Artists Of The Year

From escapist entertainment to aesthetic ecstasy: Twenty-nine writers script valentines to twelve months of culture

It was Kellogg's shift from liveliness to stillness that made the moment. Kellogg has an inimitable collection of instinct, professionalism, and creative reasoning that any director would crave, and past directors have lauded, which may be why she works so often, and in such diverse and interesting projects. This past year found Kellogg as the selfish, self-absorbed Mrs. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank at the Park Square Theatre; the eponymous lead in Ten Thousand Things' The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol; and the salt-encrusted wife of the Bible's Lot in Thrown by Angels. Each of these roles demonstrated Kellogg's restless, keen intelligence as a performer--amazing, as intelligence is so often a nuance that is lost onstage.

Max Sparber is a Minneapolis-based playwright and writer, and theater critic atCity Pages.

 

TIM MCCUSKER
by Amy Borden

 

Splitting his time between creative writing and work as a film-crew jack-of-all-trades, local director Tim McCusker specializes in the creation of projects that exist somewhere along the nebulous divide between movies and short stories. His third and most recent short film, "Napoleons" (which screened this year at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival and on the Independent Film Channel), harks back to the old Hollywood days of quick-fire dialogue--or, in McCusker's case, quick-fire monologue. It's driven by the filmmaker's near-20-minute recitation detailing an afternoon conversion that begins with his character quitting a dreary factory-management job and then trying desperately to spend the afternoon at his favorite coffee shop enjoying the world's finest caramel roll.

From start to finish, "Napoleons" is simply delightful, light but not frivolous in detailing the lament of our modern world. Here humanity takes a back seat to productivity--and humanity ultimately loses. Only the luckiest of men finds an oasis of simplicity and joy in this turbo-powered rat race. A good cup of coffee, a perfectly prepared confection, and a lively atmosphere for the evening paper provide the tranquil moments that make life grand.

Popular consensus has it that the Twin Cities is an exceptional place to discover independent filmmakers making worthy and intelligent films. Popular consensus isn't always correct. Although there are many talented filmmakers in the Cities, the best new work is often found in installations that feature cinema as one component among several. (Witness folk-film artist Craig Baldwin's Walker-sponsored The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: de facto(ry) films, or the many multimedia productions at this year's "Multiplex" event at the Soap Factory.) Still, while I adore installations, what I love even more is going to the movies. I want my heart to stop at the sight of an image, only to begin again from the rush of wicked dialogue. I want to be entertained not with fluff but with literate substance. Unfortunately, the films supported in our community often seem to foreground a hipness that trumps both careful thinking and forceful presentation. McCusker's "Napoleons" is a welcome exception to the rule. How refreshing it is to spend 20 minutes with a film that doesn't view self-obsession as a precondition.

Amy Borden is the programmer at Oak Street Cinema.

 

LIFTER PULLER
by Michaelangelo Matos

 

You weren't supposed to break up! You'd just made the album I've played more than anything else released in the last year, the album I've pushed on every willing and not-so-willing ear I can bend even halfway in my direction since I got the thing, the album that more than anything except my family and Little Tijuana makes me regret having moved away from Minneapolis, and you up and quit? What the hell is wrong with you people?!

It was the drugs, wasn't it? Well, okay, there probably weren't any, at least outside of the record. Still, there was so much substance abuse chronicled on Fiestas + Fiascos (Frenchkiss/Self-Starter Foundation) that Larry Clark should have optioned the film rights. "Queens of the Stone Age" got a single out of reciting the Physicians Desk Reference to guitar-bass-drums. But even at your most reportorial and sarcastic, you guys went further, diving headfirst into the nightlife's transient thrills and wrestling with the gnawing sense of rootlessness at its heart.

Maybe I'm just taking this all a little too personally. Fiestas' milieu is acutely familiar to me, thanks to dozens of local warehouse parties and two years' employment at First Avenue; maybe I'm guilty of over-romanticizing my own past. And I'm hardly unsympathetic to your reasons for ending the band. I know this was probably one of the most difficult decisions of your lives. I know you've been playing together for a good while and have relatively little to show for it. I know singer Craig Finn wanted to move to New York. But now that I'm out in Seattle, you made the album and played the local (for me) show--at the Crocodile Café on May 24. That night proved I wasn't just being hometown-sentimental, that you in fact were as good as any rock band in the country. Now, I can't help but feel a little disillusioned. Or at least a little more alone in the continuing battle against the end of the evening.

Michaelangelo Matos is a staff writer for Seattle Weekly and a frequent contributor toCity Pages.

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