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Movie Blog: This Week’s Best Bets

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Eric Henderson Eric Henderson
Eric Henderson joined the WCCO.COM web team in June 2006 and currently...
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It’s going to be a busy release day at multiplexes this coming Friday (Taken 2, Pitch Perfect, and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie are all on deck), and nearly as busy at the art house, with the impending release of the anticipated horror anthology V/H/S. But there are also plenty of options for those who like to stray from the mainline offerings.

Here are five suggestions for the next seven days:

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Monday, Oct. 1 & Tuesday, Oct. 2: The Big Lebowski (Trylon Microcinema)

What can I possibly say? The film abides. More than almost any movie from my generation, Lebowski — a comedy about American emasculation sung in the key of White Russians — is a cult phenomenon among the millennial set. The Trylon is hosting two days’ worth of special screenings in conjunction with Voyageur Press, who are releasing a new (presumptuously titled) book The Big Lebowski: An Illustrated, Annotated History of the Greatest Cult Film of All Time by St. Paul author Jenny M. Jones (who formerly set up a Coen brothers retrospective at the Walker). The author will be present and there will be trivia contests to win copies of the book.

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Monday, Oct. 1 and beyond: The Renegades: American Avant-Garde Film, 1960-1973 (Walker Art Center)

As fellow fellow film blogger Jonathon Sharp wrote last week in his appreciation thereof: “Until January, museumgoers can walk the exhibit and watch six movies by filmmakers from various cells of the homegrown avant-garde. Watching the movies takes much less than two hours. Indeed, in most cases, you don’t have to watch the entire film to figure out if what you’re seeing – light on a lemon, industrial dreamscapes, fireworks over bare breasts – says something to you. That’s the thing about these movies: they suggest feelings, thoughts. They don’t tell you directly if an image (or wash of images) is sad or electrifying, scandalous or pacifying. In this way, the movies are elusive and, in some cases, more than mildly rewarding. Below are descriptions (initial impressions, really) of each film in the exhibit.”

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Thursday, Oct. 4: The Manhattan Short Film Festival (St. Anthony Main)

Ever wanted to vote as a member of a film festival jury? This week is your chance. The Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul is one of the locations participating in the Manhattan Short Film Festival, which presents 10 shorts to a global audience of an estimated 100,000 viewers, who will then get to vote on which one they like the best. More details on the competition are available here.

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Thursday, Oct. 4: The Thing From Another World (Heights Theater)

Talk about being swapped out. One of the most prominent examples of an “unofficial auteur” masterpiece this side of Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist, this sci-fi monster movie hybrid (directed by Christian Nyby even though everyone totally knows it’s really Howard Hawks’ film) is also one of the classic shockers from the 1950s and 1960s to get upstaged and arguably outclassed by a pumped-up 1980s remake (in this case, John Carpenter’s 1982 chiller, which stands alongside David Cronenberg’s heartbreaking remake of The Fly and Chuck Russell’s anarchic version of The Blob). Catch it to see what caught Carpenter’s attention in the first place.

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Friday, Oct. 5: Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street (Walker Art Center)

Jem Cohen (whose Looking for Mushrooms is one of the more underheralded landmarks in American avant garde filmmaking) was inspired by 2011’s surging Occupy Wall Street protests and decided to film a series of “newsreels” in tribute not only to the movement but to five experimental-political filmmakers who served as inspirations — Dziga Vertov, Humphrey Jennings, Joris Ivens, Agnès Varda, and Chris Marker (a giant who just passed away a few months ago). Now there’s the guest list to a dinner party I’d like to attend.

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