The Dark Tower. Photo courtesy Ilze Kitshoff and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Around Town

Who says only Oklahoma City and Tulsa are big enough to host film festivals? Enid is out to prove the naysayers wrong with another iteration of its FLY Film Festival. An acronym for Films Like Yours (while also paying tribute to Vance Air Force Base), the festival emphasizes a more open approach than many showcases and attracts under-the-radar films that wouldn’t get the time of day at more mainstream venues. FLY also features many short films, which are hard to catch outside festival circuits because of their lack of commercial potential. Passes are cheap by festival standards – $25 for all three days or $40 for that, plus after-parties and extras – and proceeds benefit Downtown Enid.

At Home

Though they’ve spawned many favorite films over their 30-year career, the Coen brothers’ signature film remains the icy neo-noir Fargo. The 1996 film brought them national recognition and left enough cultural legacy that it inspired a TV show of the same name two decades after it premiered. Inspired by the hardboiled detective stories of days gone by, the Coens had the inspired stroke to move their twisty, violent action to an incongruous setting, the “aww, shucks” Minnesota of their youth. The strange hybrid of politeness and bloodshed makes for a dark comedy that explores the underbelly of the wholesome Midwest.

If you’ve somehow avoided Fargo, by equal turns hilarious and chilling, it’s time to rectify that with Shout! Factory’s 20th-anniversary deluxe DVD in a classy looking SteelBook case. Apart from the movie itself, with unforgettable performances by Frances McDormand, William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi, the film comes with noteworthy special features, most notably audio commentary from Roger Deakins, the longtime cinematographer for the Coen brothers and one of the great visual stylists of our time. As a bonus, those ordering from the Shout! Factory website will receive a specially designed film poster.

In Theaters

Stephen King’s novels have had a spotty track record when it comes to film adaptations, with movies ranging from all-time classics (The Shining, Carrie), to embarrassing duds (Thinner, anyone?). Given how many books he’s written, it’s inevitable that the attempts will keep coming, and August sees the release of one of the biggest, The Dark Tower, based on his multipart saga about the battle between good and evil.

Danish director Nikolaj Arcel is largely unknown in the States, but the real draw – even for non-King fans like myself – is the star-studded combo of Idris Elba as gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the sinister Man in Black. Their combined charisma should be more than enough to keep the film rolling at an enjoyable pace. Like all summers, this blockbuster season has been uneven, and given that August is traditionally the month when the also-rans get dumped unceremoniously into theaters, it’s worth hoping that The Dark Tower will elevate the action movie offerings of 2017.

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