Movie Blog MSPIFF Spotlight: ‘Free Radicals’

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A still from Pip Chodorov's "Free Radicals." (credit: The Film Society Of Minneapolis-St. Paul)

A still from Pip Chodorov’s “Free Radicals.” (credit: The Film Society Of Minneapolis-St. Paul)

By Jonathon Sharp, WCCO

Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film plays like a hip-hop collaboration in which a rapper or producer features the rhymes and rhythms of his rapper and producer friends.

It’s directed by Pip Chodorov, an experimental filmmaker with a sweet name, and shows how he grew up around film and got to know many of the great experimental filmmakers. After some personal history, the movie shifts to film history, describing the rise of experimental filmmakers in Europe at the end of WWI and their eventual exodus to the United States.

Free Radicals does two things well: it shows both the history and the art of experimental cinema. In other words: the movie strikes a nice balance between displaying interesting but sometimes esoteric films and explaining the movement’s history. Free Radicals will treat you to both knowledge and fresh feelings.

Some of the filmmakers Free Radicals highlights are Len Lye, Jonas Mekas, Robert Breer and (my favorite) Stan Brakhage.

Like most collaborations, unfortunately, the film suffers from having sections that are significantly stronger than others. This arises, especially in something like experimental film, because the works of such filmmakers are so different from each other. Thus the viewer’s interest in the film swings as she sees something she loves and then, right after that, sees something to which she’s indifferent.

But if you are down to learn something and see something beautiful, strange and sometimes overwhelming, check out Free Radicals tonight. (Theater 5, 9:15 p.m.)

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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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