Easter special double reviews: RISEN & The Case for Christ – rental picks for Holy Week (or any week)

I’ve been meaning to write a review of Risen since I saw it a little over a month ago. Then I saw The Case for Christ a couple of days ago and thought they’d make a perfect Easter double reviews since they involve the quest of two men (centuries apart) attempting to disprove Christ’s resurrection and divinity.

The greatest story ever told has certainly been been told countless times in Hollywood, yet somehow Risen managed to bring something unique to the table. Told from the perspective of a skeptic, a Roman Centurion no less, tasked to find the missing body of Jesus Christ in the weeks following His crucifixion. Joseph Fiennes portrayed Clavius, the stoic Roman soldier with soulful gaze and rather reserved demeanor. He’s not all brute force like what we often see in films depicting such characters, more of a thinking man who’s ambitious yet world weary.

The film primarily focuses on Clavius’ investigation of the case, which includes interrogating some of Jesus’ followers and the Roman guards tasked to watch. It doesn’t take long for him to realize there’s more to this mystery of a missing dead body and he’s more affected by it than he cares to admit. The transformation of his character from an ambitious Roman (was there any other kind?) to one who’s thirsty for the truth is palpable. “Your ambition is noticed,” his boss Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) noted, and he later repeated that same sentiment to his aide (Tom Felton). Firth was kinda chewing the scenery as Pilate, but in a good way as I like his acting style, while I’m glad Felton didn’t portray another run-of-the-mill villain.

Fiennes is a fine actor and his sensitive, nuanced portrayal of Clavius is intriguing to watch. ‘I cannot reconcile all this with the world I know,’ he remarked at a pivotal moment in the film. It’s one of many memorable moments here that felt earnest, as nobody liked being preached to at the movies. Another great casting here is Cliff Curtis as Christ. Not only did the Maori actor looks ethnically accurate for the role, he also portrayed the Messiah with gravitas and playful sweetness in equal measure. If I have one quibble for this film, I think the acting of some of the disciples, most notably Bartholomew, is a bit over the top.

Overall though, Risen is a pretty riveting film from director Kevin Reynolds (Tristan + Isolde, The Count of Monte Cristo). No hammy acting or dogmatic bluntness, thanks to Fiennes’ layered performance as a conflicted man. The film was also beautifully shot in Malta, with gorgeous cinematography, score and set pieces.

Unlike The Passion of the Christ, the film isn’t nearly as graphic or intense in its violence depiction, certainly not as gruesome as most PG-13 films or anything on TV these days. I have to say that I find many faith-based films to be corny with subpar acting. So it’s refreshing to find this is not one of them and the high production values helps, too. Definitely one I highly recommend for believers and non-believers alike.

SPOILER ALERT: I also love the way they did the ending. Did Clavius converted to Christianity? Or did the investigation led him to a crossroad where he simply couldn’t turn back to his old Roman ways? Whether or not he becomes a believer in the end, the fact of the matter is, we knew he’s a changed man.


When I first came across this film on Netflix, I’m curious how Lee Strobel’s book, with all the fact-checking details, would translate well to screen. Thankfully, it works thanks to the strong acting and intriguing journalistic style.

The film opens with the protagonist Lee Strobel (Mike Vogel), receiving a promotion as legal editor at the ChicagoTribune. It’s a picture of a perfect life, great job and a perfect family… beautiful (and pregnant) wife Leslie (Erika Christensen) and a young daughter Alison (Haley Rosenwasser). But soon an incident happened that shook Leslie greatly, and without spoiling too much, it led to her converting to Christianity. It’s not a spoiler as it essentially what drove the story… her conversion became the driving force for Lee to try to disprove that her belief is all a bunch of nonsense.

This film could’ve been another a Law & Order type of episode, but Jon Gunn‘s direction based on Brian Bird‘s script avoided such pitfalls. Yes it had a slow start and some slow moments, but for the most part, Lee’s quest was intriguing as it was a personal one. Despite all the interrogations, charts & graphs in Lee’s war room, the film never forget the real heart of the film, which is the relationship between Lee & Leslie which hangs in the balance. I also like that there’s an intersecting criminal case Lee worked on at the same time to keep the narrative from being too static.

I’ve never seen Vogel in anything before, but he’s pretty compelling as Lee.  He’s effortlessly likable despite his cocky, brash attitude and there’s an earnest quality about him. I was really impressed by Christensen as the patient wife who’s also got her own mind. Her conversion felt convincing to me, despite the rather cloying dialog with spiritual mentor Alfie (L. Scott Caldwell). There’s also an interesting cameo from Faye Dunaway as a renowned psychologist. She uttered one of the most memorable lines in the film when questioned whether 500+ eyewitness could have shared the same delusion claiming to have seen the risen Christ.

Now, as I was done watching this, I sensed that believers would complain that it only vaguely skims the surface of Strobel’s richly-detailed book, and non-believers would think it’s too preachy. As for me, I think the film offers just enough of the ‘meat’ of the argument about Christ’ existence and divinity, that people who are curious about it might be inclined to do more extensive research on their own. I appreciate that the film didn’t paint skeptics as evil or that paint atheism as the source of bad behaviors,

Given that Strobel himself served as executive producer, I suppose there’s no mystery as to how the film would end. It is called the Case for Christ after all, not against Him. Yet for someone who loves journalism films like All The Presidents’ Men, Spotlight, The Insider, etc., that investigative aspect certainly appeals to me. No, this film didn’t quite rise to the level of those films, but still one that’s well worth your time.


Have you seen RISEN of THE CASE FOR CHRIST? If so, I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

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Review by: Vitali Gueron

Pacific Rim Uprising is the sequel to the 2013 science-fiction monster movie Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Academy Award winner for Best Director and Best Picture). Uprising is directed by Steven S. DeKnight (in his feature-film directorial debut) and stars British actor John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Attack the Block) as Jake Pentecost, and American actor Scott Eastwood (The Fate of the Furious, Suicide Squad, The Longest Ride) as Nate Lambert. Boyega’s character Jake Pentecost—son of Kaiju War hero Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba‘s character in the first film) is brought back to the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) after being arrested for stealing and selling old jaeger (robot) parts on the black market. He then is made an instructor and starts training jaeger program recruits with his estranged former co-pilot, Lambert (Eastwood).

The film also brings back Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day), who helped save the world in the first movie, and is now working for the Shao Corporation, a company whose mission is to mass produce remote controlled jaegers developed by Dr. Geiszler and Liwen Shao (Jing Tian — a Chinese actress best known for The Great Wall & Kong: Skull Island). Dr. Geiszler is developing a program that combines jeager technology with cloned Kaiju (a Japanese word for giant monsters) cells.

The rogue jaeger Obsidian Fury attacks a PPDC conference and Pentecost and Lambert must use their own jaeger to fight back (the gigantic robot is controlled by at least two pilots, whose minds are joined by a mental link). Upon destroying the reactor of a defunct jaeger production facility in Russia which Obsidian Fury is using as a base of operations, Pentecost and Lambert are shocked to learn that Obsidian Fury was controlled by a Kaiju’s secondary brain.

While Obsidian Fury is eventually defeated by Pentecost and Lambert, Dr. Geiszler releases an army of Shao Corporation’s drones who incapacitate almost all of the PPDC’s jaegers and inflicting heavy casualties on the PPDC’s human staff, including most of the jaeger pilots. The drones begin to open new breaches all over the world and are successful in bringing over three powerful Kaiju. Pentecost and Lambert have no choice but to assemble a team of the jaeger program recruits. These young recruits had only simulated battles and not yet fully grasped the task of the mental link joining in order to pilot the jaeger. The team uses the PPDC confronts the Kaiju with their four remaining jaegers in Tokyo and eventually up the side of Mount Fuji. The team is eventually able to defeat the giant Kaiju and arrest Dr. Geiszler so he can no longer pose a threat.

I believe this movie is set up to initiate third-and-final movie, where humans will be the ones attacking the Precursors (the alien race who created the Kaiju) in their own world. Unfortunately, this film does little to nothing to generate new ideas that haven’t been seen before, whether in the first Pacific Rim or in other films with similar premises, such as Transformers.

While it’s easy to say that this is just another Transformers remake, the biggest thing Pacific Rim Uprising has it going for it is John Boyega as the lead. Boyega is even credited as a producer on the film and he continues to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with, whether on the Star Wars movies—using his pretty convincing American accent, or in this movie—where he uses his natural British accent. Boyega also sports a fantastic mustache which makes him cool, yet believable “bad-ass” Kaiju slayer. Aside from Boyega’s charisma, there aren’t very many other moments here that make the movie anything to get excited about. If you previously loved seeing robots battling gigantic monsters and wreaking havoc upon the world, then you won’t be disappointed this time around.

For the majority of its audiences, Pacific Rim Uprising will seem like another bad idea by a giant Hollywood studio to reuse a story line that has become all too familiar. If their writers and casting departments can somehow add more interesting humans (such as Boyega) and subtract the meaningless robot/monster battles, then there might be hope for the third-and-final movie. Otherwise, it will just be an endless comparison between Pacific Rim and Transformers – a battle of which franchise is worst.


Have you seen ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’? Well, what did you think? 

Three weeks away until MSPIFF – The 37th MINNEAPOLIS ST. PAUL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL announces its 2018 lineup!

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) returns April 12-28, bringing 250+ new films, representing 75 countries, to audiences throughout the region.

