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5 movies to go see this weekend: 12/2-4

An art-house weekend awaits you.

Tampopo | Lagoon Cinema
This 1985 Japanese classic is one of the definitive food movies and certainly the greatest ramen film of all. Juzo Itami directed this feature, his second, at the age of 51. Sometimes called a “ramen western” (a la the Italian “spaghetti western”), it involves a mysterious trucker (Tsutomu Yamazaki) who rides up to a failing ramen shop and saves the fledgling business. The owner of the business, Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) is the film’s big breakout comic character. For those only familiar with the food as a cheap dorm room staple, I might suggest a viewing of the film, followed by a ramen dinner at Ramen Kazama.

Grand Illusion | Trylon
If you have not yet seen Jean Renoir’s 1937 classic (beloved in the director’s repertoire only second to The Rules of the Game), the Trylon should be a necessary destination this weekend. Renoir was at the peak of his abilities when he directed the film, simultaneously an anti-war parable, a POW film, a prison escape film, and a subtle character study of the friendship between a captured Jewish officer (Pierre Fresnay) and his German commandant captor (Erich von Stroheim). Renoir is one of the great filmmakers and this one stands out even among his many essentials. Also worth noting: Grand Illusion was the first DVD ever produced by the Criterion Collection.

Daughters of the Dust | St. Anthony Main
The Film Society at St. Anthony Main is showing this landmark 1991 independent film over the weekend. It explores a family of inhabitants of St. Helena Island off the coast of Georgia and their cultural and personal struggles as they plan to migrate to the U.S. mainland. It’s an elliptical film with a glacial pace, but its subcultural specificity still makes it unique, 25 years later, in the American independent film canon.

Spartacus | Trylon
For whatever reason, there are not any big new releases coming to the Twin Cities this week. So this might be an opportunity to make it a double feature night at the Trylon and follow Grand Illusion with Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 sword-and-sandal standard bearer. This was the only Kubrick project where he was a hired gun, but he took quickly even at a young age to bossing around people like Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Tony Curtis, and of course Kirk Douglas, who had previously appeared in Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and whose acting career is the subject of a centennial celebration series at the Trylon this month.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World | Uptown Theatre
The weekend’s midnight showing is this 2007 comic book adaptation. Director Edgar Wright provides visual robustness to Scott Lee O’Malley’s tale that dramatizes adolescent romance through the iconography of video game and comic book battles. The result is a candy-coated film with significant layers of sadness underneath.

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