Month: September 2015

Four Made in Minnesota Movies and not a one has the word purple or rain in the title

There have been scads of movies filmed in Minnesota throughout the years. The 90’s were particularly rife with them thanks to the super generous tax rebate given to Hollywood production companies to get them to use some of our very talented natives as both supporting cast and crew. A few of those movies were both critical and commercial successes like Fargo (hated it), some were successful only at the box office like Jingle All the Way (see the then new, now gone, Holidazzle parade) and some even became cult hits like Mall Rats (see Eden Prairie Shopping Mall in all its Contempo Casuals glory). These four movies are none of those and span more than a few decades besides the prolific 90’s but the one thing they have in common is that they were all filmed, at least partially, in the land of ten thousand lakes.

Airport: The movie that launched an entire genre of disaster films like The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake,Towering Inferno, and The Swarm to name just a few. Think of disaster movies as Hollywood’s valiant attempt to keep their golden era stars employed for a couple more years until their SAG retirement benefits kicked in.

Lincoln International Airport, located somewhere near Chicago yet surprisingly not called O’Hare, is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. It’s a major blizzard, a big huge plane is stuck in a snow bank blocking a much-needed runway, an adorable 70-year-old stowaway (Helen Hayes, who won an Oscar for the role) is on the loose, the married pilot (Dean Martin, as the least believable airline pilot ever) has knocked up his WAY TOO YOUNG for him stewardess girlfriend (Jacqueline Bisset) and there is a mad bomber on board (Van Heflin, in his last movie role) who just wants his wife to get a little life insurance money.

Based on Arthur Hailey’s best-selling book Airport was a major box-office success and although it was a simpler time and movie expectations were rather low, it’s actually worth the whopping three or four bucks it could cost you to watch it. Between the airlines that no longer exist like Western, TWA, Pan Am, Northwest Orient (RIP little red tail) and the fact that you actually got REAL food on REAL plates in coach, it’s a nice little reminder of the way air travel used to be.

I had a teacher who had a bit part in this movie and told all her students about it for the six years we were stuck with her. Sort of like I always mention to everyone and anyone my being the first American rock journalist to interview Radiohead (according to their publicist at the time), except my claim to fame is way cooler, obviously.

Radiohead trumps reservations agent it part every time

Radiohead trumps reservations agent bit part every time Miss Engebretson, every time

They filmed the movie at MSP International because of our usually reliable snowfall but guess what? God decided to mess with their minds and it did not snow so they has to use colored sawdust until finally Mother Nature had pity on those poor Hollywood peeps and produced a good old blizzard just in the nick of time (it’s always the ladies who make it happen, AMIRITE?), see if you can spot the difference.

Most Minnesota thing about it: the snowstorm, duh. Just like in real life when all the other sissy airports in the country are closed due to a spot of bad weather MSP International just turns the lights on high and throws a little more salt on the runways.

Least Minnesota thing about it: it’s supposed to be some fictional airport in Chicago called Lincoln. Lame. (Amazon Instant, iTunes, Comcast On Demand)

Untamed Heart: Caroline (Marisa Tomei), an unlucky in love coffee shop waitress meets a dishwasher named Adam (Christian Slater), who thinks he has a baboon heart, they fall in love and you probably know the rest of the story because it is not at all original, except for the baboon heart part which is of course not true. However, every time this movie is on TV, which is a lot, I tend to watch it and sometimes even get teary eyed, and not just because of what happens to poor Adam and his all-too-human heart.

Between the cuter-than-cute-coffee shop that I never went to before it closed (insert sad Panda face), the old retail version of City Center back when it was chock-full of stores instead of chock-full of Target employees not considered hip enough for HQ, and all the lovely shots of northeast Minneapolis, I can’t ever say no to this movie. Don’t miss Minnesota’s own Vincent Kartheiser in a bit part as an adorable little orphan boy who later grew up to be that not-at-all adorable little twat Pete Campbell on Mad Men.

Most Minnesota thing about it: The North Stars hockey game that Caroline and Adam attend at the old Met Center. Sorry Minnesota Wild, no matter how very hard you try and no matter how very fancy the Xcel Center is, many of us (me in particular) will never love you like we did our Stars. Never.

Least Minnesota thing about it: Marissa Tomei’s allegedly Minnesota accent. The only Minnesotan’s that talk like that are fictional and come from a faraway place called Hollywood, see Marge Gunderson in Fargo. (Amazon, Comcast On Demand)

The Very Thought of You:  if anyone has seen this movie besides me I will be very much surprised. Originally called Martha-Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence (gee, I wonder why they changed it?) TVTOY is the story of one woman Martha (Monica Potter doing her very best Julia Roberts imitation), and three childhood friends, Daniel (Tom Hollander), Frank (Rufus Sewell)  and Laurence (Joseph Fiennes), who Martha meets separately in a single day only to have them all fall in love with her despite Martha not being a manic pixie dream girl since thankfully that character had not yet been invented.

I don’t think this movie ever played in a single theater in America. Between the crap title and lack of promotion the only reason I saw it was because of boredom and a little thing called channel surfing. This movie isn’t great but it isn’t terrible and I have spent two hours watching worse. The soundtrack is better than average and the fact the three male leads were at the peak of their combined hotness did not hurt this movie at all. Round up a few friends, order some pizza and take bets to see which one Sweet Martha ends up with in the end because I am not telling.

Most Minnesota thing about it: Once again MSP International’s star shines brightly even if we don’t see too much else as the film mostly takes place in London.