I’m always excited when MSPIFF announced their schedule, but this year I have a big reason to be extra excited…

Yep, my short film is an official selection of MSPIFF this year, woo hoo! Scroll down the list or click Hearts Want which should take you directly to the list of shorts under World Cinema category. I’m beyond thrilled that our film got in… MSPIFF has a very special place in my heart as that’s the place I first met my friend/lead actress Sam Simmons, which was in April 2016, a year before we filmed Hearts Want last year. Who knew we’d actually have a film in the festival just two years after we met!

TICKETS to Hearts Want screening now available!*

Hearts Want is part of the SHORTS: LOOKING IN block
Tue, 
Apr 24 7:00 PM
St. Anthony Main Theatre 4
*For members & pass holders only,
tickets for general public will be available next week on 3/29.

If this is the first time you’ve heard about Hearts Want, well, do visit the film’s FB page (and hit LIKE too why don’t you) where you can watch the trailer, watch bts clips from filming, and other updates.

I’ll be sure to do a recap of the film festivities next month, but today, I’d like to share the full lineup from all over the world! I just think it’s kind of serendipitous isn’t it that the first year I got in MSPIFF, the opening night film is about someone named Ruth (who’s petite but with tall ambitions 😉 )

FULL LINEUP

Organized by Program and Theme

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Whether on the heels of a splashy debut, or the latest picture from one of the great contemporary filmmakers, these new high-profile films from around the world are making their mark and staking their claim as modern cinematic classics.

OPENING NIGHT FILM

RBG
Director Betsy West and other special guests attending*
Thursday, April 12. 7:00PM and 7:30PM screenings at St. Anthony Main Theatre.

RBG showcases the life and lasting influence of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, focusing on her upbringing, education and remarkable career as a leading voice in the American judicial system and the fight for social change.

CLOSING NIGHT FILM

The Rider
Chloé Zhao, USA, 2017, Narrative
Saturday, April 28. 7:00PM screening at St. Anthony Main Theatre.

20-year old rising rodeo star Brady Blackburn undergoes a crisis of identity in America’s heartland. In this duel documentary-drama, the name and character of “Blackburn” stands as a reflection of real-life events, following the young cowboy in the aftermath of a near-fatal head injury, where he faces an uncertain future.

ADDITIONAL SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

  • Day on the Grand Canal, A—Philip Haas, USA, 1988, Documentary
  • Disobedience—Sebastián Lelio, UK/Ireland/USA, 2017, Narrative
  • Leave no Trace—Debra Granik, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • On Chesil Beach—Dominic Cooke, UK, 2017, Narrative
  • Tully—Jason Reitman, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • Won’t You be My Neighbor?—Morgan Neville, USA, 2018, Documentary

* Filmmakers attending

TRIBUTES

Honoring international, national, and local filmmakers and presenting focused retrospectives on their most groundbreaking works.

MASTERS OF CINEMA TRIBUTE – For the 2018 Master Honoree, we are proud to honor the memory of the great Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman. As we near his centennial on July 14th, Bergman films take centerstage, not only here but in venues across the world. A prolific craftsman, with over 60 projects to his name—from narratives to documentaries, theatrical to television—Bergman was also an unapologetic inquirer in the affairs of the heart and the depth of the soul. Beginning with three screenings at MSPIFF (Summer with Monika, Persona and the documentary about him, Trespassing Bergman) and continuing into our 16-film Bergman retrospective May 25-June 7, the Film Society is bringing to the Twin Cities the Swedish master’s iconic classics and lesser-known titles in his oeuvre, a feast for cinephiles and admirers of Swedish culture.

  • Summer with Monika—Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1953, Narrative
  • Persona—Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1966, Narrative
  • Trespassing Bergman—Jane Magnusson, Hynek Pallas, Sweden, 2013, Documentary | Hynek Pallas Attending*

 

MINNESOTA CINEMATIC ARTS AWARD – The 2018 Minnesota Cinematic Arts Award Honoree is director Peter Markle. His first film, The Personals (1982), was produced in Minneapolis and debuted at the Deauville Film Festival in France. He has worked on over 80 projects since, collaborating with acting talents such as Gene Hackman, Daryl Hannah, Dennis Hopper, Danny Glover, Patrick Swayze and Martin Sheen. His television credits include X-Files, Rescue Me, CSI, ER, Burn Notice, NYPD Blue and others. His films Flight 93 and Faith of My Fathers garnered ten Emmy nominations.

Odds Are…— Peter Markle, USA, 2018, Narrative | Peter Markle Attending*

COMPETITIONS

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

This juried competition recognizes national and international documentary filmmaking that exemplifies the very best in presentation, diversity, innovation and powerful storytelling. A $2,500 cash prize is awarded to the chosen film.

  • Armed with Faith— Geeta Gandbhir, Asad Faruqi, USA/Pakistan, 2017, Documentary | Asad Faruqi Attending*
  • Becoming Who I Was—Moon Chang-yong, Jeon Jin, South Korea/Tibet/India, 2017, Documentary
  • Bisbee ’17—Robert Greene, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Blessing, The—Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker, Algeria/Belgium/France, 2017, Documentary | Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker Attending*
  • Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle (Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo)—Gustavo Salmerón, Spain, 2017, Documentary
  • Minding the Gap—Bing Liu, USA, 2018, Documentary | Bing Liu Attending
  • Mrs. Fang—Wang Bing, China, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending*
  • Of Fathers and Sons—Talal Derki, Germany/Syria/Lebanon/Qatar, 2018, Documentary
  • TransMilitary—Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson Attending*

EMERGING FILMMAKER COMPETITION

This juried competition recognizes new and up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world for their achievements in narrative filmmaking. A $2,500 cash prize is awarded to the film that demonstrates standout excellence in creativity, storytelling, technique and innovation in the narrative form.

  • All You Can Eat Buddha—Ian Lagarde, Canada/Cuba, 2017, Narrative
  • Barrage—Laura Schroeder, Luxembourg/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Beyond Dreams (Dröm vidare)—Rojda Sekersöz, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Blessed, The (Les bienheureux)—Sofia Djama, Algeria/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative | Sofia Djama Attending*
  • Dragonfly Eyes—Xu Bing, China, 2017, Narrative
  • I Am Not a Witch—Rungano Nyoni, Zambia/UK/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Perros, Los—Marcela Said, Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal, 2017, Narrative
  • Radiogram—Rouzie Hassanova, Bulgaria, 2017, Narrative
  • Suleiman Mountain—Elizaveta Stishova, Kyrgyzstan/Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Village Rockstars—Rima Das, India, 2017, Narrative | Rima Das Attending*

MINNESOTA MADE AWARDS

For our Minnesota Made juried competition, awards are given for films that exemplify standout achievements in narrative and documentary feature filmmaking. Winners receive a cash prize and credit towards Canon products at Cinequipt.

MINNESOTA MADE DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

  • Book of Clarence, The—Lee Breuer, USA, 2017, Documentary | Lee Breuer Attending*
  • Dodging Bullets—Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder USA, 2017, Documentary | Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder Attending*
  • Don’t Get Trouble in Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Story—John Whitehead, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director John Whitehead Attending*
  • Not in My Lifetime—Pam Colby, USA, 2018, Documentary | Pam Colby Attending*
  • Risking Light—Dawn Mikkelson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Dawn Mikkelson Attending*
  • Silicone Soul—Melody Gilbert, USA, 2018, Documentary | Melody Gilbert Attending*
  • Through the Banks of the Red Cedar—Maya Washington, USA, 2018, Documentary | Maya Washington Attending*
  • Work in Progress (Al Milgrom’s Cinema Journey)—Phil Harder, USA, 2018, Documentary World Premiere | Phil Harder and Al Milgrom Attending*

MINNESOTA MADE NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION

  • Farmer of the Year—Vince O’Connell, Kathy Swanson, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • Smitten!—Barry Morrow, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • Virginia, Minnesota—Daniel Stine, USA, 2018, Narrative

NEXTWAVE

Nextwave is the Film Society’s year-round education initiative that provides K-12 youth throughout the region with opportunities to learn about and explore the world through international independent cinema. The program also provides the up-and-coming generation of cinematic storytellers with an opportunity to connect with one-another and with visiting filmmakers from around the globe, and to submit their films in competition and have their films seen by discerning film festival audiences. Nextwave encompasses three interrelated initiatives: K-12 School Screenings, MSPIFF Youth Juries, and the MSPIFF Youth Filmmaking Competition. Nextwave is made possible by generous sponsorships from Best Buy and KNOCK.

MSPIFF YOUTH FILMMAKER COMPETITION

  • Art of War—Cal Etcheverry, 2017
  • iRony—Radheya Jegatheva, 2017
  • Lev—Roy Shtayim, 2017
  • Life of Davie—Austin Coombs-Perez, 2017
  • Natasha Barsotti—Pieta Rupia, 2017
  • Persevering and Persistence: Rosa Brand-Canadas—Ayan Ismail, 2017
  • Seat at the Table, A—Thomas McDonald, 2017
  • Take a Hike!—Brody Menzies, 2017
  • Thaw—Natalia Poteryakhin, 2017
  • Two of Five Million—DZ and Socs Zavitsanos, 2017

ASIAN FRONTIERS

A continent that claims nearly 60% of the world’s population, Asia encompasses a cinematic vision that is a symphony as diverse as it is discerning. As blockbusters make the headlines, we turn to independent voices that bring stories, both real and imagined, brilliantly to life.

