By Eric Henderson

The cliché of summer and movies is that you go for the air conditioning. But if you ask me, multiplex owners have been taking the expectation to extremes lately. Those places are absolutely freezing. I don’t want to have to bring a hoodie every time I see a flick. Blue fingertips are so NAGL.

That’s why, mosquitos aside, I much prefer taking in a classic movie lounging on a warm blanket as the weight of another swassy summer afternoon evaporates into a dusky buzz. A strategic picnic basket loaded with a shaker and some bitters, a pillow you no longer let guests use and, if you’re lucky, a sparkling musical pre-show. They all add up to a night that no pile of 3-D glasses could hope to match.

There are approximately 2,853 opportunities for you to have a perfect summer night this season, so you’ll need to do the research. I’ve included a few salient links at the end of this post, but here are five I’ve definitely got marked down on my calendar:

Thursday, June 14: Kung Fu Hustle (Victory Memorial Drive)
When I saw this one at the MSPIFF back in 2005, I remember thinking it was too chaotic and cluttered for most of its punchlines to actually stick their landings. But sometimes being trapped in a sold-out movie theater surrounded by people competing to see how loud they can laugh can make you feel like you’ve been assaulted. I would be willing to bet Stephen Chow’s Looney Tunes martial arts fantasy plays a lot better in an environment that gives it more room to breathe.

Thursday, July 5: The Sandlot (Powderhorn Park)
The day after the Fourth of July, baseball, kids, nostalgia, fireworks. Do you need a map?

Monday, August 6: Artists & Models (Loring Park)
As per their standard, the Walker Art Center’s Summer Music and Movies setlist this year is nothing if not idiosyncratic. Last year, they got all “Private Eyes” on us, with a slew of movies focused on the act (art?) of watching. This year, their selections are a little looser — they’re nominally tied in with the WAC’s “Midnight Party” exhibit. It all culminates in an August 20 screening of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (i.e. one of the first movies all first-year film students see) prefaced by the music of Brute Heart, but I say the most provocative double-up comes earlier in the month, with Oliver Mtukudzi’s Afropop stylings introducing one of Frank Tashlin’s wildest Jerry Lewis vehicles.

Thursday, August 23: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Victory Memorial Drive)
You want to start an argument with me quickly? Tell me you think the unbridled Temple of Doom isn’t the best of the Indiana Jones sequels. Tell me you think Short Round is an insipid, racially dubious stereotype. Tell me that the feast of Snake Surprise and Chilled Monkey Brains is even more culturally insensitive. Tell me that Kate Capshaw’s shrieking performance as Shanghai showgirl Willie Scott set back feminism centuries after Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood. Tell me that what was exciting in Raiders of the Lost Ark is plainly unbelievable in Doom. Tell me that it was ever supposed to be a naturalistic movie in the first place. Temple of Doom is the best Indiana Jones movie because it knows its ridiculous.

Sunday, September 16: Vertigo (Solera Rooftop)
The biggest event this summer for movie snobs like myself is the unveiling of the 2012 Sight & Sound list of the greatest movies of all time. A short history can be found here, but suffice it to say that poll is conducted once every 10 years. It’s a long wait between installments, and the fact that the same movie has won every decade since 1962 has many hoping a new film will ascend to the pole position. The likeliest contender, most think, is Alfred Hitchcock’s enraptured, tragic Vertigo, which has been been steadily gaining momentum for a while now. If it does win, take this screening as part of its victory lap. Of course, if you think Sight & Sound is going to stand behind 50 years of tradition and renew Citizen Kane‘s subscription to the title of “greatest movie ever made,” you can still hedge your bets. Orson Welles’ 1941 newspaper caper-slash-latent musical screens at Solera on July 24.

For more schedules, check the following links:
Minneapolis: Music & Movies In The Parks
St. Paul: Comcast Movies In The Park
Walker Art Center Summer Music & Movies
Solera Rooftop Movies
Brit’s Pub (Lineup not announced yet.)


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