TCFF Day 3: Reviews of QUARTET and We Are Wisconsin Documentary

Man, can’t believe the third day of TCFF has come and gone already, time sure flies by fast when you’re having a good time! The highlight of the day for me is definitely seeing Quartet, Dustin Hoffman’s debut on the lives of retired musicians and Opera singers. Seems like people of all ages enjoyed the film, check out Ingrid Moss’ interview with the audience after the film:

And here are the reviews of the day:

QUARTET

I don’t know why but I quite enjoy comedies about old age… especially when it has a stellar seasoned cast! I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel recently, which I haven’t got a chance to review yet, and similarly, Quartet puts a comedic spin on aging and mix it with lush, beautiful music.

Based on a play by Ronald Harwood, Quartet is a dramedy, or specifically, it’s a comedy about the dramas of four retired opera singers as they deal with old grudges, passion, pride, romance… and Rigoletto. The all-British cast are led by Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins, with Michael Gambon as a curmudgeon opera director Cedric.

I tell you, I wish that in my old age I get to retire in a place like Beecham House! It’s the most opulent retirement home I’ve ever seen, people are treated like royalty here and there’s beautiful music every where you turn as the residents are either playing violins, piano, what have you, or singing together. It’s like living in an Opera house! But prima donna Jean Horton (Smith) isn’t keen on having to live here, despite such a tremendous welcome from current residents that harkens back to her old days. Her arrival also disrupts the peace of Reginald Paget (Courtenay) who shared a not-so-rosy past that he’s not prepared to let go.

The dynamics between them are fun to watch. Maggie Smith‘s character Jean is the most developed here as she navigates through pride and bruised ego, as well as attempting to atone for her failed relationship with Reginald (Regi for short). I’ve always loved stories of lost love and it’s depicted in such a sweet way. Billy Connolly is especially amusing with his cheeky remarks unabashedly flirts with all the women in Beecham House, including the young, compassionate doctor played by Sheridan Smith (whom I just saw recently in Hysteria). I’ve always liked the Scottish thespian since Mrs. Brown, and he was hilarious as Merida’s father in Pixar’s Brave earlier this year.

It’s no surprise what the major highlight of the movie is the music, and as a huge fan of classical music it’s such a treat for me. The whole thing feels like a love letter to classical music and opera, with also a nod to hip hop and rap. Say what? Yep there is an especially touching scene when Regi teaches a group of students and prompted one of them to perform rap in class.

I applaud Dustin Hoffman in crafting such a charming film. It’s not flawless however, the films feels meandering at times, but despite the lack of focus in parts, it’s still a delight to watch because of the performances. Hoffman is certainly deft in selecting the cast that works well together. I thoroughly enjoy this movie… beautiful music, mirthful dialog, gorgeous scenery and lovely performances. What’s not to love?

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Special thanks to the Minnesota Opera for sponsoring this film for TCFF!


We Are Wisconsin

I’m not sure why, but this screening was not sold out. Out of the three documentaries that I have seen so far, this was the best by a long shot. It communicated a serious issue that is close to home. We are Wisconsin spotlighted the occupation that took place during May in the Wisconsin State Capitol, as a result of the bill that Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans were trying to push through.

There was definitely biased towards the Liberal political views – or rather the people that opposed what was trying to be passed. There were moving testimonies from people leading and participating in the revolt, and the images of inside the Capitol as the issue progressed.

I had not followed this story in the news while it was going on, and before seeing this I still only had a loose grasp on exactly what happened. But after the first images of the people who were actively fighting for their beliefs I was transfixed. Many facts could have been omitted, but I was successfully convinced of the injustice politics can inflict on the government’s citizens.

Laura Glass, the main teacher that gave testimonies in the documentary, was present for this screening. Her presence in the audience helped drive home the feeling of how relevant this is in American culture. Footage of the protests and people occupying created this energy that made me feel like I should be taking a more active role in Minnesota’s politics for this November’s election. Real emotion was evoked, and that is not something every documentary accomplishes.

– review by Emery Thoresen

4 out of 5 reels


Also check out June’s review of Quartet & prankster comedy STAG
with Scrubs‘ Donald Faison

TCFF Schedule and Ticket Info »


Has anyone seen these films? Well, what did you think?

Counting Down to TCFF! Featuring ‘The Bully Project’ & ‘Like Crazy’ on Opening & Closing Night

In less than three weeks from today, the Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF) opens on September 20. The festival organizer has kindly asked me to be the lead blogger this year so I’ll be covering the event extensively, hopefully more so than I did last year on TCFF’s debut.

I’m excited that this year the event will take place at Showplace ICON Cinemas with The Shops at West End as the main sponsor. I love this cinema, it’s definitely a great alternative to AMCs with their state-of-the-art technology and reserved-seating feature, plus it’s a heck of a lot cleaner than most theaters in town.

I received the Press Release via email last week, and whilst I’m still waiting for the official line up to be announced, we’ve got info on the two movies that will open and close the event.

The Bully Project – Opening Night, Sept. 20

Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch will present The Bully Project, a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Hirsch will introduce the film and conduct a Q&A afterwards.

Here’s the summary per IMDb:
This year, over 5 million American kids will be bullied at school, online, on the bus, at home, through their cell phones and on the streets of their towns, making it the most common form of violence young people in this country experience. The Bully Project is the first feature documentary film to show how we’ve all been affected by bullying, whether we’ve been victims, perpetrators or stood silent witness.

