May 31, 2009

Underrated MOTM: Toy Soldiers (1991)

Before I write anything about May's Underrated Movie of the Month, Toy Soldiers, I'm obligated to make it known that I haven't seen Red Dawn, the 1984 controversial classic that inspired it. So for those of you are devoted to that movie, or to 1981's Taps, or to 1984's Toy Soldiers - you can save your breath as I'm not making comparisons to them.

That out of the way, I settled on Toy Soldiers after seeing it on a list of some kind recently, as well as hearing the unrelated Martika ballad (the sappiness of which hasn't stopped YouTubers from combining the two). It's a movie that I haven't seen in years but that I'll still find myself watching in surprised horror when I come across it. Also, what better way to celebrate the end of the school year (nevermind that I'm not in school) than a fantasy about destroying your school in a battle against a Colombian druglord?

Written and directed by Daniel Petrie, Jr., who also wrote Turner and Hooch and the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy, Toy Soldiers is the rare movie that was marketed precisely to the audience (teen boys) who couldn't see it due to its R-rating. Whether this led to a theater full of boys pretending they were men or men wishing they were boys, I can't say. In fact I don't even know when I first saw Toy Soldiers, but it definitely wasn't in the theater. Seems to be the norm, though, since the movie took in a measly $15 million upon its release in late April of 1991. Opening weekend it came in third to Stallone and Tomei in Oscar and Matt Dillon in A Kiss Before Dying, a fact which can only be explained, in my opinion, to Toy Soldiers' R-rating.

Or maybe it also had to do with Roger Ebert's grouchy 1-star pan: "Was there any way to make this material original? To find a new twist? Was there anything the filmmakers wanted to say about the situation - other than the crushingly obvious fact that troublemakers in peacetime often become heroes in war? Did anyone connected with the production notice that they were making a movie that, in essence, had already been made? That there was no need for it? That given a budget and a cast, locations and shooting schedule, they had not justified their effort by even trying to make a film it is necessary to see? Or would that be asking too much?" Easy, Roger, easy - and don't think I won't expect you to insert that exact paragraph into your review of the Red Dawn remake next year. Isn't it ironic?

So sure, Toy Soldiers was nothing new. But that doesn't mean it wasn't awesome for a generation of boys daydreaming heroic fantasies during their high school English classes - one major difference likely being the lack of any girl to woo in the movie. No, the Regis High School is an all-boys boarding school in Virginia where "the country's best families send the world's worst students". Among these mischievous teens, Billy Tepper (a pre-Rudy Sean Astin) is the biggest thorn in Dean Edward Parker's (a post-Iron Eagle Louis Gossett, Jr.) side. He's whip-smart, influential, and fearless - the perfect hero-in-waiting when Colombian druglord Luis Cali (Andrew Divoff) and his posse take the entire school hostage.

I think what Ebert misunderstood about Toy Soldiers was that it wasn't really meant to be an analysis of U.S. foreign policy, or about international relations at the end of the cold war. To me the evidence shows that it was just meant to be a rollicking good time for the testosterone-fueled boys who were able to see it. I mean, this is the guy who wrote Beverly Hills Cop, right? In fact, if anything Ebert should have focused on the surprising brutality of the battle. The coarse language and frequent violence against teens (beatings, whippings, shootings) makes it unlikely likely this movie would even be released in 2009 and marketed to a generation that's advanced through their school careers with horrifying school shootings and classroom lockdowns. It's pretty disturbing to consider, but it automatically comes to mind when you see Wil Wheaton emptying the magazine of his machine gun.

Rather than focus on the alleged unoriginality or the harsh violence in Toy Soldiers, it's better to
consider the more positive aspects: the stunts are spectacular, the villains are over-the-top (Cali: "If any of the individual explosives are tampered with, theywillEXPLODE!!"), and the comedy is corny and crass. The title Toy Soldiers is actually very symbolic: as "real" as the scenario sometimes seems, it always remains a kind of playground for the viewer, particularly for a generation raised on G.I. Joe. As evidenced by the spoilerific clips below, it's ultimately just a B-movie about the "good guys" vs. the "bad guys", and all of the messy international politics can be safely left on the sideline as ancillary material, like those extra pieces that came with your action figures that you never used.



May 30, 2009

REVIEW: The Song of Sparrows (A)

(The Song of Sparrows opens this weekend at the Landmark Edina Cinema)

Sometimes I watch movies like
The Song of Sparrows and shake my head (out of a sense of righteous global-mindedness, of course). There couldn't be more obstacles in its way in catching on with American audiences: it has subtitles, it's one of "those artsy foreign films", and - hide the women and children - it's from Iran. I get it, we don't want to feel anything or think about anything when we go to movies, and in the midst of this recession we're desperately looking to escape as much as possible. To Las Vegas (The Hangover), to prehistoric times (Land of the Lost), or even to outer space (Star Trek).

But is it really true that people are looking to take nothing from the movies they see? Really? Nothing but a few laughs to distract us from reality? Just seems like a strange way to spend our money; it's not like there's a shortage of free entertainment these days. My point is, movies like
The Song of Sparrows, which truly is accessible, charming, and relevant to people from all countries (especially the U.S.), are too often tossed aside or overlooked because people fear they're weird, boring, overlong, serious, tragic, or something worse. Well here's a surprise: this movie is none of those things, and its comedy is sure to be both more original and more humanistic than repetitive scenes of Will Ferrell fleeing dinosaurs (though truthfully, he'll probably make that pretty funny).

From celebrated Iranian director Majid Majidi (Children of Heaven), The Song of Sparrows is at its heart a parable about capitalism and the conditioned human tendency to perpetually want more than what you have at any given time, even if you don't know why (see: greed). It's an Aesop's Fable brought to life, and like Aesop, Majidi (who also co-wrote the film) knows how to effectively draw us into the lives of his archetypal characters. Here, it's Karim, a devoted husband, father and ostrich farmer living in a modest rambler on the dusty outskirts of Tehran. His family doesn't live lavishly, but Karim is a talented handyman and provides for his wife and children what others in the community may not have, such as fuzzy television reception and massive ostrich egg omelets.Although Karim is not inundated by advertising in his daily life and the local culture doesn't appear to put much value in material possessions, when hard luck takes Karim's steady job from him he gets an idea in his head that there must be more lucrative - not just steady, but lucrative - opportunities awaiting him. Maybe he's influenced by his son, who along with his young friends want to start a goldfish farming business, but regardless of the reason, when Karim eventually does get a taste of easy money in Tehran, it becomes an almost overpowering elixir. He's discovered that you can make a lot of money without necessarily toiling away in the fields all day. More specifically, he's discovered entrepreneurship, and his outlook on life will never be the same.

