By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jul 02, 2021 at 5:01 PM

The Oriental Theatre may be temporarily closed (stay tuned for August!), but Milwaukee Film has still found a way to bring excellent new movies to you during this strange time: Sofa Cinema.

Found at Milwaukee Film's website, Sofa Cinema is a virtual theater, offering a number of indie gems to stream on your screens at home while their screens at the Oriental are temporarily dark. Best of all, your digital rentals not only provide you with quality cinema but also provide support for Milwaukee Film during these unusual and strained times, as each purchase splits a significant percentage of the proceeds with the Brew City cinephile nonprofit.

So the next time you're looking for an escape from the news and pandemic life, and you've already binge-watched that sitcom 17 times from beginning to end, try one of the following Sofa Cinema options. It's some great entertainment that helps fund an even better local cause.


Take a trip with "Tove," the true story of free-spirited Swedish artist Tove Jansson who lets her more traditional paintings fall to the side so she can pursue the charming doodles on her margins that she truly loves: Moomins. The delightfully bubbly, hippo-like creatures and their fantasy world soon become a sensation for young and old across the globe – all while Jansson tries to find her true joy outside of art as well. Following Jansson's passions on the drawing page as well as off, this Swedish biopic offers a view into the underappreciated artist's life and the backstory of a beloved icon.

"M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity"

Take a deep dive into M.C. Escher's brilliantly brain-bending and iconic artistic eye with this Milwaukee Film Festival doc favorite from the "Art & Artists" program. And in case Escher's famously entrancing patterns and scientific visual trickery wasn't hypnotic enough, "Journey to Infinity" comes narrated by British actor Stephen Fry and his soothing blanket-like vocals. With Escher and Fry both at work, this doc is a mesmerizing sensory art experience.

"Tiny Tim: King for a Day"

If you missed the special unknown Milwaukee Film members only screening during the 2021 festival, well, secret's out (and now available to rent on Sofa Cinema). This music doc – narrated by "Weird Al" Yankovic – takes a look at one of the most unusual music stars in the industry's history: Tiny Tim, whose peculiar high-pitched singing voice and indefinable oddball persona made him a sensation. But Tiny Tim's gigantic rise to fame came with an even bigger fall, on and off stage – all chronicled in this rock doc retelling of a fascinating pop culture chapter. 

"Small Town Wisconsin"

Released just in time for Milwaukee Day on April 14 – but just as good any other day too – this winsome and funny locally made MFF2021 alum follows a father about to lose custody of his son, so he plans the best possible way to spend their final time together: a trip to Milwaukee and all of its glorious lakefront landmarks. A tribute to family as well as a tribute to Milwaukee, Niels Mueller's indie dramedy is a sometimes silly, sometimes sincere staycation through Brew City right from your couch.

"Fantastic Fungi"

Last we saw mushrooms on the big screen, they were serving as an unusual relationship aid in "Phantom Thread." In this hit documentary, though, we see this fascinating fungi fully take the spotlight in its natural habitat as experts (and narrator Brie Larson of "Captain Marvel" fame and "Room" acclaim) teach us about these remarkable organisms, their complicated place in the ecosystem, their incredible medicinal qualities and their unique, gorgeously shot beauty. So make room for 'shrooms – the cinematic kind, I mean, not the psychedelic – in your schedule this week!

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.