Movie Blog: This Week’s Best Bets
In a few weeks, the MSPIFF starts up and everything else goes out the window. So if you’re looking to wrap up some loose ends — like, say, Nymphomaniac, Vol. 1 — do so as soon as possible. Or, if you’re one of those who just can’t see Frozen enough times in the theater (at last check, the national average was about 17 screenings per citizen in the U.S.), Riverview is showing the movie no less than three times per day until at least Thursday, which is understandable given it’s apparently about as popular as any movie that’s ever played there
during second-run. Here are some more great options this week in limited release or retrospective screenings.
Monday, March 24 & Tuesday, March 25: Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographer (Trylon Microcinema)
The pictures taken by corrections officer turned photographer Jamel Shabazz have the ability to translate “dip dip dive so-socialize” into a single image. His portraits of street culture, subway cars and tagging are the essence of the halcyon days of hip hop. Charlie Ahearn’s new film inevitably comes with more “This Used To Be My Playground” baggage than something as slightly conceived and nonchalantly executed as is clearly is can ultimately handle. Often it boils down to people explaining the stories behind pictures that speak pretty clearly for themselves already. Worse, it can occasionally come off feeling a bit like an especially tardy EPK for Shabazz’s collections like Back in the Days and A Time Before Crack. But the sense of camaraderie between the legend and the many subjects he is reunited with during the course of the documentary are, like one of them says of Shabazz’s snapshots, the real deal.
Monday, March 24 thru Thursday, March 27: Enemy (St. Anthony Main Theater)
Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners was a number of things including a feel-bad chore as well as a showcase for cinematographer Roger Deakins. But it also afforded Jake Gyllenhaal the chance to give one of his strongest performances in years and years — arguably since Brokeback Mountain. Enemy, their follow-up collaboration, boils down to two second helpings, with Gyllenhaal tackling two roles in Villeneuve’s adaptation of the Jose Saramago thriller The Double. Or are there two roles? With more yellow filters than Prisoners and Isabella Rossellini to boot, Enemy might just be the illegitimately enjoyable potboiler Prisoners never allowed itself to be.
Thursday, March 27: An American Werewolf in London (Theaters at Mall of America)
With all due apologies to fans of The Kentucky Fried Movie, Trading Spaces and Three Amigos (and no apologies to misguided fans of the ludicrously overblown The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London is director John Landis’s no-contest masterpiece. An unnervingly charismatic blend of humor and horror, Werewolf also featured some of the most state-of-the-art transformation effects yet seen in films — effects so groundbreaking they, in fact, more or less shepherded the creation of a new Oscar category for makeup effects, which Rick Baker won in a walk.
Friday, March 28: Traitors (Khawana) (Walker Art Center)
Another screening in the Walker’s Cinematheque Tangier series, Traitors was a selection in the 2013 Venice Film Festival. The director, Sean Gullette, will be on hand to do a Q&A following the film, which, as per the museum’s website, “follows Malika—a conservatively dressed student and call-center worker by day, and the leader of an all-girl punk band by night. Attempting to make enough money to cut her band’s first demo, she meets gangster Samir, who offers her a large sum, if she helps smuggle hashish from Morocco’s Rif Mountains.”
Friday, March 28 through Sunday, March 30: High and Low (Trylon Microcinema)
Even some of Akira Kurosawa’s die-hard fans don’t necessarily give him due credit for his way with a camera like fans of the other two members of the Japanese cinema trifecta — Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi — often do. But as this astute essay from Mike D’Angelo on High and Low (which a number of critics call the director’s secret masterpiece) makes it clear, he was no Yojimbo slouch in the visual department.