If it still sounds like The Song of Sparrows actually is "weird, boring, overlong, serious, tragic, or something worse", I guess I suggest you check out the trailer below, though even that doesn't fully illustrate the outstanding performance by Mohammed Amir Naji, or the striking cinematography by Turaj Mansuri, or the dry comedy lingering behind so many scenes. The movie is simultaneously operating on multiple layers and, under the sure hand of Majidi, successfully avoids farce even when some twists in the story feel contrived. Just when you want to casually dismiss another emotional outburst or bizarre occurrence as a you've-gotta-be-kidding-me gag, you realize that, well, it's true - everybody has some amusing experiences like that.

And really, isn't that how you learn lessons in life? About taking risks, appreciating what you have, getting through difficult times, raising a family, and everything else? Of course, and like one of those humorous learning experiences you had years ago and still share with friends and family, you may find The Song of Sparrows offers similar anecdotes that you aren't likely to forget.


Grade:
Writing - 9
Acting - 10
Production - 10
Emotional Impact - 9
Music - 4


Social Significance - 5
Total: 47/50= 94% = A



May 27, 2009

300 Words About: Drag Me to Hell

(Drag Me to Hell opens wide this Friday, May 29)

"You said I would get a free checking account if I refinanced my mortgage!"...

As if the economy and housing market weren't already frightening enough, along comes Drag Me to Hell, a wickedly rendered depiction of what could happen if we lowly bank customers sought vengeance on the hand-wringing loan officers who have lured us into this mess. Of course, brothers and co-writers Ivan and Sam Raimi didn't have the mortgage-anchored recession in mind when they wrote this film in the early 90's, but it's still an ironically amusing set-up to their new horror comedy.

Comedy being the operative word, because I'm not sure why the advance word on this was that it lacked laughs. They come in spades, and the frustrating thing is that the Raimis make it look so easy - why can't others get this formula down? A bare-bones story (young loan officer tries to escape a demonic curse unleashed on her by the old woman whose loan extension she denied) featuring sassy dialogue, goofy gags and responsibly restrained special effects. Sam Raimi must be used to a massive production budget from his work on the Spider-Man trilogy, and it's nice that he avoided the temptation to over-CGI the stunts here. While there's only so many times an old lady's shrieking face can actually spook you, it's such a confident production that you can forgive some repetition from a director having fun at the top of his form.

Not quite as impressive are a few typical annoyances (the climactic finale is ruined by an easy tell, and again we have twenty-somethings with a million-dollar view of downtown L.A. from their Echo Park bedroom window), and some blah acting from Alison Lohman and Justin Long. The Raimis probably just followed horror film dogma to make the female character the protagonist, but I almost think Long might have added more spark to the role if he'd been cursed instead, similar to his jumpy breakout role in Jeepers Creepers. In any event, Lohman is essentially just on screen to receive nasty punishments and cue the audience on when to scream, so you can't fault her for not filling out an already empty character.

In the end, Drag Me to Hell succeeded for me mostly because I didn't feel like Sam Raimi was trying to brutalize me with graphic torture, gore and violence. While other directors appear to get some sinister satisfaction from their unnecessary attempts to send us a "message", Raimi understands that horror, in its most marketable (see: PG-13) form, should simply be a rousing ride for the audience. Drag Me to Hell is just that - a refreshingly boisterous, nostalgically freaky flick, like the haunted house tours at your local amusement park that left you giggling as you gripped your friend's arm in giddy terror. Yes, thankfully and despite a disturbing rise in bloodlust from movie-goers over the past decade, Raimi has bucked the trend and delivered chills and thrills instead of kills and drills.

May 26, 2009

The Favorite Movie Period/Place Meme


What's so great about Pittsburgh circa 1987, anyway?

Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are that I'm attempting to initiate a meme. A year ago I didn't even know what one was (I still only have an idea), and here am I trying to get one going.

It started with the thought I was having while watching Greg Mottola's Adventureland, namely, "What's the point in setting this story in Pittsburgh circa 1987 as opposed to Anytown, USA, circa 2009"? There were things that just didn't seem to jive with the period (i.e., too frequent use of "What's up?" as a greeting), and aside from the fact that Mottola attended Carnegie Mellon in the mid-80's, most of the setting and period dressings felt like a gimmicky strategy to play indie 80's music and have fun with costumes and hairstyles (I mean really, did anybody buy Ryan Reynolds as that character in that setting?). It didn't take away from my enjoyment of that charming film very much, but unlike Cameron Crowe's personal touches on Almost Famous, or Jonathan Levine's on The Wackness, or even Ang Lee's reported obsession over production accuracy in the upcoming Taking Woodstock, the time and place in Adventureland really didn't add much to the meaning, either, in my opinion.

This brings me to the idea for this meme, particularly these questions: What's my favorite cinematic period, anyway, and what movies portray a place that I would love to visit in real life? Essentially, during which movies have I thought, "Wow, I would really love to be there and experience that place at that time"?

You become almost paralyzed considering the possibilities. Of all the movies you've seen set in an almost infinite number of times and places, which one looked the most appealing? Rome in the age of the Roman Empire (Gladiator)? 1990's Los Angeles (Grand Canyon)? 1970's Manhattan (Manhattan)? 1920's Chicago (Chicago)? 2000's Bruges (In Bruges)? 19th-century American West (any Western)? Victorian-age England (numerous possibilities)? 20th-century Europe (numerous possibilities)? 16th-century Mesoamerica (Apocalypto)? Present day? The future (Minority Report, Children of Men, Demolition Man)?

These options are a frozen drop of water on the tip of the iceberg, and I'm laying out a challenge to choose one favorite, or at least a few. You can even list ones that haven't been seen on film yet - or consider the times and places we're headed in these upcoming summer movies: Public Enemies, Year One, Land of the Lost, the aforementioned Taking Woodstock, Inglourious Basterds, Moon, Tetro, and so on and so forth.

