Tuesday, March 4: 12 Years a Slave, Philomena & The Grandmaster all released on DVD/Blu-Ray
Available at all finer local retailers
While we're still receiving dispatches from inside the Dolby Theatre that suggest that Day 2 of the Oscars might be the most violent and emotionally trying yet (@TheEllenShow Harrison Ford just fashioned melee weapon out of Bradley Cooper's femur – send help), Tuesday marks the release of a small handful of Oscar nominees, including one of the night's big winners. While it's hard to use a word like “entertainment” when discussing 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen's startling vision of American slavery is like nothing seen in mainstream cinema before. It's a harrowing, important work of art. Philomena and The Grandmaster are two movies who netted no awards, but whose laudatory words garnered from critics the world over suggest are testament to their quality. Wong Kar-Wai is one of my favorite living filmmakers, and while it pains me that we were never granted big screen access to his original vision (he very happily made the edits to make the film more palpable for a western audience, for the record) The Grandmaster is still his picture through and through.
Wednesday, March 5 & Saturday, March 8: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire/Girl Rising
March 5 @ 4:15 p.m. & March 8 @ 4 p.m. (Free) for Hunger Games; March 5 @ 11 a.m. & 7 p.m. for Girl Rising
Come out to the Union Theatre on Wednesday for a day of inspiring cinematic journeys for women, a topic tackled on the big screen far too infrequently. Girl Rising tells the story of nine ordinary girls, whose stories span the globe and are a testament to the power of women to rise above the seemingly insurmountable challenges that confront them at every turn in pursuit of their dreams. Narrated by nine of our finest actors, we see these young women attempt to make the most of themselves in developing countries by embracing the power of education as a means of changing the world. And while The Hunger Games: Catching Fire may seem like a slightly odd fit for a double feature here, keep in mind it was the first movie with a female lead to capture the year-end box office crown in over 40 years in America, and is proof enough that audiences both male and female crave the presence of strong female protagonists in our cinema. And if strong female protagonists are what you desire, you could do no better than this daylong celebration of that very thing.
Thursday, March 6: Ladies Out
7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (Free)
Filmmaker Lois Bielefeld has crafted a celebratory portrait of a community of Milwaukee lesbians over the age of 40 who gather together every month to catch up with one another while letting loose on the dance floor. Bielefeld states: "My goal is to celebrate these women’s lives and the vibrant community they have formed by exploring their individual life stories. Ladies Out seeks to revel in their common threads of love, coming out, and acceptance." I certainly could not have said it better myself. The first of two intriguing documentary options this Thursday evening!
Thursday, March 6: Night Journey to Hamtramck
9:30 p.m. @ Times Cinema (Free)
Continue this night of documentaries with this free screening courtesy of Mythicist Milwaukee, an organization who chooses to look at religion comparatively (specifically, to ancient gods and myths) instead of simplifying it down to a theist vs. atheist viewpoint. This documentary takes a look at Hamtramck, Mich. – a historically Polish-Catholic suburb – and the reactions garnered when a mosque in the town began broadcasting the adhan (the Muslim call to prayer) via loudspeakers as is tradition.
Saturday, March 8: Murder, She Said
7 p.m. @ The Church in the City, 2648 N. Hackett Ave. ($3)
Close out your week with the very first MGM Miss Marple picture, featuring what is in my estimation the finest Marple (the Marpliest?) to ever grace our screen in Margaret Rutherford. Based on Agatha Christie's 4:50 from Paddington, our plot sees Miss Marple as witness to a murder on an opposite train carriage. When the authorities refuse to believe her story, Marple (as so often she does) takes matters into her own hands. There's a lightness of touch to this adaptation that can't be found in the source material, but is a welcome addition to any “Whodunnit” – we often don't really care for the answer to that question, so it's a matter of making the journey to that destination as richly engaging as possible (see also this past week's release of Non-Stop for an example of that in action).