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9:40 PM

2009 Fargo Film Festival Reviews

Posted by Wash Oil Rig Clothing in Fargo North Dakota,

The last two showings on Thursday, March 5th, of the Fargo Film Festival were Native American Voices entries.
This segment was hosted by Prairie Rose, the Director of the Native American Voices competition. Prairie pointed out that while the Fargo Film Festival is 9 years old, the Native American Voices competition has been around for the last eight of them. She then opened the proceedings by singing a Native American blessing after pointing out that story telling in Native American culture is considered a sacred undertaking

The first offering, which received an Honorable Mention in Native American was a short called "Good Looking," a short about a young, well I'm going to say Native Canadian, since it was a Canadian production, and when I lived in Canada(almost thirty years ago) that was the proper term. Now there's something about First Nations. but I'm unsure of the details so I'll stick with what I'm used to.

In any event, the young girl is a struggling actress, unable to find a part. Finally she lands a role in a zombie film which has sexual overtones(the film) in which she is to bare part of her anatomy in a semi=rape scene. She and her boyfriend, who also struggles as a hot dog vendor wrestle with what the right and wrongs of the situation and eventually resolve both their predicaments. Kind of a sweet little 17 minutes. The movie is entitled "Good Lucking."

The last presentation, the Native American Voices Best Picture winner was a blockbuster. In these reviews I have departed from my usual form of writing about the movie without divulging very much of the plot, since many people, me included, don't like to be told what they're going to see. In the case of the Fargo Film Festival, though, I am assuming that whoever might read the reviews will probably not have a chance to see the movie under discussion, so in order to properly describe the Festival, I'm free to describe the offerings in detail.

In the case of the Native American Voices winner, "Moccasin Flats: Redemption," however, I'm going to revert to my usual style, since I hope many people have a chance to view this feature length film(another Canadian production), which is one of the best movies I've seen in quite some time.

The movie is about a Native Canadian named Red who returns to his old neighborhood, presumably in Saskatoon, after a five year stretch in prison. The neighborhood is called Moccasin Flats, which has a reputation of being the worst neighborhood in Canada. Red checks into a half-way house and meets his old gang members and old girl friend. Life resumes for Red, who supposedly has changed from his former drug addicted self. But he still has to deal with his culture and horrific nightmares. Now I think we all now that recovering from drug addiction is not a simple matter, and I even found myself rooting for Red not to use any drugs, even though I know that just putting down the bag is not enough. But enough of the finer details.

The movie is about Red's life in Moccasin Flats, a murder of the leader of his gang that needs to be solved or else
a gang war will likely result, Native Canadian spirituality, and about the struggles of some relatively straight people to make Moccasin Flats a livable place.

The actors, except for the police and a do-gooder or two, are all Native Canadian, and I'm not sure that they were acting much of the time. The overlying story is what happens to Red, but as I've indicated, there are a few well written and interesting sub plots.

If you like movies about people, life, particularly the not so pleasant side of it, or just like well acted and scripted movies then I think you'd like this. There is very little violence, just enough to make the story(ies) make sense.

I seldom outright recommend or not recommend movies since we all have different tastes, but in the spirit of "At the Movies," I'm going to say "See It," if you can.

Saturday night was the final night, during which the category winners are usually shown. I will report on the Best Documentary Feature and the Best Narrative Feature.

The Best Documentary Feature award went to "Abel raises Cain," a feature length documentary about a professional hoaxter, Alan Abel, who was present at the showing. The story is told by his daughter Jenny. Alan makes his living, such as it is, by manufacturing hoaxes to perpetrate on the media and thus the public. One of them, which is a recurring theme, is about an organization against breast feeding. Of course there is no such organization. but Alan manufactures all sorts of reasons why breast feeding is unhealthy and sexually arousing and therefore should be banned. He appears on several talk shows to promote his "organization" and make his bogus points about the ills of breast feeding.

