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The great 2014 documentary "Jodorowsky's Dune" is showing at the UWM Union Theatre tonight at 7 p.m.
The great 2014 documentary "Jodorowsky's Dune" is showing at the UWM Union Theatre tonight at 7 p.m.

"Jodorowsky's Dune" finds hope and success in a Hollywood failure

By most definitions, director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s "Dune" to the big screen in the mid-’70s was a failure.

The filmmaker’s furiously inventive and imaginative movie never made it to the big screen, partly because it was expensive and partly because its creativity was nightmare-inducingly terrifying for notoriously cautious studio heads. Even if it had though, it’s hard to say it would’ve all turned out. The epic scope and visual concepts – galaxy-spanning long takes, massively scaled action sequences – he wanted to attempt would be tough now, much less 40 years ago. Plus, some of the film was just plain insanity, featuring outlandish costumes, graphic torture sequences, pregnancy via blood insemination and a villainous Orson Welles ruling a planet scored by prog rockers Magma.

But man … what a trip it would’ve been, at least judging by Frank Pavich’s hypnotically fun and fascinating documentary "Jodorowsky’s Dune," showing tonight at 7 p.m. at the UWM Union Theatre. We may never get a chance to see Jodorowsky's movie, but at least we – and Hollywood, for that matter – wound up with a pretty awesome contact high.

Coming off a few critically acclaimed arthouse classics ("El Topo," "The Holy Mountain") in the early ’70s, the Chilean-French auteur was ready to take on his most audacious project yet: the beloved sci-fi epic "Dune." Regardless of the fact that he’d never read the book (a hilariously common theme among his team), Jodorowsky wrote up a screenplay and began finding his "spiritual warriors" that would help make his "prophet" of a film, one that he hoped would be the hallucinatory cinematic equivalent of LSD (I want to live in a world where "Dune" is my anti-drug).

On his quest, Jodorowsky assembled an actual dream team of trippy artistic visionaries. French artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud put together the vividly realized storyboards with legendary sci-fi book cover artist Chris Foss and the …

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Jack O'Connell stars in "'71," now playing.
Jack O'Connell stars in "'71," now playing.

"'71": Punishment for its star, pulse-pounding thrills for its audience

I’m starting to get concerned about Jack O’Connell, the talented breakout Brit star as well as seemingly the current valedictorian at the Mel Gibson School of On-Screen Masochism.

First there was "Starred Up," in which he played a violent prison inmate; then he starred in the two-hour beatdown-palooza that was "Unbroken." And now there’s "’71," which doesn’t even get five seconds in before it’s punching O’Connell in the face and dragging him through mud. And that’s the comparatively fun, relaxing part of his cinematic gauntlet. Somebody needs to give this dude a romantic comedy or at least a hug. He needs 50ccs of Nancy Meyers stat.

If he insists on essentially self-flagellating on screen, though, at least it’s in the service of a quite good movie with "’71," a taut, bloody-knuckled behind enemy lines thriller with Ireland’s long Catholic versus Protestant conflict as its grim, haunted backdrop.

O’Connell stars as Gary Hook, a rookie British soldier barely through with training before he and his fellow squad mates are jettisoned off to Belfast to help quell the growingly violent tensions. Under the watch of an almost equally unseasoned lieutenant (Sam Reid, "The Railway Man"), Hook and his company tenuously accompany RUC officers on a midday raid through Catholic houses, searching for guns and brutalizing those who don’t comply.  

Signaled by the locals clattering garbage lids (an ominous, eerie detail), a crowd quickly arrives and with it increasing unrest. Angry shouts escalate into spit, which escalates into rocks. During the growingly violent chaos – with at least one soldier knocked unconscious and another shot point-blank in the head – Hook winds up chased deep behind Catholic lines, where there’s seemingly a burning car on every corner and a posse of angry Nationalists stalking down every road.

With no means of communication and little friendly aid in sight, Hook’s alone in finding his way back to safety – all the while…

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Ringo Starr will hit the Riverside on Saturday, Oct. 17.
Ringo Starr will hit the Riverside on Saturday, Oct. 17. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

Ringo Starr returns to Milwaukee for Riverside show in October

Days before the Rolling Stones are expected to announce some concert-related news, a Beatle beat them to the punch. The Riverside announced this morning that famed Beatles drummer, Mr. Conductor himself, Ringo Starr is coming to Milwaukee in October to play the Riverside Theater. 

The show is Saturday, Oct. 17, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and the show expected to begin at 8 p.m. Joining Starr will be his "All Starr Band," including Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rollie, Steve Lukather and Richard Page of Mr. Mister. 

Tickets for the show go on sale starting Friday, March 27 at noon. Reserved seating costs $75, $95 or $150. 

The legendary drummer's upcoming tour correlates not only with the March 31 release of his new studio album, "Postcards from Paradise," but also with Starr's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18. 

2008 marked the last time Starr performed in Milwaukee, playing a gig at the Northern Lights Theater with another All Starr Band featuring the likes of Billy Squier, Gary Wright, Colin Hay, Hamish Stuart, Edgar Winter and Greg Bissonette.

Milwaukee native Rob Schrab will direct "The Lego Movie Sequel."
Milwaukee native Rob Schrab will direct "The Lego Movie Sequel."

Everything is local!: Milwaukee native Schrab pegged for "The Lego Movie Sequel"

One of the few enjoyable moments during Sunday night's draaaaaagged out Oscar ceremony – no, please NPH, keep teasing the mystery box; I'm sure this gag will be worth it – was Tegan and Sara's performance of Best Song nominee "Everything is Awesome" from "The Lego Movie." 

With random stuffed dogs, The Lonely Island rapping and fake Lego Oscars for a weirdly pumped Channing Tatum, it was easily one of the show's joyful highlights – emphasis on high. Yeah, it lost out to "Glory" – which, after the nomination snubbing of "Selma" and the powerful performance that left Captain Kirk in tears, how could it not win – but hey, at least "The Lego Movie" won Best Animated Feature (shut up, I know; let me dream). Plus, we even got a dash of the angsty Batman song! Everything IS awesome!

For those hoping to keep that brick-related sugar rush building, this week didn't disappoint, as yesterday "The Lego Movie" sequel announced its official title ... "The Lego Movie Sequel." Sounds about right.

The other big news was the newly appointed director: Rob Schrab, a veteran of TV shows like "The Mindy Project," "Children's Hospital" and, most notably, NBC's beloved cult hit "Community." He also wrote the indie hit comic book "Scud: The Disposable Assassin."

Oh, and he's also from Wisconsin! Everything is local! Everything is cool when you're from Milwaukee!

Schrab was born in Mayville, eventually making his way down to Milwaukee to attend MIAD to study illustration. While in Milwaukee, Schrab also got into the local comedy scene, performing with ComedySportz and The Dead Alewives. While with the latter troupe, Schrab performed alongside Dan Harmon, the two going on to work together on comedy albums, skits and – further down the road – "Community," which Harmon created. 

"The Lego Movie Sequel" will mark Schrab's feature film debut, so this will mark a huge step for his career. However, it comes with huge footsteps to fill as well. He's replacing directors Phil Lor…

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