  • Angels Wear White—Vivian Qu, China/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Beautiful Star, A—Daihachi Yoshida, Japan, 2017, Narrative
  • Becoming Who I Was—Moon Chang-yong, Jeon Jin, South Korea/Tibet/India, 2017, Documentary
  • Before We Vanish—Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan, 2017, Narrative
  • Bold, Corrupt, and the Beautiful, The—Yang Ya-Che, Taiwan, 2017, Narrative
  • Dead Pigs—Cathy Yan, China/USA, 2017, Narrative
  • Have a Nice Day—Liu Jian, China, 2017, Animation
  • Honeygiver Among the Dogs (Munmo Tashi Khyidron)—Dechen Roder, Bhutan, 2017, Narrative
  • Maineland—Miao Wang, China/USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Marlina si Pembunuh Dalam Empat Babak)—Mouly Surya, Indonesia/France/Malaysia/Thailand, 2017, Narrative
  • On the Beach at Night Alone—Hong Sang-soo, South Korea, 2017, Narrative
  • Samui Song (Mai Mee Samui Samrab Ter)—Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Thailand/Norway/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Tailor, The (Co Ba Sai Gon)—Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Thailand/Norway/Germany, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • Village Rockstars—Rima Das, India, 2017, Narrative US Premiere | Rima Das Attending

CHILDISH FILMS

For cinephiles in the making, Childish Films provides a window to the world that is accessible to all ages. Whether you are young or simply young at heart, prepare yourself for vibrant stories that traverse distant lands but explore familiar emotions.

FEATURE FILMS:

  • Ballad from Tibet—Zhang Wei, China, 2017, Narrative
  • Cloudboy—Meikeminne Clinckspoor, Belgium/Sweden/Netherlands/Norway, 2017, Narrative
  • On Wheels (Sobre rodas)—Mauro D’Addio, Brazil, 2017, Narrative
  • Room 213 (Rum 213)—Emelie Lindblom, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Sing Song—Mischa Kamp, Netherlands, 2017, Narrative
  • Supa Modo—Likarion Wainaina, Kenya/Germany, 201, Narrative
  • Wallay—Berni Goldblat, France/Burkina Faso, 2017, Narrative

CINE LATINO

Few cultures have had a greater influence on our country and our region than those of Latin America and Iberia. Our Cine Latino program celebrates the cinematic history and rich tapestry of Spanish and Portuguese language film and the powerful and captivating cinematic storytelling emerging from three continents and eight countries.

  • Eternal Feminine, The (Los adioses)—Natalia Beristain, Mexico, 2017, Narrative
  • Gabriel and the Mountain (Gabriel e a montanha)—Fellipe Barbosa , Brazil/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Gold Seekers (Los buscadores)—Juan Carlos Maneglia, Tana Schémbori, Paraguay, 2017, Narrative
  • Inca, El—Ignacio Castillo Cottin, Venezuela, 2016, Narrative
  • Killing Jesús (Matar a Jesús)—Laura Mora, Colombia/Argentina, 2016, Narrative
  • Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle (Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo)—Gustavo Salmerón, Spain, 2017, Documentary
  • Neurotic Quest for Serenity—Paulinho Caruso, Teodoro Poppovic, Brazil, 2018, Narrative
  • Oblivion Verses (Los versos del olivido)—Alireza Khatami, Chile/France/Germany/Netherlands, 2017, Narrative
  • Perros, Los—Marcela Said, Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal, 2017, Narrative
  • Summit, The (La cordillera)—Santiago Mitre, Argentina/France/Spain, 2017, Narrative
  • Witkin & Witkin—Trisha Ziff, Mexico/USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Zama—Lucretia Martel, Argentina/Spain/France, 2017, Narrative

DARK OUT

Take a walk on the dark side of the festival with zombies, cops, criminals and the unexplainable. Covering action, horror, mystery, and sometimes a mix of all three, the thrills and chills of this program transcend borders with undeniable international flair.

  • Affamés, Les—Robin Aubert, Canada, 2017, Narrative
  • Ash—Li Xiaofeng, China, 2016, Narrative US Premiere
  • Ghost Stories—Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman, UK, 2017 , Narrative
  • Good Manners (As boas maneiras)—Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas, Brazil/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Who Killed Cock Robin?—Cheng Wei-Hao, Taiwan, 2017, Narrative

DOCUMENTARIES

Few genres have the raw emotional power of documentaries. Plucked from the headlines, sometimes from the front page and sometimes from a small paragraph in a community paper, these stories get filtered to educate, persuade, and entertain with almost limitless possibilities. This year’s showcase of documentary titles proves the range of potential within this diverse style. All Documentaries are generously sponsored by Nor Hall and Roger Hale.

  • Anote’s Ark—Matthieu Rytz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Armed with Faith— Geeta Gandbhir, Asad Faruqi, USA/Pakistan, 2017, Documentary| Asad Faruqi Attending
  • Becoming Who I Was—Moon Chang-yong, Jeon Jin, South Korea/Tibet/India, 2017, Documentary
  • Bisbee ‘17—Robert Greene,USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Blessing, The—Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker, USA, 2017, Documentary | Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker Attending
  • Book of Clarence, The—Lee Breuer, USA, 2017, Documentary | Lee Breuer Attending
  • Crime + Punishment—Stephen Maing, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Dark Money—Kimberly Reed, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kimberly Reed Attending
  • Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China, A—Philip Haas, USA, 1988, Documentary
  • Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?—Travis Wilkerson, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Dodging Bullets—Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder Attending
  • Don’t Get Trouble in Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Story—John Whitehead, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director John Whitehead Attending
  • Growing Up Hmong at the Crossroads—Safoi Babana-Hampton, USA/France/Laos/Thailand, 2017, Documentary
  • Hitler’s Hollywood—Rüdiger Suchsland, Germany, 2017, Documentary
  • Judge, The—Erika Cohn, USA/Palestine, 2017, Documentary
  • Kusama: Infinity—Heather Lenz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle (Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo)—Gustavo Salmerón, Spain, 2017, Documentary
  • Maineland—Miao Wang, China/USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Makala—Emmanuel Gras, Democratic Republic of Congo/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Minding the Gap—Bing Liu, USA, 2018, Documentary | Bing Liu Attending
  • Mole Man—Guy Fiorita, USA, 2017, Documentary | Guy Fiorita Attending
  • Mr. Gay Syria—Ayse Toprak, Turkey/Germany/Malta, 2017, Documentary
  • Mrs. Fang—Wang Bing, China, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending
  • Not in My Lifetime—Pam Colby, USA, 2018, Documentary | Pam Colby Attending
  • Of Fathers and Sons—Talal Derki, Germany/Syria/Lebanon/Qatar, 2018, Documentary
  • Of Sheep and Men—Karim Sayad, Algeria/Switzerland/France/Qatar, 2017, Documentary
  • Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian—Sydney Beane, USA, 2018, Documentary | Sydney Beane Attending
  • Our New President—Maxim Pozdorovkin, Russia/USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Price of Everything—Nathaniel Kahn, USA, 2018, Documentary | Nathaniel Kahn Attending
  • RBG—Julie Cohen, Betsy West, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director Betsy West Attending
  • Risking Light—Dawn Mikkelson, Australia/Cambodia/USA, 2018, Documentary | Dawn Mikkelson Attending
  • Roller Dreams—Kate Hickey, USA/Australia, 2017, Documentary
  • Silicone Soul—Melody Gilbert, USA, 2018, Documentary | Melody Gilbert Attending
  • Skin so Soft, A—Denis Coté, Canada, 2017, Documentary
  • So Help Me God—Jean Libon, Yves Hinant, Belgium/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Three Identical Strangers—Tim Wardle, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Through the Banks of the Red Cedar—Maya Washington, USA, 2018, Documentary | Maya Washington Attending
  • TransMilitary—Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson Attending
  • Trespassing Bergman—Jane Magnusson, Hynek Pallas, Sweden, 2013, Documentary | Hynek Pallas Attending
  • We Are Columbine—Laura Farber, USA, 2018, Documentary | Laura Farber Attending + Panel Discussion
  • West of the Jordan River—Amos Gitai, Israel/France, 2017, Documentary
  • When Paul came over the Sea–Journal of an Encounter (Als Paul über das Meer kam–Tagebuch einer Begegnung—Jakob Preuss, Germany, 2017, Documentary | Jakob Preuss Attending
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor—Morgan Neville, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Work in Progress (Al Milgrom’s Cinema Journey)—Phil Harder, USA, 2018, Documentary World Premiere | Phil Harder and Al Milgrom Attending
  • Workers’ Cup, The—Adam Sobel, UK, 2017, Documentary
  • You’re Soaking in It—Scott Harper, Canada, 2017, Documentary

FRAME FORWARD: CINEMA EXPANDED

Avant-garde, experimental, lyrical, vanguard, idiosyncratic—many terms have been used for films and filmmakers that work outside the box, exploring cinema’s potential. Frame Forward embraces these non-traditional narrative and documentary features and shorts that push the boundaries and that invite audiences to experience the possibilities of stories that fall outside of the ordinary.

