MSP Int'l Film Festival: Week 2

Vita.mn | Updated 4/24/2013

The best globe-spanning flicks from Week 2.

“NoNo the Zigzag Kid”
Provided photo

Thursday 4.18

Kuma

⋆⋆⋆½ 4:45 p.m. Thu. • also 2:10 p.m. April 28 • Austria/Turkey

Fatma, the cancer-stricken matriarch of a Turkish family in Vienna, takes out an unusual insurance policy to provide for her family after her death: a young woman whom she recruits to become her husband’s second “wife,” or kuma — while she is still living. The kindhearted Ayse’s arrival into Fatma’s household (and into her husband’s bed) discomforts her handsome son and provokes hostility in her daughters. The central conceit might be hard for Westerners to comprehend, but it’s sold by the utterly radiant Begüm Akkaya as Ayse and the tender relationships that somehow survive the inevitable cataclysm. (93 min.) Cynthia Dickison

INFORMANT

⋆⋆⋆ 5 p.m. Thu. • also 5:10 p.m. Sun. • USA

Jeremy Piven-looking Brandon Darby is an ever-present if somewhat slippery narrator of his own dramatic political about-face. He went from way-left community organizer in post-Katrina New Orleans to an informant who helped the FBI build a case against two young protesters at the 2008 GOP convention in St. Paul, both of whom went to prison for making (but not using) Molotov cocktails. Anyone interested in movement politics in the 21st century will get plenty to ponder in this well-made American story. (82 min.) Claude Peck

JACKPOT

⋆⋆½ 9:55 p.m. Thu. • also 10:30 p.m. April 27 • Norway

Bloody hilarious. If you can take the regular splatterings by bullet, ax, table saw, nail gun and a Norwegian version of the “Fargo” wood chipper, this black comedy based on a story by bestselling crime writer Jo Nesbo is pretty amusing. Four lunks win big on a soccer bet, there’s a high-body-count shootout at Pink Heaven strip club, and the multiplying versions of what really happened are teased out by an imperturbable, turtleneck-wearing detective. Kyrre Hellum is appealing as the deadpan protagonist, Oscar. Beware that finger in the cheese doodles, and enjoy the ride. (90 min.) C.P.

Friday 4.19

PersistEnce of Vision

⋆⋆⋆½ 6:30 p.m. Fri. • USA/Canada/United Kingdom

If you’re a fan of documentaries about the making of movies, don’t miss this fascinating look at what could have been the greatest animated film of all time. Multiple Oscar winner Richard Williams (“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”), along with a devoted team of animators toiled away for almost three decades on the never finished “The Thief and the Cobbler.” From the glimpses of footage and varied interviews, it’s obvious “Cobbler” was going to be some next-level stuff, and perhaps Williams was doomed from the outset never to finish. (83 min.) ERIK MCCLANAHAN

LÀ-BAS: A CRIMINAL EDUCATION

⋆⋆⋆ 6:45 p.m. Fri. • also 3 p.m. Sat. • Italy

– a town outside Naples — is home to 20,000 African immigrants. In “Là-bas,” we meet one of them: Yssouf, a fresh-faced, devout Muslim artist. Yssouf arrives in squalor, but soon meets up with his wealthy, drug-dealing uncle Moses. Soon, our protagonist is skipping prayer, drinking with prostitutes and assisting in his uncle’s coke-trafficking business. He’s never comfortable, but heeds Moses’ mantra: “Poverty is what’s dangerous.” Predictably, Yssouf’s journey turns “Boogie Nights”-in-the-’80s dark. While not without blemishes, the heartfelt storytelling of “Là-bas” trumps many bigger-budget crime flicks. (100 min.) JAY BOLLER

WHAT MAISIE KNEW

⋆⋆⋆ 7 p.m. Fri. • also 6:30 p.m. Sat. • USA

“What Maisie Knew” moves Henry James’ complex and affecting story of a child of divorce to present-day Manhattan. Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan play Maisie’s wildly manipulative mom and dad, who use the child as hostage, bargaining chip and human shield in their emotional warfare. In a heartfelt debut, Onata Aprile, 6 when the film was shot, shines as the privileged but neglected child. Without jerking tears, “Maisie” conjures the emotional state of an innocent girl in the midst of a power struggle, gradually realizing her parents will fight over her, but not for her. (93 min.) COLIN COVERT

 

