Tuesday, Nov. 19: The World's End
Available at all/most local retailers, or online HERE
I've already expounded on the virtues of this great movie at length, so I'll be brief here and say that Edgar Wright has crafted a hilarious, meaningful and brilliant film in The World's End, a film every bit the equal to his previous fantastic work. Nick Frost and Simon Pegg are one of modern cinema's great duos, one that I'd be willing to watch do just about anything, and this thematically rich tale of an alcoholic's attempt at capturing former glory that ends up uncovering an extraterrestrial plot deserves as big an audience as we can muster for it.
Wednesday, Nov. 20: Made in U.S.A.
7:30pm @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)
The Parker series of novels by Richard Stark (aka acclaimed mystery writer/Oscar-nominated screenwriter Donald Westlake) have been adapted for the silver screen numerous times (most recently in last year's Jason Statham/Jennifer Lopez vehicle Parker), but perhaps none are so odd and memorable as Jean-Luc Godard's Made in U.S.A. Successfully prevented from being released in the U.S. by Westlake himself (Godard didn't buy the rights to the novel which he loosely based this film on), the film is the only Parker adaptation to place a female in the lead in Godard's soon-to-be ex-wife Anna Karina. The tumult of Karina and Godard's artistic collaboration and marriage both reach their head here in this fever dream mash-up of pulp novels and Godard's signature flouting of cinematic convention. Equally indebted to Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep as it is Westlake and pulp fiction, it's a celebration of the hard boiled and thoroughly intriguing to take in. Only having debuted in the U.S. four years ago, this is a rare chance to catch this piece of the Godardian puzzle on the big screen!
Thursday, Nov. 21: Round 1 of the TUFF (Theatre Unchained Film Festival)
7 p.m. @ Theatre Unchained ($5!)
The first installment of a very special set of screenings takes place this Thursday with the inaugural Theatre Unchained Film Festival taking place at the theatre of the very same name. Taking place the last Thursday of every other month, this collection of short films has an open application process, allowing for filmmakers the world over to submit their work for a small fee. Each screening will be voted on, and the winner of each will be showcased in July in an effort to discover the TUFFest short of them all. This is a great way to catch films that would otherwise go unseen in a unique setting, with Theatre Unchained looking to make its mark as a local cinematic destination.
Friday, Nov. 22: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire
In theaters everywhere, check local listings for showtimes
I was nonplussed by the initial installment of this trilogy (that's somehow four films), intrigued by the bread-and-circuses allegory and notions of how we have a different public face we must access in order to survive, but rather bored by the way it was cinematically depicted. It's hard to be upset by a major film franchise with a strong female lead that aims for subversion in a market that normally punishes movies of its ilk though, and early word suggests that this film improves on the original in every conceivable way. The addition of Philip Seymour Hoffman is intriguing to say the least, and Jennifer Lawrence should continue to do captivating work in a movie that looks to expand the mythology of the series in an interesting and rebellious direction. That the film appears to culminate with the same dramatically inert contest as the previous gives pause, but I remain cautiously optimistic that this will build on what came before it.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday Nov. 22-24: Blue Caprice
7 p.m. all three days @ UWM Union Theatre ($6/5/4 for General Public/UWM Faculty, Staff & Alumni Association Members; all non-UWM Students; and Senior Citizens. All w/ proper ID /UWM Students)
A harrowing recreation of the psychology behind an unfathomable act (the Beltway Sniper killings of October 2002) that has garnered near universal acclaim as it's traversed the festival circuit, Milwaukee now gets its own chance to feast its eyes on this breathtaking feature debut from Alexandre Moors. Taking the perspective of the perpetrators of this heinous act, the film delves into the twisted psyche that could spawn such a rampage with amazing performances from Isiah Washington and Tequan Richmond that delve into what would’ve led to such tragedy with chilling efficiency.
Friday, Nov. 22: Strangers on a Train
Midnight @ Times Cinema ($5!)
Hitchcock and his utter mastery of the suspense sequence have become so ingrained in the film lexicon that just a single word or phrase can set off a Proustian reverie amongst the converted (Shower. Crop duster. Jungle gym.), and if you don't count yourself among those who have been lucky enough to experience his genius writ large on the big screen, then the Times and their midnight Hitchcock series is just what the doctor ordered. As for Strangers on a Train, I will leave you with a few key phrases: Cigarette Lighter. Tennis Court. Child's Balloon. Carousel. Farley Granger and Robert Walker have some of the most unique chemistry in the entire Hitchcock canon, and Hitch does the Patricia Highsmith story on which this tale of nefarious misunderstandings is based proud.
Saturday, Nov. 23: Mighty Joe Young
7:30pm @ 2648 North Hackett Avenue
The Focus Film Society meets again with this stop-motion animation classic from 1949 (I cannot be clearer that this is not the 1998 vintage of this particular bottled gorilla), with Willis O'Brien/Ray Harryhausen stop-motion effects that still wow to this day. Not necessarily hot on the heels of King Kong (Mighty Joe Young came 16 years afterward), so more like “hot on the map that your grandfather willed to you”), this tale of an African gorilla brought to America was a failed attempt at creating a franchise for RKO. Sixty-odd years later, it still works.
Monday, Nov. 25: Doctor Who – The Day of the Doctor 3-D
7&10pm @ AMC Mayfair 18, 7pm @ Marcus Majestic ($15)
I realize this is something of a cheat, as it takes place next Monday evening, but I absolutely couldn't resist writing about this upcoming screening celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. The two-hearted alien time traveler whose mode of transport through space and time is his police box that's bigger on the inside has seen a renaissance over the past several years, culminating in the global simulcast (yes, it's playing at the same time most everywhere on the planet) of this very special 3-D feature-length presentation on Saturday afternoon on BBC America. But for those of us unlucky enough to a) not have cable or b) not have a strong enough relationship with someone who has cable, Monday evening finds theaters across the country replaying the special in 3-D with bonus goodies for all Whovians to salivate over. The plot appears far too complicated to explain to an outsider (anniversary episodes frequently tend to feature multiple incarnations of the Doctor running afoul of each other, being a time traveler and all), but for those in the know the chance to catch Matt Smith and David Tennant playing their iconic portrayals of this sci-fi institution off one another is too delicious to pass up. Throw John Hurt and an increased special effects budget into the mix, and you've got what looks to be a very special night at the movies.