Tuesday, Feb. 11: J'Accuse
7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)
UWM's festival of films in French kicks off the week with this, the first of two anti-war masterpieces to play this week as part of it. Abel Gance might not be a household name in America, but between J'Accuse, La Roue and Napoleon, his status as a master of silent cinema cannot be questioned. J'Accuse was filmed in the dying throes of World War I and is his cry of anguish in the face of what he considers to be war's ultimate meaninglessness. (Gance was granted permission to film real battlefield footage by re-enlisting after having been released from serving in the war due to health concerns.) If you've never had the opportunity to see his work before, on the big screen with a musical accompaniment is about as ideal of a scenario as one could ask for when dealing with a filmmaker whose talent is so prodigious.
Wednesday, Feb. 12: The Dolly Sisters
7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/$5/free for adults/seniors and students/museum members)
The Charles Allis' continued combat against this unyielding winter via the power of classical musicals carries on with this 20th Century Fox-produced tale of the real identical twin sister sensations who took the Ziegfeld Follies by storm back in the early 1900s. If you can excuse the casting of Betty Grable and June Haver as identical twins, you'll find a cavalcade of musical numbers to tide you over in this breezy biopic. Plus, S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, quite possibly my favorite bit player in that entire era of filmmaking.
Thursday, Feb. 13: Entr'acte & La Grande Illusion
7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)
If Jean Renoir had only ever made La Grande Illusion, his place in the pantheon of great filmmakers would have been forever cemented (that he topped it with The Rules of the Game only serves as further testament to his ability). The second of the aforementioned two anti-war pictures screening as part of the UWM festival of films in French, Renoir's utterly humane look at the plight of French POW's was his way of fighting fascism's rise in the pre-WW2 era the film was made in (Goebbels himself demanded all copies of the film captured and destroyed, in fact) by harkening to the WW1 era and a war that was meant to end all wars. With heart-rending sympathy extended to all sides and classes involved in the conflict, Renoir paints what is perhaps the most sympathetic portrait of the folly of war as you're likely to ever see. That the film is preceded by an Abel Gance short avant garde film is just the icing on the cake. If you're a fan of classic cinema, this night is a must-attend.
Thursday & Friday Feb. 13-14: My Bloody Valentine (1981)
2/13: 10 p.m. & 2/14: Midnight @ Times Cinema
No offense to the 2009 remake (near, if not the very top example of thoroughly entertaining crass 3-D movie cash-ins), but it doesn't hold a candle to the grungy 1981 original, a giddy slice of Canadian mayhem made smack dab in the middle of slasher's golden age. Featuring memorable kills, exotic locales (filming sequences in mines nearly 3,000 feet underground), and what is – in my estimation – the coolest looking slasher in the history of the genre, MBV has seen a resurgence in popularity since the release of the remake (which also paved the way for the first-ever release on DVD of the uncut original, with some of the more gruesome footage reincorporated), having now achieved vaunted status in the slasher domain. Well worth checking out for fans of the genre, and delightful counter-programming on this most Hallmarky of holidays.