FEATURES:

  • Bottomless Bag, The—Rustam Khamdamov, Russia, 2017, Narrative US Premiere
  • Cocote—Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias, Dominican Republic/Argentina/Germany/Qatar, 2017, Narrative
  • Dragonfly Eyes—Xu Bing, China, 2017, Narrative
  • Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc—Bruno Dumont, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Mrs. Fang—Wang Bing, China, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending
  • Skin so Soft, A—Denis Coté, Canada, 2017, Documentary

SHORTS:

  • Arresting Animation—Hannah Frank, USA, 2017
  • CPS Closing & Delays—Kristin Reeves, USA, 2017
  • Day and a Button, A—Azza Hamwi, Syria, 2015
  • Dislocation Blues—Sky Hopinka, USA, 2017 | Sky Hopinka Attending
  • Emergency Needs—Kevin Jerome Everson, USA, 2017
  • Evidence of the Evidence—Alex Johnston, USA, 2017
  • Exile Exotic—Sasha Litvintseva, UK, 2015
  • For The Students Who Stood at The Statue (The Forcing no. 7)—Lydia Moyer, USA, 2017
  • Framelines—Sabine Gruffat, USA, 2017 | Sabine Gruffat Attending
  • Fundir—Allison Cekala, USA/Chile, 2016
  • House—Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson, USA, 2016
  • Kind of a Symbol—Hannah Frank, USA, 2017
  • Short Films About Learning—Michael Hanna, Ireland, 2015
  • Through the Looking Glass—Yi Cui, China, 2017
  • Violence of a Civilization without Secrets, The—Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, Jackson Polys, USA, 2017
  • Wedding Song—Monica Saviron, USA, 2016
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are—Jesse Mclean, USA, 2017

IMAGES OF AFRICA

As African countries freed themselves from colonization, its filmmakers simultaneously freed themselves from convention and blazed a trail of innovation and national identity. That tradition continues today as the images and stories of Africa become part of our global cinematic language. Experience the vivid, innovative and inspiring stories, both real and fictional, that continue to emerge from countries all across the world’s second largest continent.

  • Beauty and the Dogs (Aala Kaf Ifrit)—Kaouther Ben Hania, Khaled Walid Barsaoui, Tunisia/France/Sweden/Norway/ Lebanon/Qatar/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Blessed, The (Les bienheureux)—Sofia Djama, Algeria/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative | Sofia Djama Attending
  • Five Fingers for Marseilles—Michael Matthews, South Africa, 2015, Narrative
  • I Am Not a Witch—Rungano Nyoni, Zambia/UK/France/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Liyana—Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp, Swaziland/USA/Qatar, 2017, Animation/Documentary
  • Makala—Emmanuel Gras, Democratic Republic of Congo/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Razzia—Nabil Ayouch, Morocco/France/Belgium, 2017, Narrative
  • Royal Hibiscus Hotel, The—Ishaya Bako, Nigeria, 2017, Narrative

MIDNIGHT SUN

You don’t have to be a native Minnesotan to appreciate the Nordic spirit. Take in the sights and sounds of the far Northern climes where, for at least a few days each year, the sun never sets. This selection of narratives and documentaries from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland offers a snapshot of new Nordic cinema, and a nod to Minnesota’s heritage.

  • 12th Man, The (Den 12. mann)—Harald Zwart, Norway, 2017, Narrative
  • Beyond Dreams (Dröm vidare)—Rojda Sekersöz, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Charmer, The (Charmøren)—Milad Alami, Denmark, 2017, Narrative
  • Euthanizer (Armomurhaaja)—Teemu Nikki, Finland, 2017, Narrative
  • Guilty, The (Den skyldige)—Gustav Möller, Denmark, 2018, Narrative
  • Miami—Zaida Bergroth, Finland , Narrative
  • Moment in the Reeds (Tämä hetki kaislikossa)—Mikko Makela, Finland/UK, 2017, Narrative | Mikko Makela Attending
  • Under the Tree ( Undir trénu)—Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, Iceland, 2017, Narrative
  • What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si)—Iram Haq, Norway/Germany/Sweden, 2017, Narrative

NEW AMERICAN VISIONS

Celebrate the independent visions of American auteurs, whether they are one step away from Hollywood or completely outside the system. New American Visions features narrative and documentary films from filmmakers whose work is redefining the future of American filmmaking.

  • Armed with Faith— Geeta Gandbhir, Asad Faruqi, USA/Pakistan, 2017, Documentary | Asad Faruqi Attending
  • Bisbee ’17—Robert Greene, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Blessing, The—Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker, USA, 2017, Documentary | Jordan Fein, Hunter Baker Attending
  • Book of Clarence, The—Lee Breuer, USA, 2017, Documentary | Lee Breuer Attending
  • Crime + Punishment—Stephen Maing, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Dark Money—Kimberly Reed, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kimberly Reed Attending
  • Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?—Travis Wilkerson, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Dodging Bullets—Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kathy Broere, Sarah Edstrom, Bobby Trench, Jonathan Thunder Attending
  • Don’t Get Trouble in Mind: The Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Story—John Whitehead, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director John Whitehead Attending
  • Farmer of the Year—Vince O’Connell, Kathy Swanson, USA, 2018, Narrative | Vince O’Connell, Kathy Swanson Attending
  • Growing Up Hmong at the Crossroads—Safoi Babana-Hampton, USA/France/Laos/Thailand, 2017, Documentary
  • Judge, The—Erika Cohn, USA/Palestine, 2017, Documentary
  • Kusama: Infinity—Heather Lenz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Minding the Gap—Bing Liu, USA, 2018, Documentary | Bing Liu Attending
  • Mole Man—Guy Fiorita, USA, 2017, Documentary | Guy Fiorita Attending
  • Not in My Lifetime—Pam Colby, USA, 2018, Documentary | Pam Colby Attending
  • Odds Are…—Peter Markle, USA, 2018, Narrative | Peter Markle Attending
  • Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian—Sydney Beane, USA, 2018, Documentary | Sydney Beane Attending
  • Price of Everything—Nathaniel Kahn, USA, 2018, Documentary | Nathaniel Kahn Attending
  • RBG—Julie Cohen, Betsy West, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director Betsy West Attending
  • Risking Light—Dawn Mikkelson, Australia/Cambodia/USA, 2018, Documentary | Dawn Mikkelson Attending
  • Roller Dreams—Kate Hickey, USA/Australia, 2017, Documentary
  • Silicone Soul—Melody Gilbert, USA, 2018, Documentary | Melody Gilbert Attending
  • Smitten!—Barry Morrow, USA/Italy, 2018, Narrative | Barry Morrow Attending
  • Sollers Point—Matthew Porterfield, USA, 2017, Narrative
  • Three Identical Strangers—Tim Wardle, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Through the Banks of the Red Cedar—Maya Washington, USA, 2018, Documentary | Maya Washington Attending
  • TransMilitary—Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson Attending
  • Virginia Minnesota—Daniel Stine, USA, 2017, Narrative | Daniel Stine Attending
  • We Are Columbine—Laura Farber, USA, 2018, Documentary | Laura Farber Attending + Panel Discussion
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor—Morgan Neville, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Work in Progress (Al Milgrom’s Cinema Journey)—Phil Harder, USA, 2018 World Premiere | Phil Harder and Al Milgrom Attending

