Cinema

​What Happened, Miss Simone?Little Girl Blue: Documentary looks at the life of Nina Simone

July 22nd, 2015

Filmmaker Liz Garbus, Oscar nominee and 2002 Fargo Film Festival special guest, considers the icon in “What Happened, Miss Simone?” — an often thrilling and sometimes exasperating portrait of the singular singer/songwriter/activist/piano prodigy.

Executive-produced by Nina Simone’s only child, Lisa Simone Kelly, Garbus’ film accesses a wealth of personal correspondence, family photographs and archival artifacts along with more familiar audio and visual documentation of Simone…

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​Reappraising some 1950s teensploitation films

July 22nd, 2015

Summer is drive-in season, traditionally a time for movies aimed at teens and sensation-seeking adults. Several of notorious producer Albert Zugsmith’s films are now on Blu-ray. The most critically-acclaimed of them, Orson Welles’ masterful “Touch of Evil” (1958), got a U.S. Blu-ray release in April 2014 from Universal. Olive Films released three of Zugsmith’s next four films to Blu-ray within the past year. Like the output of his prolific contemporary Roger Corman, these…

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​Death and movies cozy up in “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”

July 15th, 2015

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s adaptation of Jesse Andrews’ popular novel “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” presents delights and dilemmas as it negotiates (and doesn’t negotiate) the rough terrain of terminal illness, race, class and white male privilege via an irresistibly attractive package aimed squarely at the eye and ear of the cinephile. Like “The Wolfpack,” another movie in which imaginatively staged recreations of cult films are pasted together in DIY delirium, “Me and…

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​Restored, forgotten serialized epic now on DVD

July 15th, 2015

Several major cities have regular theatrical revivals of classic films made before the switch to sound technology, but, except for MSUM’s summer cinema series, silent films are difficult to find in this region without looking online for Blu-ray, DVD or streaming editions. This past spring, Flicker Alley released a three-disc DVD set of the little-known, but amazing and newly-restored French film “La Maison du Mystère” (“The House of Mystery”), an ambitious…

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​“The Wolfpack” profiles movie-obsessed NYC siblings

July 9th, 2015

Fascinating and frustrating, Crystal Moselle’s documentary “The Wolfpack” is essential viewing for fans of DIY moviemaking and cinephilia. The premise of Moselle’s film and the promise of her incredible subjects – a sextet of isolated, homeschooled brothers who grew up carefully acting out movies like “Reservoir Dogs” and “The Dark Knight” – makes “The Wolfpack” sound a little more otherworldly and exotic than the evidence supplied. Even so, the endearing…

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​Groundbreaking race dramas on Blu-ray double-feature

July 9th, 2015

Racial inequality and intolerance continue to be in the news, as well as discussion of people passing themselves off as someone of a different race. Hollywood has tackled the subject numerous times, perhaps most memorably in two Oscar-nominated screen versions of Fannie Hurst’s novel “Imitation of Life,” both of which are on a Blu-ray from Universal released this past spring.

The two films were produced 25 years apart, each daringly groundbreaking in its handling of controversial…

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​Silents with live music return to MSUM

July 1st, 2015

The annual MSUM Summer Cinema series returns this month with weekly Monday night screenings throughout July of classic silent movies with live musical accompaniment on the historic Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in Weld Hall’s auditorium. Each film will also be introduced by an area film specialist. Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $4 per night. Pre-show organ music performed by Red River Chapter members of the American Theatre Organ Society starts at 7:15 p.m. and doors open…

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​Famuyiwa deals uneven “Dope”

July 1st, 2015

A sticky mashup of broad comedy, contemplated quirk and stylish pretentiousness, the latter of which doubles as writer-director Rick Famuyiwa’s heart-on-sleeve love letter to his formative years, “Dope” operates a little bit like “Risky Business” meets “Friday.” Fishtailing between tonal shifts as rapid-fire as some of the semiautomatic weapons brandished in the story, the film’s greatest success hangs out in the fresh design and the throwback songs on the soundtrack –…

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Just in time for the Fourth: ‘1776’ on Blu-ray

July 1st, 2015

Independence Day weekend is almost upon us, with picnics, concerts, programs and, of course, nighttime fireworks typically scheduled to commemorate the founding of the United States nearly 240 years ago. It’s also a great time to find a good movie set during that time period, but for whatever reason, relatively few films deal with this country’s very beginnings, and those that do are not well-promoted and remain hard to find, especially on Blu-ray.

Last fall Warner Brothers released…

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Golden girl: Danner delights in “I’ll See You in My Dreams”

June 24th, 2015

A luminous Blythe Danner portrays one of the warmest and most inviting characters of her long career in “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” a quiet and seductive movie about the contours of friendship and the parameters of solitude. Danner’s Carol Petersen resists the entreaties of her trio of pals (Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place and June Squibb) to sell her house and join them at the snazzy retirement community/country club where they socialize over cards and the occasional medical…

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