In 2014, Moviegoers took time out from the holiday season to talk about a few things in the local movie scene we’re thankful for. This year, I’m doing the same. (Let’s put “repeatable column gimmicks” in the thankful pile.) So without further ado, I’m thankful for…
A thriving film festival hell-bent on local cinematic domination
It should come as no surprise that attendance and screenings continue to rise for the Milwaukee Film Festival – by 2028 we should expect a 6-month long festival playing at 25 local cinemas – but it’s nice to see the festival begin to carve out its identity and get into a groove. It will never compete with the world premiere prestige of other more high-profile festivals, so it is instead ccultivating a reputation as a festival of discernment that brings you the best and brightest of the previous year of film festival cinema in a multi-week explosion of curated goodness. Their success rate with me was never higher than it was this year (only one movie I disliked out of nearly 30 seen). If the festival can continue to bring this level of sustained quality each year, I see no reason for its growth to abate any time soon.
A new theater beginning to spread its programming wings
Last year’s column saw me celebrating the impending re-opening of the Avalon in Bay View, and with nearly a year under its belt it’s safe to say that it is a welcome addition to the local moviegoing landscape. While I’ve had questions about its programming (and the lack of eclecticism therein), they’ve begun to roll out some holiday-themed film groupings and other bits and bobs (I’m looking at you, screening of Wet Hot American Summer) that suggest the future for this gorgeous new theater is nothing but bright.
An old theater (UWM Union) providing cinematic nirvana
Some might have had their hackles raised by the UWM Union Cinema instituting a fee for the majority of their screenings (along with a name change to Cinema from Theatre), but let me be the first to tell those people to lower their hackles to whatever the optimum height level for hackles is meant to be. If anything, the pay structure for the UWM Union has only encouraged me to attend more – the purchase of a membership for both me and my wife has easily already paid for itself thanks to the amazing programming they’ve been doing this semester – 35mm screenings of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Faces alongside the amazing digital reclamation of The Apu Trilogy as well as acclaimed new indie cinema like The Keeping Room, Entertainment & (T)error made for what has been one of the strongest semesters for the UWM Union in recent memory. One can only hope that momentum continues into the next.
A bountiful harvest of new releases well worth seeking out
What a treat to have a full marathon worth of worthy cinema to dig into this week! Creed is expertly crafted pop-cinema entertainment with more to say than may initially meet the eye, Brooklyn is one of the best cinematic romances to come around in decades, The Good Dinosaur is an absolutely bizarre Pixar movie the likes of which we’ve yet to see (a bizarre amalgamation of children’s movie and Frontier Western, with more peril and injury than one would expect) and Trumbo is a well-performed reminder of an era that feels ever-closer, when our fear of the other led to persecution and mistrust on a massive scale. It’s a great week for new releases, and a great week for those who are looking for any excuse to curtail family discussion this holiday season by taking everyone out to the movies.
An audience who chooses to read my nonsensical movie screeds on a weekly basis
I’ll wrap up this love-in with you, the dear reader. The fact that I’m allowed to write about movies at all is a blessing, and I remain ever grateful for your eyes and ears in all matters cinematic.
On the Marquee
Wednesday, November 25: Brooklyn, Creed, The Good Dinosaur, Trumbo & Victor Frankenstein all open in local release
Check local listings for showtimes/pricing
Saturday, November 28: Singin’ in the Rain
7:30 p.m. @ The Church in the City, 2648 N. Hackett Ave. ($3)
Sunday, November 29: Roman Holiday
2 p.m. & 7 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Click here for tickets)