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"The Russian Woodpecker" hauntingly taps into state-induced madness and mystery

Published Sept. 27, 2015

What's effectively creepy about the Milwaukee Film Festival doc "The Russian Woodpecker" is not that it convinces you such an unhinged and unbelievable theory is true (because it won't), but that it convincingly captures and presents a place so distrustful and uneasy that such an unhinged and unbelievable theory could even be considered possible.


"Best of Enemies" offers an entertaining look at the worst of political debates

Published Sept. 6, 2015

The new documentary "Best of Enemies" shares a lot in common with the debates it's chronicling - the biggest of which is that despite its shortcomings, it's still bitingly entertaining and engaging. Co-director Morgan Neville - working with Robert Gordon - may not be a great storyteller, but he knows how to spot great stories. That was the case with the background singers in "20 Feet from Stardom," and that's the case here with Vidal v Buckley.


Milwaukee duo hopes Kickstarter can get them to "Shangri-L.A."

Published Aug. 26, 2015

Now, with their Internet comedy series "Shangri-L.A.," Milwaukee-grown filmmakers Drew Rosas and Nick Sommer ("Billy Club," "Pester") are the latest to go in search of the worldly utopia. Well, kind of, as the search for dreams brings them to the very real city of Los Angeles - and to Kickstarter to help finish the 11 episode production.


"Phoenix" is a "Vertigo"-riffing psychological slow burn that soars

Published Aug. 23, 2015

If you're planning on riffing off of one of Hollywood's greatest director's greatest movies, you better know what you're doing. Luckily, the man behind "Phoenix" is the extremely talented German director Christian Petzold, who smartly takes a touch of Hitchcock and twists it into an impressive project all of his own, a brilliantly crafted modern post-war noir carefully cloaked in mystery that slowly but satisfyingly burns to a quiet fireworks display of a finale.

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