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Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival announces a 198-film lineup

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: March 7, 2014 - 4:36 PM


Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in "The Skeleton Twins." Photo: Reed Morano.

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader in "The Skeleton Twins." Photo: Reed Morano.

The upcoming Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival is putting the finishing touches on its schedule. While the opening night feature hasn’t been locked down yet, not have the individual run dates. Still, the program’s just-released rundown of – gulp – 198 features should sate the most gluttonous cinephile.
The newly announced lineup includes:
Spanish iconoclast Alex de la Iglesia’s endlessly entertaining caper-horror-comedy “Witching and Bitching.” One part Quentin Tarantino, one part Guillermo del Toro and five parts nitroglycerine, the film is exciting, dark and wicked fun. 
“For No Good Reason,” a tour through the delirious career of Ralph Steadman, the English artist best known for his splattery collaborations with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Johnny Depp, Terry Gilliam, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner and the late William S. Burroughs all chip in.
"The Overnighters," which examines the downside of North Dakota's oil boom through the perspective of a Lutheran pastor who welcomes homeless job seekers to take shelter in his church. The artfully crafted documentary features revelatory eleventh-hour bombshells that compel viewers to completely rethink the characters' actions and motivations.
A literal one man show from Tom Hardy, recently seen as Batman's hulking nemesis Bane. He is the star of "Locke." In fact he's the only actor seen throughout the film. Hardy plays a man zipping down an English highway while juggling crucial car phone calls that jeopardize his career and marriage. Hardy is riveting in a sustained closeup performance, creating a riveting portrait of a flawed, admirable man trying to do the decent thing in all but impossible circumstances.
"R 100," A Japanese head-spinner of surreal suspense, bizarre sex play and demented hilarity. Hitoshi Matsumoto's film follows a wage slave who enlivens his humdrum existence by signing a year-long contract with a strange escort agency. The firm dispatches dominatrixes to dish out comically harsh thrashings without warning, in public, at work, even at home. As the hapless client, Nao Ohmori underplays deliciously even as the film opens up outrageous new subplots that further multiply the lunacy.
"The Skeleton Twins," a serious minded film starring Saturday Night Live alumni Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as warring siblings. The duo are affecting and poignant as long-estranged siblings still scarred by their father's suicide. There are abundant laughs, but the movie's themes of abuse, infidelity and death are played straight. Wiig is compelling as a sexually compulsive woman who feels stifled in her marriage to a plain-vanilla regular Joe (Luke Wilson), and Hader reveals unexpected depth as her witty but depressive gay brother. 
The Festival runs April 3-19 on all five screens of the St. Anthony Main Theatre, 115 Main St. SE, Minneapolis.


Bringing the war home: Tom Hiddleston onscreen as Shakespeare's tragic hero Coriolanus

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: March 6, 2014 - 10:31 AM

Attention Tom Hiddleston fans! If you can't wait for Loki's next appearance in the Marvel universe, maybe some live theater will tide you over. He stars as the noble yet reckless general fighting a private war between personal integrity and popular acclaim in the National Theatre Live production of Shakespeare's Roman epic "Coriolanus." The performance, recorded live in late January, shows at 11:00am on Sunday, March 9th at the Edina Cinema.

Minneapolis actor Barkhad Abdi lining up next film role

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: February 27, 2014 - 4:26 PM
Barkhad Abdi, speeding ahead. Photo: John Shearer, AP

Barkhad Abdi, speeding ahead. Photo: John Shearer, AP

Barkhad Abdi may have found the follow-up to his feature film debut, "Captain Phillips."
The Minneapolis Oscar nominee is reportedly in negotiations to star as a South African marathon champion in the historical drama "The Place That Hits The Sun."

The movie is a biography of legendary Zulu distance runner Willie Mtolo, and his friendship with Ray de Vries, a white bar owner. Their unlikely relationship transcended South Africa's apartheid policy of racial separation.

Before 1991 Mtolo and other South African runners were not allowed to compete internationally because of sanctions resulting from its apartheid policies. Mtolo won the 1992 New York Marathon, outdistancing his rivals and running alone the final 3.2 miles.

Producer Noel Pearson (of the Oscar-nominated Daniel Day-Lewis drama "My Left Foot") is developing the project for his Ferndale Films. 

St. Anthony Main and Parkway theaters honor two unique film talents

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: February 14, 2014 - 6:04 PM

The theaters at St. Anthony Main are celebrating two one-of-a-kind talents with special tributes over the next several weeks.

Through Feb. 20, the theater is honoring the memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman with two of his most impressive, most challenging performances, “Capote” and “The Master.” 
Hoffman won a best actor Oscar for his shrewdly observed portrayal of Truman Capote in Bennett Miller’s biographical drama “Capote.” The film focuses on the six years the author devoted to researching and writing his revolutionary true-crime “novel” “In Cold Blood,” a book that changed the face of journalism. The film shows us a process that erodes the writer’s soul (he seductively exploits and manipulates everyone he encounters on this mammoth assignment) while gilding his reputation. Hoffman captured Capote’s mannerism to perfection, but his performance is beyond mimicry. It’s some form of eerie transformation.
In Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd, a man of aspiring intellect, the founder of a pseudo-scientific spiritual cult. He establishes a conflicted father-son dynamic with a man of irrepressible, primal passions (Joaquin Phoenix.) The film has been seen as a thinly veiled biopic of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, but there are strong, strange subterranean currents flowing through it. The protagonists’ dance of desire and disillusionment with one another is white-hot with emotion, with scenes so powerful they shadow you like a physical presence for days.
From Feb. 21 through March 3, the Film Society of Minneapolis and St. Paul will present a Wes Anderson retrospective at the St. Anthony Main and Parkway theaters. The St. Anthony Main titles are “Bottle Rocket,” Feb. 21-22; “Moonrise Kingdom,” Feb. 21 and 23; and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Feb. 22-23. At the Parkway, it’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” Feb. 27; “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” Feb. 28; and “The Royal Tenenbaums,” March 2-3.The final presentation will be a members-only free, advance screening of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” 7 p.m.Monday, March 10 back at St. Anthony Main. Information about RSVPing for the screening, as well as becoming a Film Society member can be found here.

Screenwriter Michael Starrbury up for an anti-Oscar

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: January 24, 2014 - 4:41 PM

Local screenwriter Michael Starrbury ("The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete") is coming off a remarkable week and looking forward to another one.

On Jan. 15 he dined at the White House, where his dramatic comedy about a pair of hard-luck New York City minority kids was presented for an audience including the First Lady. 

In addition to dinner and a bag of official White House popcorn, "I got to meet Mrs. Obama. It was an incredible experience. She's so humble and sweet," he said.

She had nice things to say about him at the event as well, leading a round of applause for his work and smiling, "Well done, well done... This movie ws so powerful to me." (The comments begin at the 12 minute mark of the video above.)

And on March 1, the day before the Oscars ceremony, Starrbury will be at the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif. He's nominated for best first screenplay prize.

"I've had calls from people telling me they likes it and they're voting for it," he said, "but the main thing is to go and chill out and get out of this Minnesota weather for a minute."

While he's there, Starrbury will be pitching a new feature for Universal Studios, a kids' comedy.

He'll also attend New Line Studios live reading of his upcoming script "The Great Unknown," based on the graphic novel by Duncan Rouleau. Also attending will be the project's director Jorma Taccone ("MacGruber.") The project is a low-fi action comedy about a daydreaming slacker convinced that telepathic thieves are stealing all his great ideas. 


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