The 9th annual Twin Cities Film Fest may have come and gone, but hey, we still have some reviews to share with you!
MANY THANKS to our blog volunteers Holly, Laura, Vitali and Andy for their great work before and during the film fest! For ALL of the 2018 coverage that include reviews AND interviews, click here or just type TCFF 2018 in the search box.
Review by Holly Peterson
Director: Steven Luke
Before you see Wunderland, you should know that it is more of an action movie than it is an historical drama. The story leads up to the Battle of the Bulge, but the events at the Western Front are very decidedly a backdrop, not a plot. The audience is left following the meandering adventures of Lt. Cappa (Steven Luke), which mostly consists of him speaking in his most gravely voice and pulling his rosary out of his jacket – when he’s not shooting Germans, of course.
The choice to make Wunderland an action movie is confusing because it is clear that the filmmakers did research surround WWII. This was most apparent in the historical profiles of men who fought in WWII that scrolled at the end of the credits, but as far as I could tell, none of those men were characters in the movie which is, again, confusing.
Wunderland is a beautiful movie. Editing is choppy at times, but Peter Wigand has an eye for capturing scenery and does a great bringing the audience into a winter “wunderland”. The score is also great, although sometimes misused. (For instance, there were a couple scenes where the soundtrack playing behind the Germans was so victorious that I started to think that I had missed something and they might actually be Americans.)
The strongest part of Wunderland is the fight sequences. Steven Luke has one great bit of hand-to-hand combat about halfway through the movie and the firefights are fun to watch. It feels a little weird to enjoy watching people shoot each other when you know that the story is about actual events, but, like I said earlier, this is an action movie. It is fun to watch everyone run around in a snowy forest shooting service rifles, anti-tank rifles, and setting up trip wires.
You should see this movie if you want to see some of your favorite Minnesotan actors in action, if you are looking for an action movie with just enough historical reference to give it a little weight, and if you like goats. I’m not even going to explain that one. See it for the goat. Thank me later.
Review by Laura Schaubschlager
Director: Vanessa Magowan Horrocks
Witch follows a babysitter, X, who plays an ongoing game with their ward, Aima, where they pretend to be in a constant fight with an evil witch. Soon, however, the lines of reality blur, and it begins to seem as if their game isn’t as imaginary as X originally believed.
While Witch is listed under the “horror” section on the TCFF schedule, I wouldn’t categorize it as such. While there are some horror aspects to it (especially the character design of the witch), it’s much more of a psychedelic sci-fi fantasy- which is awesome, but I wish I had known that going in, rather than assuming it would be a horror film, since I kind of had to mentally shift gears and adjust my expectations while watching. That said, this is an absolutely beautiful movie. It’s full of dream-like animation, lush set design, and detailed costuming. Even the sound is gorgeous, from the background noises to the score. There are some moments where the music and sound effects overwhelm the dialogue (which is unfortunate, because the script is lovely and really makes me want to read the novella the movie is based on), but overall, this is a stunning film, visually and in terms of sound.
The acting in Witch is excellent as well. The cast is small but solid. The standouts are, without question, the actors playing X and Aima. X is funny and genuine, and Aima is ridiculously talented for such a young actor. The two have excellent chemistry.
While Witch isn’t available for purchase yet, the filmmakers are working with a distributor, so if you weren’t able to catch it at TCFF, hopefully you’ll be able to buy or stream it soon. In the meantime, the soundtrack is available on Bandcamp and is absolutely worth listening to. I sincerely hope this movie is shown at more festivals in the future, because it definitely deserves the screen-time.
Nor Any Drop to Drink
Review by Andrew Ellis
Director: Cedric Taylor
Nor Any Drop to Drink takes a deep look into the problems that caused the water crisis in the first place as well as showing us how much has changed – or hasn’t. The documentary forgoes the tradition of having a narrator guide us through the story, and lets those involved in the fight tell it instead. While there were many captivating moments in the feature length documentary that kept you hanging onto every word, there were also those that made you wonder how long this was going to go on for.
The shining moments belong to the residents for Flint who have been effected by the crisis, and are still paying the price long after the reporters and activists are gone. The film opens on an older African American woman who we see throughout the documentary using bottled water for everything, and explaining the effect the lead-infected water has on the human body overall. Two other women talk about the effect it has on their kids and how it changed one of them to a point where her son is now homeschooled.
Then are the other interviews. These are with government officials and other experts who attempt to explain the circumstances that lead to crisis, and what kept it from being solved. While they were important they were explaining details that most viewers might find hard to follow. They have plenty of expertise, but when they get into the hard details of certain aspects it becomes hard to follow especially with no accompanying visual graphics to highlight key information for the viewer. And in the age of short attention spans it’s an easy way to allow one’s mind to wander away from the screen.
The heart is there. There is no doubt the filmmaker cares about this topic. Unfortunately, passion does not always lead to a well-crafted story.
– Review by Andrew Ellis
Stay tuned for additional TCFF reviews/interviews… as well as two Halloween Specials coming tomorrow and Wednesday!