August’s Best Bets in Cinema

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Courtesy Lucasfilm/Paramount.

Courtesy Lucasfilm/Paramount.

Around Town

Sometimes it seems, with the advent of personal media consumption made possible by the internet, that the art of public movie watching is critically endangered. Combat that tendency by engaging in one of the purest pleasures left in the world of cinema: the outdoor screening, a favorite during the summer months. Sure, sometimes the sound leaves something to be desired, and crying kids can be obnoxious, but there’s something special about sitting out under the stars and taking in a classic film.

Oklahoma City and Tulsa both have great options for outdoor movie watching in August. First, Sonic Drive-In is hosting another of their movie nights in Oklahoma City on Aug. 3 at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. The film? Only the greatest pure action film of all time: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sure, you’ve seen Indy fight the Nazis before, but have you seen him do it on a huge screen? Trust me, it will melt your face off. Meanwhile, Tulsa offers something a little more refined: On Aug. 18, Philbrook hosts their third annual Wes Anderson Experience, celebrating the quirky American indie director. This year they are showing his debut film, Bottle Rocket, which remains one of the best comedies of the past 20 years. See a young, charming Owen Wilson (and brother Luke) light up the screen alongside James Caan.

Photo by Joyce Kim, courtesy of A24.

Photo by Joyce Kim, courtesy of A24.

At Home

It’s kind of a slow month on the home video front, at least in terms of new releases, so allow me to recommend another classic that is being rereleased in a deluxe edition. Shout! Factory, which specializes in quality DVDs of outside the box films, is putting out a collector’s edition of Midnight Run, the wonderful and often imitated action/comedy. The film stars Robert DeNiro as a bounty hunter trying to bring in an on-the-run accountant, played to aggravating perfection by Charles Grodin. The two actors have real chemistry, and that combined with surprisingly good action and lots of banter make the film one of the templates by which buddy comedies with an action strain (think Rush Hour) continue to be measured. Midnight Run seems to have faded from the public mind just a bit in the last 30 years, but it deserves to be resurrected in grand style.

Photo by Joyce Kim, courtesy of A24

Photo by Joyce Kim, courtesy of A24

In Theaters

If you see only one movie about a corpse this year, it should probably be Swiss Army Man, certain to be one of the strangest films released this year. The logline – Castaway meets Weekend at Bernie’s – does not even begin to capture how truly strange the film is. Consistently entertaining, and well acted by Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe (who plays the corpse), the film manages to carve a certain depth of meaning out of its often wildly uneven tone. At once a parody of sincere indie films and a straightforward example of one, the film wants it both ways, which sometimes makes it waver. It hits the most important notes, though, and manages to rise above its gimmicky premise to become a film well worth watching.

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