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One of the First Movies Released in 2024 Is Set in Minnesota

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Scenes from ‘Being John Malkovich’ and ‘Night Swim’

Happy New Year! I'm trying something a little different around here in 2024. Since I often see new movies that I don't have the time and/or inclination to write about at length, I'm adding capsule reviews to the "opening" and "ongoing" sections. I'll excerpt the longer reviews I've written there too. Hope you like. Oh, and might I humbly suggest that you take this slow month for new releases to catch up on my 2023 faves?

Special Screenings

Thursday, January 4

Respect (2021)
Capri Theater
Jennifer Hudson is Aretha Franklin. Kinda. $5; free for north side residents. 7 p.m. More info here.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Parkway Theater
Never heard of it. $9/$12. 8 p.m. More info here.

Friday, January 5

Scream It Off Screen
Parkway Theater
Another sold-out SIOS. Gotta love it. Sold out. 8 p.m. More info here.

Winter Kills (1979)
Do you like paranoid '70s conspiracy flicks? Of course! We all do. $8. Friday-Saturday 7 & 9 p.m. Sunday 3 & 5 p.m .More info here.

Saturday, January 6

The Beekeeper (2024)
Alamo Drafthouse
Jason Statham is back, and this time he's a beekeeper. An advance screening. $16.50. 7 p.m. More info here.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RIng: Extended Edition (2001)
Alamo Drafthouse
A full 208 minutes and still no Tom Bombadil? $10. 6:30 p.m. More info here.

AMC Southdale 16/AMC Rosedale 14/Emagine Willow Creek/Showplace ICON
An opera about ancient Babylon. $27.09. 11:55 a.m. More info here.

The Room (2003)
The Main
A perfect movie for Midnight Mayhem, eh? $8/$10. 10 p.m. More info here.

The Iron Giant (1999)
Parkway Theater
So iron! So giant! $5-$10. 1 p.m. More info here.

Sunday, January 7

Being John Malkovich (1999)
Alamo Drafthouse
If you made this movie today, it would be called Being ... ? Answer in comments. $10. 7:20 p.m. More info here.

Airplane! (1980)
Emagine Willow Creek
This movie has far outlasted the disaster flicks it parodied. Also Wednesday. $9. 12 & 5:20 p.m. More info here.

Memories of Murder (2003)
Bong Joon Ho's terrific police procedural about the search for South Korea's first serial killer. $8. 7 p.m. Monday-Tuesday 7 & 9:30 p.m. More info here.

Monday, January 8

Run Lola Run (1999)
Alamo Drafthouse
Ah, I see, it's the 25th anniversary of movies released in 1999. $10. 7:20 p.m. More info here.

Misery (1990)
Emagine Willow Creek
This happened to a guy I know. $6. 7:30 p.m. More info here.

Tuesday, January 9

Under the Skin (2014)
Alamo Drafthouse
The Scarlett Johansson who fell to Earth. $7. 7:20 p.m. More info here.

Wednesday, January 10

Secret Movie Night
Emagine Willow Creek
Wanna know what they're playing? You'll have to show up to find out. $10. 7 p.m. More into here.

Hoop Dreams (1994)
Grandview 1&2
Best sports doc ever? $12. 9:15 p.m. More info here.

The Cramps and the Mutants: The Napa State Tapes (2023)
In 1979, both bands played at a California psych ward, and here's the footage to prove it. $13. 7 p.m. More info here.

Opening This Week

Follow the links for showtimes.

American Fiction
Jeffrey Wright never misses (his brief turn as Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was a highlight of last year's by-the-numbers Bayard Rustin biopic, Rustin) and he's reliable hilarious as an intellectual Black novelist who dumbs down to write a book in "realistic" hood style. Once My Pafology becomes a bestseller and a hit with the literati, Wright's Thelonious "Monk" Ellison has to get in character as its thug author to promote the book. Meanwhile, Monk has to live his real life: dating a neighbor, mourning his sister's death, dealing with his mother's dementia, and clashing with his newly out brother. Phew! The suggestion is that we, like the fans of Monk's Black stereotypes, will only watch a movie about an upper-middle-class Black family if we're hooked by a more sensational story. But for that clever bait-and-switch to work, you need to tell a much more interesting story about an upper-middle-class Black family. B+

Night Swim
Local angle alert: This "evil pool that kills people and makes people evil" movie takes place in "the Twin Cities." It's also a horror movie released in the first week of January, and you know what that means. C

Ongoing in Local Theaters

Follow the links for showtimes.

