It likely won't be the most appetizing holiday movie – especially during the week of the year's biggest family feast – but The Times Cinema has booked screenings of "My Friend Dahmer," the new independent film about the teenage years of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, beginning Wednesday, Nov. 22.
Based on Derf Backderf's graphic novel of the same name, "My Friend Dahmer" tells the story of the notorious cannibal's struggles in high school before his first killing, as told through the eyes of Backderf – who was actually friends with Dahmer during the '70s in school.
The script – adapted for the screen and directed by Marc Meyers – originally made Hollywood's famous Black List, a yearly list of the best unproduced screenplays out on the market, back in 2014, but the production really drew attention when it was announced former Disney star Ross Lynch ("Teen Beach," the boy band R5) would be playing the infamous lead role. Lynch is joined by Alex Wolff (the upcoming "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle"), Anne Heche and Vincent Kartheiser ("Mad Men").
The film premiered this April at the Tribeca Film Festival before the movie was picked up for release by FilmRise and set for a Nov. 3 limited release. Since then, despite the grim subject matter, Meyers's film has picked up solid reviews, currently scoring a 77 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and quality write-ups from Rolling Stone, Vulture, NPR, Vanity Fair and more for its eerie but empathetic approach to a young psychopath.
Considering the obvious local connection to the true-crime story, it wouldn't be all that surprising if "My Friend Dahmer" made it to other local theaters in addition to the Times –Marcus Theaters's Green Bay East Cinema and Hollywood Cinema in Appleton will pick up the drama this weekend, for instance. That being said, it is still a small (and grim) independent film with few big names during one of the busiest times of years for cinemas, with future Oscar nominees, two comic book superhero sequels, a new Pixar movie and other huge projects all vying for screens.
So allow me to take a brief moment to give a shoutout to The Times Cinema and the entire Neighborhood Theater Group for their adventurous selections and bookings.
There aren't a ton of independent theater options in Milwaukee, but The Times has often picked up the slack, grabbing surprising and exciting options across the past year or two. The Times was where I saw the terrific thriller "The Invitation" (available on Netflix) and the outstanding coming-of-age drama "Mustang" (also now available on Netflix). It's where you could find indies big ("Green Room," "Swiss Army Man") and small ("Raw," "Marjorie Prime"), and special seasonal picks that weren't just the expected Halloween or Christmas fare.
Even just this past month, if you missed gems like Harry Dean Stanton's final bow "Lucky" or the secret members screening of "Faces Places" at the Milwaukee Film Festival, the Times picked them up for a second look. This weekend, in fact, the Times Cinema will show the Milwaukee premiere of "Jane," the critically-acclaimed documentary about Jane Goodall featuring a plethora of unseen footage.
So keep up the fine work, The Times Cinema and Neighborhood Theater Group – and Milwaukee film fans, keep turning up for their unconventional, off-the-beaten-path choices.
For information on showtimes and tickets for "My Friend Dahmer," visit The Times Cinema's website.
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.