HARRY DEAN STANTON: PARTLY FICTION

⋆⋆⋆½ 9:35 p.m. Fri. • Switzerland

Celebrity-driven docs are routinely hailed as “intimate”; this one actually is, simply by allowing its subject to be himself. “He dared to be fragile,” an interviewee says of Harry Dean Stanton, the gruff yet tender character actor best known for his “Here, kitty” death scene in “Alien.” Still gaunt and pale but boyishly handsome at 86, Stanton — a bewitching raconteur, as well as a crooner and philosopher of sorts — lets us see past those melancholy eyes to a soul that’s both gracious and a little guarded. (76 min.) ROB NELSON

 

ANTIVIRAL

⋆⋆½ 11:45 p.m. Fri. • also 10 p.m. April 25 • Canada

Tipping the scale in favor of its recommendability, this body-horror gore-fest from Brandon Cronenberg — son of David — reads as something of an Oedipal endeavor, the son trying and failing to slay the father through parody. Still, the film is mostly a slog. As in Dad’s immortal “Videodrome,” a death-wishing misanthrope heads graveward via some kind of corporate contagion — in this case, the marketing of celebrities’ injectable diseases as the next big buzz. “Antiviral” unwittingly makes another case for the elder Cronenberg’s cinematic superiority. (113 min.) R.N.

Saturday 4.20

THE PAINTING

⋆⋆⋆½ 11 a.m. Sat. • France

Only the French could conjure such an exquisite trifle of a film. This truly family-friendly animated tale, which everyone can and should enjoy, is more layered than your mother’s taco dip, but much better for you. Director Jean-François Laguionie deftly balances fun adventure and gorgeous animation with a hat trick of astute, thoughtful allegories — sociopolitical race relations, art/creationism and an existential nightmare — all weaved together like a fine Persian rug. Audience members not smiling as the credits roll after a near-perfect twist ending need to check their pulse. (78 min.) E.M.

Caesar Must Die

⋆⋆⋆½ 7:15 p.m. Sat. • also 2 p.m. April 28 • Italy

A drama-documentary about a staging of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in a high-security Rome prison. We meet the real inmate/actors, a band of drug runners and killers for whom Marc Antony’s refrain about “men of honor” surely carries Mafioso reverberations. Directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani follow the troupe through auditions, rehearsals and the final performance before a civilian audience. It’s never quite clear where the boundaries of reality vs. staged performance run in this play-within-a-play. What is certain is how powerfully the actors relate to the tale of betrayal and backstabbing. (76 min.) C.C.

Sunday 4.21 

NONO, THE ZIGZAG KID

⋆⋆⋆⋆ 11 a.m. Sun. • also 2 p.m. April 28 • Netherlands/Belgium

When winsome, imaginative Nono Feierberg grows up, he wants to be like his father, Holland’s top police inspector. After a stunt at his cousin’s bar mitzvah, Nono is dispatched by train to his stern, professorial uncle. En route, Nono finds a message in his bag that sends him on a “Pink Panther”-style caper involving a gentlemanly master thief, a torch singer (Isabella Rossellini) whose signature is “Whatever Lola Wants” and a beguiling family mystery. The kicky setting: mid-1970s Europe. Say yes to the cute and clever “Nono.” (90 min.) Marci Schmitt

THE PARADE

⋆½ 8:45 p.m. Sun. • also 1 p.m. April 28 • Serbia

Maybe, in its native Serbia, “The Parade” instills pride, but here this would-be comedy about a gangster’s unlikely role in gay rights activism appears merely dimwitted and homophobic. In order to enlist effeminate Mirko (Goran Jevtic) as his wedding decorator, middle-aged tough guy Lemon (Nikola Kojo) agrees to provide protection to otherwise helpless gays in Belgrade. Wackiness ensues! Even thugs can be “gay-friendly”! Writer/director Srdjan Dragojevic will need to live without a GLAAD award, while many of those outside his neighborhood will do just fine without the movie. (115 min.) R.N.

 

Monday 4.22 

POLLUTING PARADISE

⋆⋆⋆ 5 p.m. Mon. • also 11:30 a.m. April 27 • Germany

Heavy-hitting German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin returns with something a little different in “Polluting Paradise,” a documentary about government malfeasance in Camburnu, his grandparents’ hometown. The powers-that-be have turned part of this beautiful coastal area into a stinking landfill. You can probably imagine this new development upsets the locals. Expect the same if you watch the film. But it’s well worth the inevitable blood boiling. (98 min.) E.M. 

