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On the Marquee for the week of May 12, 2014
Lots of fun stuff this week in theaters but none more so than GODZILLA!

Tuesday, May 13: Her released on DVD/Blu-Ray
Available at most local media retailers.

If you missed out on Her during its extended stay in theatres during the now-standard, post-Oscars victory lap, now’s your chance to snap it up on your media weapon of choice. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jonze’s first sole-credit screenplay is as warmly-sketched and fully-fleshed out as it was, working with Dave Eggers and Charlie Kaufman on previous films shows an affinity for great writing talent. But as wonderful as the work Jonze did here was (his direction in this film has gone needlessly unheralded, it’s brilliant work at making what could’ve felt claustrophobic feel massive and alive), it’s Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson who make this into the masterpiece it is. Johansson creates a fully-formed character out of thin air while Phoenix is on screen almost every second the movie unspools and is never less than captivating. A beautiful film.

Wednesday, May 14:
Rose of Washington Square
7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/$5/free for adults/seniors and students/museum members)

Charles Allis’ springtime Tyrone Power programming continues with this musical drama based on the life of Fanny Brice (whose lawsuit against 20th Century Fox for making this film was settled out of court), with Power playing the con-man whose shady dealings threaten Alice Faye’s career in the Follies. Al Jolson shows up as well to remind us of a ‘simpler’ time when incredibly racist material was able to propagate freely onscreen. That said, there is plenty of entertaining material to be seen here if you can stomach the questionable standards of an earlier era.


Thursday, May 15 & Friday, May 16: Stand-Up Cinema presents Back to the Future
10 p.m. 5/15 & 5/16 @ The Times Cinema ($10)

Where you’re going to watch Back to the Future on the big screen this week, you will need roads – specifically Vilet Street as Stand-Up Cinema returns to The Times with one of the very best audience movies one could hope for. There are few screenplays around that could be described as perfect, but BTTF is one of them, a movie whose set-ups and pay-offs cascade like one of those attempts at setting a dominoes world record. Back to the Future is wonderful (and the sequels aren’t derivative and terrible. What a concept!) and even if I’m lukewarm on anybody providing live commentary over something so pristine, this is still must-see viewing.


Friday, May 16: Godzilla & Million Dollar Arm open nationwide, Fed Up opens @ the Downer Theatre
Check local listings & landmarktheatres.com for showtimes.

You have three solid options opening in the Milwaukee area this weekend, all of which make good on their goals according to early word – so plan accordingly on whether you want uplift, Spielbergian awe or good ol’ social outrage from your cinema over the weekend. Million Dollar Arm could be considered dismissively generic if not for two things: Jon Hamm and Tom McCarthy. Hamm has been content to only participate in bit roles on the big screen since Mad Men’s success first took root. With the biggest being his supporting role in The Town, this feels like the opening salvo in his continued career as his show begins to wind down. Tom McCarthy is the big selling point, though. His work on Win Win, The Station Agent and The Visitor (all of which he wrote and directed) makes him one of the finest observers of unexamined corners of American life, gifting amazing actors with rare lead performances. I find it hard to believe McCarthy wouldn’t be able to spin gold out of this ‘true’ story, or anything for that matter, so Million Dollar Arm becomes must-see because of it.


Speaking of must-see, Godzilla needs no selling. If you’re on board, the fact that all the promotional material makes the film look great is just the cherry on top— you were already going to see this film based on your love for giant monsters. The cast is comprised almost entirely of brilliant performers (Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, etc.) and the work from Gareth Edwards in the director’s chair suggests something more considerate of awe and the building of anticipation than anything we’ve had in years during summer blockbuster season. My review will be up later this week to let you know if the positive buzz surrounding Godzilla is accurate or not.

But if generated monster-on-monster destruction showdowns aren't your cup of tea, perhaps this sobering new documentary look at the health epidemic running roughshod over our nation will be more your speed. Narrated by Katie Couric and from the same producers who brought you An Inconvenient Truth, Fed Up is a searing expose into the truth behind why our children remain unhealthy despite efforts at ramping up exercise and teaching healthier eating habits. Previously-held wisdom as to why we gain weight and how we lose it are detonated here, making a documentary that aims to start important conversations about what we’re allowing the food industry to shovel down our throats.    

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