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

Jon Bream • Star Tribune,

Dorian Chalmers, Tim Drake, Greta Grosch and Janet Paone.


Actor Jimmy Cliff in “The Harder They Come” March 1973.


Book cover "Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets" by Jessica A. Fox

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Ziyi Zhang and Tony Leung in “The Grandmaster.”

Weinstein Co.,

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

  • August 31, 2013 - 2:00 PM

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.

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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