MSPIFF: Reviews of the rest

Il Divo glitters among duller bulbs like The Girl From Monaco, Just Another Love Story

St. Anthony Main, April 19 at 2:15 p.m. and April 26 at 5 p.m.

The Fado is a dolorous folksong tradition from Portugal, first sung in the early 19th century by barefoot peasants mending nets and contemplating a roiling black Atlantic. It has survived to the present day, providing MP3 succor to middle-class professionals on antidepressants (lyric: "It was God's will that I live with anxiety")—and now it's the subject of a film revue by the venerable Carlos Saura. Contemporary celebs appear (superstar fadista mewlers Mariza and Lura), alongside ghosts (Amália "Queen of Fado" Rodrigues). Saura is formally ambitious—a troupe travels through the film, articulating lyrics in dance—but the movie missteps when departing wholly from the intrinsic nostalgia of its subject, as the seventysomething director imposes his idea of contemporary cool: interspersed hip-hop trio NBC, SP & Wilson, and Brazilian reggae artist Toni Garrido. The sequestering of performers into warehouse-studio spaces adds a certain chill to the proceedings, but there are happy exceptions. Nonagenarian Argentina Santos fills her single-take frame with stout gravitas. The penultimate scene takes place in the House of Fados, a Freed Unit version of a Lisbon barroom, its walls a graveyard of headshots, where song is passed around like a challenge and teenaged braceface Carminho shuts the place down. —Nick Pinkerton

Tuesday, April 21

WHAT REMAINS OF US

St. Anthony Main, April 21 at 5:20 p.m. and April 22 at 5:10 p.m.

Rumba
Rumba

Details

MSPIFF Info

April 16-30, 2009

SCREENING LOCATIONS
St. Anthony Main: 115 Main St. SE, Mpls.; 612.331.4723
Oak Street Cinema: 309 Oak St. SE, Mpls.; 612.331.3134

ADMISSION
$10 ($9 online; discounts at box office for students and seniors). Visit mspfilmfest.org for prices for opening- or closing-night films, 5- and 10-movie packages, and all-access Gold Passes.

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When China cracked down on Tibet in the months before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it served as yet another sad reminder to the world that a country—and an ancient peaceful culture—is in serious danger of being lost forever. This 2004 documentary by Francois Prévost and Hugo Latulippe demonstrates this reality by venturing into Tibet on a very specific mission. Kalsang Dolma, a Tibetan-Canadian, smuggled in a portable DVD player loaded with a short message from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and she sought opportunities to play it for as many people as possible—nuns, monks, families, farmers, youth. This was a very risky act—the prisons are filled with Tibetans caught supporting the Dalai Lama—yet many still watched, their bodies leaning forward, palms together, listening intently to his every word, tears in their eyes. One fears for these faithful—will the Chinese see this and exact a punishment? On the film's official website the directors address ethics and security measures, and the Tibetans are aware of the potential backlash. The fact that they are still willing to sacrifice so much to see and hear their spiritual leader for just a few minutes is truly inspiring. —Caroline Palmer

Wednesday, April 22

HOW ABOUT YOU

St. Anthony Main, April 22 at 9:30 p.m. and April 30 at 5:15 p.m.

Again with the grumpy old geezers burnished into old dears just in time for Christmas by a rosy young beauty with problems of her own? The twist here being that the embittered seniors languishing in a down-at-heel Irish retirement home appear to be former flower children, on account of them swearing like troopers and whipping out the tokes whenever Authority leaves the room. It was surely shrinking employment opportunities in British film rather than the caliber of the material that attracted such a stellar cast to this ensemble piece adapted from a short story by Maeve Binchy, a superior pop-fiction writer widely read by my mum and her friends. When Pat O'Connor made a movie out of a Binchy novel, the charming 1995 Circle of Friends, it launched the admittedly brief career of Minnie Driver. Though capably enough directed by Anthony Byrne, I can't see How About You doing anything for Hayley Atwell (Brideshead Revisited, The Duchess) that she hasn't already done for herself. As Rosy Young Beauty, she pluckily holds her own against the best in the business—Vanessa Redgrave as a boozy faded screen star, Imelda Staunton and Brenda Fricker as sheltered spinsters put away before their time, and Joss Ackland as an angry widower waiting to die. But the only crowds this stodgy little movie is likely to please tend to be home on a Saturday night, watching PBS. —Ella Taylor

Thursday, April 23

PERSONAL CHE

St. Anthony Main, April 23 at 5:40 p.m. and April 27 at 5 p.m.

This 2007 documentary by Adriana Marino and Douglas Duarte explores how Che Guevara—the Argentinian Marxist revolutionary who fought alongside Fidel Castro in Cuba and was later killed in Bolivia—has become, in death, a figure who is larger than life to many different people around the world. His iconic image is emblazoned on T-shirts and wristwatches. He is the inspiration to a rebellious legislator in Hong Kong, a reverent Cuban family in Havana, a Mexican memento collector in New Jersey, a Lebanese actor in a musical of Guevara's life, and, most frighteningly, the neo-Nazis who still march in Germany today. Still others consider him a terrorist and take offense at his constant presence in pop culture. As the film title points out, the interpretations are all unique and based as much on myth as fact. The filmmakers return time and again to the image of Guevara on display after his death—his piercing eyes are wide open but his face and body are gaunt. He looks like Jesus Christ, and many hold him in the same esteem and have ascribed a story and characteristics to him that may or may not be true. Ultimately, this well-made, provocative, and sometimes humorous film proves, if nothing else, that Guevara remains one of the most compelling and controversial political figures in recent history. —Caroline Palmer

Friday, April 24

BREAKING UPWARDS

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