Another of his favorites is a campaign to clothe animals, since children should not see their private parts. He also poses as the teacher in a school for beggars. He also arranges a marriage of Idi Amin to an American so that Amin can become an American Citizen. This is done in front of media cameras under the watchful eye of the CIA, FBI and State Department. All involved are actors, of course, and at this point one might get a glimpse of what makes Alan tick. Of course the government can't expose this hoax without exposing their support of the mass murder Amin, thoch would no doubt cause a national and international uproar.

These hoaxes are filmed as they occurred and there are many, many more of them. I wondered how one makes a living like this, and he doesn't make much of one, but he appears on many talk shows, which, according to Abel, were desperate for guests in the 70's and 80's. He also, it came out during the all too short Q & A that followed had a producer that funded many of the hoaxes. I think the packed house enjoyed this film to an individual.

The Best Narrative Feature was "River," another Canadian offering. This was a slice of live drama about a young lady in a small city in Saskatchewan that cleans office buildings for a living. She meets a young man, who apparently is a writer(it isn't clear how he supports himself, but then in Canada, you don't have to). The movie simply shows them going about their daily affairs, which in the girl(Roz)'s case usually involves drugs. They wind up living together, but no intimacy is ever shown. They go for bikerides, have coffee, go on picnics. I'm not sure why this is supposed to be interesting. Finally, at the end of the movie, it's clear their relationship is not a romantic and that Stan, the young man, has some sort of sexual identity crisis that involves some sort of psychological voyeurism. But nothing is resolved(mabe that's the point) and they go their separate ways.

I found this about as interesting as an hour and a half episode of One Tree Hill. And to think, I could have spent this time out in the lobby listening to Alan Abel. In my opinion, Moccasin Flats: Redemption would have been a far better choice for Best Narrative Feature, but then, I don't get a vote.

Now that the Festival is history, I'd like t write my usual overview. I think this years Fargo Film Festival was much stronger than any of the previous ones. With the exception of the last movie presented, I though every offering was at least worthwhile, and many of the offerings worthy of viewing on their own.

The daytime showings were stronger than in previous years(I remember one year watching what turned out to be a long film commercial for a drug and alcohol treatment center: we've moved way beyond that). In general, I felt the quality of film at every level much stronger than in the past. Congratulations to Margie Bailey and Prairie Rose and the rest of the directors of Fargo Film Festival 9.

The Downtown Duster

1:53 AM

Movie Review: Frozen River

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See Trailer Here
Movie: Frozen River. Now playing at the Fargo, an indie with two academy award nominations, Frozen River. From the start. be prepared to watch a "slice of life" move about people who view status in terms of how big the trailer in which they live is. This a small movie, with three main characters: Ray Eddy, whose alcoholic husband has left her together with the family fortune two days before Christmas, her 15 year old son T.J. who's tired of it all and tries to improve the family lot by fair means or foul, and a Mohawk Native American woman named Little Wolf. Ray is played by Melissa Leo, Little Wolf by Missy Upham and TJ by Charlie McDermott.

Ray is trying to raise her two sons on a part time salary at the local Yankee Big Dollar Store, Little Wolf makes her living smuggling illegal immigrants
from Canada to the US across the frozen river that apparently splits the Mohawk reservation, part of which is in Canada and part in the US. The US Canadian border passes through the reservation, and thus is patrolled by and only by the Tribal Police. The only problem is that Little Wolf doesn't have a car: Ray Eddy does. Their paths cross and the story develops from their based simply on the fact that Ray needs money(badly) and Little Wolf knows how to get it.

So the above is the setting for a drama involving the three characters so far mentioned. Some would say the river is also one of the players, since it has to stay frozen in order for the scheme to work. I did not find the story or its telling particularly remarkable, but I always enjoy portrayals of Native American culture. I do find it curious that the various tribes seem to have very similar cultures on their reservations, and speak English with very similar tongues. I don't know why that would be, but I'm sure somebody does.

The main strength of this movie to me is the performance by the three main actors. Each gives what I think a sterling performance. If you like art for arts sake(or movies for movies sake) then I think this movie a must see. If you like slice of life movies this will do, sort of like Under the Same Moon without nearly the impact, then I think this movie a good bet. If you want good literature on the screen or lots of action, then I don't think this would interest you. But lord, what acting.

