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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The month of May in Oklahoma is itself a difficult and confusing time. It can be hard to tell which way is up in a month right on the edge between spring and summer and driven by gymnastic temperature flips and terrorizing storm forecasts.

But sometimes, when you’re feeling disoriented by the season, what you really need is to sit back and watch a story unfold that is so weird, wild, and unconventional that the schizophrenic weather outside feels almost stable in comparison.

Luckily, OKC’s always reliable art houses are offering a full slate of films throughout May to get your head spinning just as fast as whatever comes out of the clouds.

Music and Film

with Brett Fieldcamp

By True Sky Credit Union

“Inland Empire”

Rodeo Cinema Film Row – May 3rd through May 5th

Anyone that follows this column likely knows by now how much I love the grandmaster of American surrealist cinema himself, Mr. David Lynch. His explorations of the dark side of dreams and the human psyche range from the relatively straightforward, if still terrifying (“Blue Velvet”) to the nightmarishly absurd (“Eraserhead”) to the almost impossibly perfect marriage of the two (“Twin Peaks.”)

While any one of his films and shows could qualify as a masterpiece of sorts for the various different personalities and perspectives in Lynch’s work, it’s my honest belief that 2006’s tragically underseen “Inland Empire” is in fact the true culmination of all aspects of his storytelling mind.

Inland Empire
Laura Dern in “Inland Empire”

Upon release, the film’s plot was listed simply as “a woman in trouble,” and it’s admittedly difficult to explain much further than that. There’s a cursed movie production, a mysterious Polish woman, a bunch of jumps through time, actors playing multiple unrelated characters, and of course a family of humanoid rabbits that speak in non-sequiturs punctuated by a television laugh track. None of it is ever really explained.

Weird? Obviously. Brilliant? Absolutely.

Each scene stands almost entirely on its own, with its own statements about the darkness of humanity and the ease with which we give into it in exchange for attention, and practically every single scene held down by the incomparable Laura Dern in what I truly believe is one of cinema’s greatest and most challenging performances.

Experience this magnum opus of the macabre in theaters if you can.

“Petite Maman”

Rodeo Cinema Film Row – May 6th through May 12th; Oklahoma City Museum of Art – May 6th through May 15th

If you prefer your cinematic surrealism with a bit more childlike wonder (and a bit less horrifying strangeness,) look to the quiet, acclaimed French fantasy “Petite Maman.”

Meaning “little mother,” writer/direct Celine Sciamma’s (“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”) newest offering follows a small girl as she assists her parents in cleaning out her mother’s childhood home after the death of her grandmother. When the young girl meets a mysterious little girl her same age building a hut from sticks in the woods, it quickly begins to seem that it may actually be her own mother from another time come to play.

While this could easily sound like the premise of some low-effort Hollywood horror schlock, “Petite Maman” uses its fantastical setup to tell a delicate and emotional story about the nature of childhood, of parenting, of grief, and of the unexpected connections among them all.

Having already been hailed as something of a magical masterpiece, much of the praise falls on the performances of the twin girls that play the two children mysteriously not separated by time.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Oklahoma City Museum of Art – May 20th through May 29th

Already racking up impressive box office and even more impressive reviews, “Everything Everywhere” is an action-packed, kaleidoscopic trip into the mind of one aging Chinese woman that is given the ability to tap into each and every parallel version of herself across the whole of the infinite multiverse.

What results, naturally, is some mind-bending, universe-hopping adventure and, most importantly, some insane kung-fu!

Helmed by writing/directing partners Dan Kwan and Dan Scheinert, credited together as “Daniels,” this insanely creative (and creatively insane) action/comedy follows up the duo’s equally weird cult hit “Swiss Army Man,” and has been collecting hyperbolic praise since first making the rounds earlier this year. 

In addition to stunning visuals and wild editing, much of the accolades have been showered on star Michelle Yeoh for her infinitely demanding lead performance requiring her to do, well, pretty much anything you can think of.

For showtimes, tickets, and more information for all of these films and more, visit rodeocinema.com and okcmoa.com.

Last Updated May 3, 2022, 10:17 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor