Memorial Day

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Made in Minnesota with the reported assistance of Minnesota military organizations, Memorial Day is indeed a reverent piece of filmmaking, one which uses the same vocabulary as any number of other, more skeptical war movies from the recent past. But unlike, say, The Hurt Locker, the aim of Memorial Day seems much less conflicted.

If the WWII generation has been dubbed “The Greatest Generation,” local filmmaker Sam Fischer seems to be saying that the current generation has been a tad undersold.

With great reverence, Fischer splits his movie into three separate time frames. In 1993, a grandfather (James Cromwell) is emotionally blackmailed into sharing stories from his wartime experience with his insistent grandson. He allows him to choose three trinkets from a large trunk of items, and he’ll get to hear the story behind each of the three, which the movie flashes back to show.

Later, the grandson is grown up and, as a member of the Minnesota National Guard 34th Infantry Red Bulls, on a tour of duty in Iraq, experiencing first-hand the same type of situations his grandfather told him about decades earlier.

Fischer’s movie (which was partially shot in Minnesota) is handsomely mounted, though it lacks the amount of moral relativism that most would expect from a war movie in this day and age (compared, even, to Stephen Spielberg’s recent HBO miniseries The Pacific, which emerges significantly more damaged and scarred than his earlier Band of Brothers).

But that appears to be part of the point. With Memorial Day, Fischer seems to be saying “enough” to the line of thought that holds there can’t still be heroism amid unjust causes.

Memorial Day plays in Theater 1 at 7 p.m.


Michael (credit: MSPIFF)

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Kill List

Last week, I did my best not to spoil too much from the new horror movie The Cabin in the Woods. Now that that cat’s out of the bag, how about checking out the next shocker all but destined to become a future midnight cult classic?

I guess that puts MSPIFF ahead of the game, since it’s currently programmed as part of their late night sidebar series.

Kill List is one of the hottest Brit imports of the moment, and the less you know about it going in, the better you’ll be.

Suffice it to say that the main characters are recrudescent hitmen who stumble onto a job they can’t turn down and, by the end, probably wish they had.

Director Ben Wheatley shifts his gears with ruthless efficiency — it’s a well-oiled machine somewhat on the order of the new French extremity, but with a definite dose of kitchen-sink gloom and doom. It’s tough to shake.

Kill List plays in Theater 3 at 10 p.m.


For the festival schedule, and a complete listing of all the movies being shown, click here. Ticket information is available here.

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Eric Henderson