March 22, 2010

Minneapolis Movie Madness

Spring in the Twin Cities is always a frustrating time for my movie life. I consider March, not January, the beginning of the new movie year, and every post-Oscar-night morning I look forward to a little respite from thinking about movies, especially as the temperature edges above 30 degrees and Daylight Savings begins.

Trouble is, March and April are two of the most jam packed months if the year for movie lovers in Twin Cities. It's literally impossible to see everything you'd want to in theaters, and you can forget about catching up with anything on DVD. Want to enjoy the weather outside? Fine, but know that you're missing some movies that will likely never be shown here again.

In addition to 6-8 new releases every week (already too much to consume), there is:

The Arab Film Festival
The Jewish Film Festival
The Italian Film Festival
The Cuban Movie Festival
The Women With Vision International Film Festival
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival
"Views from Iran" film series at the Walker
Weekly series at Macalester hosted by Colin Covert
Weekly Hitchcock series at the Riverview
Weekly programming at the Trylon

Combined these represent close to 300 movies (most of which are in the next 40-odd days) in addition to all of the new releases! Oh, and this doesn't include the Beyond Borders Film Festival and 3D Film Festival at the Parkway, neither of which came together this spring. 

It's enough to make you throw up your hands and just give up - something that, in the course of wedding planning these months, I've been tempted to do. But of course I can't give up that easily, not when there are so many potential gems in the mix. Here are just a few of the many that I have my eye on, recorded here for no other reason than to provide easy reference for myself in the weeks ahead:

In Theaters:
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (out now) - smash hit thriller in Europe finally arriving stateside 
Terribly Happy (this Friday) - acclaimed Danish psychological thriller that's been compared to the work of the Coen Brothers and David Lynch
Mother (April 2) - new movie by
Bong Joon-ho, director of 2007's cult classic The Host
The Most Dangerous Man in America (April 9) - Oscar-nominated documentary about Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg
The Cartel (April 30) - documentary about American educational system, apparently unrelated to the upcoming Waiting for Superman

Arab Film Festival (March 11-14):
Already happened, and I only got to see the excellent Garbage Dreams. Catch up with it on PBS in April.

Jewish Film Festival (April 8-18):
Mary & Max (April 8) - opening night movie at Sundance 2009, it never received a release here and missed it when it was available On Demand recently. It's stop-motion animated and is voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman. No idea what it's about but I've heard raves.

Italian Film Festival (March 26-28):
Mid-August Lunch (March 27) - This Italian hit dramedy will be playing at MSPIFF in April and coming out I believe in May at a Landmark Theatre, but why not see it in the company of Italians this weekend?

Women With Vision (March 12-27):
You can read my preview of this here. A few great films remain, including El General (March 26) and Melody Gilbert's Fritz (March 27).

Views from Iran (April 9-30):
You can also read my preview of this here. I'd like to see About Elly (April 9) and at least one of Rakhshan Bani-Etemad's films (April 23-25). 

Macalester Alumni Film Series (Wednesdays through 3/31):
Two good-to-great movies remain - City of Men (March 24) and Adventureland (March 31). Non-Mac alumni like me and you are welcome to attend, and the post-film discussions by Colin and guests are always enlightening. 

Cuban Movie Festival (Thursdays through 4/8):
The price is right ($6) and the location is nice (St. Anthony Main), but the one film I've seen in this series (La Ultima Cena) was quite possibly the worst copy of a film I've seen projected in a theater in my life. It looked and sounded like a third copy of a VHS copy of a Betamax copy of a bootleg version of the film that somebody filmed from the back of the theater thirty years ago when it was released. Not a bad film and I have to assume the upcoming lineup will feature better prints, but buyer beware.

Alfred Hitchcock Series at the Trylon and Riverview (April 2 - May 3):For the second year in a row, Take-Up Productions is bringing the work of The Master of Suspense to the big screen. Nearly all of the Riverview showings sold out last year; considering the Trylon as a fraction of the number of seats as the Riverview you can bet on sell-outs there as well. I hope to see a number of these, but Notorious (April 12) in particular must not elude me again. 

Minnesota Films Arts' 28th Annual MSPIFF (April 15-30):
The Big Kahuna, back again at St. Anthony Main. Shocker of the year: quite a number of films are already listed on the festival website. I've made my distaste for the website's design and function known before, but I'll try to keep quiet for now and appreciate the fact that we have a three week notice of what will be playing as opposed to - no exaggeration here - a three day notice. I'll do a more thorough preview sometime in April, but from what's listed so far I know I have to see The Oath (I mentioned it here), Last Train Home, Air Doll, Fathers and Guns, The Square, Welcome, Casino Jack..., Dawson Island 10, and of course the 2010 Global Lens lineup. Thanks for the early heads up on these, Minnesota Film Arts!


  1. I'm really getting way behind on watching movies and then you had those upcoming movies and events and I have already given up before I even started!

    The great weather the last couple weeks also doesn't help... Looking forward to the MSP film festival!

  2. I HIGHLY recommend TERRIBLY HAPPY, MOTHER, and especially MARY & MAX. MID-AUGUST LUNCH is also excellent.

    THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is OK, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it if you get a chance to see some of those others.

  3. Glad to have another local to try and get to all of these, Castor. It's a losing battle, I'm afraid - there are just WAY too many to see in the next month. MSPIFF isn't helping matters with a two-week, 150+ movie lineup!

    Matthew, I was hoping to see Dragon Tattoo sometime this week but now you've thrown me for a loop...although the others aren't out yet so maybe I should see it while I can. It could come down to Tattoo vs. Prodigal Sons this week, and I think Sons will take it.

  4. fun trailer for MSPIFF 28

  5. Just a shame it only played in screen 3 during the fest - I only got to see it once!

  6. I HIGHLY recommend TERRIBLY HAPPY, MOTHER, and especially MARY & MAX. MID-AUGUST LUNCH is also excellent.


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