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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

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1. Fantasticon programs, panels educate fans
Part and parcel of a convention is the programs - panel discussions, lectures, question and answer sessions and other various presentations people sit though. This is true for business conferences as much as it is for comic cons. That held true at Fantasticon, the three-day event at the Crowne Plaza and the Ramada off of College Avenue.
2. First night of Fantasticon reflects MKE's greatest traits
When Fantasticon opened its doors officially at noon on Friday, it marked the first official comic-con in Milwaukee. And the first day of the con reminded me of what everything this city really is - cozy.
3. "The Pfister: History & Story" doc earns Emmy nomination
Today, Marcus Hotels & Resorts and The Pfister Hotel announced that its short documentary, "The Pfister: History & Story," has received an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Achievement for Documentary Programs - Historical.
4. The 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival by the numbers
Anyone who went to a showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival in the past two weeks could tell you that the festival was having a good year in terms of attendance. When a documentary about genocide screening right in the middle of a Packers game still manages to draw an audience, it seems like things are going well. However, this morning, Milwaukee Film announced the numbers to prove it.
5. MPM's Sci-Fi Film Fest finds a way, roars to life with "Jurassic Park"
At the end of the month, the Milwaukee Public Museum will celebrate the fall - as well as its current "Alien Worlds and Androids" exhibit - with a Sci-Fi Film Fest. Every Thursday and Saturday (save for Thanksgiving) from Oct. 23 through Nov. 29, the museum will screen a sci-fi flick in the Dome Theater.
6. "The Skeleton Twins" finds the right balance of heartache and hilarity
It's a tough act to balance comedy and drama ... especially if you're balancing themes of suicide and familial estrangement with humor and heart. Director Craig Johnson ("True Adolescents") finds just the right balance for the dramedy "The Skeleton Twins," mixing heartache with hilarity, and giving "Saturday Night Live" alums Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader time to flex their dramatic muscles as estranged suicidal siblings who reunite and find commonality.
7. "We Are The Nobles" is a flimsy, predictable riches to rags tale
In the Mexican comedy "We Are The Nobles," there's a scheme at its center that forces riches, or in this case three spoiled rich 20-somethings, into working rags to prove a point that they'll hopefully learn from. It's a breezy foreign affair with a satirical nibble rather than a bite.
8. Teamwork, commitment and family are at the core of "Million Dollar Arm"
In "Million Dollar Arm," a Disney sports film that comes out on Blu-ray and digital copy today, a sports agent finds his heart on his journey to find the next Major League Baseball star.
9. "Wetlands" is a winning combination of heart and hemorrhoids
If the opening moment of "Wetlands" desperately pleads against its existence, the ensuing 109 minutes of youthfully exuberant gross-out comedy - currently showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival with a final showing Monday night at the Times Cinema at 10 p.m. - couldn't be a more enthusiastic endorsement for it.
10. "Life Partners" is a genuinely sweet comedy about companionship
Indie dramedies about a 20-something in flux seems to peek its head out every week or so. There are some that are undoubtedly great and rise above, as in the case with last year's "Frances Ha," but with over-saturation, it just gets easier to forget and not necessarily forgive. Much to my delight, however, Susanna Fogel's "Life Partners" is a small-scale and genuinely sweet comedy about two 20-something women and their platonic friendship.
11. New partnership says it will get Modjeska Theatre back in action
This afternoon, William Stace - founder of the Miramar Theatre - announced that he and Larry Widen, former owner of the Times and Rosebud Cinemas, have together formed a group called The Milwaukee Theatre Alliance. The group's goal is to purchase the long-closed Modjeska Theatre and reopen it as a multi-use performing arts space.
12. "The Overnighters" is a fascinating look at America's current moral battle
At merely face value, the documentary "The Overnighters" has a terrific story to tell. In a modest North Dakota town, writer-director Jesse Moss finds a classic Great Depression tale - about the American dream and American reality smashing into one another, leaving broken people in its quietly explosive aftermath - remodeled for modern times.
13. "Zero Motivation" is a witty, angsty workplace comedy
It seems inevitable that comparisons will be made between Tayla Lavie's superb dark comedy "Zero Motivation" and films such as Robert Altman's 1970 classic "M.A.S.H.," which depicted the antics of a Korean War-era outpost. This comparison makes sense, considering both films center on characters that utilize hi-jinks and clash with one another to keep their sanity during the time of war that lurks in the background.
14. "She's Beautiful When She's Angry" tackles complexity of Women's Lib Movement
"She's Beautiful When She's Angry" documents the impassioned and sometimes audacious women who challenged and changed women's roles in the 1960s by starting the Women's Liberation Movement. It screens two more times during the Milwaukee Fim Festival.
15. "Living is Easy With Eyes Closed" is a satisfying tale of a quest to meet Lennon
"Life is Easy With Eyes Closed," which has won 6 Goya awards (which is the Spanish equivalence to the Oscars) may be a wee-bit predictable, but as mentioned before, like in any road film, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination, which itself is heartwarmingly satisfying to the highest degree.
16. The LGBT film festival, horror films and more at UWM's Union Theatre in October
The Union Theatre, on the second floor of UW-Milwaukee's Student Union, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd., has a full slate of films on its October schedule that shouldn't be missed.
17. "The Immortalists" finds cinematic life in the search for eternal life
No matter how much you try to dodge or avoid or fend it off, age comes for us all. But what if it ... didn't? That's the obvious yet unanswerable essential question driving Bill Andrews and Aubrey de Gray, the two scientists at the center of "The Immortalists," the thoroughly compelling new doc currently showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival.
18. "Stray Dog" offers a sensitive portrait of a gentle biker
Despite losing its pace near the end, "Stray Dog" is a fascinating documentary and quite the accomplishment for Debra Granik, who goes beyond making just a simple portrait of an ordinary man.
19. Despite flaws, "Life's A Breeze" has a heart the size of a mattress
Despite its flaws, the Irish comedy "Life's A Breeze" has a heart the size of a mattress. It has good intentions to delight rather than displease. It's not as satisfying as, say, finding a million Euros stuffed inside of a mattress, but I'll settle nonetheless.
20. Past and present thrillingly intersect in opening night doc "1971"
There's something charmingly retro about the tools of the thieving trade on display in "1971," Johanna Hamilton's new documentary that opened the Milwaukee Film Festival last night. However, those tools, plus maybe a few pairs of oversized glasses and some playful period protest cheekiness, are the only things that feel dated about the thrilling, all too timely story "1971" comes to tell.
21. "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" entertains 43 years after original release
In late 1971, Disney released the part animation, part live-action film, "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." Using state-of-the-art special effects of the time, this colorful, funny tale still holds up in story and song if it fails on the now-cheesy light parade.
22. Rare plot, storyline make Captain America's second movie one of the best
What we have with this home entertainment release could very well be the best comic book movie ever made for non-comic book loving people.
23. Milwaukee Film Festival announces its complete 2014 lineup
After slowly teasing its complete lineup for the past several weeks, the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival finally revealed the entire cinematic buffet it's assembled for film fans - both hardcore and casual - this morning. And my friends, it looks absolutely delicious.
24. Good news: Garbaciak returns to WISN-TV's weeknight anchor desk
WIth Joyce Garbaciak coming back to the WISN-TV weeknight anchor desk, it's Milwaukee television viewers who are the winners.
25. "Shark Tank" is a great deal for my kid and yours
The premise of "Shark Tank" is simple. Entrepreneurs make business presentations to a panel of potential investors. It's entertaining, real, honest and fun. And, it's a great watch for kids.