With this week comes the arrival of October, and you know what that means — it’s my favorite time of year. It’s prime horror movie-watching season! I restrained myself somewhat, and limited this week’s best bets selections to include only two horror-related entries. (If you really want more, though, you should know that the midnight selection at Uptown Theater this weekend is The Cabin in the Woods, which I recommended very highly when it was release a few years ago: “While fans will likely cheer the seemingly explicit shout-out to one of the greatest horror-comedies ever, they may also feel a little ambivalent about sitting through yet another in a very long, practically multigenerational string of movies about teens getting fileted in the dead of night in the middle of nowhere. My hunch is that writer-director Drew Goddard and writer-producer Joss Whedon want you to savor both those feelings, because the double-whammy of being flattered by recognition and lulled by familiarity makes the movie’s eventual twists that much more exciting. By the time the movie reaches its rip-roaring conclusion, you’ll have little trouble seeing just why the movie knocked ’em dead at SXSW earlier this spring.”)
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Monday, Sept. 29 & Tuesday, Sept. 30: Notre, the End of History (Trylon Microcinema)
Got a minute? OK, got 249 more? Not every exercise in cinematic endurance rewards viewers’ patience, but Notre, the End of History is reportedly among the small group of 3-plus-hour films that certainly command your fullest attention. Directed by Lav Diaz, the film has been called a modern day Crime and Punishment, and critic Calum Marsh said its “sheer breadth permits a level of detail and a degree of characterization unthinkable on a smaller scale. A 250-minute running time necessarily demands patience from an audience, but no less important is the patience of the filmmaker demanding it. This remains a specialty of Diaz’s: Interested less in a few major events than in the ongoing banality which surrounds them, he trains his camera on the quiet rhythms of unglamorous routine, lingering on his characters as they wearily go through the motions of another day.”
Thursday, Oct. 2: Small Soldiers (Theaters at Mall of America)
One of the strangest critical stances I remember coming across as a budding movie geek came from Chicago Reader’s Jonathon Rosenbaum, who used the release of Joe Dante’s Small Soldiers (which, at the time, I thought was a middling, cheap-looking, corny CGI-laden kids’ movie at best) to compare and contrast with Stephen Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, which had just spent the majority of the latter half of the summer movie season atop the box office charts. At the time, I thought the essay was logically questionable and written in total bad faith. Lately, though, I have come to appreciate its (and Rosenbaum’s) willingness to play devil’s advocate. In any case, the movie kicks off Mall of America’s month-long director series covering Dante’s films. I still don’t know if this is among his best, but I’m certainly excited to give it another look.
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Wednesday, Oct. 1: Singin’ in the Rain (Heights Theater)
Singin’ in the Rain is an artillery of pleasure, from its opening montage fabricating the flawless rise to stardom of Gene Kelly’s Don Lockwood, right to Kelly’s closing cry of “Stop that girl!” before launching into a heartfelt rendition of “You Are My Lucky Star.” From the deferred reveal of why no one at Monumental Pictures is allowing Lockwood’s leading lady Lina Lamont to speak for herself, right down to the priceless scenes depicting the Hollywood film industry’s growing pains with the advent of talking pictures. From Debbie Reynolds’ boundless optimism as up and comer Kathy Selden, to Donald O’Connor’s peerless professionalism as he sings, dances and guffaws up a storm. I dare you to not smile at least once during this film.
Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5: Minneapolis 48 Hour Film Horror Project
And now the screaming starts. Yup, October kicks off with the chance for you and your film-savvy friends to create a new horror classic! Click above to see the full list of rules and regulations connected with the 48-hour project. And be afraid. Be very afraid.
Friday, Oct. 3 through Sunday, Oct. 5: Scream (Trylon Microcinema)MORE NEWS: What Health Information Can Employers Require From Their Workers?
Anyone who was present to witness the state of mainstream horror from 1993 through 1996 knew at the time that something like Scream was bound to happen sooner or later. Kenneth Branaugh’s Frankenstein, Gregory Widen’s The Prophecy, Stephen Hopkins’ The Ghost and the Darkness, John Frankenheimer’s The Island of Dr. Moreau and … Wes Craven’s Vampire in Brooklyn. These largely humorless tentpoles were the state of the genre back then, and though the cult and indie scenes had their share of successes, the sense of dead end hung thick in the air. And then Craven came along with his mega-meta slasher flick, which wore its B-movie credentials like a badge of honor, and suddenly the genre came springing back to life like one of Romero’s zombies. (It did the same for Drew Barrymore’s career, incidentally.) The movie’s tricks may not have aged particularly well (like Mallrats, Empire Records and others, Scream occasionally comes off as another episode of That ’90s Show), but give credit where credit’s due. How many other beloved horror directors from the ’70s and ’80s have had as notable a second act as Craven without needing to branch out into … well, whatever the hell it is Cronenberg’s up to lately?