THE RULES:

1.) Think of a
place (real or fictional) and time (past, present, future) portrayed in a movie (or a few) that you would love to visit.
2.) List the setting, period, applicable movie, and year of the applicable movie's release (for reference).
3.) Explain why, however you'd like (bullet points, list, essay form, screenshots, etc.). If this is a time and place that you have intimate knowledge of, feel free to describe what was done well and what wasn't done well in portraying it.
4.) If possible, list and provide links to any related movies, websites, books, and/or articles that relate to your choice (s).
5.) Modify Rules #1-4 to your liking. And come up with a better name for this meme.
6.)
Link back to this Getafilm post in your post, please.
7.) Tag at least five others to participate!


I'll lay this out in the format that I hope it will spread for easiest reading, but you're welcome and encouraged to modify it to your liking if you decide to participate. Also,
I'm putting less thought into my own selection than I hope you will because I want to get this going, but my choice isn't necessarily a lazy one because it's been a favorite of mine for years: Hill Valley, CA, circa 2015.
_________________________________________________________________

Place/Setting: Hill Valley, CA
Year/Period: 2015
As Seen In: Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Why: I saw Back to the Future Part II in the theater during the height of my boyhood fixation with awesome cars and cool gadgets. When Marty and Doc dropped in on Hill Valley in 2015, it was like a fantasy land for my imagination. Flying cars! Hover boards! Holographic billboards! Self-drying jackets and self-tying shoes! Personalized home entertainment channels! And to make a good thing better, rapidly hydratable pizzas! I couldn't wait for 2015 to arrive when I walked out of the theater, and now, twenty years later, we're on the verge of realizing this utopia.

But seriously, I think part of the reason I'm fascinated with the future portrayed in movies is because it's a complete unknown. In my optimistic moments, I like to think of what could be instead of what has been, and the future allows for unending possibilities...



Best Aspects of Hill Valley: Incredible technology, instant news, California weather, people speak English, clean and mostly safe streets, Pepsi and Pizza Hut are still around

Worst Aspects of Hill Valley: Incredible surveillance,
ubiquitous advertising, lack of privacy, air traffic, Pepsi and Pizza Hut are still around

Further Reading/Viewing:
* Blade Runner, set in 2019
* Hill Valley 2015 fansite
* 11 Points' "11 Predictions that Back to the Future Part II Got Right", April 2009
* 11 Points' "11 Predictions that Back to the Future Part II Got Wrong", April 2009
_________________________________________________________________

In explaining my choice I ended up focusing more on the year (2015) than the setting (Hill Valley). That may not be the case for you - maybe you'll look at place over period, or give both equal love. And actually, if you're a contrarian and you'd like to do your least favorite movie period or place, go for it. I'd have to think about mine a bit, but 18th-century Eastern Europe comes to mind first.

Anyway, before "launching" the meme
, some of the other times and places I would like to visit off the top of my head are: Casablanca circa 1942 (Casablanca); Brooklyn circa 1989 (Do The Right Thing); Endor circa a long time ago (Return of the Jedi - I actually did visit the Redwood Forest a couple years ago and it was indescribable, otherworldly); 20th-century India (Gandhi); 1980's Rio de Janeiro (City of God); Paris circa 2001 (Amélie); Los Angeles throughout the 90's (Falling Down, Boyz in Da Hood, The Big Lebowski); Arabia circa medieval times (Aladdin); the South of France circa 1955 (To Catch a Thief), etc., etc., etc.

See, it's hard to stop, and just think of all the thousands of movies you've all seen that I haven't.

And so, have at it:

Fletch at Blog Cabins
Nayana at The Center Seat
Miranda at Cinematic Passions
Rick at Coosa Creek Cinema
Jason at The Cooler
The Mad Hatter at The Dark of the Matinee
Pat at Doodad Kind of Town
Marilyn at Ferdy on Films
Elgringo at He Shot Cyrus
Piper at Lazy Eye Theatre
T.S. at Screen Savour
RC at Strange Culture
Fox at Tractor Facts
Matt & Co. at Where the Long Tail Ends
Sam & Co. at Wonders in the Dark

I primarily chose these people because I'm pretty certain they've participated in recent memes, and as such they're likely to spread it on to others. At least I hope they do. If they don't I'll take no offense, just as I hope those who weren't listed don't take offense.

This is open to anyone and everyone reading this, whether I know you or not, and especially if it's your first meme! Write a post on your blog, write in the comments section here, whatever you want to do. Thanks for playing and passing it along - I'm really curious to see where people would like to go with a ticket to anytime, anywhere...

May 25, 2009

300 Words About: Terminator Salvation

If you look really closely, you just might recognize some elements of James Cameron's creation...

There are a few things that don't belong in Terminator movies: little kids, huge talking heads on screens explaining the plot, celebrity cameos, inexplicable romance that threatens to overtake scenes, and talking dogs. The guy who insists on referring to himself by his childhood nickname has haphazardly inserted the first four of those elements into Terminator Salvation, and in all likelihood we can look forward to the fifth one in the upcoming sequel.

What bothers me about the utterly mediocre Terminator Salvation is not simply the fact that it was made. I'm not necessarily a Cameron purist and I actually liked Jonathon Mostow's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, even if was significantly inferior to Cameron's first two. No, what bothered me about Terminator Salvation is that despite, or maybe because of, the frequent references it made to the quotes and action elements from the earlier movies, it severely lacked vision, terror, originality and confidence. Worse,
the guy who insists on referring to himself by his childhood nickname thought that he could actually adapt or update or otherwise modify this story for a new generation by adding "fresh" ideas that simply leaving you scratching your head.

For example, what in the world is a mute child doing as an important character in a Terminator movie? Where were the typically heavy - and heavily intriguing - dialogues/monologues about the war and Judgment Day? In the future, shouldn't the aiming accuracy of both the humans and machines' weapons be far more advanced, not worse than ever before? And why was Common given any face time in a completely worthless role
? (And don't think I'll let slide the fact that he was wearing stylish aviator sunglasses during the climactic nighttime assault.)

I imagine
the guy who insists on referring to himself by his childhood nickname would explain these bizarre decisions by saying he was trying to bring his own style to Cameron's vision, but it almost seems from Terminator Salvation that he didn't even see the first two movies, but just heard about them and picked up on the popular catch phrases. After this movie, well I'm tempted to say we'd be lucky if Judgment Day actually arrives before his tentative sequel comes out in 2011.

