In <i>Laurence Anyways</i>, a woman must decide if she can stay with her boyfriend after he reveals that he's transgender.
Craving another epic movie-watching experience after the Wisconsin Film Festival? The fifth annual Mini Indie Film Festival put on by the Wisconsin Union Directorate Film Committee is just the ticket. The event began with two screenings this evening and will feature 11 more film programs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All screenings take place at Union South's Marquee theater.
Here are brief reviews of four promising selections, plus a list of what else is coming up this weekend.
Searching for Sugar Man
Friday, April 26, 7 p.m.
This Oscar-winning documentary also appeared at Sundance Cinemas, but it's so good that it deserves a repeat viewing if you've already seen it. A Mexican-American musician named Rodriguez teeters on the brink of fame in the late 1960s, after being discovered in a Detroit club. He then falls into obscurity when his records fail to sell. A few years later, South Africans who oppose apartheid adopt his music as a protest soundtrack. He becomes a hero, but he's not there to witness it. Some people even think he's dead. Discovering whether he's alive is just one of the film's deeply emotional moments. Hearing his music, especially the beautifully eerie "Sugar Man" is the second. I won't give away the third, but I can tell you that it involves a concert that's bound to rock you to your core. Read my full review for one spoiler and several more thoughts on the film.
Breakup at a Wedding
Saturday, April 27, 7 p.m.
Presented as a faux documentary, this indie comedy from the producers of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won't just make you laugh. If you like ridiculous situations, it'll have you howling and even rolling in the aisles. A wedding videographer attempts to film his "masterpiece" at one of the most screwed up marriage ceremonies of the decade. The groom can't afford his first house payment, the bride's makeup looks like that of a Soviet gymnast at the 1980 Olympics, and the florist seems more interested in coitus than corsages. Oh, and the couple aren't sure if they actually want to tie the knot. Though a lot of these situations are over the top, the bride is so believable that you can see yourself in her glass slippers.
Rust & Bone
Saturday, April 27, 9:30 p.m.
This film had a brief run at Sundance Cinemas earlier this year, and it's worth seeing on a big screen rather than a TV or a computer monitor. The plot -- street fighter helps beautiful whale trainer regain her will to live after a debilitating accident -- sounds a little cheesy on paper, but director Jacques Audiard makes it captivating by removing the sentimentality and adding lots of sex and boxing scenes. For a fuller assessment of this movie, see Isthmus contributor Marjorie Baumgarten's review.
Sunday, April 28, 4:30 p.m.
This bittersweet film about a transgender man and his girlfriend is extremely long, but it's packed with stellar performances, visuals and music. A killer track by Fever Ray sets a dark, ominous tone from the get-go, and director Xavier Dolan, who's a mere 23 years old, proves that you don't need to remember the '80s and '90s to adopt their aesthetics in meaningful ways. Some of the film's best moments look like music videos from that decade, especially one where the couple walk across a snow-covered island where pieces of brightly colored clothing fall from the sky in slow motion. It's a scene of pure ecstasy, the kind that will trigger visceral memories of falling head over heels.
The rest of this weekend's lineup is as follows:
Friday, April 26
Salim is an Indian child with no access to clean, free water. This documentary takes a look at his efforts to improve his community.
After witnessing an attack on her friend, a girl named Skunk tries to come to terms with her new life in the suburbs of London.
John Dies at the End
A new drug called Soy Sauce allows its users to transcend the laws of space and time, but sometimes transforms that into something other than human. It falls upon two college dropouts to stop the madness.
Saturday, April 27
Deflowering Eva van End, 2 p.m.
Described as the "Dutch Little Miss Sunshine," this film follows an awkward middle schooler and her dysfunctional family.
Sound City, 11:59 p.m.
This documentary from Foo Fighters frontman and Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl explores the history of recording studio Sound City and how digital recording affects the music industry.
Sunday, April 28
Short Film Competition, 2 p.m.
This is a showcase of short films submitted by UW undergrads and graduate students.