There’s a lot to choose from this week in local cinematic happenings and events. Among the offerings:
Criterion finally releases 1997’s The Ice Storm, director Ang Lee’s superb big screen adaptation of Rick Moody’s novel of the same name, on blu-ray. The Oriental throws a one-time screening of a timely BBC Films documentary about babies born into the British royal family.
Bing Crosby sells a skeptic princess on the charms of the Aloha State in a 1937 musical showing at Charles Allis this week.
Catch Robin Williams as Popeye at Barnacle Buds and partake of free food and drink (well, if your 21 or over and RSVP in time) courtesy of Goose Island Brewing, Honeycomb Productions and Do414 -- all local businesses.
And you’ll have two opportunities to catch an ‘80s classic from the late-great John Hughes at the Times.
Tuesday, July 23: Criterion releases director Ang Lee’s acclaimed drama The Ice Storm (1997) starring Kevin Kline, Joan Allen and Sigourney Weaver on Blu-ray
Check local retail stores for prices and availability.
The Ice Storm, directed by two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi) , the 1997 film adaptation of writer Rick Moody’s 1994 novel of the same name, is finally being issued on blu-ray via Criterion, in a “Director-Approved Special Edition,” so you know going in that the film is going to look and sound better than it has since it played in theaters.
In 1973, two dysfunctional middle class families (the Hoods and the Carvers) are navigating their way through the changing political and social minefield in suburban Connecticut. Traditional mores are being challenged and reevaluated. Experimentation is in vogue. The sexual revolution has finally reached suburbia, and things will never be the same. The film’s amazing cast includes Oscar winner Kevin Kline, Oscar nominees Joan Allen and Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Elijah Wood, Christina Ricci and Katie Holmes.
The late, great Gene Siskel picked The Ice Storm as the best film of 1997, and according to various media reports, writer Moody was so impressed with the film version of his novel that he cried during the end credits the first time he saw it. If you haven’t seen it for yourself, find out what all the fuss is about. Check out this (not original) trailer below.
Wednesday, July 24: The Oriental Theatre presents the BBC Films documentary Born to Royalty, narrated by actor Hugh Bonneville
7 p.m. @ the Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.) Tickets are $12.50.
On the heels of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge becoming first-time parents to a baby boy – whose name has yet to be publicly revealed – the Oriental has scheduled a one-time showing of the BBC Films documentary Born to Royalty, which charts the history of babies born into the British royal family, in the first of this week's rather timely local cinematic offerings.
Apparently they go as far back as the Paleozoic-era in order to showcase the birth of Queen Elizabeth II, who at 87-years-old, is still Britain’s reigning monarch.
The documentary is narrated by British actor Hugh Bonneville (Iris, TV’s “Downton Abbey”).
Wednesday, July 24: Waikiki Wedding starring Bing Crosby screens at Charles Allis
7:30 p.m. @ the Charles Allis Museum (1801 N. Prospect Ave.) Tickets are $7 for adults/$5 for seniors, veterans & students with valid ID/FREE for museum members, active military and children 12 and under.
Continuing their six-film tribute to the incomparable Bing Crosby, local film historian Dale E. Kuntz and the Charles Allis Museum present a special screening of Waikiki Wedding, a musical from 1937 that casts Crosby as an advertising executive who is hired to promote the state of Hawaii in order to boost tourism. He concocts a beauty pageant (the “Miss Pineapple Princess” contest) where the winner receives a free trip to Hawaii. His plans to romance tourists to visit the state hit a bump in the road when the contest’s winner (played by Shirley Ross) voices her misgivings about the Aloha State. Crosby then goes about showing Miss Pineapple Princess just how enchanting Hawaii can be.
As is customary, prior to the screening, Kuntz will share trivia pertaining to the movie, and he’ll also personally project the film in 16mm, reel-to-reel format from his personal collection.
Thursday, July 25: The local indie romantic comedy, On the Verge, screens again at the Times
9 p.m. @ the Times Theatre (5906 W. Vliet St.) Tickets are $10.
According to the locally made indie film’s poster tagline, On the Verge is about “one man’s unique quest to find love and the perfect public toilet.”
