By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
By Jesse Marx
By Maggie LaMaack
By Jake Rossen
Sunday, April 18, at 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, April 20, at 9 p.m.
All the acting lessons money can buy can't teach a perfect face, and Welcome has two at its core. Firat Ayverdi's limpid eyes and angular features suggest a Kurdish Michael Cera, while Vincent Lindon's craggy, haunted visage brings to mind a half-broken George C. Scott. Both men are perfectly cast in a film in which a subtle shift in expression is often more meaningful than any line of dialogue. Lindon is especially excellent as a freshly divorced swimming coach who becomes a reluctant mentor to Ayverdi's Iraqi refugee, a charismatic teen determined to cross the English Channel and reunite with his London-based girlfriend. While Welcome wears its heart on its sleeve—anti-immigration officials are depicted as smug automatons more interested in filling quotas than solving problems—politics mostly take a backseat to keen observations on humanity and devotion. What begins as a grim docudrama evolves into a genuinely moving story of two wounded men doing their damnedest to start over while dodging roadblocks both literal and figurative. —Ira Brooker
Wednesday, April 21, at 8 p.m.; Monday, April 26, at 9:40 p.m.
28th Annual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival:
Location St Anthony Main Theatre, 115 Main St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.331.4723
Admission $10 ($8 for students and seniors); $6 for weekday screenings before 6 p.m. Visit the MSPIFF website for prices on opening- or closing-night films, 6- and 12-pack packages, and all-access Gold Passes.
More Info www.mspfilmfest.org
Alicja, a rural teenage girl who has moved with her family to Warsaw, enters an inner-city junior high school and immediately gets mixed up with a trio of four-star bad girls. Obsessed with getting the latest in technology and clothes, but too poor to buy them, this clique, led by provocatively dressed Nena, offer their services to men of means—or "sponsors" as they call them—whom they troll for at malls and nightclubs. Katarzyna Roslaniec's feature, inspired by real-life girls in Poland who sell their bodies for little more than cell phones and trendy outfits, is funny, fascinating, and not a little depressing. There are few high jinks or normal adolescent travails, as the girls age beyond their years through partying, street (or rather, mall) walking, and engaging in grim appointments with their middle-aged sponsors. As Alicja and Milena, respectively, Anna Karczmarczyk and Dagmara Krasowska are naturals, and Roslaniec directs with a sure, efficient hand. In addition, the pop, club, and rap selections for the soundtrack are unusually good. —John Ervin
Friday, April 23, at 7 p.m.; Thursday, April 29, at 9:30 p.m.
Even Charlie Kaufman would admit that there's room in the world for a Charlie Kaufman lite. Enter Jac Schaeffer, the do-it-all auteur behind TiMER, a winning romantic comedy that shines through budgetary shortcomings and the trappings of its genre on the strength of nuanced performances and sharp, three-dimensional writing. TiMER's romantic reality is spiked by a novel twist—the romantically unattached get outfitted with a small implant that counts down the days and hours until the wearer makes eye contact with his or her star-crossed beloved. Smartly, TiMER addresses this scientific skyhook with a soft touch, and, as with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind's Lacuna, Inc., never invites the viewer to scoff or sneeze at its impossibility. What unfolds is a film that gently plumbs the ideas it presents: What is a soul mate? Does it exist? What if you don't like your soul mate? The film follows the prefab blueprint of the modern rom-com—there's a bawdy, overbearing mother; the armor-plated, gold-hearted, slutty sister; the sleepy, disarming male lead—but TiMER is at all times aware of itself and its absurdity. No, you won't emerge from TiMER in an evening-long debate about the nature of your own consciousness. But you might think a moment longer about the glance you exchange with that handsome stranger across the crowded bar. There's ham galore in TiMER, make no mistake, and though it belongs more to Along Came Polly than to Annie Hall, TiMER is a film that successfully strikes out for more than a cheap laugh with a kiss at the end. —David Hansen
Wednesday, April 21, at 5:15 p.m.; Sunday, April 25, at 4 p.m.
Jorge Machado and Roberta Palombini hail from very different worlds, but they fell in love, gave birth to a boy, Natan, and then separated. Machado, a wiry man of Mayan heritage, wants to show his five-year-old son the fisherman's unique way of life on Mexico's Banco Chinchorro, the largest coral atoll in the northern hemisphere, before Palombini takes Natan back to her native Italy. Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio follows their experience in this 2009 documentary that includes fictional narrative. The magic of the film lies within its spectacular natural setting—the clear blue waters of the Banco Chinchorro, a protected ecosystem, are home to an astonishing array of colorful wildlife. The camera follows Machado and his father, Nestór Marin, as they dive among the coral to spearfish or set their lines to snag barracuda. It takes a while for Natan to adapt, and as we witness his days of wonder, we too come to appreciate the combination of extreme beauty and occasional danger that define his father's existence. Natan is particularly charming as he develops his snorkeling skills, befriends a sea bird, sends a message in a bottle, and wisely learns to leave the crocodiles alone. This is a captivating film about a child who learns to love life on the water while also embracing his family's heritage. —Caroline Palmer