Reporting Eric Henderson
Just because the State Fair is up and running doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out some of the best screening options out there. After all, this may go down as one of the most blisteringly, stiflingly hot fairs ever — you might just need no excuse to duck into a darkened theater. Or, as one high-profile film event makes possible, you may just want to combine the best of all worlds at the Grandstand. Read on:
Monday, August 26 through Thursday, August 29: Drug War (St. Anthony Main Theater)
With very little out there to contradict the claim, Johnnie To’s kinetic Drug War is undeniably shaping up to emerge as one of the most beloved action thrillers of the year, thanks to its emphasis on clarity and precision over chaos and confusion. As Breaking Bad draws to its close, do yourself a favor and catch a meth drama that’s comparably plot-centric.
Wednesday, August 28: Internet Cat Video Festival (State Fair Grandstand)
This is it. It’s finally here, right meow. There has never been a film event bigger or more important than this gargantuan sequel to last year’s Internet Cat Video Festival at the Walker. Decades from now when your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren are slathering on their SPF 3000 and standing in line with you as you await your weekly ration of oxygen supplements and asking about what life was like before the 6th Extinction became clearly irreversible, your first memory will be of gathering in the Grandstand with thousands of other Minnesotans on one of the hottest weeks of the year and cutting up to videos you could all call up on your work computer during the lunch hour. Yes, the previous installment’s popular and viral success was so astonishing, they had no choice but to move it to the largest venue they could think of — the Great Minnesota Get-Together. OK, sure, that means now what was once a free event costs an admission fee, but that’s the price we Minnesotans pay for being on the vanguard of feline discourse.
Wednesday, August 28: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Trylon Microcinema)
Call it counterprogramming, something delightfully Euro-kittenish against the Walker/State Fair’s “USA! USA!” cat pile. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a little-known gem from 1970 (and really couldn’t have come from any other era than that incredibly fertile period between the meat of the ’60s and the potatoes of the ’70s). Director Jaromil Jires filters the newly flowering erotic experiences of its title character against a fantastic backdrop of naturalism and vampires. It comes off as a delicate, innocently bawdy, nightmarish but sensual fever fantasy. It’s as confusing as any sexual awakening.
Wednesday, August 28 & Thursday, August 29: Oldboy + Lady Vengeance (Parkway Theater)
How does a famous trilogy work as a double feature? Beautifully. Certainly the most esoteric of all the double features the Parkway Theater has programmed this summer, Stoker director Park Chan-wook’s “Vengeance Trilogy” gets almost a full retrospective this week, excepting the first installment, which is fine since it’s maybe the least-acclaimed of the three otherwise not-explicitly connected films. The crossover hit Oldboy (which is getting a remake this year courtesy Spike Lee) is certainly the crown jewel, but the femme fatale fan in me would much rather give it up to Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.
Friday, August 23 through Sunday, August 25: His Girl Friday (Heights Theater)
Rat-a-tat-tat dialogue from (among others) Ben Hecht, urbane snark from Cary Grant, vinegary snap-crackle-and-pop from Rosalind Russell. The best thing Howard Hawks can do is stand clear and let the alchemy percolate, which of course it does in this, one of the most beloved comedies ever, and maybe one of the most amusing workplace films ever.