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Movie Natters: May 11, 2009 Archive

When writing and acting overcome a formula

Posted at 1:07 PM on May 11, 2009 by Euan Kerr

Over the weekend we saw two very different movies which followed a predictable formula, but the writing and the acting made the films so interesting they overcame the fact you knew where this was going.

Israeli director Eran Riklis' film "Lemon Tree" tells the story of a Palestinian woman's struggle to protect her family's lemon grove after the Israeli Defense minister builds his dream home next door. Mossad security experts decide the grove is a perfect hiding place for snipers, and order the removal of the trees. The woman, named Salma, takes the case to court, arguing the grove which has been in her family for decades has never been a place where terrorists have hidden, and it's her sole source of income. The minister's wife Mira recognizes Salma as a kindred spirit, but doesn't know how she can help.

It's clear things aren't going to end happily.

Hiam Abbass plays Salma with a mixture of earth mother patience and barely suppressed fury. (Abbass played the mother in "The Visitor" last year.) Salma is in many ways a simple woman with simple needs, but Abbass plays her in such a way she becomes an everywoman who represents all of us who have ever run into bureaucracy. It's well worth watching.

"Role Models," now out on DVD, is at the end of the spectrum, but is similarly surprising in how the acting and the script pulls it from the mire. Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott play two smart alec yahoos who get themselves out of jail time by agreeing to mentor kids. They get stuck with a teenager who only come alive when he's role-playing as a medieval knight, and a sex-obsessed 10 year old with a mouth like a sewer pipe.

The movie easily earns its R rating for bad language and bad behavior, but there is a naive charm about it. Director David Wain works well with Rudd (who co-wrote the screenplay) and Scott as well as Christopher 'McLovin" Mintz-Plasse and Bobb'e J. Thompson as the cape-wearer and potty mouth respectively.

You really know where this one is going, but there's guilty pleasure in getting there.

Sad ending to night with Anvil

Posted at 1:09 PM on May 11, 2009 by Euan Kerr

I am posting a note sent round by Patrick Cross, the manager of the Uptown Theater on Minneapolis.

This past Friday night here at the Uptown Theatre we had the amazing pleasure of having the band Anvil perform after a showing of their film "Anvil! The Story of Anvil." It was a great night. I've been involved with the Uptown for the last eight years and am now the head manager and this was easily one of the best nights ever here. We had a crowd of a little over 300 show up who were extremely enthusiastic. The credits rolled after the 7:15pm show and were quickly followed by the loud strumming of an electric guitar. Everyone rushed up to the front of the theatre and started cheering. Anvil played a short set and then went into the lobby to meet fans on their way out and take pictures and sign autographs.

We started the 9:30pm show for a smaller crowd of maybe 50. The band stuck around in the lobby because they had to wait to get their gear which was sitting in the theatre. As the movie went on, the singer of Anvil, Steve "Lips" Kudlow, came up to me and my staff and said, "think we should play another set after this show?" To which we replied, "That would be great if you guys would like to..." They were not scheduled to play again and had to get back on the road as soon as possible because they had to be in Cincinnati the next day. But the band talked it over and decided to play again. So again, the credits rolled, that guitar began, and the crowd started cheering and coming up to the front. However, as the drummer was about to begin playing, he realized he was missing two of his cymbals. The band stopped, the crowd was confused, and it was determined that someone had stolen the cymbals sometime while the band was out in the lobby greeting fans.

Needless to say this was a terrible ending to a great night. To the band's credit, they didn't bitch about it or yell at me, they simply discussed how they would replace the symbols and that they needed to get back on the road. They were far more depressed by the fact that someone, especially after having seen their film, would see fit to steal from them. I can't believe it either. I have no doubt that the band will strive on, if you see the film you'll have no doubt either, but I hate to think that the only thing they will remember about their Minneapolis show is that it's the town where someone stole their equipment. So, if you're the person who stole it, and have realized the error of your ways, please return it to the theatre, no questions asked.

And then he included a link to a video of the performance.

May 2009
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