MSPIFF: Reviews of the rest

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

St. Anthony Main, April 24 at 9:25 p.m. and Oak St. Cinema, April 25 at 3:30 p.m.

Writer Daryl (Daryl Wein) and actress Zoe (Zoe Lister Jones) are two New York twentysomethings in love. Although the cute couple's life together is hip and fun, it's also become a bit boring. They aren't really ready to break up, so they decide to take a few days off from one another each week—to find themselves and, perhaps, to find other people. It doesn't take long, however, before their seemingly rational plan falls apart. This 2009 film, directed by Wein and co-written with Jones, ably tackles the common problems of modern love, particularly the quandary of when to settle down with one person. The separation that develops between Daryl and Zoe is realistic—as is the fact that despite their hurt feelings they never really fall out of love with each other. Wein has a brisk directorial style—at times things seem to be moving too fast—but Breaking Upwards succeeds overall because it isn't aimed just at the relationship angst of the millennial generation. This is ultimately a story about unexpected outcomes, the promise of reconciliation, and the countless little things we learn from the people we encounter in our lives. —Caroline Palmer

JERUSALEMA

St. Anthony Main, April 24 at 9:45 p.m. and April 27 at 9 p.m.

Rumba
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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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There's very little about Jerusalema that we haven't seen a dozen times before. Ralph Ziman's South African crime drama is pretty upfront about copping from superior rags-to-riches gangster flicks like Goodfellas, Scarface, and City of God. With a few notable exceptions, nearly every scene and character is right out of the book of crime movie clichés. Yet somehow Jerusalema's fact-based story of a Johannesburg carjacker's rise to power is greater than the sum of its recycled parts. That has a lot to do with the setting—the unique nature of South Africa's tortured political and social structure lends Ziman's film a vibrance that overcomes his shaky screenplay. As we watch ambitious young hustler Lucky (Rapulana Seiphemo) rise from street thief to semi-legitimate real estate mogul and community organizer, his homeland's bizarre racial dynamics seethe constantly in the background. Nic Hofmeyer's slick, lively cinematography imbues the film with poignant energy, heightening the contrast between the slum side streets of Lucky's youth and the manicured suburban homes to which he aspires. The story may be nothing new, but the presentation and context place Jerusalema a notch above much of its stateside brethren. —Ira Brooker

THE SONG OF SPARROWS

St. Anthony Main, April 24 at 7:15 p.m.

The direct appeals of his melodramatic groundswells have long made Oscar-nominated Iranian director Majid Majidi a dismissed old-school counterpart to Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi. His latest film observes ostrich-wrangling father Karim (Reza Naji) struggling to remain the man of the house as he weathers a series of bad breaks. There's an element of silent comedy not just in the mild humor or Karim's tapir-nosed grimaces, but in the simple (not simplistic) sentiment of the scenarios: the pursuit of an escaped bird across barren hills, the businessman in cluttered Tehran who plops on his motorbike and instantly turns into a cabbie. Beleaguered Karim, fond but suspicious of his kids, shifts between overreacting and lugging stuff like a pack animal, as the city opens up new opportunities for profit and ethical quandaries. But his perspective begins to feel a bit confined in Naji's hands, and it's a shock when Karim busts out a ditty about the world being a lie and a dream, after his young son's crew endures a setback to their get-rich-quick-through-goldfish scheme. The film is pleasingly meandering, till the more typically Majidian soulful and teary-eyed climax. —Nicolas Rapold

Saturday, April 25

ELDORADO

St. Anthony Main, April 25 at 9:35 p.m. and April 29 at 5:45 p.m.

The back roads of Belgium are lonely in Bouli Lanners's odd but engaging road pic. In the film, which Lanners wrote, directed, and starred in, the countryside, highways, towns, and even cities of Belgium come off as deserted places, where only a few souls ever brave the elements or human contact. One of these lost souls is Yvan, a vintage-car dealer who comes home one evening to find a young man, Elie, trying to burgle his home. The man, claiming to be an ex-junkie, is just looking for money to get back to his parents' home at the French border. Thus starts a meandering road trip as Yvan, searching for direction himself, takes Elie across the country's rural paths. Along the way, they meet some odd characters—a man who collects cars involved in fatal accidents, a nudist who helps to rescue their trapped car in the buff—and slowly form a bond. The film is more about what's communicated in the long pauses in conversation, be it driving down the road or trying to bring life to Elie's mother's dead garden. The film's short running time (about 80 minutes) keeps Lanners's often slight piece from wearing out its welcome; it comes off more like a filmed short story than a cinematic epic. —Ed Huyck

IN A DREAM

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