Why ‘The Blues Brothers’ is still so good

Why ‘The Blues Brothers’ is still so good

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“The Blues Brothers”

This ’80s classic is showing on June 15 in Milwaukee. WMSE 91.7 FM and the Times Cinema are teaming up to bring you “The Blues Brothers” on the big screen. Admission is five bucks. They’re opening the doors at 8 p.m. with a DJ spin before the film starts at 9 p.m.

blues brothers milwaukee

There are only a handful of SNL movies worth a damn and chief on that list is John Landis’ musical masterpiece which includes a cameo by Milwaukee’s very own Hoan Bridge. A free-wheeling, drug-fueled smash-’em-up of music, comedy and action, “The Blues Brothers” is a movie that spits at boundaries and labels. It refuses to be caged and smashes through expectations with every scene change.

John Belushi and Dan Akroyd star as Jake and Elwood Blues, two brothers on a “mission from God” to save their old Catholic orphanage the only way they know how: by putting their old band back together performing a charity gig. Along the way, they dodge lawmen of every kind, neo-Nazis, and crazy ex-girlfriends. And, it features performances by James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles at their funky, late ’70s best. If you’re a fan of toe-tapping, knee-slapping and tail-shaking, this is a big screen experience you can’t afford to miss.

Our ’80s comedies starter pack

The classic slobs vs. snobs underdog ’80s comedies should get old but they don’t. Here are our favorites:

First of all, some of the best comedies of this decade were technically made in the late ’70s, but gained fame in the ’80s. That was the case with “Blues Brothers” and one of Kpolly’s favorites made in 1979, “Meatballs.”

“Coming to America” and “Caddyshack” are some other classics, though it’s likely you’ve already seen those. Even if you have, watch them again for guaranteed laughs. But, if you’re looking for something new, “Real Genius” might be more your speed. It follows a very Ferris Bueller-type character, except he’s a 14-year-old genius and a new student at a science and engineering university. Hilarity ensues.

Listen to the full podcast above for our full conversation on what makes “The Blues Brothers” and the movies like it so great, an update on Milwaukee Film’s takeover of the Oriental Theatre and the best-kept secret in movie rewards cards.

Like what you hear? Subscribe to Cinebuds

And, check out RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts for our full lineup of weekly podcasts, delivered right to your computer or device.

Available on our site, on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Don’t underestimate ‘Beast,’ or anyone in it

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“Beast” review

It sounds like another “Beauty and the Beast” remake, but it’s so much more murderous than that.

In a small island community, a troubled young woman falls for a mysterious outsider who empowers her to escape her oppressive family. When he comes under suspicion for a series of murders, she stays with him and defends him at all costs, but also begins to wonder…could he have done it?
beast-review

The whole movie is a cat and mouse game of “did he or didn’t he?” that also becomes “wait…did she or didn’t she?” Then, it asks, finally: “Can you ever fully know a person?” As the unsettling story and the darkly nuanced characters develop, your guesses are constantly changing on who the titular “beast” is. It gives a chilling portrait of a serial killer (or, serial killers), without explicitly revealing who is and who isn’t a murderer.

It was a slow-burning mystery that you have to stick out till the end. We slightly underestimated it at first. But, by the closing scene, we were won over by the great fatalistic acting of Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn and how much the film leaves open for interpretation. Overall, we thought it was killer (pun very intended).

Listen to the full Cinebuds episode above to join our spoiley edition conversation of “Beast” after you see the movie, hear what happened to KPolly at the theater (Hint: just turn your cell phone off in the theatre. Really, just do it.) and get the low-down on the Freeland Film Festival coming up in Green Lake, WI.

Go see movies. Go see “Beast.”

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The weirdest movies we’ve ever seen

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We felt like celebrating the cinematically bizarre, odd cult classics, the psychedelic and the just plain weird movies that are out there in the universe. If you’re wondering why we’re doing this, try asking yourself, “why not?” instead…Then, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to see some of these crazy films.

