Sam Raimi's Oz, The Great and the Powerful opens this week
This week, the UWM Union Theatre hosts a unique film installation on Tuesday March 5, and weekend screenings of a seminal early work from Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese put both he and frequent collaborator, Oscar winner Robert DeNiro, on everyone’s radar.
An Oscar-winning masterpiece from director Steven Spielberg debuts on Blu-ray this week marking its 20th anniversary.
And director Sam Raimi’s Oz, the Great and Powerful, a prequel to the classic L. Frank Baum children’s book series which begat the Hollywood classic, The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, opens in theaters nationwide. With several local theaters hosting Thursday night advanced screenings starting as early as 9 p.m. in both 2-D and 3-D formats.
Tuesday March 5: Schindler’s List: 20th Anniversary Limited Edition debuts on DVD and Blu-ray
Check local retail stores for availability.
Shot almost entirely in black and white, director Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Oscar-winning masterpiece was adapted from the novel of the same name by Thomas Keneally, and tells the amazing true story of Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson, in an Oscar-nominated performance), who was raised Catholic but would eventually became a member of the Nazi Party. Schindler would go on to risk everything in a concerted effort to save as many Jews as he could during the Holocaust by employing 1100 of them in his factory. The film co-stars Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant and comrade, and Ralph Fiennes (in a chilling Oscar-nominated performance) as a sadistic Nazi commander that Schindler conducts business with.
The Blu-ray transfer includes a 1080p resolution and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio that matches the original. Spielberg personally supervised the high definition transfer and the lossless audio (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) restoration of the film from the 35mm film original negative. Additional special features include: “Voices from the List“ (a documentary featuring a number of testimonies and stories from men and women who survived the Holocaust thanks to Oskar Schindler), and the “USC Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg”. Oddly enough this 20th anniversary edition contains no audio commentary by Spielberg or by his go-to cinematographer Janusz Kaminski.
Tuesday March 5: Aberration of Light: Dark Chamber A Project Performance
7 p.m. and 9 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (free)
Andréa Picard’s (of the Toronto International Film Festival) description of this unique live cinema installation:
Aberration of Light: Dark Chamber is the second collaborative live cinema project by Sandra Gibson, Luis Recoder and Olivia Block. Filmmakers in their own right, Gibson and Recoder have, for the past decade, created performances and installations that employ the mechanics and optical properties of film projection to forge hypnotic, sculptural works of light. Using a series of film loops, crystals and manual gestures to bend, reflect and refract the projector’s beam, the artists recast the theatrical space of the cinema into a sensual three-dimensional encounter.”
Filmmakers Sandra Gibson, Luis Recorder and Olivia Block will all be in attendance for both scheduled performances.
Thursday March 7: Oz, the Great and Powerful opens in theaters
Sneak preview screenings are scheduled at several local theaters ahead of its nationwide release Friday; check your local listings.
Last week, actor extraordinaire Bruce Campbell was in town to take part in a Q&A following a special screening of the third installment in director Sam Raimi’s cult classic Evil Dead series at the Pabst. This week, Raimi’s eagerly anticipated new film, Oz, the Great and Powerful, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, starring eccentric Oscar nominee James Franco (127 Hours) as Oz, and Destiny’s Child member – scratch that – I mean Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, My Week With Marilyn) as Glinda the Good Witch is set to open in theaters nationwide. Diehard Raimi and Oz fans will get the chance to catch the film ahead of its Friday release at one of several planned Thursday night sneak preview screenings here locally in both 2-D and 3-D.
Friday March 8: 40th Anniversary Screening of Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets
7 p.m. and 9 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (free)
In an age where the term "independent cinema" has been defined and redefined so much that no one really knows what the actual criteria for it is anymore, it’s more essential now than ever before to revisit films that fostered the true indie film back in the 1960s and 1970s. Shot over 25 days on a tight $500,000 budget, writer-director Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973) heralds the arrival of an exciting new filmmaker and boasts a cast of then-young up and comers that included Oscar nominee Harvey Keitel (Bugsy, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Bad Lieutenant) as a small-time hood looking for a break, and Oscar winner Robert DeNiro (The Godfather, Part II and Raging Bull) as his loose cannon friend. DeNiro’s scene-stealing performance earned him the National Society of Film Critics’ best supporting actor prize.
Bet you didn’t know that this quintessential New York-based film was shot largely in and around Los Angeles, and it marked the first of eight films Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro collaborated on – the others being 1976’s Taxi Driver; 1977’s New York, New York; 1980’s Raging Bull; 1983’s The King of Comedy; 1990’s Goodfellas; 1991’s Cape Fear; and 1995’s Casino.
Mean Streets, which legendary film critic Pauline Kael of The New Yorker called “a triumph of personal filmmaking” also screens on Saturday, March 9 at 9 p.m. and 10:55 p.m., and on Sunday, March 10 at 5 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. at the UWM Union Theatre.
Come back next week for more On The Marquee picks.