STUDENT

⋆⋆⋆½ 7 p.m. Mon. • also 9 p.m. April 28 • Kazakhstan

Kazak auteur Darezhan Omirbayev’s faithful yet unique adaptation of Dostoevski’s “Crime and Punishment” is a pared-down tour de force in the ascetic style of Robert Bresson. The Raskolnikov stand-in is a nameless student whose disdain for the world around him is written with piercing clarity on his face. His injudicious crime acts as a rejection of the skewed power structures and the academic arrogance he lives under. His punishment, however, is more of a resignation than redemption, with even his confession falling on deaf ears. (90 min.) KATHIE SMITH

FUCK FOR FOREST w/ THE CAPSULE

⋆⋆ / ⋆⋆⋆⋆ 9:45 p.m. Mon. • also 10 p.m. April 26 • Poland/Germany; Greece

Exhibitionism, activism and free spirits unite to save the planet in “F*ck for Forest,” a documentary about the good intentions but poor planning of selling erotic home movies for the environment. The eye-rolling and tedious first half unexpectedly gives way to a more subtle examination of the world’s idealism and cynicism. Far more interesting is “The Capsule,” an experimental short film from Athina Rachel Tsangari. With hyper-stylized sets, costumes and choreography, this eye-popping pageant dives into the methodical rituals in what seems to be a mysterious feminine rite of passage. (85/ 35 min.) K.S.

Tuesday 4.23

CHILDREN OF SARAJEVO

⋆⋆⋆ 9:55 p.m. Tue. • also 3 p.m. April 27 • Bosnia-Herzegovina/Germany/France/Turkey

Bosnian filmmaker Aida Begic’s follow-up to her bitter “Snow” believably depicts postwar Sarajevo as a place where peace is still hard to come by. The movie follows a pair of orphaned siblings — 23-year-old Rahima (Marija Pikic), a Muslim restaurant cook, and her teenage brother Nedim (Ismir Gagula). Begic’s preference for stark realism over conventional storytelling helps turn the city into the film’s main character, although the struggles of Nedim and particularly Rahima, brilliantly played by Pikic, remain compelling throughout. (90 min.) R.N.

Wednesday 4.24

CIRCLES

⋆⋆⋆½ 4:10 p.m. Wed. • also 4:15 p.m. April 28 • Serbia, Germany, France, Croatia, Slovenia

A mesmerizingly sparse look at the consequences of one man’s act of common humanity, this Serbian drama leaves a mark not with words, but the space between words. When a soldier comes to the aid of an abused Turkish shopkeeper, the audience is left wondering what happened as the movie jumps 12 years ahead. While characters deal with wounds unhealed, more and more is revealed about the incident which was the catalyst for this ongoing human reaction. Body language and epic cinematography propel this emotional enigma. (113 min.) Spencer Doar

The East

⋆⋆⋆ 6:45 p.m. Wed. • USA

A compelling eco-anarchist thriller. Screenwriter-star Brit Marling plays an ex-FBI agent who infiltrates militant groups for a top corporate security firm. Her loyalties begin to shift as she grows closer to a collective taking reprisals against untouchable corporate polluters. Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page play the commune’s leaders, whose tactics are as vicious as their motives are understandable. Patricia Clarkson exudes Iron Lady authority as Marling’s calculating superior. Director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij keeps the tone tense and the surprises coming until the credits roll. (116 min.) C.C.

THE DEFLOWERING OF EVA VAN END

⋆⋆⋆ 9:35 p.m. Wed. • also 9:20 p.m. April 27 • Netherlands

Eva van End is not a pretty girl. She’s 15, awkwardly dressed, uncomfortable in her skin and ignored by her frazzled family, who are all dealing with problems and neuroses of their own. They don’t even notice when Eva announces they’ll be hosting a German exchange student in their Dutch home, but once the (attractive and charming) student arrives, he turns their household on its head and shakes up Eva’s world. Director Michiel ten Horn makes “Eva” (both film and character) sweet, sad and wry all at once. (98 min.) KARA NESVIG

 

Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

What: More than 200 films from more than 60 countries.

When: April 11-28.

Where: St. Anthony Main Theatre, 115 SE. Main St., Mpls.

Tickets: $12 per screening. Six-packs $62; festival passes $275-$400. www.mspfilmfest.org.

Web: Continuing coverage at www.vita.mn/ movies.