APRIL Viewing Recap + Movie(s) of the Month


Spring is in the air!! It’s still relatively cool this weekend and the sun was being bashful yesterday so we spent some time at Minneapolis Museum of Art on Saturday during its Art in Bloom exhibition. It’s so lovely to see cherry blossom tree bloomin’ at the park across the street… it was a perfect Spring day!


So here are movies I saw this month:

New-to-me Movies

(click on image to read my reviews on those marked w/ an asterisk)

Born to Be Blue
Born to Be Blue

Meet the Patels*

The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book*

A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire*

Look Who's Back
Look Who’s Back

Love & Friendship
Love & Friendship

The Lobster
The Lobster

Purple Rain
Purple Rain

Films watched at MSPIFF

Bollywood Hollywood
Bollywood Hollywood

My Internship in Canada
My Internship in Canada*

Mr. Pig*

Beeba Boys
Beeba Boys*


A Copy Of My Mind
A Copy Of My Mind*

The Fencer
The Fencer*


Sing Street
Sing Street

I ended up seeing only nine films at MSPIFF on the big screen. Alas, I didn’t have time to watch any of the online screeners, but I hope to watch them later this month. If I had to pick three out of the ones I’ve seen at MSPIFF, it’d be The Fencer, Beeba Boys and Sing Street. So in total I watched 17 new-to-me movies which is quite a lot by my standards! I’ve reviewed pretty much ALL of the MSPIFF films except for Sing Street which I will do so next week!


Of course I’ll always make time for Sam Riley, so I rewatched the WWII drama Suite Francaise with my girlfriends on movie night on the first week of April, and Control which is still as cool and heartbreaking as the first time I saw it. There’s always time for period dramas too, of course, so I did manage to fit in the BBC miniseries of Sense & Sensibility after I saw the delightful Love & Friendship that’s based on Jane Austen’s epistolary novel. I also watched The Mummy, we weren’t planning on it but saw it came across the screen as we’re browsing Netflix and thought, what the heck. It was still pretty entertaining, though the whole time I was thinking about Brendan Fraser’s dismal career trajectory. So apparently the reboot starring Tom Cruise is set for June 2017!



I’ve watched quite a few music-related films lately, be that biopics or fiction, and I’ve enjoyed them quite a bit. It was tough to pick just one favorite this month given how many great indie films I’ve seen this past month. But I picked two that no doubt have awesome 80s-themed soundtracks as well as being immensely entertaining. So it’s three for three for John Carney, as I’ve enjoyed all three of his feature films so far (the first two being Once and Begin Again). Nice to see Carney went back to his Irish roots with Sing Street.

As for Purple Rain, it was a bittersweet experience watching it. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen it before yesterday, but I certainly ended April movie watching with a bang. The live performances were really the reason to see this, but Prince were decent in the dramatic scenes too, plus it’s a treat to see Minneapolis (esp First Avenue club) being featured prominently. Of course I teared up during the Purple Rain scene. Prince was absolutely phenomenal as one would expect, but that song was also very emotional in the context of the film (in which his character dedicated to his dad) and also emotional given the music icon’s no longer with us.


Well that’s my recap of April. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?

Random Thoughts: How do you feel about DVD commentaries?

I was having lunch with my good friend Becky (a.k.a Prairiegirl) a couple of weeks ago when all of a sudden, we started talking about DVD commentaries. Now, prior to this conversation, I have not seen ANY dvd commentary before, ever. In fact, I think I must’ve accidentally hit the ‘play movie with commentary’ button by mistake once, but as soon as I heard people talking I went back to the menu again.
Well, the following day, Becky lent me her Tristan + Isolde dvd and that’s the first time I discovered the dvd commentary feature (the screenwriter’s version) and I gotta admit, it was actually quite interesting to listen to. I definitely appreciate the whole movie-making process a whole lot more. And since it was from a screenwriter’s perspective, I got a glimpse of what it took from a draft script to an actual feature film and how much alterations have been made from the writer’s original version. Fascinating stuff, for me anyway.
Anyway, here’s Becky’s comments about her discovery and experience on DVD commentary:
I don’t remember the first time I noticed something called a Commentary, usually found bundled under Special Features along with the likes of The Making Of [movie name], Deleted Scenes and Trailers on a movie DVD. And once I discovered it, I was amused. Does someone really talk over the ENTIRE movie, while you watch it all over again, and for the most part, sans original sound? Well, yes indeed, they do.
So one day I gave it a try. But after about 15 minutes of listening to a combination of directors, producers and actors commenting about the most trivial stuff, and who weren’t even in sync with what was happening at the moment on screen, I hit the Eject button. I’m sure it wasn’t a movie I was in love with, maybe that’s why all the drivel made no sense, and was not entertaining or enlightening in any way.
But then one day I must have seen one that was interesting from beginning to end, so then I got hooked. Most DVD’s don’t have any type of commentary, so when I found a movie I really liked and that did have one, I started to check them out. I still nixed several right in the bud, but a few stand out as gems. One of the best isn’t that recent, and had no commentary on the original. The Purple Rain 20th Anniversary Edition (2004) commentary by director Albert Magnoli, producer Robert Cavallo and cinematographer Donald E. Thorin was everything a commentary should be. Their vivid recollection of filming 20 years earlier was remarkable, and satisfied almost every curiosity I had about the film.

I love this film, partly because a large part of it was shot here in Minneapolis and at the real First Avenue (here I go, dating myself on this blog again, but a college friend used to drag me there with her in the mid to late 70s to see Prince in person all the time. I didn’t care much for his music at the time, but “oh, who cares about the music, just go to watch his sexy dancing!” was her excuse to get me to go with her). So their comments about the characters, story, sets, locations, weather, and extras enhanced the movie more than I ever thought a commentary would.
And more recently, one of the best commentaries was by the screenwriter of Tristan and Isode (2006), Dean Georgaris. This is an excellent film, and I fell hard for Rufus Sewell in it, so that was an excuse for me to glow over the commentaries. Dean heartwarmingly tells what stayed the same, and what changed (for better or worse), and when he was involved in the changes and when he was not, of his original screenplay. And when he praised Rufus’ acting skills for his part as Lord Marke, he confirmed what I already knew. And this DVD is unusual because it includes two commentaries, with another one by the producer and coproducer, who paint a completely different picture of the movie, also quite well done. Although with two or more commenting throughout, there’s inevitably some tangents they go off on and private jokes that go over your head, so that’s a negative, but when it’s kept to a minimum you tend to forgive.

So, from now on, I will keep testing the commentary waters, looking for more diamonds in the rough.

What thoughts do you have about commentaries? Let us know.