The We Rock Long Distance Doc Is an Artistic Homecoming for Twin Cities Rappers

Categories: Film
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Courtesy of We Rock Long Distance
L-R: M.anifest and his grandfather J. H. Kwabena Nketia

"Listen to my rap. I rap," says 93-year-old J. H. Kwabena Nketia to his grown grandson. The two men are admiring a vast archive of Nketia's academic work, which includes several books and honors. "I'm rapping in Twi [a dialect of the Akan language of Ghana]," says the revered composer and ethnomusicologist of the proto-rap narrative poem Akwansosem Bi. "I wrote this as a student in London, studying Chaucer. And I said, I'll do my African version. The rhythmic elements are there."

As the older man performs a spoken piece dating from 1945, the cadences and flow coming from his mouth are remarkably similar to current hip-hop. His grandson, the formerly Minnesota-based rapper M.anifest, is visibly stunned. Though carrying the torch for an African living legend in his lineage wasn't M.anifest's goal, the traditions in his family history still bear weight on his work -- generations down the line and thousands of miles away.

The scene and concept stems from Justin Schell's new documentary, We Rock Long Distance, a film that follows three well-respected rappers from the Minnesota hip-hop scene -- M.anifest, Maria Isa, and Tou SaiKo Lee -- as they reconnect with their families and homelands and contextualize their modern approach with their respective cultures.

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Soak Up a MST3K-Style Alternate Version of Christmas

Categories: Film
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Rifftrax
Santa Claus, space traveler and fighter of Satan

Tonight, Mystery Science Theater 3000's Bill Corbett, Michael J. Nelson, and Kevin Murphy will be live-riffing the befuddling 1959 Mexican film Santa Claus in theaters nationwide (including several Twin Cities spots).

Santa's outer-space team and the wizard Merlin will battle Satan on the big screen just in time for the film's 55th anniversary. But it's not the only thing Corbett's leaving under your Christmas tree this holiday season, as his graphic novel Super-Powered Revenge Christmas plunges into stockings and onto store shelves now. More »

Jarvis Cocker and Pulp Go Home in New Documentary Film

Categories: Film
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Courtesy Of
Jarvis Cocker, Nick Banks, Candida Doyle, Steve Mackey, Mark Webber in PULP

Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets | St. Anthony Main Theatre | Wednesday, November 19
When I was a kid in upstate New York, I'd hear Petula Clark's "Downtown" on the radio -- a song about the promise of glittering lights, "movie shows," and all the excitement and dazzle adult life had to offer -- and revel in the anywhere-but-hereness of it all. That's not to denigrate where I grew up. Almost all kids, growing up anywhere, ask themselves: What else does the world have to offer?

Long before they became world-famous, the members of the Yorkshire-bred Pulp, led by precocious stringbean-in-pants Jarvis Cocker, must have asked too. And as Florian Habicht's gingery, deeply affectionate documentary Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets shows, even after they found out what the world had to offer -- they were still OK with Sheffield.


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Sound Unseen Reveals 2014 Film Festival Lineup

Categories: Festivals, Film
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Heaven Adores You
Elliott Smith on on tour, circa 1998

The festivities for Sound Unseen's 15th annual Film+Music+Art Festival kick off in grand -- if a bit bittersweet -- fashion this year.

Leading the impressive slate of films just announced is the Minnesota premiere of Nickolas Rossi's film, Heaven Adores You. It's an intimate look at both the life and music of Elliott Smith. Rossi and producer Marc Smolowitz will be in attendance at the premiere.

Sound Unseen is set to take place between November 12-16, with films screening at McNally Smith College of Music and the Bedlam Theatre in St. Paul, and the Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis. The full schedule is below.

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The New David Bowie Documentary Isn't What You Think It Is

Categories: Film
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Brian Duffy
David Bowie, album shoot for Aladdin Sane, 1973

The new documentary film David Bowie Is does not tackle the epic career of the legendary rock star. You won't see any new interviews with the 67-year-old performer. There are no insights regarding his sexuality or addictions. No mention of his work with Klaus Nomi.

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Casting Martin Scorsese's New Ramones Movie

Categories: Film
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Goodfellas: Ramones get the Scorsese treatment

Recently, word got out that an upcoming Ramones biopic would be helmed by one of America's greatest living filmmakers, Martin Scorsese. The movie would be one of several band-related projects slated for 2016, the 40th anniversary of the bruddas' debut album, Ramones.

Scorsese isn't that odd a choice to direct a film about the groundbreaking punk band. He's a New Yorker who loves music, and directed The Last Waltz and Shine a Light. He also knows what to do with a good story. Like The Wolf of Wall Street or Raging Bull, the tale of the Ramones is a fascinating one, filled with underdogs, victors, losers, users, lovers, betrayers, and a litany of insecure gods.

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Amphetamine Reptile Records Documentary Hitting Theaters

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AmRep founder Tom Hazelmyer and director Eric Robel

The local and international footprint of Amphetamine Reptile Records is undeniable. After fostering a progressive, hardcore sound in the '80s and '90s that left hair metal in the dust, the label has delivered one-of-a-kind vinyl pressings and limited-edition releases in the modern era. Through it all, AmRep has boldly stood apart from most conventional record labels under the guidance of founder Tom Hazelmyer.

Now a younger generation of fans will get to witness what all the fuss was about, as a new documentary on Hazelmyer (HAZE XXL) and AmRep, The Color of Noise, is set to hit theaters across the country, including a screening at the Riverview Theater here in Minneapolis.

See also:
Under the influence of Amphetamine Reptile

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Summer Music & Movies announces 2014 lineup

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Photo by Steve Cohen

The Walker Art Center's Summer Music & Movies series has consistently provided Twin Cities film and music lovers with a wonderful -- and entirely free -- night out that celebrates the eternal link of both creative mediums.

This year's lineup incudes Greg Grease (above) and his new ZuluZuluu project, the Cloak Ox, and more paired with iconic films. Showings and performances are every Monday night in August. Loring Park hosts the events on August 4, 11, and 18, and Walker's Open Field is the setting for the final night on August 25.  

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Purple Rain-inspired African film seeks funding

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Have you ever wondered what Prince's Purple Rain would look and sound like filtered through an African lens and the Tuareg-language? Well, you now have the chance to fund that distinctive film through Kickstarter, as the first Tuareg-language fiction film, Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai (humorously translated as Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red In It), is seeking contributions to help their artistic cause.


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Inside Llewyn Davis: A near-perfect mix of music and message

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Photo By Alison Rosa

Any time Oscar-winning St. Louis Park filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen announce that they are releasing a new film, there is going to be plenty of local interest. When they decided to set their new one, Inside Llewyn Davis, in the early-'60s folk music scene of New York City that would eventually embrace a young Bob Dylan, Minnesota moviegoers became even more intrigued.

Last night, I was fortunate to attend an early screening of the Coen brothers' new film -- which opens in an exclusive early engagement at the Uptown Theatre this Thursday night -- and came away impressed with the focus and care that was shown to folk music throughout the film, as well as the knowing attention given to the insecure struggle of the creative life.


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