Minneapolis-St. Paul 2012 international Film Festival
The Eye of the Storm (Australia) directed by Fred Schepisi
It’s not unreasonable to have high expectations of Geoffrey Rush, and he delivers on them in The Eye of the Storm, a film about two grown children who return to Sydney to see their dying mother. The threads of the film come a bit loose at the end, but that doesn’t detract from the pleasure of watching the stellar performances in this warm, hard, and at times humorous family drama. –Frank Bures
Shows April 14 at 7:15 p.m. and April 15 at 2:45 p.m. Director present.
Bert Stern: Original Madman (USA) directed by Shannah Laumeister
“I can see very well,” says Elton John … as clearly as I can see, through Shannah Laumeister’s documentary, that Bert Stern is a man who doesn’t just snap pictures, but creates ideas through his lens where he sees “women as goddesses and men as slaves.” In three days’ time Stern develops a 2,600 photo biography of Marilyn Monroe six weeks before her suicide. Although he insists, “I don’t take the pictures, I just push the button,” Laumeister’s biographical journey into Stern’s mind shows us it takes one to know one in the case of pushing buttons. Done through an unfiltered lens we come to know the artist as not just a madman, but the genius behind madness. I hear echoes singing, “Take my word I’m a madman don’t you know.” –Suzanne Nielsen
Shows April 13 at 7:30 p.m. and April 14 at 7 p.m.
Italy, Love It or Leave It (Italy) directed by Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi
In Ragazzi and Hofer’s new documentary they’ve become discouraged about living in Italy as a gay couple and decide to travel throughout their beloved country for six months to decide whether or not to emigrate. They find a complex modern Italy, with its scandals, corruption, fascism, inhumane policies, and at the same time its heroic attempts to save the environment, protect the dignity of women, fight the Mafia … —Mary Ann Vincenta
Shows April 28 at 7:20 p.m. and April 29 at 2:45 p.m.
Director Gustav Hofer attending.
Elena (Russia) directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev
An exquisitely shot and acted film that centers around the life of the title character, Elena, who is the legal spouse of Vladimir, but in reality more of a kept woman. As such, she straddles both the luxurious world in which Vladimir lives and the post-soviet dystopia of her son and his family. As Vladimir nears the end of his life, Elena must decide on which side her loyalty, and Vladimir’s money, lie. –Frank Bures
April 15 at 8:45 p.m. and April 19 at 7:15 p.m.
Swirl (Brazil) directed by Clarissa Campolina and Helvécio Marins Jr.
Found Memories (Brazil) directed by Julia Murat
Swirl (“Girimunho”) and Found Memories are similar on the surface: They move slowly; they are set in beautiful, remote areas of Brazil each with its poverty and labor-intensive lifestyle; there’s a lot of singing; and the main character is a very old woman whose important relationships are with the living and the dead. There ends the similarity.
Non-professional actors more or less play themselves in Swirl. Maria Sebastiana Martins Álvaro, perhaps a hell-raiser in her youth, is an intensely alive, fearless octogenarian who likes to party. She now maintains a cantankerous relationship with her husband’s ghost. Brilliant images, off-color lyrics, intricate musical rhythms, the most mundane of activities and long silences comprise this feast for the senses. In Found Memories, Madalena, played mournfully by Sônia Guedes, clings to life by baking bread and writing passionate love letters to her departed husband. Daily sparring with her employer/admirer, the tiny community’s daily Masses with meals, and the mysterious appearance of a young woman on foot suggest some kind of hidden meaning, but I was not able to uncover it. The film begs you to understand it. –Mary Ann Vincenta
Swirl shows April 16 at 7:30 p.m. and April 25 at 5 p.m.
Memories shows April 13 at 7:15 p.m. and April 29 at 9 p.m.
The Salt of Life (Italy) directed by Gianni Di Gregorio
A comedy about a marginally prosperous but pensioned-out middle aged man whose powers, sexual and otherwise, are waning, as he watches his peers, including his aging lawyer, somehow still successfully on the make. After a hilarious pitch-perfect first hour, this film has its own mid-life crisis, devolving into psychedelia and a contrived, seemingly irrelevant conclusion. –D. Rubenstein
Shows April 13 at 5:15 p.m. and April 15 at 4 p.m.
30 Years of Darkness (Spain) directed by Manuel H. Martín
The Spanish Civil War led to a lifetime of hiding, not just for Manuel Cortes, the film’s protagonist, but for many day laborers who spent over 30 years in solitude to avoid death. The film follows Cortes’ life over three decades, throughout which he remains a “mole,” hiding out in a cramped hole, unable to even remove his own feces. This portrayal of fear among Spaniards is reminiscent of lives like Anne Frank’s, although with a positive outcome, at least for Cortes, who is pardoned in 1969. Through interviews, actual footage and comic book graphics we relive history and the fear felt by the oppressed. “If you endure you may win,” is the mantra of the film. If you endure watching fear escalate without being consumed by thoughts of America’s spreading oppression like a disease among our laborers, our middle class, or what’s left of it, and our level of trust in government, I suggest you watch this film. Then I suggest you act accordingly: Hide. We are reminded: “The motives that lead a person to hide are usually politically motivated.” –Suzanne Nielsen
April 15 at 12:45 p.m. and April 19 at 5 p.m.
Restoration “Boker Tov Adon Fidelman” (Israel) directed by Yossi Madmony
A 40-year friendship ends when Yaakov’s business partner, Max, suddenly dies in the arms of a prostitute. Based on the woman’s photo, Yaakov sets out to find her, hoping she will reveal his friend’s last sentiments. The story is about loss of love and trust and also involves the convoluted emotions of a father-son relationship as evidenced in Yaakov’s relationship with his son, Noah. As life ends for Max, another life begins for Yaakov’s daughter-in-law, Rava, as she gives birth to Noah’s son, Yaakov’s grandson. A beautiful heartfelt movie with twists and turns that have us analyzing every move we make in life. –Suzanne Nielsen
Shows April 15 at 4:15 p.m. and April 25 at 4:45 p.m.