Discovering strange films will expand your taste in movies and change your idea of how imaginative movies can get. And, once you know something is going to be weird from the start, it gets a lot more fun.

Drawing from the films of The Greek Weird Wave and this list of 366 weird movies, here are our picks for the weirdest movies we’ve seen (so far).

“Chevalier”

This Greek Weird Wave movie directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari is about six men on a boat who are trying to decide who is “the best.” They come up with a series of bizarre games and compete. The result is deadpan, slightly uncomfortable, funny and very “Lord of the Flies”

“Dogtooth”

It’s always great when a film’s premise creates it’s own strange culture, with its own rules. That’s what happens here. In “Dogtooth,” a controlling, manipulative father locks his three adult children in a state of perpetual childhood by keeping them prisoner within the sprawling family compound where the weirdness festers.

“Taxidermia”

The screenshot above kind of speaks for itself. “Taxidermia” is a film that shows three generations of grossness: a pervert, a speed eater and an obsessive taxidermist.

“R100”

“R100” is a strange Japanese comedy is about a man who signs up for a mysterious club. It’s basically a one year subscription for dominatrixes to randomly show up to beat him up, but he can’t back out. They hilariously interrupt his everyday life with some weird kinky stuff.

“The Holy Mountain”

“The Holy Mountain” is some classic dystopian weirdness. In a corrupt, greed-fueled world, a powerful alchemist leads a Christ-like character and seven materialistic figures to “the Holy Mountain.”

“Swiss Army Man”

“Swiss Army Man” has been called the strangest movie that Sundance has ever seen. A man is stranded on a deserted island and ready to commit suicide, until he suddenly spots a man (Daniel Radcliffe) laying by the shore. Unfortunately, he is dead and quite flatulent. Using the gassy body to his advantage, Hank miraculously makes it back to the mainland. However, he now finds himself lost in the wilderness, and dragging the talking corpse named Manny along for the adventure. It’s quite the ride.

“The Swimmer”

“The Swimmer” is probably the smoothest gateway to watching strange movies. It’s pretty wholesome, but it’s a strange concept: While commuting back from work, a man suddenly notices how many swimming pools are in his suburban neighborhood. He decides that he’d like to travel the eight miles back to his own home by swimming across every pool in town.

Hear more conversation about some freaky films and why we like them in the full Cinebuds podcast above.

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‘RBG’ is the best superhero movie of the year

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The documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, aka The Notorious RBG, is the best superhero movie of the year, especially because she’s real.

The details of the unique personal journey of this diminutive, quiet warrior’s rise to the Supreme Court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans—until now.

RBG review

“RBG” shows the hardships, perseverance and impact of a single woman who changed the country with her career. She basically made gender equality happen. And, she can do more pushups than you.

This doc is also very well done and easy to watch. It’s no boring documentary. The pacing is quick and the hip-hop infused soundtrack is electric. Even the pans and zooms over court case documents are exciting.

rbg review

It’s also very touching. To KPolly, a scene that stood out was footage of Ginsburg giggling while watching an impression of herself on an Saturday Night Live skit. It’s was a very endearing moment, especially because she is not known to laugh often. For Justin, the touching scenes that stuck with him were all the ones detailing Ruth and her husband’s loving and supportive relationship in their careers and with their family.

People are flocking to see ‘RBG.’ It just broke the top ten in box office sales. For a documentary to be in the top ten during blockbuster season is incredibly rare.

We think that says a lot about this film. And, it says a lot about the demand for documentaries. Hear the Cinebuds’ full conversation about it above.

‘RBG’ is playing at the Downer Theatre now.

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The movies we can’t wait to see this summer

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Summer blockbuster picks

These are the big blockbusters coming out this summer:

  • “Deadpool 2” (May 17)
  • “Ocean’s 8” (June 8)
  • “Incredibles 2” (June 14)
  • “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (June 22)
  • “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (July 27)

You may have noticed that it is the summer of sequel movies. Though sequels are rarely better than their originals, we’re actually looking forward to a couple of these. But, some of these franchises just don’t know when to quit. (Looking at you, “Mission Impossible.”)

