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"Interstellar" offers futuristic space travel, old school film presentation

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: October 29, 2014 - 5:18 PM
Matthew McConaughey in "Interstellar." Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Matthew McConaughey in "Interstellar." Photo: Paramount Pictures.

If you don’t want to wait for the much ballyhooed space drama “Interstellar” on its opening Nov. 7, you can see it in Plymouth on the 5th. Or Apple Valley on the 4th.

The highly anticipated film starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain will be debut in early screenings two or three days before it hits major theaters.

Director Christopher Nolan, a true believer in the heritage of 20th century film, rather than digital camera work, is the best way to capture and present images. He remains one of the last filmmakers to shoot exclusively on celluloid, along with Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson and J.J. Abrams.

Nolan hopes to draw viewers into theaters with the top projection equipment to demonstrate how much better that film form is. He persuaded the “Interstellar” production partners, Paramount Pictures Corporation and Warner Bros. Pictures, to back his old school release idea even though the vast preponderance of U.S. theaters have converted to digital projection systems and can no longer show film.

Apple Valley’s Great Clips IMAX at the Minnesota Zoo is the only statewide cinema presenting it in 70mm IMAX projection Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 8 and 11:15 p.m.. Only 37 nationwide are hosting such premieres three days in advance of the standard format opening.

If you’re not an IMAX enthusiast, there’s another local option just for you. Plymouth’s Willow Creek 12 will be the sole theater in the state, and one of just 10 theatres in the country, playing “Interstellar” in classic 70mm motion picture film format. It shows the film at 1:30, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, two days before its wide release.

Death becomes her: Two odd women's takes of Halloween horror

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: October 24, 2014 - 1:34 PM
Sheila Vand prepares for a night on the town in the Iranian-themed vampire film "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night." Walker Art Center

Sheila Vand prepares for a night on the town in the Iranian-themed vampire film "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night." Walker Art Center

Two female-themed, foreign-focused spook films, one a new feature and one a restored video rerelease, have made it to town just in time for Halloween. Each is a ferocious feast of idiosyncratic entertainment.

“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” showing Oct. 24, 25, 26 and 31 at Walker Art Center, imagines an Iranian crime haven called Bad City invaded by a seductive, skateboard-riding  vampiress. Though it features an Iranian cast, it was actually shot in California, usually in the dark. It delivers its tale in the hip, downbeat tones of a Jim Jarmusch avant-garde satire. Ana Lily Amipour, who wrote and directed, aims of cool tones throughout. American actress Sheila Vand, whose pretty face resembles a cloudy night with cold rain threatening, plays a lonely blood drinker whose fangs are triggered by abusive male seducers. Moving through a subculture of drug junkies, prostitutes and gangster bosses, she slowly and gradually brings the townspeople to her form of justice. But how will she respond to the sincere admiration of a handsome, honest young lad? The film, with references to New Wave revenge thrillers and stylized pop soundtracks, gradually takes its time but doesn’t outlast its welcome.  For screening and ticket information, visit http://www.walkerart.org/calendar/2014/girl-walks-home-alone-night

Minneapolis-based Euro-film marketer Raro Video’s fresh offering “Werewolf Woman” is a 1976 Italian grindhouse shocker of stupendously overwrought bloodshed and nudism. It may be the most wildly sexist and hilariously awful horror film ever made. Would-be actress Annik Borel plays an Italian heiress who fantasizes that she is the spirit of an ancient lycanthrope, killing every man and woman with a seductive attraction to her. She baffles medical science, causing her physician to declare "It's imperative to make sure her brain's energy isn't released due to tension the cause of which we don't really know." During her regular losses of conscience she delivers naked hula dances. In spite of that, she remains the most relatable character in the film. Director Rino Di Silvestro (a Quentin Tarantino exploitation idol) displays a homemade dramatic style, meat-cleaver editing and dime store makeup effects that make a film watched for nonstop humor, not terror. Available from rarovideousa.com

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.


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