As summer starts to enter its final stretch, it’s probably time to consider kissing endless weeks of disposable entertainment adieu in favor of more substantial cinematic offerings. In that vein, you can’t really do much better this week than to head out to the Walker Art Center to take in a screening of the new documentary The Act of Killing, which has earned rave reviews and has been knocking audiences flat on the circuit. Director Joseph Oppenheimer will be in town for the event, and the Walker is offering the chance to see it in either its theatrical version (Wednesday, July 31) or the longer director’s cut (Thursday, August 1). There will also be a master class with Oppenheimer on Saturday, August 3. Tune in later this week for a full review and Q&A on the film. Here is a list of some of the other limited release screenings you’ll want to check out this week.
Wednesday, July 31: Nicotine (Trylon Microcinema)
Justin Ayd has been a fixture on the Twin Cities film scene for a while now, having been, among other things, the brains behind Willow Creek’s series of midnight movies. Now his second feature film is getting a screening at the Trylon Microcinema. Nicotine (which screened at Willow Creek earlier this year) delves into the lives of a group of friends exiting their 20s, coping with fatherhood, thwarted ambition, malaise, aging and a host of other uplifting topics.
Monday, July 29: The Hawks and the Sparrows (Walker Art Center)
This week sees the opening night for the Walker Art Center’s “Music & Movies in Loring Park” series, which are always free and open to the public. The theme of this year’s series is roadways, or movies that take audiences on a physical and probably spiritual journey, so what better starting point than Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Hawks and the Sparrows? Totò stars as, well, Totò, who walks along the countryside with his son Ninetto as a crow tells them the story of St. Francis and in general talks down to them. They find they are at the crossroads of Catholicism and the Italian Communist Party. This wry, unpredictable film was said to be Pasolini’s favorite of his own films, though he didn’t live long enough to regard Salo from any sort of distance. The screening will be accompanied by a performance by the Prissy Clerks.
Thursday, August 1: The Big Sleep (Heights Theater)
Many critics think Howard Hawks is the greatest American director ever, and the Trylon obviously if teasingly agreed when they named their series of Hawks films that graces the Heights Theater throughout August. I think they’re nuts, but I may be in the minority. Catch one of his most beloved noirs this Thursday and get ready to see something completely different each Thursday thereafter.
Thursday, August 1: Inocente (Riverview Theater)
I didn’t have Inocente pegged as the likely winner back in February, but the film went on to win the Oscar for best documentary short. Now is your chance to see it on the big screen, accompanied by an appearance by the star herself, a quirky girl who lives in San Diego illegally with her mother and strives to accentuate the positive, even after her abusive father is deported. In the film, she copes by painting wildly colorful canvasses, pieces that may end up being her ticket out when she lands a prestigious fundraising art show. There will also be a panel discussion about the healing power of creative expression, an issue near and dear to the heart of Lindsay Walz, who was injured in the I-35W bridge collapse six years ago this Thurday, and who will also be at the discussion.
Friday, August 2 through Thursday, August 8: Only God Forgives (St. Anthony Main Theater)
Controversial from the moment it hit the screen at Cannes, director Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to his cultish hit Drive was read to filth at that film festival, and now opens to a chorus of revisionist takes to go along with the fresh batch of critical pans. Again, Refn centers his hyper-macho formalism around a black hole performance from Ryan Gosling, and again his work is filled with relentless style and gruesome violence. It may be a litmus test, but you won’t know for sure until you see it.