May 24, 2009

Short Cuts: "Haooo - Hup!" (Drill Captain Command)

A Few Good Men (1992). Directed by Rob Reiner; written by Aaron Sorkin; starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Pollack, Kevin Bacon, J.T. Walsh, Kiefer Sutherland, Christopher Guest, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Noah Wyle.


May 22, 2009

In & Out of Fashion: William Klein Retrospective at the Walker

Despite the onslaught of summer blockbusters over the last three weeks, there's still a lot of pretty decent stuff in Twin Cities theaters if you know where to look. Considering the abominable reviews Terminator: Salvation has received over the last few days, you could hold off and check out Anvil!, Goodbye Solo, Sin Nombre (@ The Parkway) or Tyson. Also, the Oak St. Cinema is going to have Three Monkeys and The Chaser this Fri.-Sun. only. I missed the recommended The Chaser at MSPIFF, but I did write some brief thoughts on the riveting Three Monkeys. Probably want to catch that one while you can.

On top of all of these, the Walker is right in the middle of their William Klein Regis Dialogue/Retrospective: "In & Out of Fashion". It actually started last Friday, so we've already missed Mr. Freedom, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, and Messiah. All tickets are in the Walker Cinema and only $8, or $6 for Walker members.

Here's the remaining schedule:

Friday, May 22, 7:30 pm

In & Out of Fashion

A documentary retrospective of Klein’s oeuvre, In & Out of Fashion combines his abstract paintings, revolutionary photography, books, and excerpts from his films in an autobiographical look at five decades of a multifaceted life and career. 1998, 35mm, in English and French with English subtitles, 88 minutes.

Friday, May 29, 7:30 pm

The Model Couple (Le Couple Témoin)

This pioneering sci-fi farce was startlingly prophetic regarding today’s reality television as well as issues of government encroachment on privacy. In an attempt to anticipate the desires of tomorrow’s consumer society, an average young couple is chosen by the French “Ministry of the Future” for a six-month scientific study. Filmed and recorded 24/7 in a high-tech apartment, they are besieged by behaviorists and psychologists who measure and test them, all in the guise of public service. 1975, 35mm, in French with English subtitles, 100 minutes.

Thursday, June 4, 7:30 pm, Free

SHORT FILM PROGRAM

Broadway by Light

An experimental meditation on Times Square marquees and iconic advertising, Klein’s first film captures the concurrently seedy and dazzling aspects of New York’s Great White Way. Illustrative of Klein’s transition from photographer to filmmaker, Broadway by Light was declared by Orson Welles to be “the first film I’ve seen in which color was absolutely necessary.” 1958, 35mm, 12 minutes.

Far from Vietnam (Loin du Vietnam)

Seven directors (Klein, Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, Claude Lelouch, Joris Ivens, and Chris Marker) present a searing indictment of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In his segment, Klein featured Norman Morrison, the Quaker activist who, inspired by Vietnamese Buddhist monks, set himself ablaze to protest the war. 1967, 35mm, 20-minute excerpt.

Contacts

Klein dissects the contact sheet from one recent roll of film, deconstructing his editing technique and injecting a brutally honest assessment of his art. As the New York Times put it, “Half a century of work can add up to two blinks of an eye.” 1983, 35mm, 15 minutes.

Friday, June 5, 7:30 pm

Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther

While in Algiers to cover the 1969 Pan African Cultural festival, Klein met Eldridge Cleaver, charismatic leader of the Black Panthers and a fugitive from the United States. For this documentary, made at the request of Cleaver and the Algerian government, Klein filmed Cleaver nonstop for three days, capturing a fascinating sketch of the controversial figure as he reflects on racism in America, the attempts on his life, the Vietnam War, and the relationship between the American Black Power movement and African liberation groups. “A wrenching piece of direct cinema” (Harvard Film Archive). 1970, 35mm, 75 minutes.

Saturday, June 6, 7:30 pm

Muhammad Ali the Greatest

Klein’s extraordinary, incendiary film provides a probing look at the legendary and polarizing Muhammad Ali, following his career from his breakthrough 1964 bout with Sonny Liston to the epic “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman in Zaire a decade later. With unprecedented access, the film traces the boxer’s transformation from the clean-cut, loud-mouthed Cassius Clay to the outspoken antiwar revolutionary/Black Muslim Muhammad Ali to a seasoned, wily pugilist and international idol. 1974, 35mm, 120 minutes.

May 31–June 30

The Little Richard Story

Lecture Room; Free with gallery admission

Tuesdays–Sundays, 1 and 3 pm; additional screenings Thursdays, 5 and 7 pm

William Klein captures flamboyant entertainer Little Richard, “America’s black superman,” as he attempts to resolve the conflict between his divine calling and profane success. Acting on advice from his Bible-peddling managers, Little Richard walks off the film set, yet is barely missed as Klein quickly shifts focus from the man himself to the deconstruction of his status as cultural icon by way of a limitless array of impersonators and fans. As Little Richard says, “Elvis may have been the King, but I am the Queen.”

1980, 16mm transferred to video, 92 minutes.

Friday, June 26, 8 pm

Regis Dialogue - Director William Klein with Paulina del Paso

$15 ($12 Walker members)

Meet the legendary William Klein in conversation at the Walker with Paulina del Paso, filmmaker and associate programmer for FICCO 2009 (Festival Internacional de Cine Contemporáneo de la Ciudad de México). The Regis Dialogues and Retrospectives program, now in its 20th year, brings to the Walker the most innovative and influential filmmakers of our time for in-depth conversations about their creative process, illuminated by film clips, anecdotes, and personal insights.

______________________________________

I haven't seen any of Klein's films, but the docs about Ali and Cleaver sound pretty interesting, as does The Model Couple. Now all that's needed is some bad weather to justify heading inside on an otherwise sun-soaked later spring evening. Take a walk around the sculpture garden and admire the freshly painted cherry and spoonbridge beforehand. I still don't understand this sculpture, but then I really don't "get" most modern art. Here's a shot I took with some weird clouds last year:

May 20, 2009

(Movie) News You Need to Know: MLK Movie in the Works?