Shot on a shoestring budget over 22 days in the midst of a typically cold Wisconsin winter, the film was written, directed, and co-produced by Pete Balistrieri, who also stars alongside Tabb Alan Patz and Tommy Hahn as three friends who experience some difficulty in their relationships with women.
Actors from Wisconsin and Illinois appear in the film, and music from eight bands is featured in the film, seven of them are Wisconsin-based bands.
Thursday, July 25: Popeye starring Robin Williams and appetizers @ Barnacle Buds
7 p.m. @ Barnacle Buds (1955 S. Hilbert St.) A private, 21+ invite-only event. RVSP here.
Three local outfits – Goose Island Brewing, Honeycomb Productions and Do414 – have joined forces to “bring you a nautical night of bear and cheer at Barnacle Buds” with a special screening of the 1980 live-action, musical film version of Popeye, starring Oscar winner Robin Williams as the rough-and-tough title character. Shelley Duvall co-stars as his one and only love, Olive Oyl, in the film directed by the late, great Robert Altman.
Appetizers to be served the night of the screening include: crab cakes, buffalo wings, French fries, peel-n-eat shrimp, smoked tuna dip, roasted red pepper hummus dip with chips, and thick onion rings. Go here to RSVP.
Friday, July 26: The Sundance sensation Fruitvale Station, director Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited! & Hugh Jackman returns as Wolverine
Check local listings for show times and ticket pricing.
On the heels of George Zimmerman being acquitted of the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and 76-year-old Milwaukee resident John Spooner receiving a mandatory life sentence after being convicted of the murder of 13-year-old Darius Simmons, the release of writer-director Ryan Coogler’s feature debut, Fruitvale Station, couldn’t be more timely.
Claiming both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as a critics prize at Cannes in May, the film recounts the last day of the life of Oscar Grant (played by Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old San Francisco Bay area resident, who was fatally shot by a police office on New Year’s Day 2009 following a subway altercation, a senseless tragedy that sparked a large public outcry. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (The Help) co-stars as Grant’s mother.
Oscar winning Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (All About My Mother, Talk To Her) is back with I’m So Excited!, an easy breezy comedy about airline crew members and passengers who try to look on the bright side of things when a technical failure not only endangers their flight to Mexico City, but their lives as well. If anybody has it in them to take such high wire material and make it work despite all conceivable odds, it’s Almodóvar.
And the wait is over. Hugh Jackman is back on the big screen as Wolverine! I could fill you all in on the plot but why bother? All you care about is that he’s ripped and shirtless most of the time.
Hey fellas, make sure to wear galoshes when you take your girl to the movies this weekend so you safely navigate all the drool in the theater. One more thing, if you think she’s tagging along just because you've been waiting to see the film, boy are you dumber than a bag of bricks.
Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28: The Brat Pack classic The Breakfast Club plays the Times
10:30am @ Times Theater (5906 W. Vliet St.) Tickets are $4.
There are certain works of art (films, books, plays, TV programs) that can only be fully appreciated when they are seen or discovered at the right time in a person’s evolution. They leave an indelible impression on the fabric of who you are. And even though years may go by, you’ll invariably remember the elation you felt when you first saw or discovered whatever that work of art is.
It’s safe to say that The Breakfast Club, written and directed by the late John Hughes, would invoke such a response.
Molly Ringwald is Claire (the Princess), Anthony Michael Hall is Brian (the Brain), Emilio Estevez is Andrew (the Athlete), Ally Sheedy is Allison (the Basket Case), and Judd Nelson is Bender (the Criminal). These five suburban Chicago high school students, representing different sides of the social divide, are forced to spend an entire Saturday together in detention under the semi-watchful eye of Mr. Vernon (the late Paul Gleason). Secrets are revealed, truths are told and alliances are made.
This is the last of the films showing as part of the Times’ Independence - Classic Coming of Age Movies matinee screening series this month. If you haven’t checked out any of the other films shown as part of this month’s series, please make a sincere effort to catch The Breakfast Club on the big screen, especially if like me, you weren’t old enough to be able to do so when it played theaters in 1985. And especially if you weren’t even born at that time. It’s one of the best films of the 1980s. Hell, it’s one of the best films, period.