Two years ago, Milwaukee Film and HBO teamed up to bring the North American premiere of the Alex Gibney church sex scandal documentary "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" to the Milwaukee Film Festival. The film was terrific, but perhaps best of all, the 2012 collaboration seems to spawned an equally terrific relationship between the two organizations, one that's bringing yet another premiere to town.
HBO is currently prepping their latest – and, considering the network's track record, most likely acclaimed – film "The Normal Heart." Based on the Tony Award-winning play from Larry Kramer (nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar back in 1971 for "Women in Love"), the film follows the gay community and its allies in 1980s New York as they attempt to bring desperate attention to the growing HIV-AIDS crisis to a country in denial.
It's a star-studded affair, directed by "Glee" and "American Horror Story" creator Ryan Murphy and featuring a cast of Kenosha's own Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer ("Magic Mike," TV's "White Collar"), Taylor Kitsch ("Lone Survivor," "John Carter"), Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), Alfred Molina ("Spider-Man 2") and an up-and-coming actress named Julia Roberts.
"The Normal Heart" airs at 8 p.m. on HBO on Sunday, May 25. Milwaukee, however, was chosen along with five other cities (Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Boston) to get an early look at the film. The movie will have a premiere screening here at the Oriental Theatre on Wednesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets are exclusively available to Milwaukee Film members and supporters by invite, but a limited number of tickets will also be made available to the public through selected media partners.
"Milwaukee has been identified as one of the top markets for 'Game of Thrones' viewership, so we felt it was only logical to bring a film like 'The Normal Heart' to a market with a proven following," said HBO director of corporate affairs Mike Hopper in a press release this morning. "We are excited to be partnering with Milwaukee Film for the Wisconsin premiere and look forward to a continued relationship to feature our programming in front of a savvy film community."
The first thing that stands out in Hopper's comments is Milwaukee's apparent love of George R.R. Martin. Maybe we relate well to a show whose main protagonists' motto is "Winter is coming." Or perhaps we have a secret deep hatred for weddings. I can't explain it.
But more importantly, my eye keys in on the quote's talk of a continued relationship with Milwaukee and our "savvy film community." Now, if we're being honest, that's probably a good bit of PR flattery.
However, I like – scratch that, abso-freaking-lutely love – the idea of Milwaukee starting to get a whiff of having a real reputation as a film city. The Milwaukee Film Festival has already made massive strides in amplifying the town's film scene, and this partnership between HBO and Milwaukee Film – something both sides seem pretty pleased with – will only enhance that.
Both organizations are certainly benefiting from these arrangements, but I think the film fans in town could get the best of this deal. With events like this upcoming premiere enhancing Milwaukee's entertainment image, maybe someday soon Milwaukee won't have to wait to get strong independent movies – and in many cases, merely a whiff – like "Under the Skin," "Joe" or "Blue Ruin" in theaters months after cities like New York, L.A. and Chicago have already moved onto the next big tiny film.
It'd be nice to be able to join in the cultural conversation as it's happening, not weeks after. And yes, I know many of these movies are watchable on VOD platforms, but I'll always prefer the theatrical experience and will always wait to see if that option is available first. Filmmakers dream, make and envision their movies for the big screen, not for my living room.
Hey, a boy can dream. And maybe I'm just being hopelessly, naively optimistic, but I see this as a strong, positive step toward it.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published March 1, 2015
It's been about 50 years since a bunch of bands made their way across the pond to America, sending the nation's teenagers into a tizzy - as well as their parents into a harrumph. Now, many of the figures from the era of the British Invasion - including Peter Asher, a renowned producer and the former half of the duo Peter & Gordon - are hitting the American road yet again for a 50th anniversary tour, coming to the Pabst Theater on Friday, March 6.
Published March 1, 2015
Rory Ferreira, aka Milo, has always been on the move. When he was a kid, he moved around a lot. Here, he moved up in the local rap scene, and with his name growing clout, he moved yet again - as many hopeful young artists do - to Los Angeles. And as many hopeful young artists do, he soon found the cold part of the industry. It became time to move again, back to the town he previously left: Milwaukee. So far, he's picking up right where he started.
Published Feb. 27, 2015
After a quarter of a century as Milwaukee music mainstays, Clamnation is coming to an end, bringing things to a grand close Friday night at the Nomad World Pub beginning at 9 p.m. There tends to be an assumption of the worst when band members go separate ways, but that's far from the case here.
Published Feb. 25, 2015
"The Lego Movie Sequel" made headlines yesterday announcing its 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!
Published Feb. 25, 2015
If you've kept an ear to the local music scene over the past year or two, the odds are good that you've heard about GGOOLLDD. The band hits the Company Brewing (the former Stonefly Brewery) stage on Saturday night as a part of Arte Para Todos. Before that, however, OnMilwaukee.com caught up with the group to learn more about Milwaukee's latest music obsession.
Published Feb. 24, 2015
In the war between honesty and artifice, "Still Alice" has a pretty phenomenal performance in the former's corner.
Published Feb. 22, 2015
In movies, time travel typically ends up in the hands of the decent or deserving. "Hot Tube Time Machine 2" proposes ... what if it didn't? What if, instead, it wound up in the depraved hands of a bunch of restrained man-child ids, who then proceeded to violate space, time and everyone and everything they ran into along the way? The answer? Some laughs, I guess. A good amount of silence too. Bags don't come much more mixed than this.
Published Feb. 20, 2015
After months of hoopla and think-piecing (and a bomb scare just for extra drama) the Oscars are finally set to go this Sunday. And I suppose that means it's time to get my picks in order.
Published Feb. 18, 2015
Local rock band Eagle Trace has a new EP - "Off in the Night" - primed for release this weekend at a show at Anodyne Coffee in Walker's Point on Saturday, Feb. 21. For the guys, it's exactly the step forward they're hoping for. It's an understandably exciting one after about a year of drama and tension for Eagle Trace. And not just because of the predictable brotherly bickering - though there's some of that as well.
Published Feb. 16, 2015
The fan favorite jukebox musical "Mamma Mia!" - arriving at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts on Friday for a five-show weekend stint - tells the tale of love found and thriving in the midst of the Mediterranean, all to the tune of ABBA hits. For ensemble cast members Jennifer and Vince Wingerter, it's a story that rings true in real life.