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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You probably already read that Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, Skyfall, Lincoln, and Life of Pi all helped bolster box office receipts to the plumiest Thanksgiving weekend totals ever, approximately $800 kajillion in total, if I recall correctly.

Unless I missed my guess, many of you have probably already seen some if not all of those flicks, or were discouraged by the sold out signs. If you’d like to catch something a little bit less in high public demand but still more than worth your time and extra effort, here are some of the best screening options for the next seven days:

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Monday, Nov. 25: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Riverview Theater)

When Jane Russell hits the gym to ask a bunch of taut, tawny, toned Olympic athletes “Is there anyone here for love?” and the apparent answer, despite Russell’s infamously come-hither assets, comes back a resounding “meh,” you’ll have to forgive dozens and dozens of gay cinema theorists for reading between those incredibly broad lines. The final film in Take-Up Productions’ platinum Marilyn Monroe series, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has been described by some as the Battleship Potemkin of frothy, girlish musical entertainments. Directed by Howard Hawks with all the subtlety of a redwood being felled (no, make that a redwood decked out with red and pink tinsel), Blondes splits the extra prodigious bill between Monroe and Russell, playing just two little girls from Little Rock who board a transatlantic cruise-liner in hope of landing their own little Rockefellers. Curvaceous chaos ensues, culminating in Monroe’s most iconic musical performance, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Can’t miss frivolity.

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Monday, Nov. 26 & Tuesday, Nov. 27: Dreams of a Life (Trylon Microcinema)

When a friend asked me what some of my favorite Christmas songs were, I responded by listing (among others) Cristina’s “Things Fall Apart,” my favorite anti-Christmas song ever, from punk no-wave ZE Records, in which a bratty, jaded New York bohemian chick explains in great detail all of the miserable Christmases she’s spent, vaguely unaware that the fact that she’s a spoiled little pill is probably the reason every holiday season has sucked. In that vein, Trylon Microcinema unofficially greets the holidays with this incredibly disquieting documentary about Joyce Vincent, a London woman who was found dead in her apartment surrounded by Christmas presents she was in the middle of wrapping … three years prior. How a seemingly vital person — she had dinner once with Stevie Wonder — could fall off the grid unnoticed (and apparently not missed) by friends, family or even acquaintances for years before being discovered should help the holidays go down extra bitter this year. Well, that and the ginger male stripper recreation.

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Monday, Nov. 26 through Thursday, Nov. 29: The Studio Ghibli Collection: 1984-2009 (Lagoon Theater)

To reiterate from last week’s Monday post: Studio Ghibli is most well-known as the house that gave the world Hayao Miyazaki. His old fashioned brand of animation and even older tradition of telling childrens’ stories has made him one of the most beloved entertainers of our era. He won an Oscar for his masterpiece Spirited Away, a sort of Alice in Wonderland with floating big head grannies, helpful puffs of dust, and a magnificent bathhouse for oversize, mobile vegetables. Most of his other films are just as imaginative. The full calendar of titles playing can be found here. One of his most internationally popular films, Princess Mononoke, plays on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Wednesday, Nov. 28: Even Dwarfs Started Small (Trylon Microcinema)

I don’t know what was in the water in 1970, but it was something extra powerful. Alongside such WTF masterpieces as El Topo, Myra Breckinridge, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Zabriskie Point and Trash is this early Werner Herzog whatsit in which a cast of little people confined to an institution on an island decide to break free from their captors, thereby reenacting Lord of the Flies. Or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Or The Terror of Tiny Town. Or all three. Plus food fights. Plus a crucified monkey. A uniquely violent parable for, well, probably Herzog’s own creative process in his reckless early days, Even Dwarfs Started Small stands, er, tall among films you can’t quite believe your eyes are watching.

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Sunday, Dec. 2: Barbara (St. Anthony Main Theater)

Catch an early screening of Germany’s official entry in this year’s Academy Awards race for best foreign film. Like many a German Oscar hopeful, Barbara depicts life under the Stasi secret police force in early 1980s East Germany as seen by a young doctor who plans to escape to Denmark but juggles offers from a rich West German who hopes to lure her to his side. The screening is the cherry on top of the launch of the “New Cinema Now” initiative, described as “a unique fundraising series supporting the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.” In other words, invest now in order to cash in on the interest next spring.

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