1 At the tail end of cinema’s fetid season, “Frank” is a refreshing splash of tonic — oddball, endearing, amusing, touching and best of all, original. An experimental rock band records an album in rural Ireland, led by the titular character (Michael Fassbender), a guy never seen without his giant fake head. Things go awry when the band’s newest member persuades them to play an important American festival, but never mind the story. Wherever these bandmates (including gruff Maggie Gyllenhaal) go, you want to tag along for the ride.
2 This year’s crop of Crop Art at the Minnesota State Fair is light on politics and long on personalities, including Taylor Swift, Lillian Gish and Robin Williams. There is some humor, our favorites being the “Fifty Shades of Grain” abstract (OK, groan if you want to) and the animated cow with a cornucopia of veggies on its head. Can you say Cowman Miranda? The most artful piece may be Elizabeth Schreiber’s perfectly shaded portrait of Nikola Tesla, who developed AC electricity and connected Schreiber with a blue ribbon.
3 Whether cramming for a test or soothing a hangover, students need to drink gallons of coffee, right? Might as well be good coffee. Black Coffee and Waffle Bar has the best fix near the U of M campus. The former Muddsuckers Café did everything right with its remodel. First, it brought in Dogwood, the Twin Cities most fabled roaster. Next, the food. It’s all waffles — banana split waffles, falafel waffles, green tea waffles, red velvet waffles. The renovation was capped off with a striking all-black mural that wraps around the whole shop. 1500 Como Av. SE., Mpls.
4 In “Worn Stories,” writer Emily Spivack has collected 67 stories and photos about clothing — wonderful, brief stories she calls “memoirs in miniature.” There are breakup clothes, lucky leg warmers and a whole host of ratty T-shirts. Singer Rosanne Cash cannot part with her father’s purple tuxedo shirt. Chef Marcus Samuelsson hangs onto his Converse sneakers, one of his first things that wasn’t homemade by his grandma. And Spivack herself writes about her 10-year-old flip-flops. It’s a fascinating, heartwarming book, and it’s hard not to wonder — are they just great storytellers or do they just have better clothes?
5 “Life Could Be a Dream” at Old Log Theater tells the story of a group of teenage former glee clubbers who want to win a radio-station contest. The musical is really just an excuse to string together two dozen doo-wop standards, including “I Only Have Eyes for You.” “Dream” doesn’t pretend to be more than the fluffiest of entertainment — with James Denton as a radio DJ — but man, oh, man, is that doo-wop sound contagious. oldlog.com
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