Harley week is over, the summer is unofficially over, school is back in session, and the UWM Union Theatre is where it’s at in terms of local film happenings this first full week of September. And if that weren't incentive enough, all of this week's featured screenings at the UWM Union Theatre are free!
Tuesday, Sept. 3 & Thursday, Sept. 5: Director Ridley Scott’s Alien-prequel, Prometheus, plays the UWM Union Theatre
7 p.m. Tuesday & 9 p.m. Thursday @ UWM Union Theatre (2200 East Kenwood Blvd.) (FREE)
Each of the four installments in the Alien film franchise starring Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver were helmed by truly visionary directors (Oscar nominees Ridley Scott, David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Oscar winner James Cameron).
Thirty-three years after directing the first film in the franchise, 1979’s Alien, Ridley Scott revisited the franchise by directing Prometheus, a prequel of sorts. Set in 2093, a group of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on a planet millions of miles away from Earth. Their discovery triggers a series of events that put their lives -- and the future of civilization itself -- in the balance.
As quoted from the theater’s official website, the late Roger Ebert, a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic who wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times, said of the film, “A magnificent science-fiction film, all the more intriguing because it raises questions about the origin of human life and doesn't have the answers."
Wednesday, Sept. 4: A 35 mm print of director Wes Anderson’s debut feature, Bottle Rocket, screens at the UWM Union Theatre
7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (2200 East Kenwood Blvd.) (FREE)
There was a time, not all that long ago actually, when moviegoers (myself included) took seeing a film projected on the big screen from a 35 mm print for granted. We took it for granted because that was the way we always saw movies in theaters. It’s really only been in the past couple of years -- when most theaters made the transition over to digital -- that seeing a film the good, old-fashioned way started becoming something to note.
And if the film is beloved or exceptional in any way, all the better. Last year, now-former Milwaukee Brewer pitcher and fellow appreciator of film John Axford hosted a one-time, 35 mm print screening of director Rob Reiner’s 1987 classic fairy tale, The Princess Bride.
Now, the UWM Union Theatre is showing director Wes Anderson’s first film, Bottle Rocket (1996), starring Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson and Robert Musgrave. The three play aimless friends in small-town Texas who team up to pull off a heist. The film didn’t ignite the box office or necessarily slay the critics when it originally showed in theaters 17 years ago but has garnered cult classic status nonetheless. Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese is a big fan of the film, he considers it one of the best films of the 1990s. While most critics initially wrote the film off (having started out as a short), some like the late, great Roger Ebert, saw definite promise onscreen.
“I can't recommend the film -- it's too unwound and indulgent -- but I have a certain affection for it,“ Ebert wrote in his review, “and I'm looking forward to whatever Anderson and the Wilsons do next.”
Friday, Sept. 6: Austenland starring Keri Russell opens in Milwaukee
Check local listings for showtimes and ticket pricing.
Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Shannon Hale, and produced by “Twilight” writer Stephenie Meyer, the romantic comedy Austenland casts Golden Globe winner Keri Russell (TV’s “The Americans” and “Felicity”) as Jane. a 30-something, single woman who is OBSESSED with the Mr. Darcy character as played by Oscar winner Colin Firth in the acclaimed BBC adaptation of British novelist Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”.
Jane is so head over heels in love with the beloved fictional character, that no real-life man could possibly compete, hence her painfully single relationship status. Further illustrating her obsession, she spends her life savings on a trip to England in order to vacation at a resort that caters to diehard Austen fans. Upon her arrival and faster than you can say, “Does it take a rocket scientist…,” Jane’s fantasy of finding her Mr. Darcy suddenly becomes far more attainable than even she thought possible.
If anyone can make this chick-lit malarkey go down easier than it has any right to, it’s the effortlessly charming Russell. And the fact that the usually-dependable Jennifer Coolidge is featured in the supporting cast is also a plus.
Saturday, Sept. 7 & Sunday, September 8: The UWM Union Theatre screens In the Fog and V/H/S 2
7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday @ UWM Union Theatre (2200 East Kenwood Blvd.) (FREE)
With school back in session for the fall semester this week, the UWM Union Theatre is back in full swing as well playing host to not one, but two, films that are screening for the first time here in Milwaukee: In the Fog and V/H/S 2, respectively.
Until he made his rather impressive feature film debut with 2010’s My Joy, Russian director Sergei Loznitsa was known for his celebrated work as a documentary filmmaker with a dozen full-length and short documentaries to his credit, including Blockade (2006) and Portrait (2002). His second feature film, In the Fog (2012), is a haunting account of the moral and ethical quandary an innocent Soviet railroad worker finds himself in when he’s wrongly accused of collaborating with the Nazis as the USSR faces German occupation circa 1942.
Based on a novel by Vasil Bykov, In the Fog followed in the footsteps of Loznitsa’s first film, and played in competition for the coveted top prize, the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes International Film Festival in the south of France last year where it won a critics’ prize.
And on the heels of the 2013 Milwaukee Film Festival, the Union Theatre is also screening the aptly titled V/H/S 2, the sequel to the 2012 found footage horror film V/H/S which was apart of last year’s Milwaukee Film Festival line-up. Ever since The Blair Witch Project (1999) came out of nowhere and became one of the most-profitable films (in terms of production budget to box office gross) ever made, legions of filmmakers, serious and otherwise, have tried to replicate the formula that worked so well for that particular film. The Paranormal Activity franchise has certainly come the closest in that regard. If low-definition, poorly lit, near-indecipherable found footage horror is your bag, I guess you could do worse.