WORLD CINEMA

  • No program embraces the number of countries, languages, styles, and genres better than World Cinema. Travel the globe and rediscover it from a multitude of new perspectives in this showcase of new narrative and documentary films from dozens of countries from every continent. World Cinema is generously sponsored by Mary and Paul Reyelts.
  • After the War (Dopo la guerra)—Annarita Zambrano, Italy/France/Belgium/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • All You Can Eat Buddha—Ian Lagarde, Canada/Cuba, 2017, Narrative
  • Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story (Anna Karenina. Istoriya Vronskogo)—Karen Shakhnazarov, Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Anote’s Ark—Matthieu Rytz, Canada, 2018, Documentary
  • Art of Loving. Story of Michalina Wislocka, The (Sztuka kochania)—Maria Sadowska, Poland, 2017, Narrative
  • Aurora Borealis (Aurora Borealis: Északi fény)—Márta Mészáros, Hungary, 2017, Narrative
  • Barefoot (Po strništi bos)—Jan Sverák, Czech Republic, 2017, Narrative
  • Barrage—Laura Schroeder, Luxembourg/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Bitter Flowers—Olivier Meys, Belgium/France/Switzerland/China, 2017, Narrative | Olivier Meys Attending
  • Black Kite—Tarique Qayumi, Afghanistan/Canada, 2017, Narrative | Tarique Qayumi Attending
  • Cakemaker, The (Der kuchenmacher)—Ofir Raul Graizer, Israel/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Confession, The (Beri)—Zaza Urushadze, Georgia, 2017, Narrative
  • Control (Het Tweede Gelaat)—Jan Verheyen, Belgium, 2017, Narrative
  • Custody (Jusqu’à La Garde)—Xavier Legrand, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Directions (Posoki)—Stephan Komandarev, Bulgaria/Germany/Macedonia, 2017, Narrative
  • Guardians, The (Les gardiennes)—Xavier Beauvois, France/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Gutland—Govinda Van Maele, Luxembourg, 2017, Narrative
  • Happy Birthday—Christos Georgiou, Greece, 2017, Narrative
  • Hitler’s Hollywood—Rüdiger Suchsland, Germany, 2017, Documentary
  • Indian Horse—Stephen S. Campanelli, Canada, 2017, Narrative | Stephen S. Campanelli Attending
  • Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil interieur)—Clair Denis, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Letter to the President (Namai ba Rahis Gomhor)—Roya Sadat, Afghanistan, 2017 , Narrative
  • Line, The (Čiara)—Peter Bebjak, Slovakia/Ukraine, 2017, Narrative
  • Mademoiselle Paradis (Licht)—Barbara Albert, Austria/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Maktub—Oded Raz, Israel, 2017, Narrative
  • Man of Integrity, A (Lerd)—Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2017, Narrative
  • Memoir of War, A (La douleur)—Emmanuel Finkiel, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Men Don’t Cry (Muškarci ne plaču)—Alen Drljević, Bosnia & Herzegovina/Croatia/Slovenia/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Miracle (Stebuklas)—Egle Vertelyte, Lithuania/Bulgaria/Poland/UK, 2017, Narrative
  • Montparnasse Bienvenue—Lénor Serraille, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Mr. Gay Syria—Ayse Toprak, Turkey/Germany/Malta, 2017, Documentary
  • No Date, No Signature (Bedoone Tarikh, Bedoone Emza)—Vahid Jalilvand, Iran, 2017, Narrative
  • Number One (Numéro une)—Tonie Marshall, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Of Fathers and Sons—Talal Derki, Germany/Syria/Lebanon/Qatar, 2018
  • Of Sheep and Men (Des moutons et des hommes)—Karim Sayad, Algeria/Switzerland/France/Qatar, 2017, Documentary
  • On Borrowed Time—Yasir Al Yasiri, United Arab Emirates, 2018, Narrative
  • Our New President—Maxim Pozdorovkin, Russia, 2018, Documentary
  • Prime Minister, The (De premier)—Erik Van Looy, Belgium, 2016, Narrative
  • Quartette, The (Kvarteto)—Miroslav Krobot, Czech Republic, 2017, Narrative
  • Radiogram—Rouzie Hassanova, Bulgaria, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • Rainbow: A Private Affair (Una questione privata)—Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, Italy, 2017, Narrative
  • Secret Ingredient, The (Tajnata sostojka)—Gjorce Stavreski, Macedonia, 2017, Narrative
  • So Help Me God—Jean Libon, Yves Hinant, Belgium/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Spoor (Pokot)—Agnieszka Holland, Kasla Adamik, Poland/Germany/Czech Republic/Sweden/Slovakia, 2017, Narrative
  • Streaker (Flitzer)—Peter Luisi, Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Suleiman Mountain—Elizaveta Stishova, Kyrgyzstan/Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Sweet Country—Warwick Thornton, Australia, 2017, Narrative
  • Unwanted (T’padashtun)—Edon Rizvanolli, Kosovo/Netherlands, 2017, Narrative
  • Wajib—Annemarie Jacir, Palestine, 2017, Narrative
  • West of the Jordan River—Amos Gitai, Israel/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Western—Valeska Grisebach, Germany/Bulgaria/Austria, 2017, Narrative
  • When Paul came over the Sea–Journal of an Encounter (Als Paul über das Meer kam–Tagebuch einer Begegnung—Jakob Preuss, Germany, 2017, Documentary | Jakob Preuss Attending
  • Whisky Bandit (A Viszkis)—Nimród Antal, Hungary, 2017, Narrative
  • Workers’ Cup, The—Adam Sobel, UK, 2017, Documentary
  • You’re Soaking in It—Scott Harper, Canada, 2017, Documentary



SHORT FILMS

Limits can liberate. Due to their brevity, short films tend to exist in the now. Experience powerful first impressions, vivid yet momentary detail and compelling conflicts abound in a new year of international short-form cinema.

*=Director Attending

  • American Dream—Alexia Oldini, USA, 2017*
  • Aria—Myrsini Aristidou, Cyrpus/France, 2017
  • Audition—Richard Van, USA, 2017
  • Babs—Celine Held, Logan George, UK, 2017
  • Baby Brother—Kamau Bilal, USA, 2018
  • Badger Creek—Jonathan Skurnik, Randy Vasquez, USA, 2016*
  • Béa—José Esteban Pavlovich Salido, Mexico, 2017*
  • Bee-Sharp Honeybee—Deacon Warner, USA, 2017*
  • Beneath the Ink—Cy Dodson, USA, 2017*
  • Beneath the Trees (Debajo de los árboles)—Crystal Avila, USA, 2017*
  • Bike Trip—Tom Schroeder, USA, 2017*
  • Birthday Night (Shab e Tavalod)—Omid Shams, Iran, 2017
  • Botanica—Noël Loozen, Netherlands, 2017
  • Brother—Hunter Johnson, Daniel Klein, USA, 2017*
  • Burden, The (Min Börda)—Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden, 2017
  • Caroline—Celine Held, Logan George, USA, 2017
  • Celebrate Eileen! (Feiert Eileen!)—Judith Westermann, Germany, 2017*
  • Cheer Up Baby—Adinah Dancyger, USA, 2017
  • CLEAR—Maya Washington, USA, 2017*
  • Cloud of Petals—Sarah Meyohas, USA, 2017*
  • Conversation with Senri Oe, A—Sihai Zhu, USA, 2017*
  • Courtesy of Angels, The (La politesse des anges)—Valérie Theodore, France, 2017
  • Dairy Worker (Los lecheros)—Jim Cricchi, USA, 2017*
  • Debris (Desecho)—Julio O. Ramos, USA/Peru, 2017*
  • Fauva—Jeremy Comte, Canada, 2018
  • Gaelynn Lea – The Songs We Sing—Mark Brown, USA, 2017*
  • Gaze—Farnoosh Samadi, Iran/Italy, 2017*
  • Gentle Night, A—Qiu Yang, China, 2017
  • Glucose—Jeron Braxton, USA, 2017
  • Grandpa Ben—Justin Christopher Ayd, USA, 2017*
  • Hair Wolf—Mariama Diallo, USA, 2017
  • Headbutt (Kopstoot)—Daan Bunnik, Netherlands, 2017
  • Hearts Want—Jason P. Schumacher, USA, 2017*
  • Influenced—Tyler Eichorst, USA, 2017*
  • Irish Prince—Joey Garfield, USA, 2018*
  • JEOM—Kangmin Kim, South Korea/USA, 2017
  • Last Tape, The—Cyprien Clement-Delmas, Igor Kosenko, Ukraine/Germany, 2017
  • Lawman—Matthew Gentile, USA, 2017
  • Lejla—Stijn Bouma, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2017
  • Little Hands (Les petits mains)—Remi Allier, France, 2017
  • Little Potato—Wes Hurley, Nathan M. Miller, USA, 2017
  • Month, A—Një Muaj, Kosovo, 2017
  • Mud (Hashtł’ishnii)—Shaandiin Tome, USA, 2017*
  • My Aqal—Maribeth Romslo, USA, 2017*
  • Nightshade (Nachtschade)—Shady El-Hamus, Netherlands, 2017
  • Not Yet (Hanooz Na…)—Arian Vazirdaftair, Iran, 2017
  • Obscurer—Kiera Faber, USA, 2017*
  • On the Wall, Off the Chain—Greg Carlson, USA, 2017*
  • OVUM—Luciano Blotta, Argentina, 2017*
  • Passion Gap—Matt Portman, Jason Donald, South Africa, 2017
  • Pet Friendly—Catherine Licata, USA, 2017
  • Pinebox—D. R. Tibbits, USA, 2017*
  • Polarity—Matthew Adams, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: A Poem Play—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: Me—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Crumpy, and Mr. Bumpy—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: Poem about All Different Things—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Preschool Poets: Supergirl—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Ragdoll—Justin Schaack, USA, 2017
  • Redneck Muslim—Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, Mustafa Davis, USA, 2017
  • Rookie Season—Hannah Nemer, Molly Nemer, Russia, 2017*
  • Salvation (Frelsun)—Thora Hilmarsdottir, Iceland/Sweden, 2017*
  • Saul’s 108th Story—Joshua Carlon, USA, 2017*
  • Schoolyard Blues (Skolstartssorg)—Maria Eriksson, Sweden, 2017
  • Second Best—Alyssa McClelland, Australia, 2017
  • Signature—Kei Chikaura, Japan, 2017
  • Standing Still | Still Standing—Andrew Walton, USA, 2017*
  • Suspect—Davar McGee, USA, 2017*
  • Tesla World Light, The (Tesla: Lumière Mondiale)—Matthew Rankin, Canada, 2017
  • This Might Shock You: The Making of Preschool Poets—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017*
  • Tough—Jennifer Zheng, China/UK, 2017
  • Transfer, The—Michael Grudsky, Germany/Israel, 2017
  • Ugly—Nikita Diakur, Redbear Easterman, Germany, 2017
  • Weavers of Imagination (Bafandegan e Khial)—Sadegh Jafari, Iran, 2017*
  • Wolf House, The—Nicholas Clausen, USA, 2018*
  • Woody’s Order!—Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger, USA, 2017
  • World Is Round So That Nobody Can Hide In the Corners – Part I : Refuge, The—Leandro Goddinho, Germany/Brazil, 2017
  • Yoshua—Matthew Castellanos, USA, 2017

MUSIC VIDEOS

(Band in parentheses)

  • Allumette (Samyel)—Aran Quinn, France/USA/Ireland, 2017
  • Day, The (Modern Nomads)—Jake Armstrong, USA, 2017
  • Drink I’m Sippin On (Yaeji)—Anthony Sylvester, South Korea, 2017
  • Go Awf (Prince Arick)—Anthony Sylvester, USA, 2017
  • HD Delivery (Droptree)—Droptree, USA, 2017
  • Off, Then On (Darling Lily Gave)—Taylor James Donskey, USA, 2018
  • Opal Waltz (Supernaive)—Vincent Tsui, USA, 2017
  • Our Relationship Is A Slowly Gentrifying Relationship (Guante & Katrah-Quey featuring Jayanthi Kyle)—E. G. Bailey, USA, 2017*
  • Stop and Go (Psychic Revival)—Vanessa M. H. Powers, USA, 2017
  • Sweet Wine (Nooky Jones)—Erik Nelson, Sarah Jean Shervin, USA, 2017*
  • Terror (Steady Holiday)—Joseph Armario, USA, 2017
  • Unbound (Asgeir)—Julien Lassort, France, 2017

MAJOR FESTIVAL THEMES

Films within the following categories can be found within the different programs throughout the festival’s lineup.

