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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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While nowhere near as crowded as last week’s smorgasbord of cinematic offerings, you’ve still gotta love a week where a double bill of gutsy noir competes for attention with two fests’ worth of Nordic cinema and also screenings of Mike Leigh’s uncharacteristic period piece. And that’s all on Monday.

Here are some of this week’s most prominent movie options.

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Monday, Feb. 11: In a Lonely Place (Heights Theater)

If you ask me, Humphrey Bogart’s finest performance ever wasn’t in Casablanca, nor was it in The Maltese Falcon, nor was it even his Oscar-winning turn in The African Queen. Bogart never dug deeper or put more on the line than when he starred in Nicholas Ray’s raw, wounded noir In a Lonely Place. Bogart plays a loser screenwriter whose simmering temper and knack for scenarios pin him as the prime suspect in a murder case. As in some of the best noir, the actual crime is only one manifestation of a more eternal form of emotional rot. Presented in a double bill with Joseph H. Lewis’s My Name is Julia Ross, which I’ve never seen, but if Lewis’s work on Gun Crazy is any indication, is probably bound to be gloriously lurid.

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Monday, Feb. 11 & Tuesday, Feb. 12: Topsy-Turvy (Trylon Microcinema)

Three little maids from school are they, and everything indeed is a source of fun in the usually cantankerous British filmmaker Mike Leigh’s take on Gilbert & Sullivan’s production of “The Mikado.” If you go, try to make sure you’re not sitting behind Sideshow Bob.

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Monday, Feb. 11 through Thursday, Feb. 14: Nordic Lights Film Festival (St. Anthony Main)

The jam-packed week of Nordic cinematic offerings continues this week, with screenings about cuddle-bear gym bunnies, WWII spirits, horny teens, and some of the finest danged education standards the world currently knows. There’s also still one more screening of Volcano, which I gather is already on the shortlist of my compadre Jonathon Sharp’s year-end top ten list. You can read our capsules of some of the fest highlights here.

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Friday, Feb. 15: The Last Gladiators (St. Anthony Main)

Alex Gibney, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side as well as Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Freakonomics, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, and Magic Trip, now mops up blood from ice in the new documentary The Last Gladiators. The doc focuses on Chris “Knuckles” Nilan, one of professional hockey’s most infamous pugilists, whose devotion to one of the most violent team sports extant led extracted an equally brutal cost.

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Friday, Feb. 15: Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (Uptown Theater)

Werner Herzog. If your interest isn’t piqued by that name alone, then you probably aren’t in the target demo. That said, Herzog’s participation in this particular documentary was mostly ancillary. It’s actually a collection of snippets chosen by Herzog from a much longer TV documentary by Russian filmmaker Dmitry Vasyukov. Still, I know some people who would let Herzog do their taxes just to hear him talk, so I’m sure there’s bound to be an audience for even a second-hand Herzog project.

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