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

Wednesday, April 17, at 9:40 p.m.

Saturday, April 20, at 9 p.m.

Even The Twilight Zone would have struggled with the cutesy conceit of The Brass Teapot, a greed-corrupts cautionary tale about a financially strapped married couple whose life is destroyed by a teapot that spews cash any time they hurt themselves or others. For broke John (Michael Angarano) and Alice (Juno Temple), the ancient kettle is the answer to their prayers, though the burns, broken limbs, and S&M whipping fun that accompany it soon give way to graver trouble, as the teapot shows greater interest in not just physical but emotional pain — a fact that John and Alice ignore even after being cautioned by a Chinese sage who knows the object's 2,000-year history. He's one of many stereotypes trotted out in director Ramaa Mosley's fable, which also serves up caricatured Hasidic Jews, rednecks, and even snobby Republicans in the form of a high school yuppie (Alexis Bledel) whom Alice tries to emulate. Wearing out its welcome long before its moralizing finale, the film — and its portrait of killing yourself to make a living — does manage to mine contemporary fears about the increasing worthlessness of a college degree. Not-so-subtly implying that avarice was the motivation behind the Holocaust, however, is a bad joke that should have been left untold. —Nick Schager

Fall and Winter

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 26, at 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m.

There are features that would work better as shorts. Matt Anderson's feature about the various ways Earth is imperiled is so boring it might not even work as a short. Now, Anderson has amassed an impressive amount of found and freshly shot footage from around the world, and an equally impressive number of interview subjects from many walks of life. There are also stirring overviews of mountains, prairies, forests, and oceans, as well as less naturally appealing locales like salvage yards, skyscrapers, and oil rigs. But the result is 100 torturous minutes of conspiracy theories, spiritual musings, and civics lectures on global warming and other threats to our planet. These do not have to be dull subjects, An Inconvenient Truth and The Cove being two successful examples. The problem is Anderson's droning, lugubrious approach to the material, and his piling on of so many academics, environmentalists, farmers, fishermen, and other folks expounding on the late, great planet Earth. There is one interesting sequence: war correspondent Chris Hedges's comparison of celebrities to psychopaths, complemented by icky closeups of Mel Gibson and poor Britney Spears. —John Ervin

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