Wednesday, Sept. 10 & Saturday Sept. 13: Oculus 4:15 p.m. 9/9 & 9 p.m. 9/13 @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!) I rather dug Oculus when it came out earlier this year in wide release, and thanks to the UWM Union’s Hollywood Film Series, you’ll have a chance to as well. It makes the most of its […]

Wednesday, Sept. 10 & Saturday Sept. 13: Oculus
4:15 p.m. 9/9 & 9 p.m. 9/13 @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)

I rather dug Oculus when it came out earlier this year in wide release, and thanks to the UWM Union’s Hollywood Film Series, you’ll have a chance to as well. It makes the most of its limited budget with sympathetic lead performances (Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan is quite good) and a genuinely unnerving hook that combines notions of inherited mental illness alongside the paranormal. Well worth checking out!

Wednesday, Sept. 10:  Create Option C: My Journey with Cancer
6 p.m. @ Landmark Oriental (FREE!) RSVP here.

Also available to you on Wednesday evening is this unique one-night screening of Create Option C, a documentary focusing on the journey of actress Lourdes Colon after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In dealing with this illness, she chooses natural means to combat it (the titular option C, instead of putting all trust in doctors (A) or doing nothing (B)) which forms the meat of this documentary. Colon will be on hand for this special screening.

Wednesday, Sept.  10: Plastic Paradise
7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)

UWM’s environmental film series kicks off this semester with this sobering portrait of how plastic continues to accumulate and wreak havoc on the ecosystem. Not only devastating the environment, but also possibly affecting our health, this constant consumption of disposable plastic is changing our world in ways we aren’t privy to. Director Angela Sun journeys out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch out in the Midway Atoll in an attempt to learn more about this pressing issue. Every piece of plastic we’ve created since the 19th century remains on this planet in some fashion – so where is it all going?

Thursday, Sept. 11: Teenage
7 p.m. @ UWM Union Theatre (FREE!)

The industrial revolution brought forth a new gap between youth and adulthood, as we shifted away from the idea of kids immediately joining the labor force. With that came the invention of the notion of the teenager, the subject of this documentary playing on Thursday at the UWM Union. Combining numerous forms of archival material from the early 20th century, a portrait is created of the struggle to define this new form of youth – a space well-known to those who choose Britney Spears’ “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” at karaoke nights.


Friday, Sept. 12:  Love is Strange, The Drop, Dolphin Tale 2 & No Good Deed open locally
Check local listings for showtimes and pricing.

While we haven’t exactly escaped the pre-Fall movie doldrums in terms of major releases, some more interesting fare is coming to us in limited release this Friday. But first, the big-ticket releases and what better place to start than with the Sin City: A Dame to Kill of uplifting animal films based on true events? While Dolphin Tale 2 may not have had the interminable wait between original and sequel, I feel confident that the public’s lack of clamoring for a follow-up film is pretty close to equal. That said, we follow a new adventure in the life of rehabilitated dolphin Winter this time out, as the clock is ticking for the Clearwater Marine Hospital team to find a new dolphin to pair Winter with (dolphins have to be paired, regulations forbid them being housed alone).

In a slightly less family-friendly direction, we have the home invasion thriller No Good Deed. I’ll grant you that the trailer makes the movie appear timeless in the sense that you could’ve told me it was released in 1995, and I wouldn’t bat an eye, but when your main cast is as strong as this one, there’s nothing wrong with them playing a variation on a tried-and-true formula. Think of Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson playing the leads in a cat-and-mouse thriller is like your favorite band playing a Beatles cover at a concert. Necessary? Not really. Entertaining? Yes.

Also hitting in wider release is James Gandolfini’s final performance in The Drop, an adaptation of a Dennis Lehane short story. The fact that it’s Gandolfini’s final work alone is reason enough to check it out, but Tom Hardy is one of our most electric actors, so the knowledge that he plays the lead in this picture is yet another reason to get excited. The opportunity for two great performers to butt heads with substantial material (Hardy is a bartender at Gandolfini’s bar where mob money is laundered) is always worthy of excitement. I’ll have a review at the end of this week to let you know if the excitement is justified.

Also hitting this week is the critically-acclaimed picture Love is Strange. Starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a married couple forced to separate when news of their marriage reaches Molina’s superiors at the Catholic school where he taught music, leading to his dismissal and the loss of their New York apartment. Lithgow stays with a nephew and his wife, while George bunks with friends. Reviews have been resoundingly positive throughout its release, and the material looks primed to make me weep, like a modern day update of the incredible Make Way for Tomorrow.

Friday, Sept. 12 through Sunday, September 14: Happy Christmas and Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

HC @ 7 p.m., 9/12 $6 public / $5 faculty, staff and alums/ $4 UWM students
SCotCD @ 9 p.m., 9/13; and 5 p.m. & 7 p.m., 9/14 @ UWM Union Theatre (

If that wide array of releases doesn’t suit your fancy this weekend, perhaps the programming UWM has set up will do the trick. Joe Swanberg has been subtly transitioning his lo-fi mumblecore dramedy stylings in a more polished direction with higher-profile casts, and Happy Christmas is no exception. Outside of casting himself, he’s surrounded by Anna Kendrick, Lena Dunham, Mark Webber and Melanie Lynskey – all are very gifted performers. His last film Drinking Buddies was a big step up in terms of emotional resonance (alongside his strong entry in the first V/H/S film), so I have high hopes for this story of a floundering 20-something (Kendrick), who moves in with her brother and wife (Swanberg and Lynskey) in an attempt to figure things out.

Paired with Happy Christmas this weekend is the festival sensation Stand Clear of the Closing Doors. Winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, this is a New York movie through and through – a perfect time capsule of a time and place as experienced by someone with a unique perspective. Ricky is a 13-year-old boy on the spectrum who chooses to ride the subway instead of coming home from school one evening. We follow his odyssey through the subway lines alongside the story of his mother and sister worrying and hoping he makes his way home (they’re undocumented, so they can’t bring the police into the matter for fear of deportation). The film’s been lauded for its unique ability to situate itself into Ricky’s non-status quo perspective, and I’m greatly looking forward to checking it out.

Friday, Sept. 12:
Field of Dreams
Dusk @ Gift of Wings Kite Store in Veterans Park, 1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive (FREE!)

With the Brewers doing their best impression of first act Jerry Maguire, it’s probably a very good time to distract ourselves with uplifting sports stories surrounding the baseball diamond and who better to turn to for a quality baseball movie than the Lou Gehrig of baseball movies in Kevin Costner. Between Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and For the Love of the Game, the guy has a stranglehold on the classic baseball flicks market. I would consider Field of Dreams to be the least of those three choices, but it’s a solid family-friendly film that can act as an emotional salve when you check your phone for box scores later in the evening.