The UWM Union Cinema begins its second semester since it was rebranded later this month. Here are five films to put on your schedule. Plus: a special screening "Labyrinth" at the Avalon, and more of what's on the marquee around town.

In two weeks time the UWM Union Cinema will commence its second semester of programming since its rebranding, a change that not only brought with it a new name, but also Art House Project theater status from the Sundance Institute and a very reasonable new pricing structure. Along with this rebranding came a renewed focus on screening actual film prints on a near weekly basis (classics such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Faces highlighted that programming), as well as screenings of the wonderful restoration of The Apu Trilogy and such current indie fare as The Keeping Room, Felt and Breathe.

In anticipation of this new semester, I’ve picked five films I’m looking forward to. This is by no means comprehensive (please check out their calendar and sign up for their mailing list to get the complete schedule laid out for you), but it’s a start:

  1. Sicario (screens January 29 @ 9 p.m., January 30 @ 5 p.m.)

Unjustly forgotten in the awards seasons chatter, Denis Villeneuve’s drug war thriller charts Emily Blunt’s descent into a world she doesn’t understand as her FBI agent is recruited to run special ops with the CIA across the Mexican border, where she is teamed with the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro, reminding us how amazing of a performer he is). Roger Deakins’ cinematography is some of the year’s very best and the film features multiple breathtaking suspense sequences. UWM’s “Welcome Back” programming always tends to feature some more mainstream choices, but given Sicario’s current under-the-radar status, I would highly recommend it.

  1. In Jackson Heights (screens February 3 @ 7 p.m.)

Some of the Union Cinema’s most eclectic and fascinating choices come through their Documentary Frontiers programming, and I would definitely qualify the latest work from master documentarian Frederick Wiseman.  In a portrait over three hours long, Wiseman takes us deep inside the Jackson Heights neighborhood in Queens, allowing for the depth of feeling and penetrating insight one has come to expect from him over his decades of work, showing us this remarkably diverse neighborhood at ground level.


  1. Opening Night (in 35mm) (screens February 5 @ 9 p,m., February 6 @ 5 p.m.)

The Union Cinema serves up another 35mm Cassavetes for us this semester, this time choosing the stage door drama Opening Night. With yet another powerhouse Gena Rowlands performance, this time as an aging Broadway performer unable to confront the professional and personal pressures that are laying siege to her, this is classic Cassavetes and well-worth checking out as an actual film print running through a projector.


  1. Bande de Filles (Girlhood) (screens February 19 @ 9 p.m., February 21 @ 7 p.m.)

Part of UWM’s 19th annual Festival of Films in French (full schedule here), 10 days of free films to the public, Girlhood has found its way on numerous “Best of 2015” critic’s lists, all of whom found the film’s portrait of a young black girl growing up in a rough neighborhood outside of Paris and the gang she becomes a part of to be utterly engrossing.


  1. Heart of a Dog (screens February 24 @ 7 p.m.)

It’s been nearly a decade since performance artist Laurie Anderson graced our screens with a cinematic offering, and based on the rapturous response this docu-essay has received in the past few months it appears to have been worth the wait.  Taking the passing of her beloved dog Lolabelle as its jumping off point for digressions into life, love and death, Anderson’s film is purported to be a very moving experience and one I can’t wait to share with an audience in late February.


On the Marquee

Wednesday, January 13: How Green Was My Valley

7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/$5/free for seniors/students/museum members)

Thursday, January 14: Best of Rifftrax Live! Presents Starship Troopers

7:30 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Purchase tickets here)

Friday, January 15: ***CRITIC’S CHOICE*** Anomalisa, Ride Along 2, Norm of the North, Lamb & 13 Hours all open locally

Check local listings for showtimes/pricing

Friday, January 15 & Saturday, January 16: Labyrinth

1/15 @ Midnight, 1/16 @ 10:30 a.m. @ Avalon Theatre ($5)

Saturday, January 16: The Savages

3 p.m. @ Milwaukee Art Museum’s Lubar Auditorium (Free for members/Free with admission)

Sunday, January 17: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

2 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Purchase tickets here)

Sunday, January 17 and Monday, January 18: Dreamgirls

1/17 Noon & 1/18 7 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Purchase tickets here)