $19.95) is a 320-page catalog of Scandinavian skin and sin, packed with movies that demand to be ogled, not pondered.
"Sensationsfilms" reveals that beneath the placid Swedish psyche there boils an insatiable appetite for trash, sleaze and debauchery. Danial Ekroth uses his master's degree in film science from Stockholm University to detail the national obssession with exploitation films. A tireless researcher, he studied hundreds of grindhouse nudies, slashers and "kickers" (his great term for cheesy action flicks), charting the careers of the smut-meisters and gore-heads who produced them.
Here you will find fulsome appreciations of "A Handful of Love," which sexed up the tedious story of the big national labor strikes of 1909 with gratuitous nudity; the grimy underworld expose "The Hottest Shags"; and "The Chameleons," a satire of the Swedish culture establishment in the form of a "psychotic thriller where morbid visions, depraved sexuality and violence come together in perfect proportions."
Some film scholars might take exception with Eckroth's claim that Ingmar Bergman's "The Virgin Spring" spawned a cycle of rape-revenge slashers. Still, his enthusiasm for his subject is unarguable, and his writing is full of cultural insights you won't find in academic journals.
Writing about the Swedish-Danish co-production "I, a Marquis," a movie with the tagline "An erotic comedy with fun sex-sadism," Eckroth notes that it was "based on a true story -- which should hardly come as a surprise to anyone who has ever visited Denmark." The publisher's website includes a YouTube gallery of theatrical trailers.
James Franco? Old news. Little brother Dave is about to bust out, playing high-school hottie/drug dealer Eric in the big-screen "21 Jump Street" alongside Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.
Liam Neeson's tattoo-artist cameo in "The Hangover II" was altered during the editing process; unavailable for reshoots, he was replaced by "The Notebook" director Nick Cassavetes.
One constituency -- besides the critics -- has declared "Your Highness" to be "an assault on taste." Christian Day, a warlock from (natch) Salem, Mass., has taken time out from blasting Charlie Sheen to call for a boycott. Day complains that the stoner comedy, in which Justin Theroux's warlock Leezar desires to impregnante Zooey Deschanel with a dragon, casts a negative light on warlocks and witches, whom he calls "the good guys and gals." A gander at the box office shows audiences have taken up his quest.
The final reel
Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road") will be general Zod in "Superman: Man of Steel." ... Robert Redford will play baseball executive Branch Rickey in an untitled Jackie Robinson film written and directed by Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential," "Mystic River"). ... Best-known as the body beneath Armie Hammer's face in "The Social Network," Josh Pence -- all of him -- will be Ra's Al Ghul in "The Dark Knight Rises." ... Tobey Maguire reunites with "The Ice Storm" director Ang Lee for "The Life of Pi.: ... Ben Affleck is in talks to join Maguire (Nick Carraway) in Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," as Tom Buchanan. ... Alec Baldwin joins Penelope Cruz in Rome to film Woody Allen's next, untitled film. And how perfect? Jesse Eisenberg also is in talks to co-star.
Actress Julie Andrews--like so many other celebrities, including Henry Winkler and Madonna--is also an author. She'll be making a couple of stops in the Twin Cities to sign copies of her new book, "The Very Fairy Princess Takes the Stage."
Andrews will be at the Red Balloon, 891 Grand Av., St. Paul, from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday May 12, and at Barnes & Noble Har Mar, Roseville, at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 13. Advance tickets with purchase of the book.
The restrictions are pretty stiff, if you want to see her: At Red Balloon, you need a ticket--which is free with the purchase of her book. At Barnes and Noble, wristbands securing you a spot will be given out beginning at 9 a.m. She'll sign one book per wristband--and only that book and nothing else. She will not personalize her autograph. And you are not allowed to take photos or shoot video.
(I think this means that asking her to sing "A Spoonful of Sugar" is also out of the question.)
Still, who doesn't love Julie Andrews? Rules or not, I'm betting on a packed house both times.