The 2010 Milwaukee Film Festival wrapped up Sunday night with screenings of Ryan Reynolds' "Buried" at all three festival theaters, offering movie viewers in the north and west suburbs and the East Side a chance to share in an early look at what's already being talked about as a possible Oscar performance.
It was a smart way to end the 11-day festival, and I'm marking it by adapting the festival's Audience Award Ballot to my own uses, and giving the festival a "4."
That translates to good -- good, not excellent.
I may be a little stingy in my vote. I don't have any complaints about my experience in the audience. And there were plenty of movies to choose from (I saw around a dozen).
But there's plenty of room for growth for the festival to earn that "5" rating and become a permanent part of Milwaukee's annual calendar. Let me list three:
- Names -- We had Susan Sarandon (whose appearance coincided with the opening of her Spin Milwaukee venture), and Green Bay-born Tony Shalhoub. That's great, but star power is what will increase the festival's visibility. Festival organizers should already be working on who next year's bigger name will be.
- Movies -- The film festival earns a "5" in the documentary category for "Waiting for Superman," the film about public education that was the talk of the country last week. It ran in Milwaukee the weekend it opened in New York and Los Angeles. But there wasn't a similar headliner among the features. Yes, there's "Buried" and the opening night feature "Blue Valentine" with more possible Oscar winners. But an early screening of a big commercial feature would again help boost the image of the film festival in the community.
- Marketing and education -- It's important to make it clear that this isn't some snobby East Side elitist film festival. Screening films at Mequon's North Shore Cinema and the Ridge Cinema in New Berlin, along with the Oriental Theatre, is a step in the right direction. But I spoke to a number of people who still weren't aware that this was a film festival aimed at the movie-going public. Believe it or not, there are folks who don't know that foreign films shown in the festival are sub-titled in English. The festival still needs to get the word out that it's for everybody.
The festival scored well is in its corps of volunteers, who were knowledgeable and efficient. And it did good job in scheduling multiple screenings of many movies. That made it easier to take advantage of movies that rarely make the big screen here.
That's my assessment. What about yours? Any complaints or kudos? Post your talkbacks about your experience at this year's Milwaukee Film Festival.
On TV: Overnight numbers from Nielsen Media Research show that Sunday's Packers-Lions game pulled in a 75 percent share of TVs on at the time in southeast Wisconsin for Channel 6. The Fox affiliate reports it's only the second time in 11 years that a game has pulled in that big a share of households with their TVs on at game time.
- The new "American Idol" judges -- Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson -- were in town over the weekend for "call-back" auditions.
- Here's a reminder that Fox's "Lie to Me" takes the place of the departed "Lone Star" at 8 this evening on Channel 6.
- ABC has yet to announce what it's newly departed "My Generation" at 7 p.m. Thursday's on Channel 12.
- The next to go could be ABC's "The Whole Truth," which is still in the 9 p.m. Wednesday slot on Channel 12.
- If you're a Dish Network subscriber, there's no word on when Fox Sports Wisconsin, FX and National Geographic Channel will return to the lineup. A contract dispute knocked them off the air.
Already with the Rick Sanchez jokes: CNN anchor Rick Sanchez got the ax on Friday, a day after he made some comments in a Sirius Satellite Radio interview that sounded anti-Semitic, as he ripped Jon Stewart and his own CNN bosses.
The Hollywood Reporter was on hand Saturday night for Comedy Central's "Night of Too Many Stars," where Stewart made a couple jokes at Sanchez's expense, including "All he has to do is apologize to us, and we'll hire him back."
Expect more Sanchez comedy on tonight's "Daily Show" at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.
Here, by the way, is the audio that got Sanchez fired:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.