Wednesday, January 14: Top Hat
7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/$5/free for seniors/students/museum members)
There’s only one repertory screening this week in the Milwaukee area, but what the week lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. To kick off their winter programming of Best Picture nominees that didn’t end up winning the statue, Charles Allis is screening the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers classic Top Hat. One of the most-loved collaborations between this beloved duo, it features Astaire as an American dancer (a stretch for him, I know) who romantically pursues Rogers in Europe. A winning combination of rock-solid dance numbers and screwball comedy (I’m considering tattooing ‘Edward Everett Horton Forever’ on my thigh), this is the surest bet to be entertained this week at the movies.
Friday, January 16: American Sniper, Blackhat, The Wedding Ringer and Paddington all open locally
Check local listings for showtimes.
This Friday doesn’t feature quite the one-two punch of Selma/Inherent Vice of last week, but there are plenty of interesting options making their way to us. Word has been decidedly mixed from critics on the latest Clint Eastwood picture, American Sniper, but it still figures to have some role to play in the upcoming Oscar nominations even with such a tepid reaction. A passion project for producer/star Bradley Cooper, it tells the story of U.S. Army sniper, Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. Its trailer is a master class in tension-building, and if Eastwood could sustain that moral ambiguity and dread over the course of an entire movie then we might be in for something good.
More excitingly for me, however, is the arrival of a new Michael Mann movie to theaters. His first since the lackluster Public Enemies (it’s been awhile), Blackhat is a cyber-terror thriller starring Thor himself as a hunky hacker helping our government track down a terrorist looking to bring the world to its knees. As the recent Sony hacks have proven, we are eminently vulnerable in the world of ones and zeroes, and Mann is usually good for a visceral thrill-ride, so I’ve got high hopes for this one. Less so for the latest Kevin Hart vehicle, The Wedding Ringer. Now, I actually like Kevin Hart (and thought his big breakout vehicle Ride Along was sufficiently entertaining) so I’m holding out hope this isn’t as laugh-less as its trailer makes it out to be. Hart has proven he can make anemic premises work, so hopefully he does it again here.
And finally, an option that’s, you know, for kids. Paddington has been getting positive word from critics in advance of its release, and it looks quite charming in my humble opinion. Nicole Kidman, the evil taxidermist hunting down our hat-wearing bear is a nice touch, and the special effects (a combination of computer-generated and animatronics) look really solidly integrated with their live action counterparts. So if your kids aren’t into snipers, cyber terrorism or risqué comedy, this is probably the surefire family bet dropping this weekend.