Twin Cities Daily Planet Movie Reviews

Twin Cities Daily Planet Movie Reviews

Garrison Keillor, our beloved prodigal son (10/22/2008)
Reviewing the documentary The Man in Red Shoes, I muse on Mr. Minnesota. “Keillor seems to be at peace with his current social and geographic station (he splits his time between Minnesota and New York), but although we hear him tell himself that it’s just as well he didn’t attain his youthful ambition of writing Talk of the Town pieces for The New Yorker, it’s clear that—like his hero F. Scott Fitzgerald—he has mixed feelings about his association with the Gopher State.”

Brett Gaylor’s Remix Manifesto: A spectre is haunting your hard drive (5/27/2009)
“What makes Gaylor’s film essential viewing is his convincing demonstration that appropriation is so pervasive in nearly all creative endeavors that to forbid the unauthorized republishing of copyright material, period, is to pursue an exercise in absurdity. Further, he points out that acts technically amounting to copyright violation—everything from making a mix CD to painting Mickey Mouse on the wall of a daycare center—are so commonplace that enforcement has become more or less arbitrary.”

Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man: Best movie of the decade? (8/22/2009)
“What makes Timothy Treadwell such a compelling character is the poignant contrast between the extremely real circumstances of his life in the wilderness (it doesn’t get any more real than being eaten by a bear) and the totally contrived nature of the story he told himself about it. […] Don’t all of us, to some extent, use the indisputably real circumstances of our lives as the backdrop for a self-narrated story in which things appear in the light we wish them to appear, in which our actions are uniquely consequential and the beings around us grateful for our kind service to their welfare?”

Fargo, the Coen Brothers’ snow-cold classic (9/23/2009)
Fargo was the Coens’ first film to be set here in their native state, and it remains their best by a wide margin. All the brothers’ gifts are on full display in this darkly comic thriller, and for once they are at the service of a complete cast of genuine characters rather than showy performances. Riveting, funny, and most moving in the parts where you least expect to be moved, Fargo is one of the best films of its—or any—decade.”

Science Museum’s Omnifest 2010 brings you up close and personal with Vincent Van Gogh, Pink, and a parachuting SUV (1/24/2010)
Ski to the Max is pure Omniporn. Like conventional porn, it employs stilted dialogue and implausible scenarios in the service of getting to the Good Parts as quickly as possible. The only difference between Ski to the Max and something you’d find on the discount rack at Sexworld is that instead of people performing staggeringly difficult and outrageously inadvisable stunts in the nude, they do so in snowsuits and parachutes.”

Black Swan is a mesmerizing miracle from Darren Aronofsky (12/11/2010)
“The ballet being mounted (in more ways than one) is Swan Lake, as it has to be—for this material, Debussy wouldn’t cut it. Not since Shine have I seen a movie so enthusiastically mud-wrestle with lugubrious orchestral classics: Tchaikovsky thunders on the soundtrack as Aronofsky’s camera stays tight in on the dancers’ spinning heads and limpid limbs. Aronofsky’s approach to ballet is like George Lucas’s approach to space combat: even if you wouldn’t hear those loud wooshes in real life, they sure make for some exciting cinema.”

Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere is really, really, really boring (1/5/2011)
“Roger Ebert defines an Idiot Plot as ‘a plot that requires all the characters to be idiots. If they weren’t, they’d immediately figure out everything and the movie would be over.’ This type of plot is usually found in brain-dead thrillers and overlong whodunits; Somewhere may be the smartest movie with an Idiot Plot ever to have been committed to celluloid. It looks and sounds like an art film, but if you strip away the exotic locales and languid silences, you’re left with the bones of a Hallmark Movie. Should Johnny forsake at least a portion of his soulless jet-setting lifestyle to spend a little more time with his daughter? As my aunt Betsy would say, ‘Gee, do you think maybe?!'”

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: A giant 3D encounter with the Jesus of Pop (2/12/11)
“Justin Bieber is more God-fearing than me, and why wouldn’t he be? It would be impossible to be Justin Bieber and not believe that there was some higher power that brought you into being, because how could a mortal womb birth such preternatural perfection? His nickname should be the Jesus of Pop.”

Jane Eyre is a hottie—in that wind-swept, tortured way (3/26/2011)
This review sparked some controversy in Facebook comments: one reader did not appreciate my characterization of the madwoman in the attic as “a wild beauty that you’d totally be DTF if you met her at a rave.”

Sorry, Miranda July: I walked out on The Future (8/12/2011)
“Just before I left, Sophie was backing vacuously into a situation that looked like it might lead to a sexual dalliance—if we had any indication that she or her boyfriend even knew what sex was. These characters are in their mid-30s, but from the way they interact with the world and one another, you wonder whether they know that ‘sex’ means something more than just kissing with tongues. If they do, you wonder whether it’s ethical, or even legal, to have intercourse with a woman who carries a blankey with her at all times. (I kid. You. Not.)”