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Glorious "Bastards': French thriller is hypnotic

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: December 16, 2013 - 4:58 PM

(Note: this trailer contains fleeting partial nudity.)

Some thrillers set out to move you and others aim to mess you up. “Bastards” (***, unrated, in subtitled French and English) the prestige shocker from director Claire Denis, is a ravisning example of emotionally assaultive moviemaking. Its fact-inspired story about recent French sex ring scandals fuels a tense, fatalistic film noir to haunt your darkest nightmares.

The film’s elliptical editing fragments the story into a jigsaw of disorientation. With an eerie electronica score by the British indie pop band Tindersticks, the film weaves together themes of corporate greed, revenge, incest, infidelity and suicide. 
Craggy, handsome Vincent Lindon plays Marco, an oil-tanker captain who abandons ship  after receiving an SOS from his family. His brother-in-law has jumped to his death, the family shoe factory is in ruins, and his teenage niece (the luminous Lola Creton) has been hospitalized following a sexual assault. The man at the center of these sprawling events appears to be a tycoon (Michel Subor). Marco, determined to probe beyond the cursory police reports, sets out to seduce and entrap the man’s much younger mistress (Chiara Mastroianni.)
Literally and figuratively in the dark for much of the film, Marco gropes toward answers that elude us as well. Swaths of story don’t make sense, but neither do the daily headlines. But Denis creates an immersive sense of dread that’s hard to shake. Her work here combines the masterful visual control of Michael Mann, the creepy atmospherics of David Lynch and the labyrinth plotting of Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut.” She conjures a world where an unguarded moment of emotion can be as dangerous as a bullet. “Bastards” is an imperfect film but a perfectly mesmerizing one.

(7 and 9 p.m., Dec. 16-17, Trylon Microcinema, 3258 Minnehaha Av., Minneapolis. Admission: $8, Call 612-424-5468.)

Screen Actors Guild nominates 'Captain Phillips' actor Barkhad Abdi

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: December 11, 2013 - 2:28 PM

Barkhad Abdi in "Captain Phillips" (Sony Pictures photo)

The Screen Actors Guild has honored Somali-born Minneapolis resident Barkhad Abdi, 28, with a nomination as best supporting actor for his work in the reality-based piracy drama “Captain Phillips.” 

The first-time actor’s costar, Tom Hanks, was also nominated in the lead actor category for his work in the film. 

Director Paul Greengrass picked Abdi from an open casting call in a Cedar Riverside community center, praising his ability to seem “menacing and [to] have a humanity too.” 

As a raider forced into piracy by desperate poverty, Abdi was alternately fierce and gentle, improvised the film’s unnerving key lines: “Look at me. Look at me. I’m the captain now.”

Abdi's rivals for the SAG award are Daniel Brühl, for "Rush;" Michael Fassbender, for "12 Years a Slave;" the late James Gandolfini, for "Enough Said" and Jared Leto, for "Dallas Buyers Club." The awards ceremony takes place Jan. 18. 

Hollywood oddsmakers consider Abdi a likely best supporting actor competitor when the Oscar nominations are announced. Jan. 16.



British Arrows hit Walker Art Center

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: December 5, 2013 - 2:46 PM

It's time again for a commercial interruption. Walker Art center's annual presentation of the cream of Britain's TV advertising opens Friday and runs through Jan. 6. As always, the spots in the 75-minute showcase display extraordinary creativity, whether they're clipped, clever info-blips or ambitious entries dripping with cinematic production values.

A few even boast movie stars, peppering the spots with the kind of smartly targeted celebrity appeal not often seen in U.S. advertising. There's Hugh Jackman getting slapped silly for Lipton Tea, Kiefer Sutherland longing for a high school crush for Axe Body Wash, and Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender, Godzilla and He-Man making cameo appearances.

Some of the commercials are riotous (a small girl's fantasy of playing house with imaginary friends on Ikea furniture), some shocking (the ambulance service advert comparing cancer and accident fatalities) and some solemnly breathtaking. The Commercial of the Year winner, "Meet the Superhumans," a tribute to the extraordinary commitment of athletes in the Channel 4 Paralympics, will make any viewer reconsider his definitions of "handicapped" and "disabled."  Tickets ($12 for the public, $10 for Walker members) sell out fast. Call (612) 375-7569.

"12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen to appear at Regal Brooklyn Center multiplex as well as Walker Saturday.

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: November 6, 2013 - 5:21 PM
Actor Michael Fassbender, left, and director Steve McQueen at the Toronto International Film Festival. Photo: Nathan Denette, Associated Press

Actor Michael Fassbender, left, and director Steve McQueen at the Toronto International Film Festival. Photo: Nathan Denette, Associated Press

If you had hoped to see director Steve McQueen at his sold-out Walker Art Center filmmaker's interview Saturday evening, you have another chance. 

In fact, you can meet with him even before the Walker crowd.

McQueen will appear Saturday afternoon at the Regal Brooklyn Center Stadium 20. He'll answer questions from the audience following 12:30 p.m. showing of "12 Years a Slave."

Local bloggers recently expressed concern that people of African descent would be underrepresented at the Walker event and said they hoped the museum would ask McQueen to schedule a second session in a "community space."

The theater is located at 6420 Camden Av. N., Minneapolis. Tickets, available online here, are the standard $8 for adults, $7.50 for senior and child admission. 

Dave Chappelle will 'pop up' in Minneapolis next week

Posted by: Rohan Preston Updated: November 5, 2013 - 5:56 PM

Make that eight shows, so far.

Funnyman Dave Chappelle, who famously quit his Comedy Central show in 2005 and has been doing stand-up gigs ever since, will do at least eight performances next week at First Avenue in Minneapolis

Chappelle, who remains hugely popular, has been doing these "pop up" concerts across the country. He last performed in the Twin Cities in Aug. 2012, a show at the State Theatre that was similarly announced at the last minute and that quickly sold out. Capacity for the First Ave shows will be capped at around 500.

The "Chappelle's Show" star was heckled recently in Hartford, Conn., which inspired a colorful reaction from the 40-year-old comic.

At First Avenue, he plans to do shows at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- the latter ones were announced after the first few sold out right away. Tickets for those, $55, are currently on sale.


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