It’s never fun for critics to receive fresh and incontrovertible evidence of just how little their tastes matter, but this weekend was particularly rough. To see Her and Inside Llewyn Davis (both among my top ten movies of last year) get unceremoniously pushed aside in favor of the noxious, bloodthirsty Lone Survivor (which also earned an easy and obvious A+ CinemaScore as the cherry on top) is to know what it felt like for Carrie the moment she was doused in pig’s blood. So as a prelude to my picks for this week’s top movie options around town, a heartfelt plea from yours truly to take a chance on Her, in particular — a movie that deserves better, a movie that deserves to remain in the conversation, a movie that deserves a conversation at all, instead of coronation for yet another movie that essentially shuts down all discourse. (Speaking of discourse, one of my favorite local cinephiles — Kathie Smith, who just launched the already invaluable film blog Joyless Creatures — is this week’s “Defender” at the Trylon Microcinema. Go!) Here are this week’s best bets:
Monday, Jan. 13 & Tuesday, Jan. 14: Far From Vietnam (Trylon Microcinema)
So far as conversations and war movies go, if you want an antidote to Lone Survivor, perhaps look no further than what Trylon Microcinema has this week in their must-see Chris Marker series. I’d love to write more about this omnibus film, which Marker orchestrated but which utilized the talents of nearly every important Left Bank filmmaker of the French New Wave (foremost among them Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, and Agnes Varda), but it’s been at the apex of my “to see” list for at least a decade. Kudos to Take-Up Productions for including it in their program!
Wednesday, Jan. 15: The Bride of Frankenstein (St. Anthony Main Theater)
Thanks to a grant from the Coolidge Corner Theatre, the Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul is launching a new series called Science on Screen, which aims to join frolicsome cinephilia with serious discussion on how science is represented in some of our most beloved films. They kick off with a masterpiece of specious scientific content but astonishingly personal auteuristic representation: James Whale’s 1935 classic The Bride of Frankenstein, a riotous mixture of horror and comedy that some argue just about wrote the book on the sensibility later termed “camp.” Jumping off from the well-laid foundation of the original Frankenstein, Hollywood outsider James Whale infused the sequel with a genuine sympathy for the hulking beast at the center of his most famous films, and an argument for alternative expressions of love hard-wired into his monstrous portrait of matrimony.
Wednesday, Jan. 15 & Thursday, Jan. 16: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Parkway Theater)
Training filmmaker Terry Gilliam on the writings of Hunter S. Thompson is a little bit like deep-frying a Twinkie. They didn’t do that back in 1998, if memory serves, but the concoction is all too prevalent now. Similarly, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was received with major side-eye when it was initially released, and it suffered an ignoble death in the cineplex. But time and the persistent, ahem, chronic indulgences of the cult demographic have certainly raised its profile in the interim. It’s even been validated by the often fusty Criterion Collection.
Thursday, Jan. 16: Trailer Trash 3, People 0 (Theatres at Mall of America)
We’re just a few weeks away from the Super Bowl, which I’m convinced a solid plurality among the viewing audience tunes into just to watch and rank out the newest blockbuster ads. (Gah, I felt dirty even typing that!) In that sense, there’s something seasonal about the Mall of America’s third go-around for their loveable “Trailer Trash” series. Similarly, just as people like me typically stop fighting the urge and simply switch the TV to the Puppy Bowl, “Trailer Trash” gives itself over to the cinematic dogs of a particularly funky, grotty history. The set list, as it were, is not available, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the actual titles are beside the point. This third edition boasts material as yet unavailable online.
Friday, Jan. 17 thru Sunday, Jan. 19: Northern Lights (Trylon Microcinema)
From Take-Up’s website: “The Trylon is proud to present this rare screening of an oft-forgotten masterpiece about the radicalization of North Dakota farmers in the 1920s. Gorgeously shot in sub-zero temperatures, the film won the Camera d’Or at Cannes.” Sounds like the perfect way to warm up on what may be another below-average weekend, weather-wise.