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Twin Cities Film Fest (please, don't call it "Festival") announces a big, bold schedule

As it approaches its seventh birthday, the Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF) has grown into a pretty solid local cultural shindig. The new festival, running Oct. 19-29th looks like one of the most interesting entries yet with a wide lineup of films in diverse genres.

This year’s buzzy group includes:

“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins’s intimate, small-scale drama of identity and connection. It’s told in three chapters over a period of 16 years, viewed through the life of a young black man from a rough neighborhood of Miami. The story follows him from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world amid the temptations of the drug trade.

“Lion,” starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman, follows a five-year-old Indian boy who is lost on a train that carries him to the crowded streets of Calcutta, far from home. A couple in Australia adopts him; 25 years later, he sets out to return to India and reconnect with his lost family.

“Blood Stripe,” acclaimed by the movie bible Variety as a “polished feature debut” by Twin Cities-based director Remy Auberjonois, focuses on the career of a female career Marine troubled by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on her return to civilian life.

Also in the crowded lineup are a rich selection of Halloween-friendly horror and science fiction; a documentary about how everyday sound effects are created in post-production by coconut-thumping, glass-breaking, paper-folding Foley artists; a tribute to the visionary Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky; and DreamWorks' “Trolls,” an animated musical comedy voiced by Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani and Russell Brand.

TCFF has become a fall counterweight to the spring’s Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF). Headquartered in the ShowPlace ICON cinema in St. Louis Park, TCFF delivers big star-focused major studio filmslike “Room,” “Wild” and “The Imitation Game,” and films with connections to the area. In contrast, MSPIFF presents art-house indie offerings and subtitled international fare. TCFF focuses on appearances by Minnesota natives, with Alexandria’s veteran actor John Hawkes on hand last year to present the festival’s main feature, his detective noir “Too Late.” The festival honored Rochester's Lea Thompson with its lifetime achievement award at its preview gala earlier this month.

For more information about TCFF’s full film calendar and ticketing, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org.

Throwback soul man Leon Bridges explores Funkytown at the Orpheum

 

 

Leon Bridges issued a challenge early in his sold-out concert Wednesday at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.

“We came all the way from Funkytown, Texas, to see if Minneapolis has the juice,” he announced, trying to get a response from the fans.

Um, “Funkytown” was a smash international hit in 1980 outta Minneapolis about Minneapolis. So, yes, we know a little bit about Funkytown. That’s one reason why the crowd ate up Bridges’ often exciting, 90-minute performance.

He’s a terrific showman, with Gumby-like legs, kinetic energy and dance-happy feet.

He came to dance, make women swoon to ballads and get funky in his own throwback way.

The 27-year-old’s style is funky but his music isn’t. He exudes pre-Motown soul – Sam Cooke, the boardwalk and the like – with panache.

The pride of Fort Worth is a smooth, soulful singer and a slick, energetic showman. However, his songwriting skills aren’t in the same league. Songs like “Hold On” lacked dynamics and depth.

But most of his repertoire, taken from his debut album, last year’s “Coming Home,” connected with the appreciative audience. He triumphed with the jump blues boogie “Twistin’ and “Groovin,” the well-crafted “Lonely Road" and the gospelly “Shine” and “River” (the only number for which he played guitar),

Bridges also offered a crowd-pleasing cover of Ginuwine’s 1996 hit “Pony” (with plenty of vigorous dancing) and a 15-minute boogie jam encore that sounded straight out of Bar Band 101. But the crowd loved it.

The crowd also loved opening act Lianne La Havas, who is from the same British soul school as Amy Winehouse, Adele and Corinne Bailey Rae. With her voice sounding stronger than at the Varsity Theater last fall, she also did a version of Prince’s “Sometimes It Snows in April.”

She mentioned that he’d taught it to her so they could play it together. With the stage bathed in purple lights, she offered the moving tribute with just her electric guitar and a hint of organ. Even Funkytown can get poignantly quiet when necessary. 

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