Well, here we are. The month that sees the start of both tangible spring and the beginning of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. Good things come to those who wait … and those good things are available this week. Check out some of the best screening options around town this week:
Monday, April 1: April Fool’s Day (Theaters At Mall Of America)
Theaters at Mall of America’s fun year-long series of horror titles attached to holidays both major and minor sees one of the most latter this Monday. April Fool’s Day was quite tardy to the “calendar slasher” trend, but made up for that with its playful, tongue in cheek plot, which is almost closer in spirit to something like The Last of Sheila than Friday the 13th Part VIII. A group of friends celebrate what James Franco’s voiceover will forevermore refer to as “spraaaaang breaaaaaak” by holing up in a mansion and playing pranks on each other that graduate from the standard issue trick chairs and whoopee cushions to, oh you know, murder. It’s all fun and games until someone gets beheaded, and then it’s only fun.
Monday, April 1 & Tuesday, April 2: Kiss Me Deadly (Trylon Microcinema)
Film noir’s heyday arguably peaked sometime in the 1940s, but maybe the single greatest noir ever filmed didn’t arrive until well into the Atomic Age, and is undoubtedly one of the most forward-thinking Hollywood thrillers ever, confirmed by its open-ended, apocalyptic finale. Ralph Meeker makes a perfect Mickey Spillane, a private detective who gets a lot more done with his imposing physique than his intellect — a characteristic that’s obviously only gotten more omnipresent in the last few decades. How much would I pay to hear Cloris Leachman’s Christina read her immortal riot act to this generation’s disciples of Ah-nold and Sly? “You’re one of those self-indulgent males who thinks about nothing but his clothes, his car, himself. Bet you do push-ups every morning just to keep your belly hard. I could tolerate flabby muscles in a man if it’d make him more friendly.”
Wednesday, April 3: That Uncertain Feeling (Trylon Microcinema)
Trylon offers a dose of Ernst Lubitsch for April’s free first Wednesday show. Breaking up the string of home runs Ninotchka and The Shop Around the Corner on one side and To Be or Not To Be and Heaven Can Wait on the other side, That Uncertain Feeling doesn’t get a whole lot of exposure. Merle Oberon plays a woman suffering chronic hiccups who is advised by her psychologist that perhaps the issue stems from her marital dissatisfactions. (Oh Lubitsch, you are bad!) The domestic situation gets trickier after Oberon’s character falls in love with Burgess Meredith’s concert pianist.
Greta Gerwig just can’t keep her feet from dancing. After her terpsichorean efforts in last year’s Damsels in Distress (an underrated delight, largely thanks to Gerwig’s delivery of writer-director Whit Stillman’s purplish dialogue), she took on co-writing duties for Noah Baumbach’s latest film Frances Ha, presenting the trials and tribulations of a late-twentysomething aspiring dancer who is maybe kinda sorta on the verge of getting her life started at some point in the ill-defined future. Shot in B&W and featuring nods to the films of Woody Allen and Francois Truffaut (who was just featured last month in a series at the Trylon), Frances Ha shows on Thursday at the Walker in advance of a conversation between Baumbach and critic Scott Foundas.
Friday, April 5 through Sunday, April 7: La Dolce Vita (Trylon Microcinema)
Anita Ekberg’s saucy romp through the Trevi Fountain in Rome, for better or worse, basically defined the entire appeal of foreign films for a generation. For my money, Fellini made better movies, but none ever achieved this level of popular acclaim. So splish-splash.