Monday, Jan. 27-Thursday, Jan. 30: The Sting, The Departed and Schindler's List
@ Marcus Majestic, North Shore, South Shore and Ridge Cinemas ($5!)
The Marcus theaters continue their run of Oscar-winning films this week with a stylistically diverse but equally enthralling trio. Of the three, I'd throw my hat in the ring for The Sting, a film that hasn't had many (if any) opportunities to be seen on the big screen in recent years but you can't really go wrong with Scorcese's epic Infernal Affairs remake or Spielberg's incredible testament to the human spirit. All three are powerful works of cinema working towards entirely different ends, and well worth catching during their brief stay at local Marcus cinemas.
Wednesday, Jan 29: The Punk Singer
7:15 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)
Lead singer for both Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna rose to prominence alongside the Riot Grrrl movement of the ’90s. (Her influence can certainly be felt to this day even if it those who luxuriate in it may prove unaware.) A wonderfully outspoken feminist icon, Hanna went radio silent in 2005 after a career comprised of wonderful cultural provocations and Sini Anderson's documentary look at where she has been is a spirited portrait of an iconic figure that finally aims to give Kathleen Hanna the stature she so richly deserves.
Wednesday, Jan. 29: Can't Help Singing
7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/$5/free for adults/seniors and students/museum members)
Charles Allis continues its winter musical programming with this, Deanna Durbin's only color production in her career. As we've talked about before here in On the Marquee, Durbin's basically become a footnote in the life story of Judy Garland (ironic, given MGM's stern belief that Durbin would be a bigger star than Garland), but her works stands on its own and is sincerely worthy of reappraisal. Here, Durbin plays a senator's daughter who runs away with her beau only to find herself falling for the wagon master who's heading their excursion. A nice taste of old Hollywood to cure the midweek malaise.
Thursday, Jan. 30: At Berkeley
6 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (Free!)
A panoptic work that lays bare the precipice our education system (and our country, by proxy) is teetering on at this current moment in history, At Berkeley is an expansive and powerful look at an institution forging its way in uncertain times, another in a long line of documentaries from master filmmaker Frederick Wiseman that examines in the inner-workings of bureaucracy. While his past works have often found inhumanity and oppression in those worlds, At Berkeley appears to buck that trend with a sense of optimism permeating through the entire picture. Word coming out of festivals over the course of 2013 suggest that this is one of Wiseman's masterworks, but be forewarned: With a runtime of four hours, it's not for short of attention span. But if you give yourself over to his fly-on-the-wall approach, you'll find yourself richly rewarded.
Thursday and Friday, Jan. 30 & 31: Starship Troopers
10 p.m. (1/16) and midnight (1/17) @ Times Cinema ($5!)
Part of the amazing run of subversive blockbuster entertainment that director Paul Verhoven cranked out starting with Robocop (and screeching to a halt with the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Hollow Man), Starship Troopers was wildly misinterpreted by the mainstream audiences that took it in upon its release in 1997. I count 13-year old Tom amongst those throngs, who must have exercised his god-given right to purchase a ticket for another film and sneak into an R-rated delight with the promise of gratuitous violence and nudity. And while the movie certainly delivered on both of those fronts, I could have had no conception of what Verhoven was doing with his preponderance of wooden performances and hyper-fascistic overtones. But now, we can all see the movie for the delight it is and know that Denise Richards and Casper Van Dien have never been nor will ever be used more appropriately than they are here.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 31-Feb. 2: Let the Fire Burn and The Great Beauty
7 p.m. 1/31 (Let the Fire Burn only) 7 p.m., 9 p.m. 2/1 5 p.m., 7 p.m. 2/2 @ UWM Union Theatre ($6/5/4)
Close out your cinematic week with these two Milwaukee premieres, one a startling documentary look at a 1985 confrontation between Philadelphia police and the African-American radical community MOVE and the other an orgiastic vision of Rome that is currently nominated for Best Foreign Language Picture at this year's Oscars. I have yet to see Let the Fire Burn but greatly anticipate it, and can recommend The Great Beauty with minor misgivings. (Despite its slightly flabby length there are a handful of truly awe-inspiring sequences peppered throughout.) Both have found their way onto numerous year-end lists and are well-worth catching up with in theaters while we slog our way through the winter mainstream release doldrums.