“Deadpool 2” vs. “Incredibles 2”

Our Cinebuds’ picks for their summer blockbusters could not be bigger polar opposites. KPolly is looking forward to the new “Deadpool,” while Justin is giddy about the new “Incredibles.”

If you love an anti-hero and can’t get enough of fourth wall breaks and crude, hyper-aware humor like KPolly, “Deadpool 2” should be a hit. He thinks that this swearing super hero is hilarious and that the action scenes actually hold their own too. Justin thinks Deadpool is a jerk who knows he’s funny, which in his book, makes him not funny.

On the completely other side of the super hero spectrum, the more wholesomely funny and imaginative Pixar hero movie is apparently more his style. “The Incredibles” has been called the best superhero movie of all time. KPolly supposedly missed his Pixar indoctrination, so he’s not quite on the bandwagon for these movies, though he enjoys them.

Indie film picks

KPolly picks “Sorry to Bother You” and Justin picks “Under the Silver Lake.” They both sound awesome.

“Sorry to Bother You”

Lakeith Stanfield, from “Atlanta” and “Get Out,” stars in this movie as he gets a job as a telemarketer, learns to use his “white voice,” rises to the top of the call center, experiences an absurd and hilarious telemarketer culture and is propelled into its macabre reality.

sorry to bother you preview

Stanfield is reason enough to see this movie, but incase you need more: Tessa Thompson is acting in it, Forest Whitaker is producing and the screenplay and directing is being done by a guy named Boots. Boots Riley is not only a cool name, but he’s also the vocalist of The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club.

It comes out on July 6.

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‘You Were Never Really Here’ is brutal, but beautiful

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“You Were Never Really Here” is directed by Lynne Ramsay and stars Joaquin Phoenix and Ekaterina Samsonov. In the film, a jaded veteran and brutal “thug-for-hire” attempts a rescue mission after a teenage girl goes missing. There’s much more to the plot, but that’s pretty much all we want to tell you without revealing the story that the entire film builds up to. You don’t really need to know what it’s about going into this movie. We didn’t. And, we liked it that way. Sometimes that’s the best way to see a movie. (Though, the irony is that we’re going to keep talking about it, because we have a film podcast.)

We loved “You Were Never Really Here,” though don’t get us wrong, it’s not a happy film. But, the quality of the film still left us in something resembling a good mood after watching the movie, even though the subject matter was as dark as it gets.

you were never really here review

It dipped into a lot of themes and genres. It touches on some dark subjects like PTSD, corruption and abuse of power, but also has moments of levity. It’s almost a thriller, it’s almost a drama and it’s almost an action movie. But, it’s not quite any of those things entirely.

These pieces come together to create quite the emotional spectrum, while you’re simultaneously piecing together the plot. It’s not laid out nicely from the beginning. But, once you put all these pieces together, you’re rewarded with a very through film and very well-developed characters.

You aren’t watching a story about a veteran’s psychological torture, you’re feeling his torture.

you were never really here

That character development—right down to the henchmen who would be nameless and lineless in any other hitman movie—is what makes “You Were Never Really Here” great.

This is where it’s hard to generalize the film as a thriller or an action movie. It’s twisted and dark, but it also takes a minute to pause for some quiet and beautiful moments in the middle of a lot of killing. This humanization makes it different and refreshing, but it also makes the violence that much more jarring.

That’s all we’ll say about it. For more of our feelings on the movie and more thoughts about seeing films blindly without any context, listen to the full podcast above.

“You Were Never Really Here” is now playing in Milwaukee.

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‘Infinity War’ is not the end for The Avengers

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The basics

In “Infinity War,” the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet—the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to destroy the world.

The Avengers movies have never lacked for hype, but “Infinity War” set a record with the biggest opening weekend in movie history. That’s because practically every superhero movie before it has built up to this. And this is only half of it. There’s a sequel in the works, too.

