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MSPIFF Film Reviews

The Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival is in full-swing. Lori and I have seen 5 films between us, and thought it would be fun to review a couple in video flesh. Behold, watch!

iPod/Quicktime  MP3

Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome ***½
There's a lot of good stuff here, but you know there's trouble when you're re-editing the film in your head after five minutes. Worth seeing if you're a fan for insider looks at Public Enemy and some good interviews with Henry Rollins and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello.

Traveling with Pets ****½
A gorgeously-shot, immersive essay about a young rural Russian woman (who looks like a young Tilda Swinton) faced with discovering who she is after her unsympathetic husband dies suddenly. Definitely an art-house film, but in the best sense. A few scenes are so striking and magical, it's hard not to feel you're watching something special. It can be a little slow, and some may not have the patience for the pace. I left feeling aglow.

Sextet **½
Disappointing overall, but amusing observations on sex and relationships might make it worth a look. Unfortunately, the structure of a "film within a film" is a distraction and makes the whole thing disjointed. There's also some really unnecessary animation, yet another idea they threw into the mix instead of making the story more compelling and coherent.

You, The Living (Du Levande) *****
My favorite film of the festival. It's full of ugly Swedes, in all their angst and absurdity and despair – and it's funny! The film has a really distinctive, soft painterly look with a palette of pale greens and muted pastels. It turns out that nearly every scene was built and staged in a studio, though this is completely transparent when you're watching. The film is really a series of loosely-connected vignettes, with certain characters recurring along with their dreams. Various members of a Louisiana brass band provide an unlikely and comforting soundtrack. This is a hard film to describe, but don't miss it if it comes back for "Best of Fest."

Clash of Egos ***½
If you've ever hated a Lars von Trier film, Clash of Egos is for you. This Danish film is the perfect palette cleanser in your festival schedule. The crux of the plot is that a blue-collar fellow, Tonny, is furious at the piece of crap art film he and his children have been subjected to. He goes after the director and demands his money back, ending up badly injured on set. Rather than take a money settlement, he ends up co-writing and co-directing the director's new film, turning it into a ridiculous action flick with lots of f-bombs. This satisfying and well-acted plot is diminished by a sappy, boring romantic subplot that ends the film on a predictable note.

What have you seen? We're planning to see Mondo Bondo on Wednesday, followed by the Mid-fest party at Red Stag Supper Club. We're also going to see Lynch, the documentary about David Lynch, and possibly Dean and Me: Road Show of an American Primary to find out how the filmmaker spent $100,000. Finally, we don't plan to miss Encounters at the End of the World, a documentary about Antarctica by Werner Herzog.

UPDATE: Instead of Mondo Bondo, which we heard was so-so, we saw Full Metal Village (***). The quaint, imperfect country folk of a rural German town don't seem to mind the presence of Korean documentary filmmaker Sung Hyung Cho in their daily routines. In fact, a great deal of time is spent on languid still shots that let the often funny details of their farm lives unfold. And then... the death metal festival arrives.

There's something deeply satisfying about a herd of cows running to heavy metal. If you're a metal fan you might be disappointed, since most of the time is spent on the village characters. I found it completely charming and well worth my time.

Lynch ****
This is for everyone who loved or hated Inland Empire. I kinda hated it, but somehow I can't get enough of Lynch telling weird stories, closing his eyes and demanding a one-legged 16 year old girl and a beautiful 23 yr old Eurasian, and yelling "fuck!" as often as possible. Glimpses into Lynch's filmmaking process are rare, and it's a little surprising he chose to let us in on his least cohesive, most haphazardly-envisioned film. Watching this documentary is almost enough to make me sit through Inland Empire again, though certainly not sober.

April 22, 2008 at 05:52 PM in Film, Local, VIDEO | Permalink


Great format. And great reviews. Really want to see Traveling With Pets. Had never heard of it. The hunt is on.

Posted by: Robert Croma at Apr 22, 2008 6:13:47 PM

he he really interesting
and funny little video clip
I love the part where the cows bagan to run like crazy.

Posted by: Jim at Jun 5, 2008 2:00:51 PM