Milwaukee Film Festival heads toward strong finish
Bayside resident Mark Metcalf is an actor who has worked in movies, TV and on the stage. He is best known for his work in "Animal House," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Seinfeld."
In addition to his work on screen, Metcalf is involved with Milwaukee Film, First Stage Children's Theater and a number of other projects, including comicwonder.com. He recently filmed an episode of the popular AMC series "Mad Men."
He also finds time to write about movies for OnMilwaukee.com. This week, Metcalf weighs in on some movies from the Milwaukee Film Festival.
Here are a few films to see on the last four days of the Milwaukee Film Festival. I have talked to several people who are seeing three a day, so you probably have some catching up to do.
"THE MILWAUKEE SHOWCASE"
6:30 p.m., Oriental Theatre
Ten films in 95 minutes. All by Milwaukee filmmakers. The shorts part of the Milwaukee Film Festival has always been one of the best attended and the most fun. The Oriental is packed to the rafters, literally, with friends and families and film lovers, and the best films by the best Milwaukee filmmakers are shown. This year, the highlight will be "Milwaukee Stories," four films by four students and friends of Running Rebels community center, each mentored one-on-one by a professional from the area. Straight talk about their lives and their hopes. Another focal point will be Ward Three, written by Natalie Mullins. It is the story of a boy abandoned to an institution because he can't communicate. After 50 years, the strange and punishing sounds he has always heard begin to sound like music. The score is by Peter Batchelder.
The films will be followed by one of the big parties of the Festival at Turner Hall. It's called Milwaukee United and will feature filmmakers, musicians and artists like Dwellephant and Reginald Baylor. And it's free.
9:30 p.m., Marcus North Shore Cinema
Sophie Okonedo was nominated for ran Oscar for her performance in Hotel Rwanda. She will get another nomination for her performance in "Skin." In South Africa, during apartheid, a child that appears to be black is born to two white parents, pro-apartheid Afrikaners. She is rejected by white society for appearing to be black and cannot find a peaceful place for herself in the black community. It is a story that asks the difficult questions about race and racism -- and about family and belonging. Sam Neill and Alice Krige play her parents.
Noon, Oriental Theatre
There aren't many chances to see the great films of the past on a big screen with superior projection and sound. "Rashomon" is one of those films and this is your chance. Akira Kurosawa made this film in 1950. It stars Toshiro Mifune, whom Marlon Brando idolized and imitated, and he had no heroes.
"Rashomon" is the story of a crime and how four different people, who were witnesses and participants, each remembers it differently. It is a beautiful study of reality and perception, and how human nature continually betrays the possibility of absolute justice.
William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet
7 p.m., Oriental Theatre
Last chance to see how the Milwaukee Ballet and Milwaukee filmmakers Andrew Swant and Bobby Ciraldo reveal the man behind the myth of William Shatner.
"The Milwaukee Show"
5 p.m., Oriental Theatre
More Milwaukee films by Milwaukee filmmakers. These six are the best of the best. Milwaukee has a lot to be proud of and these filmmakers are right up there. I have been saying for years that if the talent that lives here would stay here, and if the community would support it, then the real, strong, true voice of the upper Midwest could be heard everywhere. This year, with these films, I'm beginning to think I may have been right.
2:30 p.m., North Shore Cinema
If you didn't see Modus Operandi last weekend, see it this time. Or, if you saw it last weekend, see again. You'll want to be able to say you saw the first Frankie Latina movie and maybe even met him. Someday, you will want to tell stories about that moment. If you miss him at the Festival, catch him at the Lemon Lounge on Oakland Avenue before he heads to Hollywood and the AFI Film Festival. The film has violence, sex, drugs and rock & roll, and it's funny - what more can anyone ask for in Friday night movie?
"Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire"
6:30 p.m., Marcus North Shore Cinema; 7:30 p.m., Oriental Theatre
It's Closing Night, and they saved the best for last. Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry are executive producers of "Precious," the story of a 16-year-old African-American girl who can neither read nor write, lives in the projects, is abused by her mother and pregnant for the second time by her father and is taunted mercilessly by everyone around her.
But she manages to find that tiny bit of pride hidden deep within her and with the help of an inspirational teacher, she begins to grow a sense of self-determination and hope. Sometimes, from out of nowhere, the most surprising, enlightening, and inspiring thing can happen. This is it. Don't miss it.
For next year, recommed films at the Rosebud, Times and, possibly, a Marcus theater in the western suburbs. I would definitely attend.
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