Movie Blog MSPIFF Spotlights: ‘Sound Of Noise,’ ‘Just Like Us’

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(Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

(Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

By Jonathon Sharp, WCCO

Just Like Us

Just Like Us is a documentary about comedy in the Arab world. If that doesn’t spark your interest in the film, I’m not sure what will.

The movie follows its director, American-Egyptian comedian Ahmed Ahmed, as he tours the Arab world with a group of international comedians.

As the group travels, you learn how different Arab countries respond to comedy. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, you can’t hold a comedy show without fear the religious police will shut it down; in Dubai, you can’t say curse words or joke about religion without running the risk of being banned from the country; and, on the other hand, in Beirut, you can do whatever you want.

Aside from documenting the comedic tolerances, the film shows that Arab people are, as the title suggests, like us. Although they live in intense political and religious atmospheres, they like to laugh at themselves as much as any other group of humans does. And that fact is a joy to see.

However, in its attempt to show how similar Western and Arab people are, Just Like Us highlights their differences. In this way the film is conspicuously positive. In between the laughs you’ll be thinking about how strange it would be if no one could make fun of Christianity, if no one could poke fun at the president, and if a female comedian was something unheard of.

For a funny, relevant and interesting experience, check out Just Like Us. (Theater 3, 7:15). Also, Ahmed Ahmed will be there.

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Sound Of Noise

Music is the weapon is a phrase often attributed to the life and music of Fela Kuti. It could also be used, although in a much goofier way, to describe the movie Sound of Noise.

Sound of Noise is a movie about a group of musical terrorists and their attempt to stage a series of provocative percussion performances. The terrorists (or activists or provocateurs or whatever you’d like to call them) round up the best drummers in the city and with them put on performances in an operating room, a bank and a power plant using mundane objects as instruments.

These performances are the movie’s best feature. They’re punky, pithy and play out with political vigor particular to northern European bands – think: the Refused.

Aside from these performances, however, the movie is silly and unsatisfying. The other part of the narrative – a story about a tone-deaf man from a prominent musical family and his quest to stop the musical terrorists– is dumb. The characters are all one note and the story, which has some interesting and almost surreal aspects, just doesn’t go anywhere.

If you’re in the market for something strange and musical, you may want to check it out.

Sound of Noise is directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson; it is a Swedish entry. (Theater 2, 3:45)

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All shows are playing at the St. Anthony Main Theatre. For the complete festival schedule, click here. An alphabetical listing of all the movies being shown can be found here. Ticket information is here.

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