This week in Milwaukee film scene happenings, the Oriental and the Times are leading the charge in offerings, specifically of the documentary kind. Some of the hardest working people in showbiz – back-up singers – are finally getting their due in Twenty Feet From Stardom, an acclaimed new documentary currently playing the Oriental. The historic theater will also play host to American Made Movie, a new documentary about the decline of manufacturing in America that’s currently making its way around the country on a national screening tour. And Burning Man & The Meaning of Life, a documentary by Milwaukee native Julie Pifher that’s about an unusual event held out in the desert, gets its local premiere at the Times.
Monday July 8 - Thursday July 11: Twenty Feet From Stardom plays the Oriental
5 p.m./7:30 p.m./9:45 p.m. @ the Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.) Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students with valid ID, $7.50 for seniors (62+) and children (-12), and $7.50 for all shows before 6 p.m.
The film, about unsung heroes within the music industry – back-up singers – opened rather quietly at the Oriental last Friday. The reviews have been love letters, and audiences have been generous in their praise. The film casts a spotlight on the artists (mostly women) whose harmonious voices have graced the tracks of many an album, from the Rolling Stones to Michael Jackson and so on.
2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darlene Love (who’s best known for playing Trish Murtaugh opposite Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon films, as well as for her annual Christmastime appearances on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman”), Lisa Fischer (a Grammy winner who’s toured with Tina Turner, Sting and the Stones, among others), and Merry Clayton (who also recorded and toured with the Stones, among numerous others) get the lion’s share of time in the documentary for good reason – each share some truly amazing stories from their time in the musical trenches. The likes of Lou Adler, Patti Austin, Chris Botti, David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, Mick Jagger, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, and Stevie Wonder are also featured.
Thursday, July 11: American Made Movie plays once at the Oriental during its pre-release “National Economic Bus Tour”
4:15 p.m. @ the Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.) Tickets are $10
American Made Movie, not to be confused with 1999’s American Movie, is about the decline in manufacturing here in the states, and the campaign some US-based companies are conducting in order to reverse the trend. Prior to its scheduled August release, the filmmakers behind the documentary have decided to hit the open road on a “national economic bus tour” to promote the film one city/stop at a time. They stop in Milwaukee this coming Thursday to screen the film at the Oriental. Following the screening, filmmakers Nathaniel Thomas McGill and Vincent Vittorio will take part in a Q&A session with those in attendance.
Thursday, July 11: Milwaukee native Julie Pifher's Burning Man & The Meaning of Life premieres locally at the Times
10:30 p.m. @ the Times Theater (5906 W. Vliet St.) Check with the Times for additional details.
Milwaukee native and Rufus King graduate Julie Pifher will be in town this Thursday to screen the documentary Burning Man & The Meaning of Life at the Times. The film asks the participants of the Burning Man festival the burning question, "What is the meaning of life?” For those of you unfamiliar with the Burning Man Festival, it’s an annual event where tens of thousands of people go to the middle of the desert to create a temporary city/community. In this manmade desert community, everything is gifted, nothing is for sale, and everyone must be self-sufficient. The screening event will also feature fire dancers, burlesque dancers, live entertainment and more. The film is currently available on itunes, On Demand, and Amazon.
Friday, July 12: Pacific Rim, from acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro, opens in theaters nationwide
Check local listings for show times and ticket pricing.
Since Hellboy (and its well-received sequel), not to mention his Oscar-winning triumph Pan’s Labyrinth, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro has become one of the most-respected filmmaker working today. Fanboys worship him and discerning film patrons eagerly anticipate his latest efforts. He’s a visionary filmmaker who also understands how important performance is to a film. Just imagine what he could have done with The Hobbit had he gone on to direct the film(s) as originally planned?
His latest casts rising stars Idris Elba (BBC America’s “Luther”) and Charlie Hunnam (FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”) in a tale where Earth’s existence is threatened by an alien attack. In an attempt to save all of humanity, giant robots manned by people are deployed to beat the aliens. The plot description might raise some flags, but in del Toro’s more-than-capable hands, Pacific Rim could become the unexpected crowd-pleaser of the 2013 summer movie season.
Saturday, July 13: The Oriental screens The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight
12 a.m. @ the Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.) Check with the Oriental for ticket pricing.
Believe it or not, it’s been nearly 40 years since The Rocky Horror Picture Show first opened in theaters to dismal business in 1975. If a movie underperforms nowadays, it’s released on DVD and Blu-ray in a hurry with the hope that it’ll find an audience and recoup some of its production and promotional costs. The days of giving an underperforming film a chance to find its audience in theaters are long gone. Long the king (or queen, depending on whom you ask) of the midnight movie, some thought that Mommie Dearest (1981) and Showgirls (1995) would eventually replace it. No dice. So it’s safe to say that we’ll likely never see a film with legs quite as long as Rocky Horror’s ever again. Speaking of legs, check out the gams sported by the then 20-something cast led by Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O’Brien (who wrote the stage musical the movie is adapted from), Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, and Peter Hinwood in the raucous third act. Local performing troupe Sensual Daydreams will also be in attendance putting on a show during the midnight screening.
Saturday, July 13 & Sunday, July 14: Director Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me at the Times
10:30 a.m. @ the Times Theater (5906 W. Vliet St.) Tickets are $4.
Playing as part of the Times’ Independence - Classic Coming of Age Movies screening series during July, director Rob Reiner’s Oscar-nominated 1986 classic, Stand By Me, memorably casts Wil Wheaton, the late River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell as four lifelong friends who set out on a long, event-filled journey to find the corpse of a local teenage boy who had gone missing, a corpse that has already been found by a gang of intimidating older boys led by a menacing Kiefer Sutherland, long before he saved the country as Jack Bauer on “24.” The film is based on a Stephen King short story called “The Body” which was in the same short story collection as another tale (“Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”) that served as the basis for another classic big screen adaptation of a King work.