Anyone But You

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

The Boy and the Heron (read our full review here)
I’m not the first to call this Miyazaki’s The Tempest, but it’s worth repeating. For this film, Miyazaki famously unretired, and it wasn’t his first time. (Characteristically, the 82-year-old called his decision to return to moviemaking “pathetic.”) His latest imagined world brims with fantastical species—ravenous human-sized parakeets and the shmoo-like warawara, who inflate after eating fish guts and rise up to the other world to become human souls—yet the filmmaker’s stand-in is an ancient wizard of sorts who regrets fashioning a crumbling alternate universe beset by unforeseen calamities. If its 2013 predecessor, The Wind Rises, felt like a finale, this feels like an encore, a coda, a curtain call, a monologue from a great artist assuring us that this time, really, he is leaving the stage for good. His charms are all o’erthrown. For now, at least. A-

The Boys in the Boat

The Color Purple


Stop letting Adam Driver play Italians already—he sounds like Dracula. Otherwise he's a suitably intense presence at the center of yet another Michael Mann tale of masculinity-in-conflict. As his wife, Penélope Cruz is great (when is she not?) and it's fun to watch the cars careen, skid, or flip off the road. But the rest of the time Ferrari just spins its wheels. B-

Godzilla Minus One (read our full review here)
Takashi Yamazaki's human-scaled approach to the kaiju flick hardly makes for as effective a postwar drama as some have said—it feels like more of a nice gesture than a real story. But it does provide a workable narrative framework for his ideas about Japan. He gives us the sense of a country that’s just crawled out of its wreckage only to get knocked back on its ass; the heroes of Godzilla Minus One meet the threat with a mood of “shit, not again.” As for Godzilla himself, he’s scary as hell. He’s nimbler than usual, his tail whipping with ferocity and velocity. And wisely, Godzilla Minus One allows a creature who rises from the depths of the sea to show what he can do on his own turf—or his own surf, I guess. B

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

The Iron Claw
Good acting, bad hair, not enough wrestling, and just one brother after another dying and the dad saying "You boys gotta get tougher!" B-


Napoleon (read our review here)
Like lots of old guys, Ridley Scott loves big battles, and Napoleon gives him a chance to indulge. Toulon, Austerlitz, Borodrino, Waterloo—we see them all, stunningly recreated. Ships burn at sea, armies fall into frozen lakes, British troops clump into defensive squares and fight off encircling French cavalry. But Joaquin Phoenix's Napoleon doesn’t even seem particularly ambitious—he just has a knack for winning battles the way some people are good at crossword puzzles. And when it comes time for the domestic scenes between Boney and Josephine (a criminally ill-lit Vanessa Kirby), Scott pushes them around his plate like the Brussels sprouts he has to finish before he can go play with the boys. B

Poor Things
Yorgos Lanthimos is such a cheekily off-putting director it never occurred to me what his idea of crowd-pleaser might look like. But with Poor Things, he doesn’t just want to be admired, he wants to be loved. And in its own creepy, garish, oversexed, male-gazey way, Lanthimos’s arch fairy tale does have heart. An Eve who can’t wait to get the fuck outta Eden, Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter becomes Frankenstein’s monster as Candide in the world at large, indomitable because she has no shame. Bella’s sex-positivity is indubitably a man’s ideal of what it means to be a free woman, addressing fewer contradictions of femininity than Barbie does, but Stone inhabits her character so completely that you might even say she liberates Bella from her creator.  A-

Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé
Footage of a spectacular concert (which doesn't necessarily mean spectacular concert footage, let alone a spectacular concert film) undercut by a few too many crowd reaction shots and a lot too much behind-the-scenes propaganda about what a hard worker and great mother the artist control-freaking the narrative here is. B

Saltburn (read our review here)
Emerald Fennell writes and directs like someone who takes time to admire the shape and consistency of her turds before she flushes. In this story of class envy and (da da dum) murder, the writer/director of Promising Young Women fixates naughtily on bodily fluids—she films cum lapped from a tub drain and period blood shared in a kiss as though no human has ever before ingested either liquid. We’re expected to respond “I can’t believe this is happening!” but of course we can believe this is happening. It’s a movie. Crazy things happen in movies. We’re just not sure why this has to be happening. It’s like Fennell just stood on set and kept yelling “lurider!” at everyone. C

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (read our review here)

Trolls Band Together


Even more unnecessary than most prequels, and I couldn't hum any of the tunes if you promised me a lifetime supply of chocolate as a reward. But the Dickens by way of Rowling characterizations and settings are distracting enough for a couple hours, and your kids have made you sit through worse. B

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