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At least 10 Minnesota theaters will show 'The Interview'

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: December 24, 2014 - 9:04 AM

 James Franco and Seth Rogen in a scene from “The Interview.”

James Franco and Seth Rogen in a scene from "The Interview."


At least 10 Minnesota movie houses, including St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis, joined others across the country Tuesday in announcing that they would show “The Interview’’ beginning Christmas Day.

Sony Pictures had withdrew the picture from release last week after threats of terrorism from  computer hackers, but reversed its stance on Tuesday.  The comedy stars James Franco and Seth Rogen as TV journalists recruited by the CIA to kill North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un.

“I guess we’re not concerned. We’re not close to North Korea,” said Debbie Zeise, co-owner of the GTI Cambridge and North Branch Theatres, which is showing the film in both venues. “We’re showing it because we believe in the freedom of press and that we shouldn’t bow down to terrorism.”

It’s a view shared by many patrons, she said.

“That I think really is the reason people will come out and watch it. Not because they think ‘Oh, I’ve got to watch this movie.’ ” The controversy may bring larger audiences than she first expected to her theaters’ top auditoriums, which seat 200 or fewer viewers.

“We were not anticipating this would be a huge movie. Now we are anticipating it being bigger than it would have been. More people are going to be saying, ‘I’m going to go see it to see what all the hubbub’s about.’

"Even my mother-in-law, who’s a woman in her 80s, said, ‘Well, I just want to see what it’s about.’ They aren’t going because they want to see the movie. They’re going because they want to make a statement about free speech and we’re not going to bow to terrorism.”

Susan Smoluchowski, executive director of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, which will be showing the film at St. Anthony Main, had a similar take: “Although this film may not be typical of the films we generally screen, we made a decision to do so from a philosophical standpoint, that of artistic freedom, creative license and defense against censorship.”

Besides St. Anthony Main, the Minnesota theaters showing “The Interview’’ will be Cambridge Cinema 5 in Cambridge, North Branch Cinema Theater in North Branch, the Quarry Cinema in Cold Spring, Premiere Theatres in Cloquet, Fairmont Theatre in Fairmont, Cine 5 Theatre in International Falls, Grand Makwa Cinema in Onamia, Rochester Galaxy 14 Cine in Rochester and Main Street Theatre in Sauk Centre. Each theater will open the film Thursday for a run of at least a week.

In a public announcement Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Entertainment said, "We have never given up on releasing ‘The Interview’ and we're excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day," while continuing its effort to secure more theaters and possibly a digital release.

Sony Pictures cancels theatrical opening for 'The Interview'

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: December 17, 2014 - 5:42 PM
James Franco and Seth Rogen in 'The Interview.' Sony Pictures Wednesday announced the film wil not be released. Ed Araquel/AP

James Franco and Seth Rogen in 'The Interview.' Sony Pictures Wednesday announced the film wil not be released. Ed Araquel/AP

Following ongoing online hacks and threats to attack screenings of "The Interview," the Sony Pictures conflict reached a new level of havoc Wednesday afternoon.

After afternoon cancellations of earlier agreements to screen it by four of the nation’s largest movie theater chains, Sony  cancelled the film’s scheduled Christmas Day opening. Earlier in the day the studio withdrew scheduled press screenings. It appears that there are no plans for any type of theatrical exhibition.

The $42 million film, a satiric political comedy, stars James Franco and Seth Rogan as TV journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. It was called “an evil act of provocation against our highly dignified republic” in late November on Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean government-controlled website. While Kim announced "merciless counter-measures" if the film was released, North Korea has denied involvement in the anonymous corporate hacks.

The U.S. movie theater chain leaders AMC, Carmike, Cinemark and Regal announced earlier Wednesday that they had abandoned their bookings. 

"In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film ‘The Interview,’ we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release," Sony announced in a written statement Wednesday.

“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

The film debuted at the Ace Hotel theater in Los Angeles for press and film executives last week to uneven reaction. Online critic Jeff Wells wrote after the screening, “I never once laughed. Yes, the opening 20 or 25 minutes is mildly entertaining and yes, at heart 'The Interview’ is anti-Kim, pro-anti-Kim revolution and pre-people power and all that, but it never rises above the level of a good-enough programmer.”

Touching new Elliott Smith documentary opens Sound Unseen

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: November 12, 2014 - 11:27 AM

A confession that might get me banned from some of the best coffee shops in town: Elliott Smith’s music never did much for me. It was unquestionably heartfelt and pure, and his DIY ethic was admirable, but I often found the dour bend of the lyrics and the softly sung aesthetic too down-tempo, mundane and flat.

All of which I only say to enhance my recommendation of the new documentary on Portland’s late indie-folk icon, “Heaven Adores You,” screening tonight at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul as the opening film in the Sound Unseen festival (7 p.m., $20-$25, details here).

“It was difficult to see how difficult the fame was for him,” one of Smith’s associates says early in the 104-minute movie, from Portland-bred first-time director Nickolas Rossi (who will answer questions after tonight’s screening).