The cast list alone made this a must-see. Chances are, if you’ve ever been a fan of any Marvel superhero ever, they’re in this movie. There are 23 lead characters just on the poster.

infinity war review

Making appearances are:

Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Vision, Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange, Wong, Star-Lord, Gamora, Nebula, Groot, Rocket, Drax the Destroyer, Mantis, Spider-Man, The Black Panther, Ant-Man, War Machine, Falcon, Shuri, Okoye, Loki and M’Baku.

Semi-spoiler alert:

We can’t talk about this movie without this part. You’ve probably already heard, but we’ll say spoiler alert anyway.

They all die. Well most of them. And, some are deader than others.

Don’t worry though, comic books have always had a history of killing characters off and resurrecting them, well…a comical amount of times.

But, when it’s no longer life and death, does it all lose meaning? It seems to take away from the impact when we know we have all these sequels coming. So, it’s best not to think about movie news and enjoy these films one at a time, just like comic book readers.

infinity war review

Anyway, back to this movie, because we did like it overall.

It’s pretty bleak when you go along with the belief that they’re all gone for good. But, “Infinity War” actually does a good job with balancing these darker themes with lighter ones—something that a lot of superhero movies have been missing for awhile.

Instead, “Infinity War” reaches extremes on both sides. The villain believes he’s doing good, while he’s trying to kill half the world. The “teams” of heroes and their contrasting personalities were perfectly rostered and balanced. You know they are going to win eventually, but they lost first. And, in the middle of the world ending, it’s still funny.

The future of superhero movies

This insane movie doesn’t hold back. So much so that it’s hard to imagine how these Marvel movies can continue for very much longer. Are superhero movies going to be over soon? We don’t think so. Hear our debate by listening to our full conversation in the podcast above.

And, if you haven’t seen “Avengers: Infinity War” yet, what are you doing? Get to a theater. It’s still playing in Milwaukee.

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The unique personalities of Milwaukee’s independent theaters

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The Oriental Theater

The Oriental Theater is arguably the most ornate and beautiful theater in all of Milwaukee. Children think princesses live in this castle-looking “movie palace” with East Indian decor. Adults feel the magic too. Walking into this cinema, it’s hard not to think, “Now, this is the way films were made to be seen.”

And, it’s not going anywhere. Milwaukee Film recently announced that they’re taking over the Oriental. With Landmark Theaters, it was already in great hands and lovingly maintained. But, the folks at Milwaukee Film have their own plans to spruce up the space and bring new programming to the box office while keeping traditions like the longest continual Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight showing and their popcorn toppings. Their most drastic plans so far are to add more women’s restrooms. (And, the ladies who have waited in line for a single stall on each floor know that’s much needed.)

Visit The Oriental Theater if you want to feel like royalty.

The Downer

The Downer is the oldest theater in Milwaukee—over 100 years strong. It’s size is deceiving. What used to be one screen, is now three smaller rooms. The cinema feels small and cozy, but it’s largest room can actually seat up over 200.

Very popular during the Milwaukee Film Festival and throughout the year for it’s selection of indie films. Like a lot of older theaters, it used to feature an organ player before the feature. They’re looking to bring this back and are currently looking for “organ transplants.”

Visit the Downer Theater if you like Art Deco architecture and a cozy place to watch a movie.

The Times Cinema

times cinema

The Times Cinema in Wauwatosa is great place for a gathering of cult and art house cinema, along with blockbusters.

It’s a dark concrete box with a surprising amount of nostalgic style. Plus, they just replaced their theatre seats for optimum comfort.

If you’re the kind of person who needs to turn off every source of light and settle in before you watch a movie, this place is for you.

Fox Bay Cinema

Fox Bay Cinema

The Fox Bay Cinema (and grill) near Bayshore Mall is great for its marquee alone. It opened in the 50’s and it was the first “dinner and a movie” theater in Milwaukee.

This theater is best if you’re hungry.

Avalon Theater

Avalon theater Milwaukee

The Avalon is an “atmospheric lounge” that is a relaxing environment to see a movie. They also have food service, though their (very comfy) seats have small “desks” instead of the normal table and swivel chairs set up.

