'Mr. SOUL,' 'Love Tapes,' and other unique films screening in February

'Mr. SOUL'

'Mr. SOUL'

Here are three indie flicks to catch in February.

Akira Kurosawa and Toshirô Mifune

Trylon Cinema
$8 per film

Trylon Cinema
7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13
$10 in advance/$12 at the door

Ellis Haizlip hosted and produced the late-night black variety show Mr. SOUL in 1968. The program ran for five years on PBS.

Haizlip’s legacy is finally being shared by his niece, actress Melissa Haizlip, and Samuel D. Pollard. Mr. SOUL! was a program about black stuff -- from music to civil rights -- by blacks. Haizlip interviewed pretty much every notable African American from the era, including Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, and Harry Belafonte. If they were a popping music act, they hit Haizlip’s soundstage.

“There exists, as far as I know, no TV program that deals with my culture so completely, so freely, and so beautifully,” says Haizlip in a clip. “There is no alternative to soul.”

Learn a little bit more about this trailblazing show at the Trylon.

'Love Tapes'

'Love Tapes'

Wendy Clarke: Love Tapes
Walker Arts Cinema
5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14

Visual artist Wendy Clarke spent the late ’70s inviting people to go into a small room with a camera and monitor, put on some music they like, and then talk about love for three minutes. The most poignant raw footage then became Love Tapes (1982), a thoughtful, flirty, and exciting experimental documentary.

The peculiar, vacuumed setting, short time, and intense question prompt very different revelatory reactions. For some, there is a burst of idealism that immediately wanes into bittersweetness and moments of contemplation. There are those who hear the word “love” and instantly spiral, spewing tales of traumas from parents, exes, friends -- anyone. Thought of love engenders confidence for a few, too. “We are all lovers,” says an older black woman, “but I’m the biggest and best of them all.”

Meanwhile, other people have no interest in love.

“Sometimes, I'd rather have a good car,” says a sorrowfully smirking middle-aged white man in a tie and large ’70s-era glasses.

Uptown Theatre
Midnight, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1-2

Director Nicholas Pesce’s Piercing (2018) is a jaunty, surrealist dive into all-consuming desire.

The movie follows Reed (Christopher Abbott), a guy who really wants to murder someone. Like, he just has to do it.

Pesce uses a straightforward visual style that comedically contorts with each confession. Reed is presented as a regular guy as he calmly considers going to a hotel, ordering an escort, and murdering her.

The only problem: Reed did not consider that the escort (Mia Wasikowska) could be off her rocker, too.

Each twisted turn and oddly charming quip imbues seemingly regular things -- an elevator doorbell, a ringing phone -- with ominous potential for darkness. Here Pesce has created a fantastic exploration of the depths of human desires, and the lengths we go to conceal and carry them out.