June is just around the corner, and with it comes the arrival of LGBT Pride Month. At least two or three of the choices I highlight below could arguably be said to assist in getting in the spirit of the festivities, though admittedly only one is explicit about it.
Here are my choices for the best Twin Cities screenings for cinephiles this week:
Wednesday, May 29 through Sunday, June 2: Out Twin Cities Film Festival (St. Anthony Main Theatre)
The Twin Cities have been cited as one of the top areas in the country for gay acceptance and visibility for many years now, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the metro area’s current film festival devoted entirely to the LGBT community kicked off. This year’s slate comes fresh off of Minnesota’s legislation allowing the state to become the 12th in the U.S. to allow gay marriage, and indeed many of the films in the lineup this year are in a celebratory vein. WCCO’s own Edward Moody is scheduled to be a guest MC for the opening night gala, where the speakers will include former Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe and Tammy Aaberg, whose son Justin committed suicide after facing bullying in Anoka. More on the festival later this week.
Wednesday, May 29 through Sunday, June 2: Duluth Superior Film Festival (Various Locations)
If you’re up north and looking for a little film fest action, check out the Duluth Superior Film Festival, which is running the exact same span of dates as the Out Twin Cities fest. The opening night selection is The Last Gladiators. Alex Gibney, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, now mops up blood from ice in his new documentary, which focuses on Chris “Knuckles” Nilan, one of professional hockey’s most infamous pugilists. Speaking of prickly pears, the centerpiece of this year’s fest will undoubtedly be the live performance by Crispin Glover prior to the screening of his massive whatsit It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. But if you can’t get to that screening this week, never fear. It will be making its way down to the Trylon next Monday.
Thursday, May 30: Sunset Boulevard (Heights Theater)
Why can’t you give the Best Actress race of 1950 the respect that it’s entitled to? The smackdown between Bette Davis’s vinegary Margo Channing in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson’s gothic Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard is undoubtedly the category’s all-time clash of the titans. That their match ended in a tie for runner-up behind Judy Holliday’s meh ditzy blonde routine in Born Yesterday is to Oscar’s eternal debit, but don’t let that keep you from making pilgrimage to Swanson’s downright religious, nostril-flaring efforts this week at the Heights. “In my day we didn’t need words, we had faces!” Swanson’s enthralling Desmond has both, uses both, and to this day retains the ability to rob words from audiences’ slack jaws.
Friday, May 31 through Sunday, June 2: Network (Trylon Microcinema)
Some movies become hits by giving the audience what they want. Others become hits by promising what they are not. And once every blue moon, a movie becomes a hit by tapping into a sort of collective insanity — the zeitgeist gone psychotic. Think The Passion of the Christ. Think JFK. Think the foul-tempered granddaddy of them all: Network, America’s bicentennial primal scream of “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” One of Don Shelby’s all-time favorite movies (he still has my DVD copy), Network boasts a brilliantly audacious screenplay by Paddy Cheyefsky, who re-envisions the screwball zip of His Girl Friday newsrooms as some new corrosive form of corporate horror movie, one which no doubt a few media critics would argue has become too grimly prescient to be laughable.
Friday, May 31 through Thursday, June 6: West Side Story + Grease (Parkway Theater)
Among the double features scheduled to play at the Parkway Theater this summer, this is probably my favorite, in part because it pairs one of the very best movie musicals ever against one of the very worst, making the question of which one’s which largely irrelevant. Just get ready to get a dozen different “that song”s stuck in your head for the rest of the week.