Least Minnesota thing about it: Linden Hills does not have high rises and is about as bad of a neighborhood as Beverly Hills is. (Amazon, iTunes)

Young Adult: Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a divorced, quite possibly alcoholic YA author with probable sociopathic tendencies. Struggling with writer’s block, Mavis decides to ditch Minneapolis and her fantastic apartment with its million dollar views of the Mississippi River and go back to her hometown of Mercury not only for creative inspiration but also to rekindle a relationship with her high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson), not letting a little thing like the fact that he is married to someone else (Beth, played by Elizabeth Reaser) and has a new baby get in the way of her plans.

Mavis lets fellow classmate Matt (Patton Oswald) in on her crazy-ass scheme and he of course tries to talk her out of it. Because this movie was written by Diablo Cody, it has major hipster vibes tattooed all over it, most noticeably in the fact that Beth is in a mommy band called Nipple Confusion. Don’t let that stop you from watching this though, Charlize Theron is so good as an evil bitch that it’s almost like she wasn’t even acting or something. Maybe we should just ask former Sister, Sister star Tia Mowery about her SoulCycle experience with Ms Theron?

Most Minnesota thing about it: Mavis has excellent taste in music, anyone who has Teenage Fanclub and the Replacements on the same mix tape does have one redeeming quality, just the one though.

Least Minnesota thing about it: Mavis is definitely not very Minnesota Nice. It’s bad enough she thinks it is perfectly okay to break up a marriage but it is totally not okay to be an irresponsible dog owner, ever. (Amazon, iTunes)

Doctor My Eyes

There are a lot of little signs along the way to middle-agedom. The first time a bag boy at the grocery store calls you ma’am, the first time you don’t get carded trying to buy a drink at a cool club, the first membership invite from AARP you get in the mail a good twenty-five years before you could even possibly imagine retiring and horror of horrors, when you suddenly realize that your arms are no longer long enough for you to read the menus at trendy restaurants any more.

There used to be a cute little trattoria that shall remain nameless in Minneapolis that was so very dark inside that you had to borrow the teeny tiny votives from all the people at the tables surrounding you just so you could make out what was on the appetizer list. Not to be mean but thank God the restaurant burned down a few years ago because I am not sure there were enough teeny tiny votives in the whole dang place for me to be able to see anything on the menu now. In fact, I would probably need night vision goggles and I think those are kind of expensive and not very attractive and I am kinda shallow that way.

Spending seven hours a day looking at screens of various shapes and sizes does not help a whit with the failing eyesight situation so what’s a poor formerly almost perfect vision person to do? Find a lovely magnifying glass à la  Little Edie of Grey Gardens* fame? As much as I admire Little Edie’s eccentric style (hello Marc Jacobs!) toting around a giant magnifying glass to status meetings and social events where there are menus around seems a little unwieldy. Instead I have succumbed, like so many others before me, to the wonderful world of readers.

This will be me soon, minus the headdress

This will be me soon

The last time I had my eyes checked I let them talk me into progressives (bifocals for those unwilling to announce to the world that they need bifocals) and the experience was not good. Every time I turned my head I felt like I just got off the Trabant and it is my life’s goal to never get on the Trabant or any other stupid ride that just goes around in circles ever again. This was no way to live and so needless to say I never wore them and started wearing Eyebobs and while I am a huge fan of Eyebobs (frames way funkier than any Costco/CVS/Target frame could ever dare dream to be) it still did not make reading comfortable. This was a problem for someone who used to win prizes in school for reading the most books every year (I still have the leather bookmarks to prove it) and usually finished anything but the truly Dickensian in a single sitting. Now I barely read a book a month and still have a brand new copy of The Girl on a Train staring at me, wondering why I have not yet gotten on board, especially when I have already paid the fare.

Not only that, those suckers cost me a boatload of money (I have paid less to fly to Europe, not even in the off-season) so it was with more than a bit of reluctance that I went back to the very same place for an eye exam. Turns out wearing readers without accounting for astigmatism was not helping with the eye strain so after my totally free eye exam that cost me over a hundred dollars it was time to pick out some new fun frames.

When Prince made Apollonia cleanse herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka he forget to tell her how much it cost to do anything within a two block radius of its borders, including trying to find a pair of frames with lenses that cost less than some people I’ve known first cars (it was a different time back then people, long before college dorms had granite countertops and stainless steel appliances and private bathrooms for everyone). Seriously, I tried on a pair of frames, kept behind a locked case that cost $3600 and no they were not made out of moon rock brought back to Earth by Neil Armstrong. Thankfully I did not even like them that much because a large part of the reason I am in the 99% is because I tend to like too many things that the 1% do and that I can’t really afford which is what keeps me in the 99%. That and not being an heiress, thanks Mom and Dad.

But this time I was not going to be such an easy mark for those fancy 1% frame pushers, no this time I was going to comparison shop and so I hopped in my car and drove away from the not-at-all pure waters of Lake Minnetonka and into Minnetonka proper where there are malls with eyeglass chains and a girl can get a pair of glasses that might not be made out of moon rock but do say Dolce & Gabbana on them nonetheless. (She probably still won’t like the new version of progressive lenses but can always swap them out for prescription readers so she can hopefully catch up to that train real soon.)

*You have seen this movie right? Please say yes as it is perhaps the best documentary ever of a non serious subject and was made into an award-winning Broadway play and not-so-terrible-as-I-imagined-it-to-be HBO movie with Drew Barrymore as Little Edie. (available to stream on Amazon Instant)