Monday, January 26 through Sunday, February 1: Go see Paddington
Check local listings for showtimes/pricing.
There wasn’t an official screening of Paddington ahead of its release so I finally caught up with it this past weekend, and the movie I saw was such a tender and sweet family comedy that I can’t help but stump for it now. January is usually a cinematic mass grave (as you’re about to see later in the column), but this movie is visually inventive (director Paul King cut his teeth on the amazing cult TV series The Mighty Boosh) and filled with genuine heart and humor the likes of which is unlikely to be rivaled for some time in 2015. This is a children’s classic in the making.
Wednesday, January 28 and Thursday, January 29: The Skeleton Twins & Actress
1/28 – 4:15 p.m & 7 p.m., 1/29 – 7 p.m. (Actress only) @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)
Let’s extend a warm welcome back to the UMW Union Theatre from its winter break, bringing all manner of cinematic goodies along with it for the return trip, starting with The Skeleton Twins and Actress. The Skeleton Twins has no right working as well as it does, but that’s a tribute to the winning performances from SNL alums Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as a brother and sister pair who reunite with both near the end of their rope. I am excited to check out Actress, a documentary about Brandy Burre, an actress who had just started to make her mark (with a role on The Wire) when she decided to start a family. She wants to return to acting, but that decision has consequences that begin to disintegrate the carefully arranged domestic life she’s established.
Wednesday, January 28: Lost Horizon
7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/$5/free for seniors/students/museum members)
Charles Allis’ Best Picture nominees who didn’t actually win the statue programming continue with the lush 1937 epic, Lost Horizon. Following a group of travelers who are led to the idyllic Shangri-La following a plane crash, the film examines the notion of utopia (take note of when this was released) and whether one can stay in such a place and ignore the troubles of the outside world.
Friday, January 30 through Sunday, February 1: This is Where I Leave You & Frank
1/30: This – 7 p.m., Frank – 9 p.m. 1/31: This – 5 p.m., Skeleton Twins – 7 p.m., & Frank – 9 p.m. 2/1: Frank – 5 p.m., This – 7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)
Even more goodies from the Union Theatre this weekend with two more dramedies to feast on. This is Where I Leave You is extraordinarily slight, which given how immensely talented its cast is (Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Connie Britton, House of Pies’ Benny Schwaz) could be construed as a disappointment. It’s still a fun showcase for these performers even if it is middling. Frank, however, is great. This is the first chance for Milwaukee at large to take in a movie that I struggled with keeping off my ‘best of’ list for 2014 – a movie that I strongly suggested to you just a couple weeks ago.
Friday, January 30: Project Almanac, The Loft, Black and White and A Most Violent Year all open locally
Check local listings for showtimes/pricing.
The dregs of January continue to get slurped up with a pretty unimpressive slate of releases save for one. The Loft looks like an erotic thriller the likes of which wouldn’t be out of place on Cinemax at three in the morning, so you know I’m excited to see it. Project Almanac has a decent enough time-travel/butterfly-effect hook that I am willing to overlook the use of found footage to tell its story. I’ll have a review for one of these for you at the end of this week!
Black and White looks like the kind of inelegant coverage of social issues in the guise of heart-warming entertainment that I usually have an allergic reaction to, but both Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer are gifted performers that have elevated minor films before. But the real jewel of the weekend is A Most Violent Year, a very well-told gangster tale filled with high-quality performances, none better than Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain as the married couple dogged by government intervention and rival factions looking to curtail the expansion of their empire.
***ANOTHER CRITIC’S CHOICE***
Friday, January 30: The Oscar-Nominated Short Films programs for live action and animated open locally
Check Landmark Theaters website closer to release for showtimes/pricing
In what has become a yearly tradition, the Oscar-nominated shorts make their way to our fair city just in time to take them in before you fill out your office bracket. The short film is unfairly cast aside in our modern era, and this is one of the rare non-MFF opportunities to take them in. And they come pre-curated, so you’re assured of high quality.