Monday, Nov. 4: Ringu
5 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)
Halloween may be officially over, but there's still one more chance to get your freak(ed out) on in theaters in support of the holiday. Professor Kelly Kirshtner's Horror Classic series wraps up this Monday (note the slightly earlier start time) with Ringu aka Ring. Even though this tale of a video tape that leaves you with a week to live after you view it was quite successfully and atmospherically remade for American audiences with Naomi Watts, it can't hold a candle to the palpable sense of danger that the original holds with its more rough-around-the-edges aesthetic. Nobody does paranoia and terror with regards to our modern modes of communication quite like the Japanese (see also: Pulse) and Ringu is no exception. Come for the abject terror, stay for Professor Kirshtner's discussion of its salient themes following the film. Invest in night lights. Profit.
Monday Nov. 4 - Wednesday Nov. 6: Frances Ha
@ Local Marcus Theaters (Check marcustheaters.com for specific show times) ($5!)
One of the year's very best films makes its way back to Milwaukee ahead of its oncoming DVD release (as part of the Criterion Collection, no less!) as part of the Marcus Theatre chain's ongoing commitment to independent and unique screenings as part of their Theatre Entertainment Network programming (it should be noted the amazing and classic Big Lebowski runs through Nov. 7 at Marcus Theatres as part of the same programming). Greta Gerwig is effervescent as the lead in Noah Baumbach's character study (co-written with Gerwig), as the film captures the spirit and tenor of a very specific youthful experience in a way that feels beautifully natural and completely unforced. Filmed in black-and-white in the mode of the great Gordon Willis/Woody Allen collaboration, the film is imbued with a genuine sense of warmth towards its characters that the often acrid films of Baumbach is missing. Gerwig's performance is one of the year's best and the movie itself will hold you under its sway (pay attention to a particular home-for-the-holidays sequence that plays out like a beautiful short film tucked away right in the film's gooey center).
Wednesday, Nov. 6: The King Steps Out
7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/5/Free for Adults/Seniors and Students/Museum Members)
Charles Allis continues its winter Vienna-set cinema programming with this frothy 1936 effort from master director Josef Von Sternberg, an operetta as light and delicious as a Viennese pastry. Franchot Tone plays the young emperor Franz Josef who on the way towards meeting the woman he is arranged to marry, falls in love with what he believes is a young peasant girl who is actually the daughter of the princess he is meant to wed. Songs will be sung and identities will be mistaken before the warm-hearted finale neatly ties everything in a bow. Von Sternberg isn't known for this kind of fare, so the opportunity to catch this movie is a real treat for cinephiles. In lieu of a trailer, enjoy the brief clip below:
Thursday, Nov. 7: Thor Movie Marathon
2:30 p.m. @ AMC Mayfair 18 ($25)
If you're looking to overdose on abs, you're in luck with this special Thursday afternoon mini-marathon that culminates in the local premiere of the new Marvel film Thor: The Dark World. Starting with the original Thor then segueing into Marvel's the Avengers at 5pm before ending with the aforementioned Dark World at 8 p.m., this is a great chance for fans of Chris Hemsworth's portrayal of the hammer-wielding Norse god to reacquaint themselves with his cinematic story. While the first Thor is narratively patchy, it's held together by Hemsworth's strong work and solid chemistry with co-star Natalie Portman, and I've already waxed rhapsodic over The Avengers and its effortless recreation of the youthful excitement brought forth by great superhero team-ups, so the premiere of his latest adventure is just a cherry on top. Directed by Alan Taylor, best known for his work on Game of Thrones, the latest Thor picture looks to drop the endless angles and really embrace the cosmic scope that stories surrounding gods walking amongst us can allow for.
Friday, Nov. 8: Vertigo
Midnight @ Times Cinema ($5!)
One of Hitchcock's (therefore cinema's) best films featuring one of Jimmy Stewart's finest performances in this tale of melancholia and one man's efforts to recreate a lost love in the next woman he sees. Potent both metaphorically (who hasn't tried to shape those around them in an effort to fill a lack created by something lost) and historically (the film also can be seen as a cry of anguish from Hitchcock in the aftermath of losing his muse Grace Kelly to Princesshood) as an object of historical import cinematically speaking. Suffused with grief and despair, but no less entertaining for it, Hitchcock's ultimate tale of amour fou has finally ascended the mountain of critical esteem (landing at the top of Sight and Sound's list of the greatest of all time in 2012) after being given short thrift in its initial release. If you've not yet seen this classic motion picture, you absolutely have to do so on the big screen.
Friday Nov. 8 - Sunday Nov. 10: The Act of Killing
7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively @ UWM Union Theatre ($6/5/4 for General Audience/Alumni/Students)
If you missed the single screening that occurred during the MFF this year, now is your chance to catch one of the year's most unmissable documentaries. Director Joshua Oppenheimer examines the Indonesian genocide and those responsible who have never been brought to justice for their merciless slaying of political opponents and ethnic refugees in a way never seen before on screen. Oppenheimer invites gangster Anwar Congo and his friends to re-enact their barbarous deeds in the various cinematic modes that Congo loves so much (before they were drafted onto and headed death squads in order to quell any rebellion, he sold black market movie tickets as a small-time gangster) such as the detective picture, movie musical or western. It is a potently horrifying, surreal and altogether essential movie-going experience. Not for the weak of heart, but a supremely powerful look at how history is truly written by the victors.