For somebody who sees and writes a lot about new releases, I'm admittedly pretty bad at keeping up on industry news. I rarely read Variety or The Hollywood Reporter or the other industry dailies, and most of the buzz I pick up about movies in production is from other blogs (i.e., Craig Kennedy's indispensable Living in Cinema). The point is, I'm a few days behind on the news that Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Productions just acquired the rights to a biopic about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As you may remember, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of King's assassination last April I wrote a commentary about just such a film, even going so far as to audaciously begin the casting process (tragically, one of my selections, Bernie Mac, has since passed away) and listing possible directors. Now just because Spielberg is the face of DreamWorks doesn't mean he would be the man at the helm for this film, but of course had he been one of the people I listed I would be taking full credit...but nevermind that.

Despite this major development, don't expect to see this movie in theaters anytime soon, at least before 2011 or so. CNN is reporting that DreamWorks is threatening to drop the project unless King's three surviving children settle some family infighting. Apparently Dexter King has been on the outs with Martin Luther King III and Bernice King in recent years, and he settled the deal with DreamWorks without consulting them. The studio doesn't want to get involved in the family feud so they're waiting until everyone plays nice.

Here are the important details from the CNN article:
____________________________________

" 'I think Mr. Spielberg is a great producer and we look forward to hearing from him about the scope of this agreement,' Bernice King said. 'We know nothing about the scope of this agreement. We have no details to say whether or not this particular one is a good idea.'

DreamWorks issued a statement Wednesday that suggested King family unity was essential for the movie to be made.

'The purpose of making a movie about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is to tell a great story which could bridge distances and bring people together,' the statement said. 'We remain committed to pursuing a film chronicling Martin Luther King's life provided that there is unity in the family so we can make a film about unity in our nation.'
...

'Although my communication with family members has been somewhat stymied by the current litigation, I have continued to reach out and I remain committed to working together with my siblings on projects to educate people about the life, leadership and teachings of our father, Martin Luther King Jr.,' Dexter King said.

DreamWorks is 'a company with unrivaled resources for making epic films of the highest quality, offers an unprecedented opportunity for educating the largest possible audience about our father's legacy as the leader of America's greatest nonviolent movement,' he said.

'Just as Sir Richard Attenborough's film, Gandhi, educated many millions of people all over the world about the Mahatma's teachings, I believe this project can do the same regarding the life, work and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr., and I sincerely hope my brother and sister will join us in supporting this urgently needed project,' Dexter King said.

Tom Houck, an Atlanta public relations agent who has known all three children since the 1960s, when he was their father's driver, suggested the dispute could be resolved.

'I don't think that either Martin or Bernice are opposed to having a megafilm done on the big screen by DreamWorks, but I think it's the mechanism and the way it was done that's got them upset,' Houck said."
____________________________________

Alright, now a few points:
  • I've actually cooled on the idea for this movie a bit over the last year because I'm just nervous that it wouldn't be "good enough", whatever that would even mean. I wouldn't want someone to do it just to do it, I'd want someone to do it because they've found a way to do it well - really well.
  • I don't think Spielberg would put himself in the director's chair for this, and I also don't think he should.
  • The term "megafilm" worries me.
  • 369 people voted in the casting poll I put up as part of that post, and 31% of them chose Terrence Howard (see the full results at the end of the comments section). I still think the runner-up, Chiwetel Ejiofor, is the man for the job, but I would also take a talented unknown any day of the week.
  • I don't think a studio with "unrivaled resources" like DreamWorks necessarily needs to take this on. It shouldn't be overproduced and sleek and glossy and packaged based on marketing research. You'll need a decent budget to recreate the period and some of the large crowd scenes, but there's plenty of room for this movie to be humbly produced with attention to character, mood, accuracy, and thought. Something resembling Che more than W., but with as much mass appeal as Milk.
  • Hey, Spielberg, check out my post while you're in pre-production!

May 18, 2009

Taking It Home: Anvil! The Story of Anvil


"We're gonna do it together. We're gonna get there - we're gonna be rock stars! It's a dream...but I'm gonna make it come true!"

Don't let the fact that Sacha Gervasi wrote and produced The Terminal dissuade you from seeing his directorial debut, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, because this terrific documentary is everything The Terminal is not: charming, amusing, inspiring, moving, and above all, important to humanity. Alright, maybe it won't change the course of civilization, but if any film about aging rockers chasing a life-long dream would have the power to do so, this would be it.

In addition to featuring some surprisingly awesome cinematography and just the right amount of archival footage and talking head interviews, Anvil! succeeds for the same reason other excellent character-driven documentaries (recently Surfwise, Trouble the Water, Man on Wire) have succeeded because it truly captures the spirit of its subjects. By focusing less on the who, where and when, and more on the how and why, Gervasi doesn't tell a story about music or fame, but about friendship, trust, and determination. As such, you don't have to be a fan of heavy metal or even familiar with the genre to be touched by this film.

Like most people in their early teens, Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner had big, bold dreams for the future. They were going to be rock stars, as others were going to be astronauts, professional athletes, or presidents. Unlike most of us, however, they actually realized this dream when their metal band Anvil toured worldwide with the great hair bands of the 80's.

And then something happened - Anvil almost completely dropped out of public sight. They continued making music, of course, but nobody paid attention aside from a few devoted fans in their native Canada. It was a bizarre fall from grace, and especially frustrating for band because there was little explanation as to why they went from the brink of international stardom to the brink of nonexistence.

Gervasi, who was a roadie for Anvil in the 80's (and then the original drummer for Bush?!), reunited with the band about five years ago as they were preparing to make another effort to revive their fanbase. What Gervasi captures, then, is a band fighting for its very survival. It's a side hobby now; Kudlow delivers school lunches to pay the bills. Record companies are only interested in a new pop sound of the millennium, not music that sounds two decades old. The band members'
families are reluctantly supportive, but even their patience is wearing thin. The band's official website is, no offense, a relative joke, and in recent years really the only place Kudlow and Reiner are "rock stars" is in their memories and their dreams for the future.

But then, isn't that enough?

Based on what we see in Anvil! (as well as in last year's Young @ Heart), the answer is resoundingly "yes" - especially concerning the future. Passion is admirable, and passion is healthy, but passion alone doesn't necessarily amount to anything. It's passion combined with optimism that changes the world, and Steve Kudlow is nothing if not outrageously optimistic. After essentially sacrificing his adult life in the pursuit of his dream, he would see almost nothing go right for the band for 20 years. But he carried the hopes of Robb and the other members on his back, somehow never giving up or hanging his head in defeat.

