Our five faves: 'The Grandmaster,' State Fair Crop Art, 'The Last (Potluck) Supper,' more

  • Updated: August 31, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Laura Melnick’s best-of-show winner, “Charlton’s Web.”

Photo: Jon Bream • Star Tribune,

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1 “The Grandmaster” is a deliriously beautiful martial-arts saga, a mix of exuberant violence and restrained eroticism. Meticulously directed by art-house master Wong Kar Wai (“In the Mood for Love,” “2046”), its fluid, bruising, occasionally lethal battles are choreographed like ballet romance. Even if you don’t give a fig for roundhouse kicks, this is an unmissable film, an intoxicating exercise in punch-drunk love.

2 This year’s crop at the State Fair Crop Art Exhibit includes salutes to the recently departed Donna Summer, Andy Griffith and Dick Clark. There are shout-outs to Surly beer, Grain Belt beer and the musical “Wicked.” Featured from the collection of Lillian Colton, the late grand dame of Minnesota crop art, are a striking portrait of Johnny Carson and a remarkably crowded depiction of the “We Are the World” singers. Like the judges, we are impressed by Laura Melnick’s best-of-show winner “Charlton’s Web” with all its intricate seed work.

3 “The Last (Potluck) Supper,” the final installment in the “Church Basement Ladies” theater series, is a down-home charmer. With attendance dwindling and shrinking offerings in the collection plate, the congregation at 100-year-old East Cornucopia Lutheran Church has voted to disband. Greta Grosch, who wrote this series with musician Drew Jansen, is a fearless physical performer who goes to unexpected places in “The Last Supper” as her character steals into the basement for one last memory before the end. www. plymouthplayhouse.com.

4 Not only was the film “The Harder They Come” responsible for introducing reggae music to the United States in 1973, but it also told a compelling tale of corruption in the music business. The movie starred Jamaican reggae hero Jimmy Cliff as a man who wants to escape poverty by becoming a reggae singer but is forced to sell his soul (OK, his rights and royalties) and ends up as a violent ganja dealer in the mean streets of Jamaica. A 40th anniversary screening will be held Thursday at the Carmike 20 in Oakdale. Cliff performs Sept. 19 at First Avenue in Minneapolis.

5 There are many confusing things about Jessica A. Fox’s book, “Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets,” and the title is one of them. Why she wrote a memoir about falling in love and then changed the first name of her boyfriend is another. Still, her recounting of moving to a remote village in Scotland, where she had never been, to work in a dusty old bookstore she found on Google, is romantic, readable and sweet.

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