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Oscar season is over. Let’s celebrate with more films.

Tuesday, February 24: Absence and (Im)possibilities: Traces of an Experimental Cinema in Ireland

7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)

I’ll let UWM take the reins on describing this one: “The program features a selection of films, chosen for their relation to the possibility of an Irish experimental cinema.” I tried very hard to come up with a good hybrid Stan Brakhage/potato joke to place here, but I failed. Read more about the lineup here!

Wednesday, February 25: Top Five and Freedom Summer
4:15 p.m. & 7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)

I heartily enjoyed Chris Rock’s Top Five upon initial release – it’s bawdy, hilarious, and filled with genuine feeling. I caught Freedom Summer at last year’s MFF and found it quite rewarding – filled with amazing footage from the era when activists descended upon Mississippi in an effort to register African American voters.

Wednesday, February 25: Kings Row
7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/$5/free for seniors/students/museum members)

A massive cast (Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Claude Rains and Charles Coburn) headlines this 1942 Best Picture nominee about the goings on in a small Midwestern town at the turn of the century.

***CRITIC’S CHOICE***

Thursday, February 26: Milwaukee’s inaugural Muslim Film Festival kicks off with The Return to Homs

7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre ($6, FREE! For UWM students) << Shows again Sunday, March 1st at Lubar Auditorium inside the Milwaukee Art Museum @ 5:30 p.m. ($6)>>

I’ll always welcome a new film festival to town, especially one aiming to give voice to a sub-section of film that is given little promotion otherwise, so I’m quite excited to see the 1st annual Muslim Film Festival kick off here with a fascinating documentary about the Syrian national soccer team’s goalie attempting to spirit people out of embattled Homs when the government refuses to allow civilians to exit. A great start to a necessary addition to the local film festival scene.

Friday, February 27: Focus, The Lazarus Effect and Leviathan all open locally
Check local listings for showtimes/pricing

One Oscar nominee and two movies certain not to be heard of come next year’s awards season come to you in wide release this weekend. We’ll start with the have-nots, as the Will Smith/Margot Robbie heist film Focus makes its way to theaters on a wave of confusion as to what kind of movie it actually is. Some preview material makes it look like a light caper, others make it look like a sexy drama.

In further news about confusing combinations, The Lazarus Effect has an A-list cast (Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover) and an established director (David Gelb made the phenomenal doc Jiro Dreams of Sushi), all in support of source material that looks like a reheated version of Flatliners. Although we now know it didn’t take home Oscar gold, Foreign Language Film nominee Leviathan finally makes its bow in Milwaukee this week. Critically acclaimed, this Russian drama has come under fire back home for not painting the rosiest of pictures in showcasing its homeland.


***CRITIC’S CHOICE***

Friday, February 27 through Sunday, March 1: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Dog Day Afternoon
2/27: 7 p.m. & 9 p.m., 2/28: 5 p.m. & 2:30 p.m. and 3/1: 7 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. (FREE!)

Don’t let the fact that A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is being released under the auspices of VICE Films throw you, this moody black and white Iranian language vampire film announces the debut of a talented director in Ana Lily Amirpour and is my must see choice of the week with a review forthcoming. Pair that with the Lumet/Pacino classic (and then further pair that by streaming the recent documentary The Dog about the real life subject the film was based on) and make a night of it.

Saturday, February 28: White Heat
7 p.m. @ The Church in the City, 2648 N. Hackett Ave. ($3)

James Cagney plays a gangster with the mother of all Oedipus conflicts in this classic crime picture. With one of the most memorable endings in Hollywood history, this is the perfect cap to your movie-viewing week, especially if you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing it before.

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