Impossibly, in the midst of rejection after rejection, disappointment after disappointment, arguments, fights, bad luck and regretful mistakes, Anvil remained righteously resilient. They're not trying to relive their younger years like the washed up guys you see at the local karaoke bar, they're just trying to accomplish what they set out to do four decades ago - period. What reason would there be to stop? What reasons do any of us stop pursuing those dreams? It's almost frightening and more than a bit depressing to consider our own surrenders; the hope and joy exhibited by Steve Kudlow and Robb Reiner proves that our dreams don't have to die, even if they are delayed.

What did you take home?
____________________________________________________

Epilogue: Anvil is currently touring in support of this film. They're playing short sets in select cities following screenings of the film, and they were here in Minneapolis when Anvil! opened on May 8 at the Landmark Uptown Theatre. By all accounts it was a great performance, and they had so much fun that they decided to stay and play a second set after the 9:30 PM show. Unbelievably, however, some idiot clown jacked two of Robb Reiner's cymbals in between shows, successfully ruining the second set, successfully ruining Anvil's Minneapolis experience, and successfully adding one more sour note to the band's struggling career revival. How and why somebody would do this after seeing the film is beyond me.

The details of this story have been posted around a number of different blogs, but I'll point you to Matt Gamble's Where the Long Tail Ends for a first-person account, including the open letter sent out by Uptown Theatre manager Patrick Cross. Matt also has a nice video from YouTube taken by "citygirldebbie" of Robb Reiner's drum solo that night, and here's her video of them playing "Metal on Metal":



Looks like it was a great night for those in attendance, despite the unfortunate incident.

May 15, 2009

300 Words About: Tokyo Sonata

(Tokyo Sonata opens today at the Landmark Edina Cinema)

The family that broods together stays together...

If, like me, you didn't understand the big fuss about American Beauty ten years ago, consider taking a look-see at Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Tokyo Sonata, winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes in 2008. A meditative drama with spontaneous moments of comedy and a flair for the bizarre, it's one of those rare movies to hit theaters right at the moment in time when its message is most relevant.

Ryûhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) is the patriarch of a moody Japanese family that's falling apart at the seams and languishing in unrealized dreams. When Ryûhei loses his administrative job due to downsizing, the family's issues are amplified to a breaking point, but i
ronically, it's not through self-destruction that this family copes with anxiety, but self-improvement. Young Kenji rebels against his father and begins secretively taking piano lessons, teenage Takashi volunteers to join Japanese troops in Iraq, and restless mother Megumi looks to escape by purchasing a new car. She can no longer trust Ryûhei to take care of the family, and their already distant relationship is nearly severed completely.

Are families throughout the world currently suffering the same fate as the Sasakis during this global recession? There's no way of really knowing what's being discussed at your neighbor's dinner table, but yes, most likely Tokyo Sonata has painted an earnestly realized portrait of industrialized family life in 2009. Moreover, it offers a stirring portrayal of contemporary Japanese culture, and unlike American Beauty, it does so without winking at the audience. The closest Tokyo Sonata comes to a staged "performance" is its brilliant final scene (which I will only link to here but almost definitely feature in my 2009 Best Scene breakdown).

But the topical urgency exhibited by Tokyo Sonata doesn't necessarily make it a great film. There are some odd changes in tone and toward the end I became worried it was going to go off the rails completely. That last scene really pulled everything together beautifully, however, and despite its flaws Tokyo Sonata is a pensive parable that I appreciated for its affecting insights into Japanese family life.

May 14, 2009

REVIEW: Tyson (A-)

(Tyson opens tomorrow at the Landmark Edina Cinema)

For as much international fame and fortune he once acquired for knowing his way around a boxing ring, Mike Tyson rarely received due praise for knowing his way around a dictionary. This is a guy who uses the word "skullduggery" twice in Tyson, once to blistering effect and once to confusing neglect. My point is: when was the last time you heard someone use "skullduggery" to any effect?

Tyson's vocabulary is one of many fascinating revelations brought to light in James Toback's absorbing documentary, described by Toback himself as an "expurgatory confession" in a discussion he led following a screening of Tyson at MSPIFF several weeks back. Toback and Tyson have been close pals for going on 25 years now, and the film developed as spontaneously and quickly as a Tyson first-round knockout.

Mulling over ideas for an affordable film a few years ago, Toback thought of interviewing Tyson, who had recently checked into a rehab clinic in Southern California after one of his many post-boxing arrests on drug charges. Toback called the clinic and worked out an arrangement where he could take Tyson off site for 10 hours a day. Three weeks after he first had the idea, shooting commenced at a rented house in Malibu. In what must be considered one of the most fascinating interview techniques used in a film, Toback actually sat on the floor behind the couch in which Tyson sat, facing the camera. The men couldn't see each other, and Toback asked few if any questions, simply allowing Tyson to release whatever was coming out of him, which, considering the state of mind he was in at the time, was some heavy stuff. Occasionally there would be long (15 min.) stretches of silence, during which Tyson would glance around somewhat confused before re-opening the valve and casually continuing.

I feel it's important to describe Toback's method because the resulting material is essentially a man's soul released on screen, most importantly on his own terms. It is a self-portrait of the Tyson that Tyson would want you to know, the Tyson that Toback in fact does know, and the Tyson that few people in the world have ever known. Tyson's admission that, for example, he was extremely fearful - not nervous, but truly in fear - walking into every ring is an earth-shattering disclosure, like finding out Michael Jordan was actually left-handed. It's really enough to make you see the athlete (and Tyson is an athlete above all else) in a completely different light, and in this case begin to understand not only what motivated him on the way to the top, but what continued to haunt him when he had reached rock-bottom (quitting in the 7th round of his final bout, in 2005 against Kevin McBride).

Indeed, the psyche of Mike Tyson is different than the psyche of most boxers, because the life experience of Tyson is different than the life experience of almost any other boxer. Growing up in crack-addled projects of 1980's Brooklyn, Tyson was ridiculed as a child, arrested dozens of times as an adolescent, and orphaned as a 16 year-old when his mother died (his father had left the family years earlier). Taken in by boxing trainer Cus D'Amato, he developed not only a respect for the sport, but respect for himself, for others, for life in general. Discussing how much of his success, self-worth, ability and confidence he gained from D'Amato, Tyson is brought to tears. He knows, and we know, that D'Amato saved his life.

