You know how every year, it seems Christmas comes too soon? How summer’s over too fast? How Arbor Day … wait, when is Arbor Day again? With both a rude jolt and a surge of excitement, film fans in the Twin Cities find themselves on the cusp of this year’s Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, which opens on Thursday with a screening of Belle and continues for 17 days with more than 200 features. Once again, myself and my cohorts Jonathon Sharp and Steve Swanson will be providing a daily highlight blog here, and pointing out other notable and/or local titles. But before then, make sure you check out the other freaktastic options this week in limited release or retrospective screenings.
Monday, March 31: Science On Screen: Robot & Frank (St. Anthony Main Theater)
As part of their collaboration with the Bakken Museum, the Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul is continuing its series of sci-fi films combined with lectures. Of this week’s selection, Jonathon Sharp previously wrote: “Set in the not-too-distant future, Robot And Frank follows an ex-jewel thief named Frank (Frank Langella), who’s lost a few of his marbles. In response, his son gets Frank a robot, whose chief goal is to restore Frank’s neurological capabilities. In pursuit of that goal, the robot and Frank scheme to rob a library. Amidst the thievery are twists capable of felling tears. Not a bad date movie, I hear.”
Monday, March 31 & Tuesday, April 1: Ms. 45 (Trylon Microcinema)
Not merely one of my favorite films, but probably the one I’d get from a BuzzFeed quiz determining “Which Grindhouse Classic Best Describes Your Love Life?” OK, maybe I’m not packing like Zoë Tamerlis, but there’s still kinship there. As I once jotted down in my movie diary some years back: The 1981 Ms. 45 is not, as Meathead cinephiles would have you believe, a “feminist” “vigilante” “fantasy” but rather an irrational excoriation of a sexual waking nightmare, directed by what one headlining NY Catholic filmmaker would probably label an underground, scuzzball NY Catholic filmmaking smuggler with a diseased mind but a healthy sense of humor. Tamerlis’ mute title character, a rape victim who turns two consecutive rapes into a murderous rampage against Manhattan’s entire male demographic, isn’t mute because she’s been silenced by victimization. Hell no, not in this film. (A quarter-hour in and she’s dragging a body into her apartment bathtub and using a Wüsthof hacksaw for some creative resizing.) No, she’s mute because she’s an ice cold ice queen who doesn’t have time for you or any other man. Clearly this isn’t a proto Thelma & Louise. It’s not even a Lady Taxi Driver, with or without a soundtrack by Prince. Though Travis Bickle has less personal stock in cleaning up the streets, Zoë’s Thana only earns the designation “antihero” for about ten minutes before Ferrara attacks her credibility as a crusader in that, even excepting the two rapists and maybe even the pimp, none of Thana’s victims actually deserve what’s coming to them. At least not in a retributive, cause-effect way, as the film’s most famous scene finds Thana cooly picking off an encircled gang of thugs that could’ve only potentially been rapists, but we’ll never know that because of her preemptive extermination. This is Thelma and Ms. Hyde. And it’s screening fully restored and uncut at the Trylon this week. You won’t be able to get that classic dumpy New York disco music out of your head for weeks.
Monday, March 31 thru Thursday, April 3: 20 Feet From Stardom (Riverview Theatre)
It’s impossible to deny the aural pleasures of this year’s Oscar winner for best documentary feature. If you thought Darlene Love’s acceptance speech was energetic, get a load of the movie behind it. It screens at Riverview this week between umpteen showings of Frozen.
Thursday, April 3: Bella (St. Anthony Main Theater)
More on this movie later this week when we begin our daily MSPIFF coverage. Know that there are only two showings, and admission gets you into the opening night after party.
Friday, April 4 and ongoing: Jodorowsky’s Dune (Lagoon Cinema)
Unfortunate timing on Landmark Theatres’ part to have this much juicy material arriving just as the MSPIFF is revving up. Not only are they unleashing the second part of Lars Von Trier’s depraved diptych Nymphomaniac this Friday, and not only are they giving the delightful Ernest & Celestine (i.e. that one nominee for this year’s best animated feature Oscar you’d never heard up before) a run, but they’re also presenting this postmortem on cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s epic that never was. A movie that would’ve combined the diverse talents of Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, and H.R. Giger. A movie on property that would nearly scuttle David Lynch’s career. A movie that the director of El Topo and The Holy Mountain, of all things, wanted to make in order to reeeally expand people’s minds! The history of sci-fi/fantasy filmmaking is littered with the corpses of bloated productions that were felled by their own gas-giant ambitions, but few seem to have been as potentially lethal as Jodorowsky’s Dune.