Acting: A+
Script: B-
Relevance: B

-The Downtown Duster

10:49 PM

Movie: "Quarantine," Now showing

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Movie: "Quarantine," Now showing at most major theatres.

This is a low budget "Blair Witch Project meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre." The Blair Witch project is aprapo since the whole movie is shot(with a few exceptions) with a hand held TV Journalists camera. That's about all I found interesting in this movie. Usually I don't like to comment on the quality of movies, but this stunk, badly. I suppose there are some people that would like it(must be since there are some positive reviews out there), so here's what it's about: A TV Journalist and her cameraman are to spend a night with an LA fire engine company. The company gets called to a medical assist at a run down apartment house. Turns out that some of the residents have a mutant form of rabies which is immediately transmitted to whomever they bite. Not just the disease, but the violence, which is transmitted immediately. Due to an escaped dog, the authorities find our about this and immediately seal off the house physically, trapping the TV people, several fireman, a policeman and most of the residents inside: some are rabid. From there on it’s a totally predictable "who gets it next" bite fest. Towards the end of the movie, I had some hopes that a plot would develop, but no such luck. I want my two hours back.

There were people that screamed during the movie, so if you like things like teen slasher movies, you might like this.

Story: F.

Cinematography D.

Acting: C-.

The Downtown Duster with additional reporting by London Calling.

2:33 PM

Phantom Movie Reviews: Mongol

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Movie: Mongol, a Russian offering now playing at the Fargo. This is a very different movie about the early life of Genghis Khan, apparently filmed in Mongolia or some similar place in Mongolian (well, it sure wasn't Russian or English) and fully and well subtitled.
The movie follows the life of Genghis Khan as a youth (that wasn't his name then), his wife and his blood brother who becomes his mortal enemy. The movie is slow-paced, violent and cruel. I've run into this before: life on the Mongolian steppes was, I'm sure, slow-paced, violent and cruel so perhaps the movie is just being accurate.
I found the portrayal of the Khan's early life, which wasn't always pleasant, and life in Mongolia in what I believe to be the twelfth century, fascinating. It might not be fun to watch, and many may not enjoy watching it, although the sweeping shots of vast landscapes should impress just about anybody.
One thing I found interesting, and no doubt accurate, was the absence of the famous Mongol hordes except in a few scenes. Most people, it seems, lived in little hamlets of 3 or 4 yurts (a Mongol ti-pi). Also interesting to me was the role religion played both in the story line and in life in general.

From a historical perspective, this was a fascinating, well-made screen play, but just about anyone would find themselves waiting for something to happen in an least some points. There's probably not enough action here to satisfy those seeking an action-packed thriller, but the movie isn't trying to appeal to that audience.

As Drama: B
As Action Thriller: C
As Historical Depiction: A
As Romance: B-
The Downtown Duster

Cast and Credits
Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Khulan Chuluun, Sun Honglei, Odnyam Odsuren, Pai Ying (II)
Directed by: Sergei Bodrov
Produced by: Bulat Galimgereyev, Sergei Selyanov, Anton Melnik

10:17 PM

It's not pure "Hitchcokian".

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Rear Window. This was the second offering in the Fargo Theatre's annual Classic Series, shown Tuesday Night,
August 12. Rear Window was produced by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954, and is one of his signature pieces. It's not pure "Hitchcokian" in that there's no surpising plot twists at the conclusion(well, there's a minor one, but of relatively little importance). But it is definitely a thriller, with a great cast.

Before describing the movie, I must comment on society as it was in 1954, when I first saw the movie. The person introducing the movie pointed out that in 1954 no-one had air conditioning. This meant that everyone had their windows open during warm weather.

The movie takes place in an apartment complex of two room apartments. Jimmy Stewart is a photojournalist laid up in one of the apartments with a broken leg. All he has to do all day is sit and observe what is going on in all the other
apartments. Thus, no-one has any privacy. Take it from one that has been there, the apartment complex didn't matter: in those days there was no such thing as personal privacy since everyone had their windows open.

