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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

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Readers Blog: Schmoo On The Movies

What to See at the MKE Film Fest - Sunday - 9/28 & 29

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Each day of the Milwaukee Film Festival, I'm going to have a recommendation for something people should see. I know there are an aimless bunch of you who want to attend the fest, but still don't have everything pegged down as far as what you're going to see. This is for you.

I've been slacking again, so here's a double dose of recommendation for what you should see on - 9/28 & 29:

Two completely different films for this go around. One is a jolly documentary about Santa, the other is a depressing narrative account of the Rape of Nanking by Japanese forces during WWII. Both are pretty outstanding though.

See Becoming Santa today: 

"The story of one man entering the culture and character of Santa Claus for a single season. We follow Jack as he bleaches his hair, goes to Santa School and tries to do everything that Santa is asked to do. He works as a sidewalk Santa, does home visits, a Polar Express Train and a parade. Along the way, Jack collects children's wishes, learns about the benefits of belief, the history and origin of Santa and the ordinary people keeping the Santa spirit alive."

Part of this documentary's charm is the attitude of the subject (and writer) Jack Sanderson. He's equal parts enthused, amused and bemused by the peculiar sub-culture of Santas that he discovers. He is able to poke fun at this world without ever seeming mean-spirited, while also embracing it warmly. Becoming Santa is high on laughs, fun and some great informational tidbits about the history of the big bearded fellow. 

Starts at 4:45 at the Downer. 

See The City of Life and Death tomorrow:

"In 1937, Japan laid siege to Chinese capital of Nanking, this is a dramatization of the battle"

This film follows multiple Chinese characters and one Japanese soldier present during this horrific siege. Presented in black and white, The City of Life and Death is uncomfortable viewing due to its realism and unblinking portrayal of war. However, it's also quite riveting for its examination of the shocking divide between humanity and humanity in mortal conflict. This isn't a film for the faint of heart, but those who do see it will come away with the reward of seeing one of the best films about war in recent years. 

See it tomorrow at 4:15 at Marcus North Shore in Mequon. 

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