SU -BEAUTIFUL FRENZY
Oak Street Cinema, Tuesday at 9:30 p.m.
It's a travesty that rock crits didn't drool slavishly over the mere existence of last year's Dizzy Spells album, the latest in an ever-improving lineage of ass-kickers from the Ex. But after watching this magnificent documentary, which profiles the Dutch band's tireless and joyful commitment to punk-rock idealism over the course of their 20-plus years, I don't feel bad for the group for suffering such injustice. Indeed, after listening to the band members' entertaining and incisive interviews, laughing at the chaotic ebb-and-flow of their communal living, and just witnessing the sheer joy of their playing music together, you begin to realize: This group would be passionately plying their trade even if no one was paying attention. Lucky for us we have the privilege to listen, and, with this movie, to watch. (It screens on a double bill with Angel of Love.) --Nick Phillips
SU -SILVER ROCKETS/KOOL THINGS: 20 YEARS OF SONIC YOUTH
Oak Street Cinema, Wednesday, September 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Thought you'd seen and heard everything you'd care to about Sonic Youth? Neither did I until I saw this documentary, which splices together backstage footage you've already seen and videos so well-worn not even MTV2 would touch them, adding a whole cadre of unrevealing interviews with a bored-looking Kim Gordon and the frankly terrifying Jim O'Rourke. Sure, catching snippets of the early Youth experience provides a frisson of excitement in relation to their current predilection for Seventies stoner rock. But, c'mon--do we really need to see more clips from 1991: The Year Punk Broke? Guess we'll have to wait for the real SY skinny on Behind the Music. --Nick Phillips
CS -BIG BAD LOVE
Heights Theater, Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.
Among other things, this slapdash and besotted gaze at the navel of Mississippi writer Larry Brown marks the vivid return of Debra Winger, one of the great American actors of the 1980s. Winger has been absent from movies since 1995 (remember Forget Paris?), when the funding of a film with Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp dried up weeks into the shoot. Poetically, she came on as a producer of Big Bad Love in order to avert a similar disaster when backing evaporated for her husband, director and star Arliss Howard. "This happens all the time and people think nothing of it," says Winger, sitting for an interview earlier this year at the Wisconsin Film Festival. "And I am not going to look 80 people in the eye and say, 'You're not going home to your family with that paycheck.'" Winger has always been candid about her flight from Hollywood, and about the industry's notorious indifference toward female characters over the age of 40. "I just felt like my life was more interesting than what I got to portray in the movies," she says. "And the longer you live, the higher your bar gets, because your time becomes more precious--especially if you have a family. You ask: Do I want to spend three months of my life saying these words?" Winger is so emblematic of how movies waste older female talent, in fact, that she inspired her Big Bad Love costar Rosanna Arquette to make a documentary on the subject called Searching for Debra Winger. "She felt like I was the only one who had the nerve to actually walk away--everybody else talks about it," Winger says. "But I talked about it for seven years. I was working up to it." With an appearance by hill-country great R.L. Burnside and a memorable drunk-driving sequence, Big Bad Love immerses us in the boozed-out bohemia of Howard's Brown. Yet it sobers up whenever Winger appears in that rarest of screen roles: the humanely observed ex-wife. Winger says this part may be a sign of what's to come from her. "I'm excited about the idea of what this film has awoken in me," she says. "I know that I have inside of me a definitive character of our time. I've met her out on the road, I've lived a part of her. I just don't know what the story is yet." An opening-night reception at the Apache 6 follows the screening. --Peter S. Scholtes
CS -LETHAL FORCE
Apache 6 Theaters, Friday at 10:30 p.m.
Equal parts Evil Dead, El Mariachi, and I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, this generically titled but amazingly energetic and gore-drenched cheapie may not be the best film in the Central Standard fest, but I'd be shocked to discover that it ain't the most fun. It follows Savitch (the gorgeous Cash Flagg Jr.), another overly honorable über-hit man, as he kicks, shoots, slices, and power-drills his way through an army of bad guys en route to eliminating his own two-faced employer. Where most no-budget action indies seek to conceal their lack of funding through inventive means, this instant classic simply charges ahead with basement-workbench FX and boundless chutzpah, not inventing so much as maniacally plundering everything cool that came before it. If there's any doubt as to whether D.C.-based writer-director Alvin Ecarma knows his roots, check out his self-parodying homage to John Woo--a visual mash note complete with trench coats, sunglasses, counterfeit bills, a hint of the homoerotic, and, just in case we didn't get it, the actual love theme from The Killer. Sporting enough oozing innards to make The Toxic Avenger look like State and Main (not to mention the funked-up, Streets of San Francisco-style soundtrack), Lethal Force is the movie that Reservoir Dogs couldn't admit to wanting to be. And how can you not love a hit-man flick that features the following exchange? "People from Minnesota are usually the most bloodthirsty killers you will ever want to meet." "Really? I've never heard that." "You've never been to Minnesota." --Joseph Golden