SPOTLIGHT: CHASMS AND BRIDGES

For 2018, our Spotlight on the World is Chasms and Bridges: Cinema and the Search for Common Ground, tackling the difficult lines that divide us and the dramatic potential for reconciliation and compassion. This special series of titles—including ten selected for our Spotlight Competition—and related panel discussions and workshops, are designed to open up a discourse on the social and ideological divides and shifting social order shaping our world today.

*=Spotlight Competition Award Nominee

SPOTLIGHT FEATURES

  • After the War (Dopo la guerra)—Annarita Zambrano, Italy/France/Belgium/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Bisbee ’17—Robert Greene, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Bitter Flowers—Olivier Meys, Belgium/France/Switzerland/China, 2017, Narrative* | Olivier Meys Attending
  • Black Kite—Tarique Qayumi, Afghanistan/Canada, 2017, Narrative | Tarique Qayumi Attending
  • Cakemaker, The (Der kuchenmacher)—Ofir Raul Graizer, Israel/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Charmer, The (Charmøren)—Milad Alami, Denmark, 2017, Narrative
  • Crime + Punishment—Stephen Maing, USA, 2018, Documentary*
  • Dark Money—Kimberly Reed, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kimberly Reed Attending
  • Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?—Travis Wilkerson, USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Judge, The—Erika Cohn, USA/Palestine, 2017, Documentary*
  • Kusama: Infinity—Heather Lenz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Men Don’t Cry (Muškarci ne plaču)—Alen Drljević, Bosnia & Herzegovina/Croatia/Slovenia/Germany, 2017, Narrative*
  • Minding the Gap—Bing Liu, USA, 2018, Documentary | Bing Liu Attending
  • Moment in the Reeds (Tämä hetki kaislikossa)—Mikko Makela, Finland/UK, 2017, Narrative* | Mikko Makela Attending
  • Mr. Gay Syria—Ayse Toprak, Turkey/Germany/Malta, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending
  • No Date, No Signature (Bedoone Tarikh, Bedoone Emza)—Vahid Jalilvand, Iran, 2017, Narrative
  • Number One (Numéro une)—Tonie Marshall, France, 2017, Narrative*
  • Of Fathers and Sons—Talal Derki, Germany/Syria/Lebanon/Qatar, 2018, Documentary
  • Our New President—Maxim Pozdorovkin, Russia, 2018, Documentary
  • Perros, Los—Marcela Said, Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal, 2017, Narrative
  • Radiogram—Rouzie Hassanova, Bulgaria, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • RBG—Julie Cohen, Betsy West, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director Betsy West Attending
  • So Help Me God—Jean Libon, Yves Hinant, Belgium/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Suleiman Mountain—Elizaveta Stishova, Kyrgyzstan/Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Wajib—Annemarie Jacir, Palestine, 2017, Narrative
  • West of the Jordan River—Amos Gitai, Israel/France, 2017, Documentary
  • Western—Valeska Grisebach, Germany/Bulgaria/Austria, 2017, Narrative
  • What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si)—Iram Haq, Norway/Germany/Sweden, 2017, Narrative*
  • When Paul came over the Sea–Journal of an Encounter (Als Paul über das Meer kam–Tagebuch einer Begegnung—Jakob Preuss, Germany, 2017, Documentary* | Jakob Preuss Attending
  • Whisky Bandit (A Viszkis)—Nimród Antal, Hungary, 2017, Narrative
  • Workers’ Cup, The—Adam Sobel, UK, 2017, Documentary*

SPOTLIGHT SHORTS

  • American Dream—Alexia Oldini, USA, 2017
  • Aria—Myrsini Aristidou, Cyrpus/France, 2017
  • Beneath the Ink—Cy Dodson, USA, 2017
  • Brother—Hunter Johnson, Daniel Klein, USA, 2017
  • Burden, The (Min Börda)—Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden, 2017
  • Cheer Up Baby—Adinah Dancyger, USA, 2017
  • Dairy Worker (Los lecheros)—Jim Cricchi, USA, 2017
  • Month, A—Një Muaj, Kosovo, 2017
  • Mud (Hashtł’ishnii)—Shaandiin Tome, USA, 2017
  • Redneck Muslim—Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, Mustafa Davis, USA, 2017
  • Schoolyard Blues (Skolstartssorg)—Maria Eriksson, Sweden, 2017
  • Suspect—Davar McGee, USA, 2017
  • Tough—Jennifer Zheng, China/UK, 2017
  • Transfer, The—Michael Grudsky, Germany/Israel, 2017
  • World Is Round So That Nobody Can Hide In the Corners – Part I : Refuge, The—Leandro Goddinho, Germany/Brazil, 2017
  • Yoshua—Matthew Castellanos, USA, 2017

WOMEN & FILM

The #MeToo movement has underscored the inequalities in the film industry like never before, and our support for these industry professionals is stronger than ever. MSPIFF’s showcase of female directors from around the globe continues to grow every year, featuring a wide variety of outstanding narratives and documentaries. Women & Film is generously sponsored by Karen and Ken Heithoff.

FEATURES

  • After the War (Dopo la guerra)—Annarita Zambrano, Italy/France/Belgium/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Angels Wear White—Vivian Qu, China/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Armed with Faith— Geeta Gandbhir, Asad Faruqi, USA/Pakistan, 2017, Documentary
  • Art of Loving. Story of Michalina Wislocka, The (Sztuka kochania)—Maria Sadowska, Poland, 2017, Narrative
  • Aurora Borealis (Aurora Borealis: Északi fény)—Márta Mészáros, Hungary, 2017, Narrative
  • Barrage—Laura Schroeder, Luxembourg/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Beauty and the Dogs (Aala Kaf Ifrit)—Kaouther Ben Hania, Khaled Walid Barsaoui, Tunisia/France/Sweden/Norway/ Lebanon/Qatar/Switzerland, 2017, Narrative
  • Becoming Who I Was—Moon Chang-yong, Jeon Jin, South Korea/Tibet/India, 2017, Documentary
  • Beyond Dreams (Dröm vidare)—Rojda Sekersöz, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Blessed, The (Les bienheureux)—Sofia Djama, Algeria/Belgium/France, 2017, Narrative | Sofia Djama Attending
  • Cloudboy—Meikeminne Clinckspoor, Belgium/Sweden/Netherlands/Norway, 2017, Narrative
  • Dark Money—Kimberly Reed, USA, 2017, Documentary | Kimberly Reed Attending
  • Dead Pigs—Cathy Yan, China/USA, 2017, Narrative
  • Eternal Feminine, The (Los adioses)—Natalia Beristain, Mexico, 2017, Narrative
  • Exile Exotic—Sasha Litvintseva, UK, 2015
  • Good Manners (As boas maneiras)—Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas, Brazil/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Growing Up Hmong at the Crossroads—Safoi Babana-Hampton, USA/France/Laos/Thailand, 2017, Documentary
  • Honeygiver Among the Dogs (Munmo Tashi Khyidron)—Dechen Roder, Bhutan, 2017, Narrative
  • I Am Not a Witch—Rungano Nyoni, Zambia/UK/France, 2017, Narrative
  • Judge, The—Erika Cohn, USA/Palestine, 2017, Documentary
  • Killing Jesús (Matar a Jesús)—Laura Mora, Colombia/Argentina, 2017, Narrative
  • Kusama: Infinity—Heather Lenz, USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Leave no Trace—Debra Granik, USA, 2018, Narrative
  • Let the Sunshine In (Un beau soleil interieur)—Clair Denis, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Letter to the President (Namai ba Rahis Gomhor)—Roya Sadat, Afghanistan, 2017, Narrative
  • Liyana—Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp, Swaziland/USA/Qatar, 2017, Animation/Documentary
  • Mademoiselle Paradis (Licht)—Barbara Albert, Austria/Germany, 2017, Narrative
  • Maineland—Miao Wang, China/USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Marlina si Pembunuh Dalam Empat Babak)—Mouly Surya, Indonesia/France/Malaysia/Thailand, 2017, Narrative
  • Miami—Zaida Bergroth, Finland, Narrative
  • Miracle (Stebuklas)—Egle Vertelyte, Lithuania/Bulgaria/Poland/UK, 2017, Narrative
  • Montparnasse Bienvenue—Lénor Serraille, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Mr. Gay Syria—Ayse Toprak, Turkey/Germany/Malta, 2017, Documentary
  • Narcissister Organ Player—Narcissister, USA, 2018, Documentary | Narcissister Attending
  • Number One (Numéro une)—Tonie Marshall, France, 2017, Narrative
  • Perros, Los—Marcela Said, Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal, 2017, Narrative
  • Radiogram—Rouzie Hassanova, Bulgaria, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • RBG—Julie Cohen, Betsy West, USA, 2018, Documentary | Director Betsy West Attending
  • Risking Light—Dawn Mikkelson, Australia/Cambodia/USA, 2018, Documentary
  • Roller Dreams—Kate Hickey, USA/Australia, 2017, Documentary
  • Room 213 (Rum 213)—Emelie Lindblom, Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Silicone Soul—Melody Gilbert, USA, 2018, Documentary | Melody Gilbert Attending
  • Sing Song—Mischa Kamp, Netherlands, 2017, Narrative
  • Spoor (Pokot)—Agnieszka Holland, Kasla Adamik, Poland/Germany/Czech Republic/Sweden/Slovakia, 2017, Narrative
  • Suleiman Mountain—Elizaveta Stishova, Kyrgyzstan/Russia, 2017, Narrative
  • Tailor, The (Co Ba Sai Gon)—Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Thailand/Norway/Germany, 2017, Narrative North American Premiere
  • TransMilitary—Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson, USA, 2018, Documentary | Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson Attending
  • Trespassing Bergman—Jane Magnusson, Hynek Pallas, Sweden, 2013, Documentary | Hynek Pallas Attending
  • Village Rockstars—Rima Das, India, 2017, Narrative US Premiere | Rima Das Attending
  • Wajib—Annemarie Jacir, Palestine, 2017, Narrative
  • We Are Columbine—Laura Farber, USA, 2018, Documentary | Laura Farber Attending + Panel Discussion
  • Western—Valeska Grisebach, Germany/Bulgaria/Austria, 2017, Narrative
  • What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si)—Iram Haq, Norway/Germany/Sweden, 2017, Narrative
  • Witkin & Witkin—Trisha Ziff, Mexico/USA, 2017, Documentary
  • Zama—Lucretia Martel, Argentina/Spain/France, 2017, Narrative

