Review by Trylon volunteer Patrick Vehling.

Drafthouse Films, the company responsible for the theatrical and DVD/Blu-Ray distribution of Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45,  is one amongst many such studios that are part of a massive resurgence of amazing HD remasters, usually from the original camera negatives. Drafthouse has taken great care in creating a spectacular presentation of popular and otherwise lost cult cinema classics – Ms. 45 is no exception.

Zoë Tamerlis (Lund), then 17, plays Thala, a mute garment worker who is sexually assaulted twice, and turns from victim to avenger. It is this perfectly subtle performance by Tamerlis that makes Ms. 45 such a devastating and haunting film; we witness Thala relive the assault early on as she attempts to remove her clothing to take a bath, but is physically and mentally repulsed at the idea.

The next day we see a dramatic shift in her appearance, as she wears tighter clothing and a pulled back ponytail, carrying herself in a more confident manner before seeking revenge. Thala’s revenge is more than vengeance against her rapists, however–it is revenge against societal views on women. Unfortunately, Tamerlis, after only acting in a handful of films died at 37 in Paris due to heart issues from an increasing cocaine addiction.

Nicholas St. John, screenwriter for Ms. 45, wrote twelve films, ten of which were for Abel Ferrara before they had a falling out around the mid 90s–or rather, St. John parted ways from Ferrara for religious reasons. St. John’s exit from film was foreshadowed in many of his scripts, most of which were riddled with religious, specifically Catholic, symbolism and ideals. In Ms. 45 we see the meek, virginal Thala put on a nun’s habit while wearing thick makeup and bright red lipstick – a sort of reflection on St. John’s constant struggle between following God and doing violence towards yourself and others.

Ferrara’s film is a grand, violent exploration of human character and life in gritty New York City in the early 80s, a film highly recommended for those in need of experiencing a revenge tale with a bit more reality than Tarantino’s Kill Bill.  Ms. 45 is a powerful lashing out against modern politicians’ absurd obsession with rape culture.

Patrick Vehling was raised in Minneapolis, weaned by Kurosawa, Tarkovsky and Herzog, interested in travel, linguistics, coffee, whiskey and sometimes has been known to make a film on Super 8.

Ms. 45 screens Monday and Tuesday at 7:00 & 8:45. Purchase tickets here.

Our month of Kurosawa Sans Samurai ends tonight with High and Low, his classic film of crime, kidnapping, greed and society. One of a long line of adaptations directed by Kurosawa, High and Low‘s plot comes from the police thriller King’s Ransom. But like The Bad Sleep Well or Yojimbo, Kurosawa again transforms the non-Japanese source into a thoroughly Japanese film.

A gripping thriller, a social critique, a sumptuous widescreen feast for the eyes, High and Low has everything I want in a Kurosawa film. No swordplay required.

Friday, March 28: 7, 9:45
Saturday, March 29: 7, 9:45
Sunday, March 30: 5, 8
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The birth of hip hop is a curious thing. It’s both hotly disputed (which borough ‘created’ it, who really invented scratching, etc.) and remarkably well documented. The creation of an entirely new culture inside the cultural capitol of, well, the world, created a weird feeding frenzy of lovers and opportunists setting upon, photographing, supporting and co-opting the burgeoning b-boys, mc’s, dj’s and graffiti artists.

And one of the undoubted lovers and champions was Jamel Shabazz, a Brooklyn photographer right in the eye of the hip hop storm. In Street Photographer, director Charlie Ahearn (another giant champion of early hip hop) tells Shabazz’s story and the stories he captured, stories that so many of early hip hop documenters missed.

Jamel Shabazz:Street Photographer
Monday, March 24: 7, 8:45
Tuesday, March 25: 7, 8:45
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Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune in Akira Kurosawa's STRAY DOG

Stray Dog review by Trylon volunteer Greg Hunter.

Stray Dog (1949), the next installment in our Kurosawa Sans Samurai series, is the rare detective story in which the lead must solve a problem almost entirely of his own making. The film follows Murakami (Toshirô Mifune), a well-intentioned rookie, as he navigates the seedier side of mid-century Tokyo in order to track down his stolen service weapon.

Kurosawa directed Stray Dog at a time when his contemporaries were depicting postwar Japan’s cultural shifts, portraits of transition and recovery such as Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring… which is also a pretty great movie, but Stray Dog is striking by comparison for its lively, popcorn-y qualities.* At the center of that movie is Mifune, contributing one of his earliest performances under Kurosawa, with whom he collaborated on many films, for many years.

Mifune embodies his characters so well in these movies that a first-time Kurosawa viewer might assume the actor spent his career playing variations on a type. He’s so persuasive as the solitary, righteous swordsman of Yojimbo (1961), or as the brash gangster of Drunken Angel (1948), that he could have made a life of rehashing either role.** Watching him as a Macbeth analogue—and the world’s shoutiest man—in Throne of Blood (1957), it’s hard to imagine him as anything but that screaming tyrant.

And yet in Stray Dog, he’s equally convincing as a dude who got his stuff swiped on a train car. Mifune contributed more to the Kurosawa filmography than anyone not named Akira Kurosawa, and this weekend, guests of the Trylon can watch him grow both in character and as a leading man.

* I guess a person could make a case that the Americanness of the film’s MacGuffin–the missing Colt pistol–is richly symbolic of something, e.g. the young Det. Murakami and the future of the police force being led astray by an export of the United States…  but this is probably not the kind of person with whom you want to see Stray Dog.

** Honestly: Yojimbo-era Mifune is a cool enough dude that, in my Toshiro Mifune fan fiction, Alain Delon, Marcello Mastroianni, and Marlon Brando are standing around having a mid-century cool dude contestmaybe Brando is taking apart an engine while Delon fixes some cocktailsand then Mifune enters and the other guys all shit their pants. Stray Dog—Friday through Sunday, everybody!

Greg Hunter ( is a writer-editor from Minneapolis. His work has appeared in The Rumpus, The Comics Journal, The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature, and elsewhere. He concept-tweets in obscurity as @Dialogue_Log.

Stray Dog screens Friday and Saturday, 7:00 & 9:15, Sunday at 5:00 & 7:15. Purchase tickets here.


0That’s right, everybody! It’s time once again for your favorite secret-awful-or-nearly-awful movie of the month, the Defenders! You know the drill: a local personality, working in conjunction with the Trylon, will steal in to the theater while you wait, patiently, and put on… what? A lost classic you’ve never heard of? A monumental disaster you swore you’d never sit through? A weird little B-movie that’s strangely appealing? A boxing film obsessed with Barbara Streisand’s ass?!?

The only way to know is to head on down to the Trylon microcinema TONIGHT, where one half of Minnesota Public Radio’s Cube Critics, Euan Kerr, will be defending a favorite of his. Euan, according to the bio he himself gave us, “shoulders the burden of a split personality resulting from being born in Glasgow, Scotland, but raised in Edinburgh. This has been a huge asset in his three decade-long career as a radio journalist, primarily with MPR, but also with KFAI and the BBC.”

Half of all the proceeds go to his charity of choice, Kulture Klub Collaborative.

Euan Kerr’s Defenders screens tonight at 7:00! Purchase tickets here.