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More MSPIFF Reviews: Delightful short films, record-breaking cakes, and sunny death days

Who's going to bake an epic cake? This Swedish wino!

Who's going to bake an epic cake? This Swedish wino! 'The Cake General'

Here are some films to see (or skip) at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.

Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2019

St. Anthony Main Theatre
$15; $11 Film Society members; $8 kids and students

Claire Darling (2018, French)

Claire (Catherine Deneuve) is haunted by memories from her past. So much so that she can’t move on from recollections that range from sad to sweet. She clings to unanswerable questions, allowing them to gnaw on her at her every moment, to the point where it impacts her ability to trust her own reasoning. All that's left is her gut, which is telling her it's a wrap. Logic be damned, she’s going to die at the end of the night. Directed by Julie Bertuccelli, Claire Darling follows her on a sunny summer day as she does death-day things, selling all her possessions and reflecting on her daughter (Chiara Mastroianni). Bertuccelli shoots in a steady, dreamy, surrealist style that dips in and out of memories and then back to the present without warning, illustrating how we all carry the past with us. Deneuve's vulnerable yet assertive performance as Claire is a force of nature.

7:20 p.m. Thursday, April 11
7:20 p.m. Friday, April 19
St. Anthony Main Theatre 1

The Cake General (2018, Swedish)

In the 1980s, a Swedish TV show named the small town of Köping the most boring in place the country. The modest residents of the town suffered from lowered self-esteem and shame, until the local wino, Hasse P, cracked a scheme to give Köping its mojo back. His plan was to bake the largest sandwich cake in the world and get it into Guinness World Records. Some people simply sneer at the idea, while others help him. Directors Filip Hammar and Fredrik Wikingsson build a cast of goofy characters that bring the real town of Köping to life, and Mikael Persbrandt as Hasse gives a maddengliny good performance as the stubborn drunk. The Cake General is a bit long -- a few gags are stretched out longer than needed and there’s an incongruent musical number -- but this true-story comedy on hometown and personal pride is overall touching and thoughtful.

4:10 p.m. Friday, April 12 at St. Anthony Main Theatre 1
7 p.m. Saturday, April 13 Marcus Rochester Cinema

Bronzed (short)

A modern man who worships a neo-sun god has decided that it's time to sacrifice himself. Well, after he gets the perfect spray tan. Vanity, a more common idol, is also worshipped here. This short work features wonderfully weird performances by Linas Phillips and a knockout nice-guy act by ageless Rochester native Johnny Pemberton. Director Mike Egan runs every common-sense convention over the edge only to lightly land on the most obvious truths like a feather. This is very fun dark comedy.

Shorts 3 - Jeepers Creepers
9:45 p.m. Thursday, April 18 at St. Anthony Main Theatre 3

All Inclusive (short)

Documentary director Corina Schweingruber Ilic’s slow shots are perfect for observing luxury on a cramped, contained crew ship. Shots are often set up like surveillance, high above, capturing massive cruiseliner sights, like intimate moments late on the deck, or waist-level shots of passengers filing into dining and dancing quarters. The only dialogue in All Inclusive is random half-sentences picked up by the mic. The steady shooting is probing, while patient enough to avoid making the wildy rich subjects into caricature.

Shorts 4 - Pushing the Envelope
3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20 at St. Anthony Main Theatre 4