Jimmy expects one of the other tenants(Raymond Burr: Perry Mason and Ironsides) has murdered his wife and is surreptitiously disposing of the body parts. The movie is about Jimmy's, his girl friend(Grace Kelly in what has to be one of her last roles before becoming Princess of Monaco) and his nurse(Thelma Ritter, who steals every scene in which she appears)'s attempt to convince Jimmy's detective friend of this before Burr disappears.

With a cast this strong and Hitchcock directing, I don't see how anything could go wrong, and it doesn't. I just wonder how well most people that aren't senior citizens can connect with it, since the lack of air conditioning is a major part of the genre. Of course, I didn't notice anything strange when I first saw the movie, and probably wouldn't have this time if it hadn't been pointed out to me.

It has been suggested to me that we don't have any more privacy now, it’s just that instead of our neighbors hearing and seeing everything we do, it's the government, the phone company, credit bureaus and the like that do.
It might be interesting to see a remake with this type of lack of privacy, as opposed to audio-visual.

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6:00 PM

Movie Reviews: Tell No One.

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Tell No One. This is a critically acclaimed French psychological drama that involves a French pediatrician. Alex Beck, his sister, her female lover, the father of his ex wife, who was murdered eight years earlier. The police expect Beck of the murder, which has complicating circumstances, and he has to avoid the police.
The plot is amazingly complex, and I was never sure who the good guys and bad guys are, or if there are in any good guys. The acting is wonderful, the movie fully subtitled, and the action superb, in my view. The chase scene is realistic, for a change.
It is a long movie, and even with that, there is a point toward the end of the movie where the well known device of "the conversation" between two of the principals explains what we have seen so far. In this case, I think it necessary, since in just about every other scene, someone new shows up in an important chink of the story.
I think this is storytelling at its finest. If you would enjoy a French version of "The French Connection" I think you would like this. Another comparison might be "Insomnia." But this is not bubble gum for the mind: if you're looking for escapism, this isn't it.
I've been asked about rating the movies I write about. I hesitate to do so, since people have different tastes, so I just try to give an idea of what the movie is like without giving away much of the content(some people, including me, don’t like to know what they're going to see before they see it). So I'm going to try an experiment and "grade" different aspects of the movie. Feel free to comment on what you think of this and of the result.

Script: A+
Action: B
Comic Relief: N/A.
Acting: A-.
Necessity to suspend disbelief: A.
Relevance: A-

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10:04 PM

Phantom Movie Reviews: Fargo

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Most reviews I write are under the assumption that the reader has not seen the movie. I thus try to divulge as much as I can about the movie without divulging too much what the movie is about. However, I have had so many people nationwide ask me about the movie "Fargo" that I will break from my usual form and give my impression of the movie, as a resident of eastern North Dakota for the last nearly 40 years.