Hirch’s previous work include Amandla! a Revolution in Four Part Harmony, Discovery Channel’s series documentary Next World, and a History Channel special, Act of Honor. The Bully Project is slated to open in the Twin Cities March 2012.

Like Crazy – Closing Night, Sept. 24

I love movies about bittersweet romances and Anton Yelchin is one of my favorite young actors working today, so I’m quite excited about this one. Like Crazy won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner and it tells the story of a British college student who falls for an American student, only to be separated from him when she’s banned from the U.S. after overstaying her visa. Being a US immigrant myself, the subject matter is certainly something I could relate to, though I’m very blessed that I ended up falling for someone from my own homeland 😉

Director/Co-Writer Drake Doremus (Douchebag) and star Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Fright Night) will introduce the film and host a Q&A following the screening. Yelchin has such a likable presence on screen, he was great as Checkov in Star Trek and I even like him as Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation. He was also at Comic Con to promote Fright Night and he seemed like a cool guy. I hope I’d be able to get at least a couple of soundbites from him later this month!

I quite like the trailer, despite its inherently romantic subject matter, it doesn’t look corny or overly-schmaltzy. There’s believable chemistry between Yelchin and the English-born Felicity Jones and their struggle to make their relationship work seems heartfelt and genuine. The music sounds good one as well, I love the Ingrid Michaelson’s rendition of Can’t Help Falling in Love playing in the background towards the end. Check out the trailer below:


I will post the 2011 TCFF complete schedule as soon as I have it, which hopefully will be Tuesday as the PR sheet says tickets is available beginning September 6th. I’m desperately hoping Machine Gun Preacher will be shown during the Fest as my friend Ted told me last week, fingers crossed!!

For more information & last year’s recap of TCFF, visit the official website.


If you live in the Twin Cities area, are you planning to attend TCFF this year? As for everyone else, are you interested to see either one of these films?

Everybody’s Chattin’ – Lists, blogathon … and some announcements

Happy Sunday everyone! Usually I reserve this post for Friday but hey, it never hurts to mix things up a bit right? I haven’t done this post in a while, but I promise I’ll try to do this on a more regular basis in the future. I truly believe in supporting fellow bloggers and promoting the movie blog communities, as a lot of you have been instrumental in supporting out my wee lil’ blog here @ FlixChatter. So anyhoo, check out these posts if you haven’t already:

FUN LISTS I’ve been enjoying this past week:

  • Custard from Front Room Cinema did one of his awesome weekly Thursday list, this time he compiled Top ten films based on dreams
  • Kevyn Knox from Anomalous Materials managed to tackle a difficult task of narrowing down 10 best movies about movies/making films from literally hundreds to choose from.
    ,..
  • I love singling out great, memorable scenes and this is the kind of posts I probably do once a year. Tyler from Southern Vision lists his picks of 20 Great Scenes from 20 Great Movies
    ,,,
  • I missed BlueJ’s birthday, but it’s never to late to wish her a happy birthday and check out her Birthday Top Ten on Yellow Brick Road blog of 10 favorite movies from each genres she watches regularly.
    ,..
  • You can count on the Ross-es from Ross vs. Ross for amusing & mischievous lists, including this one listing top six trees in movies in honor of Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life.
  • Tyler kindly pointed out this one that just got published the same time as this post: In honor of Bastille Day, John from TDYLF lists 50 Greatest French Films of All Time — if you’re in the mood for a French flick, you’ll know where to go 🙂

BLOG-A-THONS you might want to participate on:

  • Marc @ Go-See-Talk are spearheading a trifecta of blog-a-thons this Summer starting in July 30th until September 24. Check out his blog for details and see if you can participate in at least one or all of them. I might do the first one later this month on the ‘Double Feature Theater’ one.
  • John from John Likes Movies wants your reviews for his Criterion Blog-a-Thon! He’s been wanting to dig into the Criterion Collection at some point, and want reviews of Criterion titles to help him get started. There are prizes, too, which will be awarded on Labor Day. Check out his blog for more details.
  • Last but not least, Rich from Wide Screen World is spearheading a Hometown Blogathon on July 18-23. The rule is real simple: write about a movie, old or new, that takes place in your hometown, whether it’s the place you were born in or the place you live in now. If there is no movie about your hometown, you can pick a movie about your home state, province, or even country. Check out his blog for more details!

ROCK THE BLOCK PARTY

It’s that time of the year again! Last year, I participated in the debut of Twin Cities Film Fest by blogging and volunteering — you can check out my reviews/coverage of the event by clicking the TCFF tab at the top of the blog. I look forward to being a part of the festivities once again and the date has been set for September 20-25. To get ready for that event, TCFF is celebrating the summer with a block party at The Shops at WestEnd on July 16, a FREE event featuring live music, fashion and art. Unfortunately I’ll be out of town that weekend, but those of you in the Twin Cities, I encourage you to support this wonderful event and help spread the word out on the Film Fest! Visit the TCFF Official page for details.


Hope you’re enjoying your weekend, folks! Look for a variety of posts next week, including a Bond-related post, countdown to Comic-con and an ‘interactive’ post with a California theme to commemorate my trip 😀