Which is what makes the rest of his troubles following D'Amato's death so tragic to watch. The rape conviction, the financial disasters, the ear biting, the embarrassing soundbites (threatening to eat Lennox Lewis' children). While his career peaked years after D'Amato was gone, he never seemed to regain control of a life that was careening into chaos. This arc is completely captured in Tyson, and it feels emotionally honest.

Toback tries a few different methods to illustrate the puzzle that is Mike Tyson's life, cutting the screen up into pieces and fading one monologue into another, though it comes off as unnecessarily artistic, or as an effort to keep us engaged because he doesn't trust our attention span. But the archival footage breaks up the talking quite nicely, and besides, enough of what he is saying is so intriguing that you can't help but lean in to listen. Toback himself admits that of all the films he's made, Tyson is the only one that he simply can't turn off; he becomes hypnotized.

Despite the number of new realizations you may have about "Iron Mike", however, such as how incredibly young he was during the troubled years of his career, there are almost as many ideas about him that are confirmed. I've always thought being on the receiving end of a frenzied, bare-knuckled Tyson uppercut or hook would result in certain death. Seeing footage of his earlier fights again and now knowing what mental energy he was putting into those punches, my theory must be true. Additionally, Tyson's notoriously scary attitude toward women is essentially cemented when, in full rehab mode, he lets loose with a disturbing admission of how he sees women and wants to "dominate" them. It's the one characteristic of him that I'm unable to reconcile in any meaningful way, even taking into account his troubled upbringing.

It's tempting to say that Tyson is a documentary meant to portray Mike Tyson as a human instead of a monster, but Tyson himself addresses this misrepresentation head on. He says he's not a "monster", and despite all of his flaws and faults and follies, Tyson is a deserved opportunity for one fascinating human to tell his own fascinating story.

Grade:
Writing - N/A
Acting - N/A
Production - 8
Emotional Impact - 10
Music - 5
Social Significance - 4

Total: 27/30= 90% = A-

Adventureland Arithmetic

I finally saw Adventureland. I liked it for the most part, though I found myself distracted by anachronisms that I'll discuss in another post. In the meantime, I have to lay out the other thought running through my head throughout the entire movie. I'm probably way behind on this one, but oh well:


May 13, 2009

Short Cuts: "Idn' That a Daisy?"

Tombstone (1993). Directed by George P. Cosmatos; written by Kevin Jarre; starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston, Jason Priestley, Thomas Haden Church, Billy Bob Thornton, Dany Delany, Stephen Lang, Joanna Pacula, John Corbett, and Billy Zane.

(apologies, you'll have to turn your volume up to hear this one well)



May 12, 2009

Frustratingly Going Where So Many Movies Have Gone Before

"See guys, the trick to filming fight scenes is that the camera actually creates the action"...

There were a number of aspects of Star Trek that left me unimpressed, not the least of which was Jim Kirk/Chris Pine channeling Pete Mitchell/Tom Cruise; I half-expected him to have to outgun a fellow Starfleet cadet named Iceman. OK, I didn't expect it, but I hoped for it.

And I could have done without the clichéd Romulan leader Nero (don't forget, facial tattoos = bad guy), and the
clichéd monster-eats-monster disappointment, and the shamelessly predictable "climax" that audaciously tries to make us think that the entire crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise will perish in a black hole, thus upending the very existence of the Star Trek franchise.

These things made me scoff more than scowl, but one piece of this movie went so far as to outright disappoint me: the fight scene atop the massive drill bit miles high in the sky. A tremendous set piece (one of many that J.J. Abrams impressively brought to life), this platform was featured twice in Star Trek to mostly stunning effect. My problem was not the use of this set, but the huge letdown that was the boring action on top of it. Of all the things Abrams got right with this movie, and despite all of the annoyances I've already listed, the lack of creativity in the hand-to-hand combat department ended up being my biggest problem with Star Trek.

Whatever happened to the ballet of a fight scene?

How many guys were they actually fighting up there, and how did they emerge victorious?

I can guarantee you one thing: today's action directors spend significantly more time and energy getting the right camera angle/effect than they do actually choreographing a fight scene, and what we end up with are a bunch of images and sounds that form no coherent whole. It's like pounding a case of Red Bull, spinning your head around a bat on the floor 10 times and then watching an MTV show/video montage through a kaleidoscope with the TV at full volume.

Sometimes, I think the director must simply tell the actors, "Pretend like you're fighting, just do whatever, we'll take care of the rest," before turning his attention to the D.P. and camera crew and explaining how the fighting should really look and "feel". Isn't that backwards? Shouldn't the camera observe the action and not create it?

A recent notable exception is Paul Greengrass, particularly in his direction of the instantly classic fight scene in Tangiers in The Bourne Ultimatum. Damon and his adversary, Joey Ansah, obviously spent days practicing their brutal dance before the camera rolled. To get the money shot, Greengrass just used a handheld camera straight on without a lot of zooming, cut the music, amped up the sound effects a bit, and hyper-edited it to make it look like there wasn't a moment to breathe. The result: you can actually understand what's happening in the physical space of the room, and it's a pure adrenaline rush.

Compare this to fight scenes in The Dark Knight, Prince Caspian, Quantum of Solace and Watchmen, for example, and you may get some idea of what I'm talking about. Worse yet, especially in Watchmen - the fighting is creatively choreographed, before being ruined by the cinematography. Zack Snyder is trying to do what the Wachowski Brothers did in the original Matrix, but it's not working. Those guys used - not abused - the camera, and their delicate direction of the action produced some of the most beautiful violence of the decade.

Ten years later, I feel like we're almost to a point where some director will simply have the actors start punching the camera lens, because that would be so intense, man. J.J. Abrams didn't go as far as doing this in Star Trek, but that fight scene was, at least to me, incredibly disorienting, and I don't think it was because it happened at 50,000 feet. There just didn't appear to be any order or flair to the fighting, a doubly disappointing situation considering Hikaru Sulu is supposed to be a fencing champion.
I know Star Trek isn't meant to be an action or martial arts movie, so maybe I should have saved this rant for a different movie, but nonetheless, it still seemed like a missed opportunity to elicit a few more "oohs" and "ahhs" and maybe even some laughs from the audience.