The movie "Fargo" actually has little or nothing to do with the -er- city of Fargo. The scene supposedly shot in Fargo wasn't, but rather further north in the Red River Value in Grand Forks. But the movie premiered at the historic Fargo theatre, one of my favorite haunts. It was packed with people wearing tuxedos, and according to the local press, were literally rolling in the aisles. Knowing by this time the story line, I couldn't see how that could engender much laughter(I was not in attendance). But I had forgotten this was a Coen brothers movie, and they can put a strange spin on anything.
Not long after, I saw the movie at a multiplex matinee, in a small theater at that. And I and my accomplice(yes, I mean that) roared with laughter all the way through.
Now it has been said many times that we Americans are good at laughing at ourselves, and in my experience, nobody is better at this than Norwegian-Americans. The movie is roughly about a botched crime by William H. Macy, who needs cash bad, and so has Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare kidnap his wife so his rich Father in Law(Harvey Presnell) can pay a fat ransom, most of which will go to Macey. Pretty pedestrian and unoriginal plot in my view, but not the point of the movie.
Early in the movie enters Frances McDermand, a female Minnesota small town police chief, and the fun begins. She's investigating an automobile accident that takes place on one of the countless lonely Northern Minnesota Country highways. Two points of interest here: her Norwegian Brogue is exagerated but not that much: it depends on where you are. The depiction of a West Central Minnesota winter's day: squarely right on. So much of the movie centers around the way the characters talk. I know of many locals that are offended by this, and many that think it hilarious. Many say "We don't sound like that!" Well, Ya, we do. One thing I didn't notice at the first viewing is that all meals are at a traditional Norwegian Smorgasbord. One conversation at one such began "Well, how's the fricasse den?" I know of one local that objected to this line, wondering what it meant. Well, I happen to be familiar with the little town he's from, and reminded him "that's what passes for conversation out there."
Actually, the "den" in the above quote is interesting. Pure Norwegians can't pronounce the "th" sound and many people with a "th" in their name(e.g. Mathsen) pronounce the "th" like a "t". Younger folk usually pronounce the full "th".
The above may be too specific: the movie depicts, in perhaps an exagerated way, the slow paced, neighborly life in West Central Minnesota. Another piece of the "plot"(I'd seen the movie three times before someone asked me about the plot, to which I replied "plot, what plot?) involves the kidnappers trip to Minneapolis. It is possible to travel to Minneapolis via Brainerd, but not many would do it, unless, as is the case here, they knew some prostitutes there. I have, incidentally, traveled to Fargo from Minneapolis via Brainerd to go around a storm.
Well, one might wonder can even the Coen Brothers make a movie out making fun out of the way people talk, their cullture, etc. I was wondering this about three fourth's of the way through the movie, when I realized that they weren't making fun of the West Central Minnesotan's at all: it was the twin cities(Minneapolis and St. Paul) view
of our area they were poking fun at. I.m relatively sure there are other things of note that I missed. I still wonder if Lundegaard(Macey's character) is a legitimate name: it’s my understanding that Lund means approximately the same thing in Swedish that Gaard does in Norwegian. I'll let you see the movie again and see if you agree with me.
The movie is well filmed, well acted with a bevy of fine actors. I think the plot a bit weak, but unless you're one of the hard-line Norwegian immigrants that don't like other people poking fun at him, it should be amusing.

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Theater 1
Steve Carell, star of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, was a former “reporter” for what television show?

8:45 PM

last time you saw your father?

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Now showing at the Fargo, an English offering starring Colin Firth entitled "When is the last time you saw your father?" Unfortunately, I can't explain the title without giving away the point of the movie, which isn't apparent until the last few scenes.

The story is really the recollections of Firth, playing the early middle aged son of a dying man, about his stormy relationship with his father. So there are actually two other actors playing Firth's part, one as a pre-teen and another a late teen/young adult. The story takes place in England, but I'm not sure where: if I had to guess, I'd say the Midlands. There are some, but not enough for me, gorgeous shots of English countryside and the marvelous medieval architecture that I think is found only in England(well, there are some replicas in Toronto).

From the outset, it is clear that Firth's father is not what most would consider a nice man. Ill tempered toward his son, a womanizer, more than a moderate drinker. It is interesting, and the movie does a tremendous job in this I think, to observe Colin's reactions and defenses as well as his mother's.

This movie will not be for everyone. But I was thinking about it days later, so that makes it worthwhile to me. As is so often the case with indie's not much action but a lot of thought provoking action.

Fear the Lutefisk

Theater 1
In what language does Knocked Up translate to “A Little Bit Pregnant”?

11:29 PM

Sample mistakes

Posted by Wash Oil Rig Clothing in Fargo North Dakota,

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull mistakes

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

vote upvote downIn the opening scene, the soviet throws Indy's hat onto the ground, one can see that the hat is out of shape and smashed in, yet when Indy picks it up to put it on it has the perfect signature shape.

Get Smart mistakes

Get Smart

The Chief flies in a fixed undercarriage Cessna aircraft. During some of the flying sequences, the aircraft is shown as a tail-dragger with retracted undercarriage.