The film opens with footage and recollections of Smith’s fateful appearance at the 1998 Academy Awards, where he performed “Miss Misery” from the “Good Will Hunting” soundtrack -- ostensibly the beginning of the end. It then goes back and recounts his transformation from another noisy post-grunge alt-rocker to the acoustic bard of lore, with fun insights into Portland’s then-insular music scene and all-too-appropriate rainy, scene-setting imagery. Along the way, we see and hear Smith’s growing discomfort with the music industry and cultish yet sometimes fanatical fame, with some old interview footage that’s sometimes painful to watch.

Rossi found the right people to comment lovingly but candidly about Smith’s personality and eventual demise, leaning more on close personal friends than famous musician friends. The movie solemnly builds to details of the singer’s suicide in 2003, which is absolutely heartbreaking but not over-dramatized. There’s a noticeable lack of performance footage -- which seems ironic given that he would eventually play on one of TV’s most watched global telecasts – but Smith’s presence is nonetheless deeply felt.

Click here for full details on Sound Unseen 2014, also featuring movies on punk, jazz, ska, metal and shoegazer bands. Here's the schedule for the rest of the week:

  • Thursday, Nov. 13 @ The Trylon
  • 7 p.m.: Instrument (Fugazi documentary, 10th anniversary screening); Directed by Jem Cohen
  • 9:15 p.m.: Looking for Johnny (Johnny Thunders documentary); Directed by Danny Garcia
  • Thursday, Nov. 13 @ McNally Smith
  • 7 p.m.: Metalhead (Feature film); Directed by Ragnar Bragason
  • 9 p.m.: Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back (Quiet Riot documentary); Directed by Regina Russell
  • Friday, Nov. 14 @ The Trylon
  • 7 p.m.: Homemakers (Feature film); Directed by Colin Healey, who will be in attendance
  • 9 p.m.: The Case of the Three Sided Dream (Featured film); Directed by Adam Kahan
  • Friday, Nov. 14 @ McNally Smith
  • 7 p.m.: Beautiful Noise (Shoegazer bands documentary); Directed by Eric Green
  • 9 p.m.: Salad Days; (Washington, D.C., punk scene documentary); Directed by Scott Crawford
  • Saturday, Nov. 15 @ McNally Smith
  • 1 p.m.: Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound Directed by William J. Saunders
  • 3 p.m.: Short news.
  • 7 p.m.: The Other One: Bob Wier; Directed by Mike Fleiss (Competing)
  • 9 p.m.: I Am A Knife With Legs (Feature film); Directed by Bennett Jones (Competing)
  • Saturday, Nov. 15 @ The Trylon
  • 7 p.m.: Sound and Chaos: The Story of BC Studio (Documentary on New York studio that has hosted Sonic Youth, Afrika Bambaataa, Brian Eno); Directed by Sara Leavitt & Ryan Douglass
  • 9 p.m.: Rye Coalition: The Story of the Hard Luck Five; Directed by Jenni Matz, who will be in attendance
  • Sunday, Nov. 16 @ McNally Smith
  • 1 p.m.: The Ballad of Shovels and Rope (Minnesota Premiere); Directed by Jace Freeman (Competing)
  • 3 p.m.: Legends of Ska (Locally produced documentary); Directed by Brad Klein, who will be in attendance.
  • 5 p.m.: Eternity: The Movie (Feature film; Directed by Ian Thorpe
  • Sunday, Nov. 16 @ The Trylon
  • 5 p.m.: Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women In Jazz (Midwest Premiere); Directed by Kay D. Ray
  • 7 p.m.: The Possibilities Are Endless (Edwyn Collins documentary); Directed by James Hall & Edward Lovelace

Deep documentary and Casbah comedy: A week of films by and about Arabs

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: November 5, 2014 - 10:23 AM
"Rock the Casbah," the opening night presentation of the Twin Cities Arab Film Festival. Photo: Pathe Films International.

"Rock the Casbah," the opening night presentation of the Twin Cities Arab Film Festival. Photo: Pathe Films International.

The St. Paul-based arts organization Mizna has presented its Twin Cities Arab Film Festival since 2003, making it the nation’s second longest running program of Arab cinema. Returning Thursday with a four day run, it continues its presentation of over two dozen features and shorts from across the Middle East. This year’s assortment of Minnesota premieres includes dramas and shorts from Palestine, Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia and Syria, including the 2014 Oscar Documentary Short Subject nominee “Karama Has No Walls,” showing lethal government violence against Arab Spring protesters in Yemen’s capital.
There’s even a lively French-Moroccan comedy-drama featuring Egyptian film legend Omar Sharif. The opening night presentation is “Rock the Casbah,” a handsome coproduction about three upper-class sisters torn between Muslim traditions and Western mores. Sharif jauntily plays the trio’s late father, whose passing unites the family (including brats, egotists and kind souls) for three days of mourning at his lavish estate in Tangiers. Youngest daughter Sofia (Morjana Alaoui) hesitantly returns to the family villa after years of working as an actress in the US. (As it’s pointedly noted, she’s usually typecast as a terrorist – “But in Hollywood!”) (7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6. In subtitled French, Arabic, and English.)
The festival runs through Sunday at the St. Anthony Main Theatre. For a complete schedule and ticket information, visit mizna.org/arabfilmfest

"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.


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