By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Sep 26, 2020 at 3:01 PM

The Oriental Theatre may be closed, 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 quarantine 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 good entertainment that helps fund an even better local cause – and right now, it's one of the closest and safest things we've got to going to the movies.

"RBG"

Pay one final tribute to an American icon and groundbreaker with Julie Cohen and Betsy West's hit 2018 documentary, going behind the scenes with late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to talk about her remarkable career, her rise to both political and pop cultural status, and the increasing weight of the country's democracy on her aging shoulders. The doc is just $6.99 to own digitally – with the studio, Magnolia Pictures, fittingly donating its portion of the revenue the ACLU's Women's Rights Project, which Ginsburg herself helped found in the '70s.

"Sibyl"

There's no drama like French drama – and this one's awfully dramatic as it follows the titular psychotherapist as she attempts to come back to her first love: writing. There's just one problem: She's got nothing to write about. She soon, however, finds inspiration in a dubious place: her own therapy couch as her latest client, an actress played by Adele Exarchopoulos ("Blue Is the Warmest Color"), shares her complicated life with Sibyl and unknowingly provides her with compelling material. Our lead soon begins blending the line between her life and her patient's, as well as between reality and fiction, in this star-studded psychological drama featuring Sandra Huller ("Toni Erdmann") and Gaspard Ulliel ("Hannibal Rising" and all of those Bleu de Chanel commercials). 

"Beau Travail"

Catch up or reconnect with great director Claire Denis ("High Life," "White Material") and one of her most revered movies: "Beau Travail," a visually mesmerizing tale about a French Foreign Legion officer (the always unpredictable and gravitating Denis Lavant) and his escalating obsession with one of his new recruits in a sandy beach station in Djibouti. A beautiful movie made even more beautiful with a brand new 4K restoration, delivered directly to your home screen. (A rental costs $12, with 50 percent of the proceeds going toward Milwaukee Film.)

"So Pretty"

An alum from the 2019 Milwaukee Film Festival, this blend of documentary and experimental drama combines a mix of inspirations – ranging from Godard to queer German cinema to its own unique thing – to tell a story about four queer friends trying to preserve their almost-utopian community in New York City. A movie so nice, Milwaukee Film just had to bring it back twice! (A three-day rental costs $10, with 50 percent of the proceeds going toward Milwaukee Film.)

"Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin"

One of cinema's most idiosyncratic, strange, inquisitive and just overall fascinating figures brings another adventure to the screen with Werner Herzog's "Nomad." The documentary follows the acclaimed filmmaker as he explores the world, and his long friendship, with travel writer Bruce Chatwin, who passed away in 1989 at the young age of 48 but left behind intriguing explorations and thoughts on the beautiful planet we call home, its earliest human residents and what it all means. (A seven-day rental costs $12, with 50 percent of the proceeds going toward Milwaukee Film.)

"Rebuilding Paradise"

The recent uptick in wildfires raging through California makes this National Geographic documentary from Ron Howard all the more prescient and important, as it follows the aftermath of the 2018 wildfires, the natural disaster's impact on the community of Paradise and how the city worked to recover from watching their world burn. (A three-day rental costs $12, with 50 percent of the proceeds going toward Milwaukee Film.)

"Jazz On A Summer's Day"

There are no new music festivals going on in 2020 – so why not relive one of the great classic music festivals with the help of this essential 1959 music doc? Directed by photographer Bert Stern, "Jazz On A Summer's Day" captures an incredible day of live music featuring an amazing line-up starring the likes of Louis Armstrong, Thelonius Monk, Anita O'Day, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington and many more. And thanks to this new gorgeous 4K restoration, one of the most tuneful days ever caught on film has now never looked better too. (A five-day rental costs $10, with 50 percent of the proceeds going toward Milwaukee Film.)

"John Lewis: Good Trouble"

The civil rights movement may be a part of history but it is by no means past – just ask John Lewis, who's spent most of his 80 years on this planet fighting for freedom and justice for all Americans whether standing beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the '60s to fighting for legislative action as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1987. "Good Trouble" follows his march through political history, talking with the man himself about what it was like being on the frontlines of progress then and now. (And be sure to stay through the credits for a short conversation between Rep. Lewis and Oprah Winfrey!)

"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.