Their main theater’s architecture, made to look like an outdoor courtyard setting complete with twinkling stars, is spectacular. But, don’t get disappointed if you get seated in their smaller theater in the back, especially if you’re seeing a horror movie. The secret feel of this hidden and intimate room is a cool experience too.

Go here if you’re seeing a thriller, or if you want to see a blockbuster under the stars.

And, what makes going to these Milwaukee independent theaters different from going to big-name cineplexes? Listen to the full podcast above to hear the debate.

Like what you hear? Subscribe to Cinebuds

And, check out RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts for our full lineup of weekly podcasts, delivered right to your computer or device.

Available on our site, on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Go see ‘A Quiet Place’ even if you don’t like horror movies

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In “A Quiet Place,” a family is forced to adapt a lifestyle where they live in silence and are full of caution at every act they commit, as they try to remain hidden in sight and sound from intelligently vicious creatures that have begun to override Earth.

quiet place review

“A Quiet Place” is worth the watch. Especially in the theater. To add to the quiet suspense happening on screen, trying not to break the silence in the theater during this thriller is a challenging and intense experience.

Even if you’re like us and don’t normally like horror movies, there is a lot to appreciate about this one. You’ll feel scared, but not too scared, and overall, entertained. Without excessive gore and jump scares, it relies more smartly on anticipation and tension to be chilling in an understated and creative way. It’s original, it’s well-executed and well-performed.

Real-life married couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt and child actors Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe were all fantastic in their own way. They gave this movie a surprising amount of heart.

Krasinski’s performance was a heroic “love letter to his children” about the lengths he would go to protect them.

Blunt’s acting makes you hold your breath while she delivers the most terrifying and anxiety-filled scenes by enduring pain while remaining completely silent.

Quiet place review

Simmonds, a deaf actress, gives a performance that is a triumph for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

And Jupe, the courageous brother, makes us feel afraid of monsters again as we see his fear through a child’s perspective.

These are performances that leave you wanting more. But not in a sequel. Rather, these characters draw you in to want to know more about them in a prequel.

Watch the trailer for “A Quiet Place” below and listen to the full playlist above for more on the movie before you see it, the spoiler edition for after you leave the theater and a discussion about the issue of farts in the world of “A Quiet Place.”

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‘The Death of Stalin’ is hilariously slapstick and serious at the same time

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When tyrannical dictator Joseph Stalin dies in 1953, his parasitic cronies square off in a frantic power struggle to become the next Soviet leader. Among the contenders are the dweebish Georgy Malenkov, the wily Nikita Khrushchev and Lavrenti Beria—the sadistic secret police chief. As they bumble, brawl and back-stab their way to the top, the question remains—just who is running the government?

Death of Stalin review

“The Death of Stalin” was surprisingly hilarious. This movie is for you if you like “Veep” and dark humor mixed with politics. It’s about the scramble for leadership in Soviet Russia after Stalin dies and about living in fear of being killed by the government (the scramble being the comedic part and the threat of government being the dark part).

It’s a film about power and politics, but director Armando Iannucci’s style is no “House of Cards.” Like in “Veep,” which he also created, rather than view the government as a calculated and highly-organized machine, his take on politics has leaders fumbling to figure out what the heck is going on and flying by the seat of their pants. It’s a very humorous take—and it’s probably the more realistic one, which is what makes it so funny (and scary).

It’s a history film: the main events in the story actually happened for the most part. But, the actors all speak English and keep their American and English accents over faking Russian ones. It’s not historically accurate in that sense, but it isn’t supposed to be. Historians have pointed out small inaccuracies or called out the film for misrepresenting Stalinism. But, the movie is not trying to talk directly about the history of Stalinism, rather, it’s using Stalinism and history to talk about today. Because of that, it works.

Watch the trailer for “Death of Stalin” below and listen to the full playlist above for more on the movie and a discussion about spoilers.

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