SHORTS

  • American Dream—Alexia Oldini, USA, 2017
  • Aria—Myrsini Aristidou, Cyrpus/France, 2017
  • Arresting Animation—Hannah Frank, USA, 2017
  • Babs—Celine Held, Logan George, UK, 2017
  • Beneath the Trees (Debajo de los árboles)—Crystal Avila, USA, 2017
  • Burden, The (Min Börda)—Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden, 2017
  • Caroline—Celine Held, Logan George, USA, 2017
  • Celebrate Eileen! (Feiert Eileen!)—Judith Westermann, Germany, 2017
  • Cheer Up Baby—Adinah Dancyger, USA, 2017
  • CLEAR—Maya Washington, USA, 2017
  • Cloud of Petals—Sarah Meyohas, USA, 2017
  • Conversation with Senri Oe, A—Sihai Zhu, USA, 2017
  • Courtesy of Angels, The (La politesse des anges)—Valérie Theodore, France, 2017
  • CPS Closing & Delays—Kristin Reeves, USA, 2017
  • Day and a Button, A—Azza Hamwi, Syria, 2015
  • For The Students Who Stood at The Statue (The Forcing no. 7)—Lydia Moyer, USA, 2017
  • Framelines—Sabine Gruffat, USA, 2017
  • Fundir—Allison Cekala, USA/Chile, 2016
  • Gaze—Farnoosh Samadi, Iran/Italy, 2017
  • Hair Wolf—Mariama Diallo, USA, 2017
  • House—Kyja Kristjansson-Nelson, USA, 2016
  • Mud (Hashtł’ishnii)—Shaandiin Tome, USA, 2017
  • My Aqal—Maribeth Romslo, USA, 2017
  • Obscurer—Kiera Faber, USA, 2017
  • Pet Friendly—Catherine Licata, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: A Poem Play—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: Me—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Crumpy, and Mr. Bumpy—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: Poem about All Different Things—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Preschool Poets: Supergirl—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Redneck Muslim—Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, Mustafa Davis, USA, 2017
  • Rookie Season—Hannah Nemer, Molly Nemer, Russia, 2017
  • Salvation (Frelsun)—Thora Hilmarsdottir, Iceland/Sweden, 2017
  • Schoolyard Blues (Skolstartssorg)—Maria Eriksson, Sweden, 2017
  • Second Best—Alyssa McClelland, Australia, 2017
  • Stop and Go (Psychic Revival)—Vanessa M. H. Powers, USA, 2017
  • This Might Shock You: The Making of Preschool Poets—Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, USA, 2017
  • Through the Looking Glass—Yi Cui, China, 2017
  • Tough—Jennifer Zheng, China/UK, 2017
  • Wedding Song—Monica Saviron, USA, 2016
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are—Jesse Mclean, USA, 2017

MSPIFF is presented by the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, a dynamic 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to fostering a knowledgeable and vibrant appreciation of the art of film and its power to inform and transform individuals and communities.

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival is generously supported by The Star Tribune, Cedarwoods Foundation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Minnesota State Arts Board Legacy Amendment Funding, National Endowment for the Arts, McKnight Foundation, US Bank, The Minneapolis Foundation, Mora Global, Knock, Inc., KBEM Jazz88,Indeed Brewing Company, Best Buy, Alamo Drafthouse, Depot Renaissance Hotel, Fox Rothschild, numerous Local Businesses, Cultural Associations and Consulates from around the world, our Masters and Auteurs Member Circles and the 2,500+ Members and Donors of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul.

Connect with MSPIFF:

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#MSPIFF #MSPFILM

 


My Minnesota friends, I hope to see you at MSPIFF this year! As for the rest of you, which of these film(s) are you looking forward to seeing?

FlixChatter Review: A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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A Wrinkle in Time is a visually stunning film with a solid backbone and an incredible lead actress (Storm Reid). Due to a few unfortunate choices, it is a disappointing movie that I will nonetheless recommend to everyone.
Because A Wrinkle in Time is one of the first pieces of science fiction that I ever read, my expectations were high. I got teary watching the trailer because seeing a formative story told such amazing women was an exciting prospect.

It is hard to live up to a piece of art so steeped in nostalgia. Time and time again I was disappointed by elements of the story that were abridged or cut out entirely. Of course, the skeleton remained. A Wrinkle in Time is a fun science fiction romp through surprising landscapes that help a young person grow into herself. And I know that it is unfair to expect every page to make the final cut, but there were so many heavy handed moments where the the writers (Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell) forced plot points into the mouths of characters because they must not have felt like they had the time or space to share that information with the audience.

Visually A Wrinkle in Time rivaled my childhood imagination. Costume design, CGI, and careful attention to cinematographic detail paints a moving picture that it is hard to peel your eyes away from. The costumes and makeup that Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) cycle through are stunning – even Mrs. Whatstit’s first outfit, which is supposedly made of bedsheets, is beautiful.

My one beef with the visual element of the movie is the giant, flying, lettuce shaped thing that Mrs. Whatsit transformed into. It is mind bogglingly bad in both execution and premise. Especially when you know that Mrs. Whatsit was supposed to be a centaur. Let me repeat that. Witherspoon was supposed to be a centaur and they made her an oversized piece of lettuce. I understand modesty concerns for a kid’s movie, but a bra flew across the screen when she transformed, so good luck convincing me that they couldn’t have put a bra on their centaur and called it a day.

Despite a cast that looks good on paper, I was mostly disappointed. At the top of my list of disappointments was Zach Galifianakis, who actually put on one of my favorite performances as the Happy Medium. In an otherwise incredibly diverse, female-focused cast, it was a disappointing surprise to see Galifianakis playing a role that was written as female originally.

On top of that, the school teachers were some of the worst featured actors I have ever seen, Mindy Kaling barely had any material to work with, Witherspoon turned a character I remember imagining as a likable but very oblivious person into a pretty rude character, and Deric McCabe was the most sympathetic of train wrecks.

No one wants to shit on a kid’s performance, but McCabe (playing Charles Wallace) left a lot to be desired. Charles Wallace is unique: a highly intelligent, empathetic kindergartner with a major shift in character toward the end of the movie. McCabe’s performance is passable early on, but at he seems visibly uncomfortable on screen. It is so disappointing that he, a nine year old, did not get better coaching for scenes that clearly stretched his acting ability.

Storm Reid redeemed everything else, though. She gave an incredibly riveting performance as Meg. I cannot wait to see what she does in the future: she clearly has the skills to have a long career if she wants it. In spite of its flaws A Wrinkle in Time is a beautiful story about loving yourself even if you don’t feel lovable. Meg is relatable: a teenager who hasn’t quite figured out how to love herself and has absorbed the meanness of her peers. The diverse cast and inspiring take away, described by is well worth supporting and the gorgeous set and costume design are well worth the price of a movie ticket.


hollyHolly P. is a twenty-something millennial who enjoys shouting at people on the internet, riding her bicycle, and overbooking her schedule. She prefers storytelling that has a point and comedy that isn’t mean. Her favorite movies are Aladdin, the Watchmen (even though the book was way better), and Hot Fuzz.  She’s seen every Lord of the Rings movie at least a dozen times. You can follow her @tertiaryhep on twitter or @hollyhollyoxenfreee on Instagram. She’s also on Tinder, but if you find her there she’ll probably ghost on you because wtf is dating in the 21st century.


Have you seen ‘A Wrinkle In Time’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review – Thoroughbreds (2018)

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Directed By: Cory Finley
Written By: Cory Finley
Runtime: 1h 32min

In Thoroughbreds, high school friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) rekindle their friendship after going through their own personal crises. As their friendship grows, the girls hatch a plan against Lily’s unpleasant stepfather, Mark (Paul Sparks), enlisting the help of drug dealer and local deadbeat Tim (Anton Yelchin).

