Cinema

​Lowery’s ‘A Ghost Story’ will haunt you

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 16th, 2017

Reteaming with his “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” leads Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, filmmaker David Lowery has a very compelling tale to tell in “A Ghost Story.”

Somber yet funny, and comfortable with exclamations of profundity and absurdity, the movie is an invitation to reflect on a few great philosophical questions.

Beautifully conveyed in a squarish aspect ratio close to the approximate 1.37:1 dimensions of the classic “Academy” standard, Lowery’s instincts are…

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Emoji movie as ‘meh’ as its protagonist

by John Showalter | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 9th, 2017

When I first caught wind that there was going to be a movie centered around emojis several months ago, I spent plenty of time ragging on it with friends (as did a lot of people I imagine, look at the like/dislike ratio on YouTube).

The trailers were almost physically painful to sit through and I joked that we had finally reached the nadir of American cinema by making a movie about something you put in text messages. That said, I’m going to say that I thought the critics overreacted…

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​A riot going on: Bigelow revisits “Detroit”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 9th, 2017

Kathryn Bigelow, to this day the only woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, makes an admirable if flawed attempt to fictionalize key components of Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot.

Timed in part to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the incendiary actions that resulted in 43 deaths and more than 7000 arrests, Bigelow -- working for the third time with “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” scripter Mark Boal -- concentrates on the so-called Algiers Motel Incident…

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​New to Blu: Classic art film disguised as war film

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 2nd, 2017

Director John Boorman is probably best remembered for his intense and still-disturbing hit adaptation of James Dickey’s forest survival allegory “Deliverance” (1972), his eccentric King Arthur interpretation “Excalibur” (1981), and his first Hollywood film, the offbeat Lee Marvin-Angie Dickinson crime drama “Point Blank” (1967), later remade by Mel Gibson as “Payback” (1999). His bizarre sci-fi film “Zardoz” (1974) also has a cult following.

Boorman’s follow-up to…

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Being served: ‘Beatriz at Dinner’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | August 2nd, 2017

Filmmaker Miguel Arteta is always worth watching, particularly when armed with a screenplay by Mike White. Their third collaboration, “Beatriz at Dinner,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is now making a modest theatrical run.

Given the outcome of the November 2016 presidential election, the movie’s simple premise, a moral and ethical showdown between a spiritually-inclined healer/massage therapist (Salma Hayek) and a rapacious business mogul (John Lithgow),…

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​Space oddity: Besson brings “Valerian and Laureline” to the big screen

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 26th, 2017

Luc Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” -- touted as the costliest independent motion picture ever made -- simultaneously melts eyeballs with its gorgeous visuals and narcotizes brains with its stiff dialogue and inert plotting.

That frustrating combination places the movie in the company of countless post-“Star Wars” space operas designed for the big screen, a phenomenon accelerated/exacerbated by the evolution of photorealistic CGI that allows for…

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​Bob Hope film classics new to Blu-ray

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 19th, 2017

Fourteen years ago this month, entertainment icon Bob Hope died at age 100. Born in 1903, Hope performed in vaudeville and theatre in the 1920s and 30s, moved into radio and films in the 1930s, and by the 1940s was a major movie personality known just as much for his numerous USO tours to entertain military troops around the world.

He also was noted for frequently hosting the annual Academy Awards ceremonies from 1939 through 1977. From the 1950s through 90s he did more television and…

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​‘Okja’ is some pig

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 19th, 2017

Joon-ho Bong’s Okja, currently on Netflix instant watch, competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where its premiere -- beset by an early aspect-ratio glitch -- met with jeers and cheers.

Critics have been mostly kind to the movie, although Stephanie Zacharek voiced a strong and well-argued negative opinion. Okja is nowhere near as rich and resonant as career highpoint Mother, but fans of Bong’s wild grab-bags TheHost and Snowpiercer aren’t going to…

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​Live music making movies live

by Christopher P. Jacobs | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 12th, 2017

Music scores enhance viewer involvement with the stories, but during the so-called “silent era” they often went a step further. Musical accompaniment performed by a live organist or pianist became an interactive experience between the musician and audience as well as musician and the movie and the audience and the movie. This was especially true in the case of comedies where audience response is generally more frequent, bringing the movies to life in a way impossible with a…

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​Coppola Wins Cannes Best Director for “The Beguiled”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | July 12th, 2017

For her work on “The Beguiled,” Sofia Coppola was awarded the best director honor at the Cannes Film Festival. She is only the second woman in that particular derby to do so in the festival’s seven decades, following Yuliya Solntseva’s 1961 nod for “The Chronicle of Flaming Years.” The title of Solntseva’s film works well as a critique of the gender imbalance at both Cannes and in the film industry in general, so it is no surprise that a great deal of the writing on…

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Culture

The pyramid of the prairie

by Sabrina Hornung

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Gadfly

Crazy like a fox

by Ed Raymond

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Reteaming with his “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” leads Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, filmmaker David Lowery has a very compelling tale to tell in “A Ghost Story.” Somber yet funny, and comfortable with exclamations of…

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Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

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Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

A few months ago I wrote about the long, strange saga of Jason Halek, the fellow who dumped 800,000 gallons of poisonous oilfield brine down an abandoned oil well south of Dickinson. Back in April of this year, he pleaded guilty to…