Mama and Feminist Horror

, the new horror film from producer Guillermo del Toro, comes out today, and I do recommend giving it a look. Here’s why:

1) It’s a cracker of a horror film. Once the movie gets going, nearly every scene delivers a new, creepy element. In fact, the creep-factor delivery is so reliable that it almost seems like the film peaks after about 20 minutes… and then sustains a plateau until the end credits. It feels odd, but it works.

2) The main reason it works is that the film respects its characters, and much of the horror branches from the push and pull between their personalities.

3) Unlike 90% of films that aren’t specifically touted as a “chick flick”, Mama’s four main characters are all female. And they talk to each other about things other than men.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I often harp on about roles for women in the movies. It still feels like a hard sell to get a genre movie where one of the main characters just happens to be female, and she’s not a love interest / mother / witch. Even Mama, as you can guess, is a horror film about motherhood, and the four main characters are two mothers and two daughters. Still, Mama‘s approach to motherhood is interesting, and the fact that the film has a keen understanding of its characters drives it into lady-friendly land.

The film begins with a tragedy that strands two young girls (one toddler age, one a little older) in an abandoned cabin. When they are found several years later by authorities, they are alive but feral, skittering around on all fours. After a psychologist studies them for a while, he hands custody of the kids over to the girls’ uncle, who is determined to give them a normal life.

The film swiftly shuffles the uncle off to the side, instead focusing upon his rock guitarist girlfriend, who is thrust unwillingly into the role of being the girls’ adoptive mother. Jessica Chastain plays this character deftly: this is a woman who had very different plans about what she wanted to do in life, and now she’s stuck in a house with a couple of creepy kids who may or may not want her help.

The kids are creepy not just because of their feral behaviors, but also because they keep referring to a something named Mama, which might have kept them alive in that cabin all those years. When the movie starts delving into what Mama might be, it’s off to the races.

If you choose to see Mama (and yes, you should), note how the quartet of girls/women contrast with each other. Note also how the ending of the film is very odd… and yet the only way it could be resolved with any sort of satisfaction for the characters involved.

Mama does have its flaws (oh, so many clichés…), but it does work quite well as a whole, and it sports a script that is smarter on character than you would ever expect. Give it a look.

PowerPoint Karaoke TONIGHT!

PowerPoint KaraokeThat’s right! PowerPoint Karaoke takes the stage again tonight at the Bryant Lake Bowl!

Thursday, January 17th
Bryant Lake Bowl
10:00pm (doors at 9:30pm)
$7 at the door / $5 with a Fringe button

We weren’t able to have our usual last-Thursday-of-the-month timeslot in January, so we’re taking over the 17th as our own. Join us as four presenters battle their way to PowerPoint glory! Also, you can eat food and drink beer in the theater! Good food! Good beer!

If you want to buy tickets ahead of time, or if you just need the address, details are here.

Drinking with Geeks

Drinking with Geeks

Depending on the crowd you fly with, Drinking with Geeks is either a) a raucus and borderline illegal panel at CONvergence, b) a monthly gathering of the nerd herd at a local Minneapolis bar, or c) a title you know nothing about, and yet are intrigued by.

Regardless of whether you ascribe to a, b, or c, Drinking with Geeks is run by the same people in all of these venues, and it involves nerds with booze.

This month, it arrives at The Bryant Lake Bowl, and it comes accompanied by…

(cue dramatic music)


That’s right! Jerry Belich and I will be appearing as the inaugural guests on the new Drinking with Geeks podcast, alongside cohosts Bill Stiteler and Joseph Scrimshaw. I hear that we are being paid in alcohol. Hurray!

“When does this glorious event happen?” I hear you cry. “I want to nerd out over booze, too!”

Have no fear, citizen! Here are the vital stats of this essential gathering of the boozy brains:

Bryant Lake Bowl
February 5th, 2013
6:30pm – 8:30pm (podcast happens at 7:30pm)
Tickets are FREE!

If you do the Facebook thing, there is more information here.

If you don’t do the Facebook thing, here’s the event on the Bryant Lake Bowl’s web site.

Fearless Comedy and Dirty Music

Courtney McClean and the Dirty CurlsThe Fearless Comedy Launch Party on Saturday night was wildly successful. The room was packed for five hours as a stream of entertainment and beer washed over the crowd. I also hear that a healthy stream of money washed from the crowd back to the entertainers, which is as it should be for such fundraiser events.

I was honored (and a little terrified) by being given the closing spot: PowerPoint Karaoke closed out the night, so the pressure was on to go out on a high note. It turns out that I had nothing to fear, as my two contestants wound up being Joseph Scrimshaw and Aric McKeown, and they absolutely killed. By the end, Joseph wound up wrapped around Aric like some sort of terrifying, be-sneakered spider monkey, and Aric carried him offstage.

We were preceeded by tremendously funny stuff, too. Geeks Without God did a live recording with Aric; Joseph did a live recording of Obsessed with random audience members (including the spectacularly awkward Fes Works); Bill Young did stand-up; Ian Rains (of Drinking with Ian fame) ran his $50 pyramid show; and there was so much more.

One of the best treats of the night for me, though, was finally seeing a live performance by Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls. I’ve known Courtney for a while, as she’s done a few PowerPoint Karaoke shows. I’ve been aware of her band for much longer, but had never actually seen them perform. Finally, I now know what bluegrass and pornographic lyrics truly belong together, and I have sworn to go see The Dirty Curls perform a full show sometime.

The capper to this is that, in the party’s silent auction, Fes Works won a live concert (!) by this fine, filthy band. So now we’re trying to figure out what to do with this. We might just move in together so we can have the mother of all house parties.

Anyway, Fearless Comedy is now off to a good start. Also, while I was hanging around and waiting for my set, I shot a couple photos of Courtney. Enjoy!

PowerPoint Karaoke Is Fearless Tonight!

PowerPoint KaraokeThat’s right! TONIGHT PowerPoint Karaoke joins forces with the shiny-new Fearless Comedy production company at their launch party! Join us!

Saturday, January 12th
Amsterdam Bar and Hall
6:00pm until late
$20 suggested donation

PowerPoint Karaoke will go on sometime around 10:30pm, but before that will be a parade of locally-grown comedy!

If you do the Facebook thing, details are here.

If you don’t do the Facebook thing, details are also here.

Also, don’t forget that PowerPoint Karaoke will also be onstage on Thursday at the Bryant-Lake Bowl!