I had high hopes for this film going in after seeing the cast list, and I was not disappointed. I was already impressed with Anya Taylor-Joy‘s performances in 2015’s The Witch and last year’s Split, and seeing her in this cemented her as one of my new favorite actresses. She goes from being relatively sweet and naive to ruthless and unhinged seamlessly throughout the movie, so gradually that it doesn’t seem forced or over-the-top. Olivia Cooke is excellent as well, making the cold and emotionless Amanda funny and surprisingly sympathetic. Lastly, Thoroughbreds is a reminder of the talent and charisma we lost in the late Anton Yelchin; he makes a character who is completely infuriating and sleazy hilarious while maintaining a sinister undertone.

Despite the strong acting, Thoroughbreds is not a particularly memorable movie. I’ve seen a few ads and reviews hailing it as the new Heathers, but besides the fact that both films are dark comedies with teenage girls as the leads, the two aren’t that similar. While the writing isn’t bad, and the cast delivers the deadpan, rapid-fire dialogue deftly without making it sound like a Gilmore Girls script, it’s not as enduringly quotable as the 1988 film it’s being compared to. It’s still a suspenseful story, and it could be an interesting exploration into mental illness, given a little more time and focus, but it’s just not strong enough to be iconic.

While Thoroughbreds isn’t a film you need to see in theaters, it’s a good showcase of some serious young talent. It’s only an hour and a half long, so if you’re bored, scrolling through Netflix and want to see some impressive performances, give it a watch.

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Have you seen ‘Thoroughbreds’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review: Death Wish (2018)

I hate using the word “guilty pleasure” when talking about films that I enjoy but I think the old Charles Bronson‘s Death Wish films are definitely my guilty pleasures. Of course, with Hollywood pretty much refusing to make any films that resemble any kind of originality, a remake of the 1974 film was inevitable. The remake was originally going to star and be directed by Sly Stallone, but he left for creative differences. Then Joe Carnahan took over the project but left because he didn’t agree with the studio’s choice of casting Bruce Willis as the lead. The project somehow landed in the hands of, of all people, Eli Roth, whose previous films were all torture porn.

Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is living the good life, he’s got a great job, a big house that he shares with his beautiful wife Lucy (Elizabeth Shue) and daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone). One night while he’s away at work, thieves broke into his house, murdered his wife and left his daughter in a coma. Kersey’s world has now been turned upside down and when the authority couldn’t find his wife’s killers, he decided to turn into a vigilante. I think most movie goers are familiar with either the original film or this kind of story, it’s been told several times before and unfortunately there’s nothing new here in the remake.

Joe Carnahan gets the full credit for the screenplay but apparently Roth and another writer rewrote much of what Carnahan wrote but the screen writers guild gave all the credits to Carnahan. He probably wish his name doesn’t appear in the credits because the story is quite generic. I’ve never read the novel that it’s based on so I don’t know how close it is to the source material.

I’m not a fan of Roth’s work, I don’t find his kind of horror films entertaining. I was skeptical about him doing an action picture and fortunately he did an okay job. He didn’t try to make it into a dark and serious action picture. But he never elevated the material to anything special either, the only thing he added was the extra gore during the action scenes. Also, I don’t think he really knows what kind of picture he wanted to make. Does he support vigilantism or is he against it? A lot of scenes sort of contradict each other.

The performances by the actors were fine, I think Willis tried to add some depth to his character but it didn’t really work. He’s kind of flat on many scenes. His character started out as someone who tried to avoid conflicts but he became John McClane once he lost his family. The only shining performance was Vincent D’Onofrio who played the brother of Kersey and the voice of reason in the story. All of the supporting actors were pretty generic.

At a time where gun control talks are dividing people in this country, this film doesn’t really need to be made. To be fair though, the film was finished way before the mass shootings that happened within the last few months here in the States. For the people don’t like gun violence, you best to stay away from this film. But anyone who like trashy B-action films, then you might enjoy it.

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So have you seen Death Wish? Well, what did you think?

Quick thoughts on Oscars 2018 & the winners

It’s almost 10 o’clock when I started writing this post so this is not gonna be a comprehensive post. I have a busy day ahead tomorrow as my department at work is having a musical chair moment moving a bunch of us to new cubicles. Plus there’s also a snowstorm coming tomorrow (gah I sure hope I can still go to that Wrinkle In Time screening!).

Around this time last year, as I was watching the Oscar ceremony, I was still making changes to my short film Hearts Want for the zillionth time. So as a first time filmmaker, this year I got quite emotional as I heard the speech of Best live action short winner (The Silent Child), and she did the sign language as her film is about a deaf child.

Here’s the trailer for that short if you haven’t seen it already:


No comment on the red carpet as I tuned in rather late and I generally don’t care for red carpet stuff anyway. But there are some great frocks out there, these are some of my faves…

Well, the ceremony was ok overall, I enjoyed the retro-styled BW intro. ‘Armie Hammer was born when a witch puts a curse on a Ken doll’ ha!

I quite enjoyed seeing clips of classic films being used throughout the ceremony too!

It’s the 90th year of the Academy Awards, I love the segment celebrating 90 years of timeless movies!

I gotta admit I teared up a bit watching that… and it certainly made me want to go to the movies!!

 

As for the winners…

They’re all VERY predictable. I posted my predictions on Friday. I got ALL of the acting winners right so there was zero suspense in that department. The film I was rooting for this year, The Shape of Water, ended up getting FOUR Oscars out of the 13 it was nominated for, including Best Director AND Best Picture!

– Glad to see Sam Rockwell won, even though I have yet to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. To have THREE actors nominated from a single film is quite something and two of them won!

Dunkirk won for Best Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, as well as Best Editing. Well deserved on all three!! Dunkirk was a moviegoing experience like no other and largely because of the sound AND the way it was edited.

– Yaassss on The Shape of Water winning Best Production Design… the amazing, meticulously-designed set pieces truly transports me to 1960s Cold War era.

Allison Janney pretty much won every award there is for Best Supporting Actress…

– The one category I was rooting for Phantom Thread to win DID win!

– The venerable James Ivory (who made all those Merchant-Ivory films!!) won Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name. Now, I’m even more surprised that this is his first win! Wait, what??

– And the one nominee practically everyone was rooting for… I bet even first time female DP nominee Rachel Morrison herself was probably ok w/ Mr. Deakins winning!

This tweet sums it all…

The Shape Of Water swept me off my feet in so many ways, including its beautiful, melancholic, romantic theme… so yeah, no problem whatsoever with it winning Best Score! Congrats Alexandre Desplat!

– I have been Team Shape of Water all the way, which happens to be the last film I saw in 2017! It’s films that I connect with emotionally that I love and remember the most, and this film did that and more. It was pure movie magic filled with amazing creativity and imagination… and heart. I LOVE his speech too, about dreaming big and believing in his own vision.

– This is the year for Character Actors!! Gary Oldman is a consistently-fantastic performer, an actor’s actor, who I’m always stunned to learn he’d never won an Oscar! Well, he FINALLY won one!

– Now, for the FINAL award of the night, I gotta say it was a bit suspenseful … but also humorous seeing Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty back on the podium presenting the same category they messed up so spectacularly last year!

But hey, they didn’t bungle it this year and I’m thrilled to hear the name of the film I’ve been rooting for…

I truly think The Shape of Water deserved the Best Picture win!

You can see full winners list here.


Fave Moments

Every year the host always does something fun that was rather unexpected, such as Ellen handing out pizza, Kimmel bringing tourists to the ceremony. Well this year Kimmel kind of did something similar where gathered a team of Oscar presenters/nominees to hand out snacks to unsuspecting moviegoers watching Wrinkle In Time. That was fun!

I haven’t really caught on who Tiffany Haddish was until recently. I can see why she’s so beloved, she is a hoot! I’d be down to have them present the Oscars next year!

This has got to be my favorite Oscar musical performance in a long time… not only was it a powerful performance by Mary J. Blige but the lyrics was like an anthem for the representation/inclusion/equality movement we’re having now. What a mighty performance!

 

I love this trio from The Last Jedi! I hope this role isn’t just a one off for Kelly Marie Tran, she’s just a delightful woman and surely a good actress too if given a chance!

Well, speaking of which, I know someone who’d agree with me on that…

And THAT speech! I love Frances McDormand‘s defiant, feisty attitude and her powerful, inspiring speech of representation and inclusion.


If you’re like me and had no idea what she meant by ‘Inclusion Rider’ in her speech, well, she kindly explained backstage…

Bravo Frances!! And congrats!! I hope to see Three Billboards next weekend, hopefully!

Ok, THIS is just hilarious!! Thanks whoever captured this moment of del Toro double checking that he indeed won!!

 


Biggest surprises of the night…

… not exactly a welcome one it seems.

I didn’t know about Kobe’s sexual misconduct allegations, but still I find it odd that he’s now an Oscar winner. I mean, it took how long for people like Roger Deakins to finally got his?? And SO many talented filmmakers still has ZERO Oscars!

I think this category could very well be the biggest surprise of the night. I haven’t seen Get Out yet as I’m not a big fan of horror films, but now I’m really curious to see it! Definitely another historical moment for Jordan Peele, what a year for him for getting a trifecta nominations at the Oscars with Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Original Screenplay.

I’m quite surprised that Lady Bird won zilch! I thought it’d win at least the screenplay category for Greta Gerwig. Having just seen it this weekend, I thought it was excellent and well-written. I’m glad it lived up to the hype!


Anyway, here’s the tally:


So that’s it folks, I gotta go to bed at some point.

What are YOUR thoughts on Oscars this year?


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