Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained
This week in Milwaukee area film happenings: Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning, revisionist western Django Unchained makes its eagerly anticipated debut on DVD and Blu-ray; the 35th Annual Latin American Film Series (LAFS) continues; a documentary about Yiddish Theater screens; and French director Louis Malle’s first film (starring a young Jeanne Moreau and featuring a score by jazz legend Miles Davis) plays the UWM Union Theatre.
Monday, April 15 - Friday, April 19: UWM hosts The 35th Latin American Film Series (LAFS)
The UWM Union Theatre (free)
Presented by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, UWM Union Programming, Union Theatre and The Department of Film, the 35th edition of the Latin American Film Series kicked off last Friday, April 12, but continues all week through Friday, April 19. All of the films will be shown in their original language with English subtitles. Many contain adult content, but are not rated.
Two films are scheduled to be shown nightly at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., except Friday. They include:
Monday - Chinese Take-Away (Un cuento chino) (Argentina, 2012)
Tuesday - Bonsái (Chile, 2011)
Wednesday - The Condemned (Los condenados) (Puerto Rico, 2013)
Thursday - The Zebra (Le cebra) (Mexico, 2013)
Friday - Stones in the Sun (Haiti, 2012)
Tuesday, April 16: Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained debuts on DVD and Blu-ray
Check local retail stores for availability (prices may vary).
For those of you who didn’t catch Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning ode to blaxploitation, revisionist history and spaghetti westerns, here’s your chance to see what all the fuss was about for yourself in the comfort of your own home. For those who did venture out to the movies to experience Django Unchained on the big screen, here’s your chance to relive it again and again.
The film is a loose remake of the 1966 spaghetti western, Django, which starred Italian actor Franco Nero (who appears in the remake as well) as the title character. The remake is about a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who joins forces with German dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz, in an Oscar-winning performance), to help track down some wanted fugitives in exchange for his freedom. Meanwhile, Django seeks to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of a charming, yet sadistic plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).
The biggest box office hit of Tarantino’s career to date, the film was nominated for five Oscars including best picture. Tarantino won his second Oscar for best original screenplay having won previously (in the same category) for Pulp Fiction (1994).
Special features include three production videos about the making of the film.
And check out this NSFW-clip of Oscar-nominated filmmaker John Singleton discussing his involvement in the very early stages of the film's development (back in the mid-1990s) earlier this year in a Q&A session in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Thursday, April 18: Memories of the American Yiddish Theater
2 p.m. @ the Sarah Chudnow Senior Community (free)
This short film showcases the Yiddish theater of New York City, produced by the Milken Archive of Jewish Music. “Yiddish theater wove into its dramatic tapestry the universal themes common to the American immigrant experience,” the press release stated. “Poverty, oppression, struggle, assimilation and homesickness all appeared in the Yiddish theater. It also embraced themes unique to the Jewish experience such as anti-Semitism and isolation.”
Following the screening, surviving members of Milwaukee’s Yiddish Theater will interact with the audience. For additional information, please call 262-478-1500, or visit Sarah Chudnow Senior Community’s website.
Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21: The UWM Union Theatre presents French director Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday & 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday @ UWM Union Theatre (free)
The late, great Louis Malle’s (1932-1995) filmmaking debut “is beautifully rich with the romantic atmosphere of Paris in the 1950s…a tense, suspenseful crime thriller with an innovative jazz score by the legendary Miles Davis,” reads the event description.
Elevator to the Gallows is a French film noir that casts the equally legendary Jeanne Moreau as Florence Carala, a young femme fatale who conspires with her lover, Julien Tavernier (Maurice Monet), to kill her wealthy, older industrialist husband Simon (Jean Wall). Simon is also Julien’s boss, and the duo want to make the death look like a suicide.
Moreau had made about 20 or so films before the then-25-year-old Malle cast her in his film debut, but hadn’t really made a name for herself in film yet. Their collaboration proved mutually beneficial: It marked the arrival of a director-to-watch in Malle, who would go onto make some truly stunning films throughout the remainder of his life and career, and it was the film that finally made Moreau a star in France and abroad.
Of Davis’ score, jazz critic Phil Johnson said, “the loneliest trumpet sound you will ever hear, and the model for sad-core music ever since. Hear it and weep.”