The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival

A filmmaker from Minnesota tells the story behind a lost animated masterpiece, plus hits and misses of the fest by our critics

Friday, April 19, at 11:45 p.m.

Thursday, April 25, at 10 p.m.

The worm-ridden apple doesn't fall far from the gnarled Cronenberg tree. Brandon Cronenberg, son of horror auteur David, makes his debut with a film that could easily be mistaken for a work from his father. It's the kind of movie in which the revelation that people are eagerly dining on meat grown from the cells of celebrities is far from the most upsetting and horrifying moment. We go on a journey with Syd (Caled Landry Jones, Banshee in X-Men: First Class), a young employee of a clinic that doses clients in diseases culled from their favorite stars. He is also playing on the black market, hacking into the copyright-protected viruses and selling the cracked code for general consumption. Behind-the-scenes machinations catch up with Syd after he illegally doses himself with a brutal disease caught by Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon). The lingering still shots bring to mind both the work of Cronenberg's father and of Stanley Kubrick. The stiff, disengaged acting also brings Kubrick to mind. Jones's intense, disease-addled performance stands out from the sharp corners and gray skies that dominate the film. —Ed Huyck

Everybody Has a Plan

Animator Richard Williams worked on his epic feature for nearly 30 years but never got the chance to complete it
Animator Richard Williams worked on his epic feature for nearly 30 years but never got the chance to complete it

Details

THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION
screens Friday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m.
at St. Anthony Main Theatre.

Festival Facts: Dates: April 11-28 Location: St. Anthony Main Theatre, 115 Main St. SE, Minneapolis Admission: $12 ($6 for kids 12 and under). Visit the MSPIFF website for prices on opening- and closing-night films and multiple-show packages. More info: www.mspfilmfest.org

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Friday, April 19, at 4 p.m.

Sunday, April 21, at 9:25 p.m.

An identity crisis is at the heart of Everybody Has a Plan — but it's the film's. Even Viggo Mortensen's movingly enigmatic performance as identical twins can't help first-time Argentinean director Ana Piterbarg decide whether the film is an existential tone poem or a brutish thriller. Set mainly in the scarifying, swampy area of the Tigre Delta, the movie opens in nearby Buenos Aires, where Agustín (Mortensen) is a pediatrician in the process of shutting down his successful life. The source of his despair is never revealed, even to his wife (Soledad Villamil), though the torment behind his eyes is utterly convincing. His evil twin, Pedro, shows up, deathly ill, and in a scene as grisly as any on Breaking Bad, Agustín gets to disappear via a lookalike corpse. Returning to the Tigre, where he and his brother grew up, the tailored doctor puts on Pedro's scruffy shoes, adopts Pedro's crime-hiding identity of beekeeping, and hopes to fool the locals. But the subsequent action, filled with a confusing red herring-ish frenzy of betrayals, never rises to the level of noir. A couple of great closeups — "Pedro's" cunning look as he hides an untanned wedding ring finger, or the strangely frightening shots of the bees — serve to tease. At one point a narrative voice asks, "When the hive doesn't work, they say you have to change the queen. But what about us, the workers?" Like too much of the film, the query just hangs there. Marsha McCreadie

La-Bas: A Criminal Education

Friday, April 19, at 6:45 p.m.

Saturday, April 20, at 3 p.m.

The main title translates as Down There, but it's the English subtitle that evokes the studied yet sinister tone of director Guido Lombardi's debut feature. Kader Alassane stars as Yssouf, a sketch artist from Africa who travels to Castel Volturno, a coastal town 18 miles from Naples, to live with his Uncle Moses (Moussa Mone). It turns out Uncle Moses is a well-established cocaine dealer in the area, and runs a small empire with help from the Camorra. Despite Yssouf's insistence that he is a devout Muslim, he shows little hesitation in taking part in Moses's operation. This includes cutting open a dead drug mule who has thousands of lire worth of cocaine left inside of her, as well as beating up the manager of the shelter who once kindly took Yssouf in before he made contact with his uncle. Lombardi directs his mostly African cast in a way that departs from most films about drugs and crime, but which is in keeping with Yssouf's subtly degenerate learning experience. Moussa Mone is especially good as the sharp-dressed, cane-wielding Uncle Moses, part of a large circle of fascinating characters that run the gamut from admirable to repellent. Yssouf manages to be both — an intriguingly enigmatic figure throughout this unique slice of life. —John Ervin

Inescapable

Wednesday, April 17, at 9:10 p.m.

Tuesday, April 23, at 9:45 p.m.

Given the current state of affairs in Syria, it's hard not to look at Ruba Nadda's Inescapable as almost quaint, a period piece reminiscent of a time in that country's history before all-out war replaced getting "disappeared" by one of the government's half-dozen secret police forces. It's the eve of the rebellion against Assad, and probably the furthest thing from Adib Abdel Kareem's (Alexander Siddig) mind is going back to the country he fled under mysterious circumstances 20 years before. Unfortunately, his daughter, Muna, has vanished on an unannounced trip to Damascus, wrenching Adib out of his Canadian idyll. Now he has to call up the ex-fiancée (Marisa Tomei) he hasn't talked to since the Clinton administration and confront his past, all while trying to find Muna. Those expecting Taken 3: The Damascus Protocol will be disappointed. Adib's espionage skills are a bit rusty, leaving him to rely extensively on Fatima (seriously, who runs out on Marisa Tomei?), former friend-colleague Sayid (Oded Fehr), and a Canadian consular official with a lousy poker face (Joshua Jackson). There's a lot going on here — love story, kidnapping mystery, political thriller — but Nadda never gets the ingredients to make it gel completely. Worse, Adib ends up relying as much on coincidence as he does his comrades — either that, or Damascus (played here by Johannesburg) is the smallest city of 1.7 million people ever. Inescapable isn't a terrible movie, but absent its ripped-from-the-headlines setting it's unremarkable. —Pete Vonder Haar

The Brass Teapot

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