The Strangers mistakes

The Strangers

vote upvote down

A few minutes after James accidentally shoots his friend, he reloads his shotgun and tells Kristen that he is going outside to look around, and tells her to stay put. He walks to the front door and as he passes the clock on the back wall, it reads 5:00 a.m. A few minutes later, Kristen walks past the same clock, and it reads 4:30 a.m.

Made of Honor mistakes

Made of Honor

vote upvote down

The range rovers used to transport everyone to the wedding, or in Tom's case to wherever he was going to catch his plane, share an identical license plate number. Two different places but same id?

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10:10 PM

City of Men

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Fargo Phantom Movie Reviews
City of Men is a sequel to "City of God," which also spawned a television series with the name City of Men on the Sundance Channel. All of the above take place in the slums of Rio de Janiero.
City of Men is about two teen aged boys, 18 at the time of the movie and their lives in the drug, crime infested gang
controlled Bald Hill Section of the City of God, originally a government housing project that was supposed to solve all these problems. This information, however, is in City of God, a movie so horrifically violent I found it impossible to believe that anyone could live through what it portrays. City of Men, however, actually has a story, and a good one at that. The two boys,
Aceorola and Laranajina are also the principals in the television series, they as well as many other characters are played by the same actors as in the TV series. The sets, if they are sets as opposed to the real thing, are also the same, or at least many of them are.
Laranajina is also a father, but doesn't know who his is. Ace, as his name appears in the subtitles in the movie but not the TV series, knows who his father was, emphasis on the was. In this movie, Laranajina(subtitled "Wallace" in the movie but not the TV series) tries to find his father amid the corruption and violence of two gangs battling for control of Bald Hill. A story actually appears. complex and interesting. And there is a reasonable portrayal of life under such a situation.
The violence is manageable: if, as I was for the first movie, you are curious about life under such situations, then this movie would probably be a good choice. If you go to movies for escapism, you'd probably want to skip this.

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10:05 PM

Starting Out in the Evening

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Fargo Phantom Movie Reviews
Starting Out in the Evening, a small indie with only half a dozen or so speaking parts. The movie is mostly conversations between a retired professor that is also a writer whose writing has seen better days but is still writing, a graduate student at Brown University who is writing her master's thesis on the professor and his work. Then
there's the professor's 40 year old daughter and several of her on again off again boyfriends. So amidst all this talking, what is this movie about? I think it's about relationships. Past ones, developing ones, boyfriend-girlfriend, father-offspring, acceptance, forgiveness in such. The question is posed: how often do/should people change to further a relationship?
I think there are probably a lot of strong performances in this movie: I particularly liked Adrian Lester's performance as one of the professor's daughter's significant others. But if you crave action, well, the most action in this movie is the doorman at the professor's apartment noting the arrival of the graduate student, or someone hailing a cab.
I believe the movie was filmed in New York's Greenwich Village, a charming are which has always fascinated me. I did enjoy the portrayal of what little goes on taking place there. Makes me want to relocate, if for only a short period of time.
If you like slow paced literature on the screen, you should like this. If you want to see anything happen, anything at all, then look elsewhere.

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9:54 PM

Nim's Island "Great Childrens Movie"

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Fargo Phantom Movie Reviews
"Nim's Island" is a piece of summer fluff only it isn't summer yet. I think it's primarily a kid's movie. and I think that's borne by the fact that I saw it with a 6 and an 11 year old, who were seeing it for the second time because they wanted to.
Nim is an eleven year old girl spectacularly played by Abigail Breslin, who I think will go far. She lives on an island isolated in the vast Pacific, apparently in Fiji. She lives with her marine biologist father who studies plankton or some such single celled marine life. Apparently Nim's mother disappeared previously under unclear marine circumstances.
Nim also reads Adventure stories of the Indiana Jones Genre. The hero's name is Alex, presumably short(apparently he writes in the first person) for Alexander but actually short for Alexandra, a very neurotic New Yorker playued by Jodie Foster who can't even leave her own apartment. As it happens, Alexandra is familiar with Nim's fathers writings, which is convenient because Nim's Father gets lost at sea, Nim e-mails who she thinks is her hero for help and a fluffy adventure story ensues. Typhoons, plane rides in tiny planes that fly between the scattered islands tourists invasions, deep jungles on the island, etc. In other words, enough to keep my interest. I enjoyed it, possibly because I didn't expect high drama, and the boys loved it.
If you want to switch your brain off for a while or want something to take the kids to, this might be a good choice.
However, it will not appeal to your prurient interest of taste for violence, if you have such.

