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In Movies & TV Commentary

Milwaukee moviegoers were among the first to see "Waiting for Superman," thanks to the Milwaukee Film Festival.

OnMedia: Milwaukee's year in movies

No, Milwaukee isn't Hollywood. We're not New York or even Chicago.

But in 2010, Milwaukee got a taste of the big-time when director Michael Bay brought the cast and crew of "Transformers 3" to town to film at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

The last time a big Hollywood release did as much filming in Milwaukee was 2008, when director Michael Mann brought "Public Enemies," and Johnny Depp, to the state.

The movie is due for a summer release.

While he was in town, Bay used the Santiago Calatrava-designed backdrop for a short, uh, art film. His fine work was released last month as a commercial for Victoria's Secret.

Bay's use of Milwaukee brings to mind the issue of state tax incentives for filmmakers.

Green Bay-born Tony Shalhoub released his "Feed the Fish" this year. The movie was made in Door County and Shalhoub told me he'd need state help to film any more films in his home state.

"We want to come and do more films," he said. "We have a couple projects that we're working on."

But "Feed the Fish" was made thanks to now-expired incentives.

With a new crew coming into Madison next month, there's been some early talk that something could be in the works to lure film crews to Wisconsin, along with the dollars that film-making brings with it.

Shalhoub brought his movie to this fall's Milwaukee Film Festival, along with other Wisconsin-made features.

But the big news at the film festival came from an intense drama about the breakup of a marriage and a documentary about American education.

Milwaukee moviegoers were among the early viewers of "Blue Valentine," with Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. The movie, which opened the festival, had to battle to overturn a box office-killing NC-17 rating.

As we get ready for Oscar nominations on Jan. 25, there's talk that both stars could end up with nominations.

Then there was "Waiting for Superman," which played to a full house at the Oriental just as it became part of the national education debate. Which ever side of the issue you come down on, the film provoked a healthy discussion.

Both movies have raised my expectations for what we'll see at the next Milwaukee Film Festival.


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