Am I asking too much? Must I shrug my shoulders and accept that creative choreography is a quaint ideal? All I know is that the panache of the past has slowly faded in the 2000's, and I for one am disappointed. In the early part of the decade we had some brilliant work in Gladiator and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but those are distant memories now, like the hilarious swordsplay in The Princess Bride.

What was the last really great fight scene, anyway? And by "great" I mean creative, choreographed, well paced, engaging, and above all, well filmed. We'll consider something like this scene from Rumble in the Bronx as the gold standard, and bonus points for thinking of non-Asian cinema like Ong Bak or House of Flying Daggers.

Win or Lose: A Summer Camp Story

If you guys don't win this next competition...

If you've ever played a competitive team sport, Win or Lose: A Summer Camp Story will frighten you with all the worst aspects of the spirit of the games you grew up with. "There's really winning, and...absolutely nothing," says one of the teens fired up over Collegiate Week at Camp Ojibwa, a boys summer camp tucked away in the Wisconsin woods.

Inspired by his own experience at the camp during his teenage years, Win or Lose is the documentary debut from filmmaker Louis Lapat, who left camp early in his fourth summer because he was fed up with trying to conform to the overbearingly competitive spirit of the place. You can hardly blame him; as 13 year-old Joel Lapin, a current camper, scoffs about his campmates, "if they were to choose respect over winning, they'd choose winning any day." Throughout their formative years these boys attend camp every summer, arriving as scrawny children and leaving as testosterone-fueled twenty year-olds.

Camp Ojibwa is the kind of place that exists in a world apart from 95% of people - not geographically (well maybe, since that percentage couldn't find Wisconsin on a map), but economically: the 8-week tuition currently listed on the camp's website is $7,500. Over the course of these two months, the boys are ostensibly supposed to learn...well, it's not entirely clear from the "philosophy" outlined on the website. From Win or Lose, it would appear it's simply a place for affluent parents around the country to ship their boys for a while, hoping they come back with some trophy to display to the neighbors. For the boys, too, there seems to be little of importance at Camp Ojibwa other than Collegiate Week, the team-based competition and the culminating event of the summer.

Prior to "The Week", older campers are selected as team coaches, each of whom selects a college to represent their team (Texas, Illinois, etc.). This is followed by an actual draft session, and then, finally, several days of intense competition. In the midst this process, Lapat profiles a handful of campers of different ages and talents. Andrew "Arob" Robinson (pictured above) is a wild-eyed coach trying to win The Week with the severe disadvantage of having the worst draft position. Adam Korn is another coach trying to prove that even though he wasn't the most talented athlete in years past, he knows how to coach a team to victory.

It all makes for pretty suspenseful drama, if not nerve-wracking discomfort. These boys, likely shielded from the ills of the world throughout most of their life, are here presented with a scenario that threatens their very existence. At home, they are the princes of their gated communities. At camp, if they aren't equally recognized as "the best", well they may as well be nothing. Charlie, a 15 year-old longtime camper, literally checks himself into the infirmary after his team loses in its first day of competition. He is an absolute mental wreck over a game that takes place for twenty minutes witnessed by 100 kids at a secluded camp.

Fortunately, most of these campers bounce back from their defeat (after hours of weeping, of course). It's a traditional temptation to throw the second-place trophies into the lake, but the runners-up in Win or Lose elect not to, realizing their hard work was not entirely in vain. It's a lesson that you can only hope they take with them for the rest of their lives. If they have a good head on their shoulders like Louis Lapat, they may emerge from this environment not with an obsession to "win" at everything they do, but instead a determination to boldly define their own success.


(Hilarious: Compare Lapat's teaser trailer below with the camp's promotional video on its website)


Win or Lose: A Summer Camp Story will next screen in Chicago on Sunday, May 31, 2009. If you're in the area, buy tickets here. The film won a Jury Prize at the recent Wisconsin Film Festival and will be premiering on PBS later this year.

May 10, 2009

Listen Up Again: The Talkies Return With Guy Maddin

Next up, The Saddest Music in the World, June 18, 2009

Back in February, Jacksonville transplant Tim Massett brought John Cameron Mitchell to town for the first Minneapolis installment of The Talkies, his great idea to bring directors into the theater for live commentary about their celebrated films. That showing of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Heights Theatre was sold out, and also featured a rendition of the film's soundtrack played on the mighty Wurlitzer Organ. Judging by the trailer for the second installment on June 18, Guy Maddin's The Saddest Music in the World, the organ playing will only add to the surreal 1930's atmosphere.

I still regret missing Maddin's highly acclaimed My Winnipeg last year, so I hope to make this one and check out a filmmaker that by all accounts is one of the most creative in the business. The Saddest Music in the World is only five years old, but it appears to be more like 75 years old.

The opening of Roger Ebert's 3.5/4 star review: "So many movies travel the same weary roads. So few imagine entirely original worlds. Guy Maddin's "The Saddest Music in the World" exists in a time and place we have never seen before..."

And the end of the same review: "To see this film, to enter the world of Guy Maddin, is to understand how a film can be created entirely by its style, and how its style can create a world that never existed before, and lure us, at first bemused and then astonished, into it."

Check it out on June 18, and plan on buying your tickets in advance.
_____________________________

From The Talkies website:

It may be cliché but what better way to ease our financial-minded woes than to gather round the silver screen to witness Baroness Lady Helen-Port Huntley’s contest to end all contests: who can produce THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD?

Blowing in from the northerly diabolic region known as Winnipeg, Guy Maddin’s live commentary marks The Talkies’ 5th installment. Uniquely gifted to push this nascent notion into uncharted waters Maddin, the maniac behind the expanded viewing spectacles such as Branded Upon the Brain and the beautiful essay My Winnipeg, innately understands how special the space in the cinema can be and will, on June 18th, transform The Heights Theatre into the best Talkies experience yet.



Arrive at 7p.m. on Thursday, June 18th for a 35mm screening of THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD starring Isabella Rossellini and Mark McKinney (of Kids in the Hall fame) . At 9:00p.m. this celluloid salvo screens again with the extra somethin' somethin' that only The Talkies provides: live commentary from Guy Maddin himself.

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7:00p.m. MOVIE ONLY - $7 advance, $8 at the door

9:00p.m. MADDIN TALKIES - $18.50 in advance, $22 at the door

Depression Special (BOTH SHOWS) - $20




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