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9:47 PM

The Band's Visit.

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Fargo Phantom Movie Reviews
To begin with, let's set the record straight. Regardless of what you have read in other reviews, promos, or whatever, the Band in the title is the "Alexandria(Egypt) Police Ceremonial Orchestra." In this Israeli offering, the Band is visiting a small, out of the way Israeli town to help open the new Moslem Cultural Center. It should be pointed out here that not all Israelis hate Arabs and not all Arabs(particularly Egyptians) hate Israellis. But some do, on both sides. I should also like to point out that I write with some authority on this subject, having visited Israel half a dozen times, for visits ranging from 2 weeks to a month, and Egypt, in particular Alexandria once for a period of two weeks.
The Ceremonial Orchestra, by a misunderstanding caused by interpreting Pet something as Bet something(I'm not sure this is really possible, but lets play like it is), gets off an Israeli bus at the wrong town. The town was obviously Israeli to me, and I almost wanted to sit down in one of the two outdoor tables at the tiny restaurant and order swarma(spit roasted meet). Well, not everyone in the wrong town welcomes Arabs, but that isn't a major part of the movie. The Orchestra(all eight of them) stay in the town over night, experience night life(very authentic) with some of the locals, dine and bunk with some of the locals. The Israelis are at first portrayed as very rude, particularly the telephone operators. That's the way I found it, too, but they don't stay that way, also in my experience.
So, what’s the movie about? People. People can get along, even if they don't speak the same language. I learned that on my first trip to Israel(which also included the trip to Egypt), and I think it the message of the movie. A poignant and timely message, in my opinion.
Not much action here, but splendid acting. If you'd like to go somewhere you won't be able to in person, you'll probably enjoy this. If you need chase scenes and the like, better skip it.

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9:38 PM

Snow Angels

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Fargo Phantom Movie Reviews
An indie that just left the Fargo Theater.
The movie takes place in a small town in the rockies during the months of snow. This town, although it might appear to be so from the outside, is not the picturesque idyllic small western town you might expect. No, there's no super-natural funny business going on or any centuries old secrets, just a couple of broken families and their children. Such situations often breed or are bred by problems of infidelity, alcoholism, etc and these situations are no different, with some attention paid to the children of these broken homes.
I've read that this movie is a coming of age tale of the above mentioned adolescents, and that is part of the movie, but the whole movie is a depressing description of the things that can happen in such a situation, some, we expect from the opening scene are at least unpleasant if not horrifying.
See this movie only if you are fascinated by the seamier side of life and don't need your spirits lifted.

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9:24 PM

4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days.

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Phantom Movie Reviews:
Now left the Fargo, this is a Romanian indie
about a college student during the days of Ciaocescu(during the Soviet influence years) who has an unwanted pregnancy(apparently 4 months, three weeks and 2 days in length) and her efforts to have an illegal abortion. Actually, the movie is more about her roomate, who has to deal with the difficulties of getting this done in a socialist state where everything is done by people who don't really don't give a damn, the person who is going to do the abortion(a man whose credentials are never made clear) and the pregnant girl, who is reluctant to take responsibility for anything, including arranging for her own abortion.

I was hoping for a depiction of life in Ciacescu's Romania during that period, which is something I don't think any of us can phantom. There is a little of that, but not much. The movie is more about the roommate and her emotions and interactions with the "doctor." I guess it's supposed to be a character study of the three main characters already mentioned, but since it's in Romanian(fully and well subtitled) I find it hard to judge how successful the movie was in this. The acting, I think, was superb, but the film(which I think was a DVD) did not show well on the screen.

If you like this sort of thing, this movie is probably a good choice. On the other hand, there is literally no action except for some moving streetcars.

The Downtown Duster

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