The case for watching movies in a theater

The case for watching movies in a theater

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Going out vs. staying in

The case for the theatre

Kpolly thinks it’s important to see movies on the big screen because it’s “the way movies are supposed to be seen.” And he’s not just talking about the size of the screen (though he is also talking about that). He says the sense of community and human connection of being in the theatre is irreplaceable—laughing and gasping along with the audience is essential to what movies are about. True movie appreciation comes with movie theater appreciation. And true immersion and escapism is much easier in an isolated environment like a closed theater.

The case for home viewing

I think that being surrounded by people in the theater doesn’t really matter. It’s not like you talk to them during a screening anyway. Seeing a movie at home is much more personal. And all the greatest movies I’ve ever seen (the old ones where he wasn’t around when they were in the theater), were displayed on a TV screen at home. I don’t think the presentation took away from the experience. A good movie is a good movie. And being able to pause something is ideal.

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Black Lens is bringing the real story of ‘The Green Book’ to Milwaukee

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The Green Book: Guide to Freedom” is is centered around the 1930s story of a black postal carrier from Harlem named Victor Green, who published a book that was part travel guide and part survival guide. It was called “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” and it helped African-Americans navigate safe passage across America well into the 1960s. The film explores some of the segregated nation’s safe havens and notorious “sundown towns” and tells stories of struggle and indignity as well as opportunity and triumph.

After the April 5 showing at the Oriental theater, there will also be a Q&A with the director, Yoruba Richen.

Get more information and tickets here. And watch the trailer below.

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‘Cold War’ is a surprisingly warm movie about love in the time of communism

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“Cold War” review

The plot: “Cold War” is a passionate love story between a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of post-war Poland. With vastly different backgrounds and temperaments, they are fatefully mismatched and yet condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in 1950s Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, it’s the tale of a couple separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate—an impossible love story in impossible times.

It’s a very simple plot, but sometimes less is more. What it lacks in narrative complexity it makes up for in the beauty and romance of its black and white filmography, the acting, the score and Paweł Pawlikowski‘s directing.

This year it received three Oscar nominations (Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Foreign-Language Film), and it’s pretty easy to see why even in the trailer :

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Celebrate Women’s History Month with these Milwaukee film screenings

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In addition to the “Wonder Woman” screening at the Oriental, the Iron Horse Hotel will host a #GirlBoss film series to celebrate powerful women on screen as well as in Milwaukee. Every Monday night this month from 6-9 p.m. the hotel will host a free film as well as a pre-film Q&A with a different local Milwaukee woman leading the discussion each week.

Monday March 4,’s Senior Writer and Editorial Manager, Molly Snyder, will introduce the 2018 film “RBG,” about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Hidden Figures”

March 11 will feature the movie “Hidden Figures,” with a discussion lead by Robin Reese, Bid Manager at North Ave/Fond du Lac Marketplace.

Later this month, on March 18, media personality Elizabeth Kay of 99.1 The Mix and WISN 12 will introduce “Thelma & Louise.”

And to close out the month on March 25 Lottie Royten of Lottie Lillian Photography will introduce the 1980 satire film “9 to 5.”

March 3-8 is also Women’s Entrepreneurship Week Milwaukee, which is a series of events for women to network, collaborate and learn new skills in various locations across Milwaukee. And they’re all free. Learn more and see the full schedule here.

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The real stars of the Oscars? The unscripted moments

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Best 2019 Oscars moments

We talked all about our predictions and who we wanted to win last week’s episode of the Cinebuds podcast. It didn’t exactly go how we wanted it to (cough cough, “Green Book“), but there were some fantastic moments of the ceremony. Here are some of our highlights:

The Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson moment

When Samuel L. Jackson opened the envelope to announce (scream) that Spike Lee was the winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, he let out an excited, “Oh! The house!” alluding to to Morehouse College, the HBCU they both attended. When Lee got on stage, he jumped into Jackson’s arms in pure joy.

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All of the 2019 Oscars nominees and what we think of them

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2019 Oscars roundup

Best Actor

The nominees: Christian Bale for “Vice,” Bradley Cooper for “A Star Is Born,” Willem Dafoe for “At Eternity’s Gate,” Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Viggo Mortensen for “Green Book”

What we think: We’re underwhelmed. We don’t like Christian Bale. Bradley Cooper is boring. Rami Malek was fine in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And Viggo Mortensen was a cartoon, not an actor in “Green Book.” We generally like Willem Dafoe (not just because he’s from Appleton, WI), but “At Eternity’s Gate” is the only movie on this list we haven’t seen. Even so, he might be our pick here. However, even though we thought “Bohemian Rhapsody” was very mediocre, everyone else loved it and went crazy for Rami Malek. We predict that he’ll win.

Best Actress

The nominees: Yalitza Aparicio for “Roma,” Glenn Close for “The Wife,” Olivia Colman for “The Favourite,” Lady Gaga for “A Star Is Born” and Melissa McCarthy for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?

What we think: Now this is a list of actors. The women really did the work this year. We’d be thrilled to see any of these actresses win. Honestly they all deserve the award. My pick is Lady Gaga. I was stunned by her performance. Kpolly’s is Olivia Colman, but he thinks Glenn Close is going to win.

Best Picture

The nominees: Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite,” “Green Book,” “Roma,” “A Star Is Born” and “Vice.”

What we think: Our money is on “Roma.” And though it would be very upsetting, we think “Green Book” might have a chance too. Next in line we think would be the Oscar bait that is “The Favourite.” Our last guess is “Black Panther,” which is probably the movie that had the most cultural significance this year. Unfortunately, we can’t really see the Academy picking a super hero movie.

Best Director

The nominees: Spike Lee for “BlacKkKlansman,” Pawel Pawlikowski for “Cold War,” Yorgos Lanthimos for “The Favourite,” Alfonso Cuarón for “Roma” and Adam McKay for “Vice”

What we think: Once again, it’s probably going to be “Roma”—and it should be because this movie was the best. We think people will be studying at Alfonso Cuarón’s style for years to come. And though we want Spike Lee to get his long overdue Oscar for directing, Cuarón really earned it this year.

Best Animated Feature

The nominees: “Incredibles 2,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Mirai,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

What we think: We think it’ll be “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” even though we loved “Isle of Dogs.”

Best Foreign Language Film

The nominees: “Capernaum” (Lebanon), “Cold War” (Poland), “Never Look Away” (Germany), “Roma” (Mexico) and “Shoplifters” (Japan).

What we think: This is a really tough one. These are all masterpieces. Unbelievably beautiful. We think “Roma” might win, as long as the Academy doesn’t unofficially disqualify it because it’s also up for Best Picture. If that’s the case, “Shoplifters” is our second choice and guess.

Best Documentary Feature

The nominees: “Free Solo,” “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” “Minding the Gap,” “Of Fathers and Sons” and “RBG.”

What we think: This was the year of the documentary. But all the popular ones didn’t all make it into this list of nominees. Documentaries are not always popular, but this year people went crazy over “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and “Three Identical Strangers,” which got snubbed. Out of this list though, I would chose “Minding the Gap.” Kpolly thinks “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” deserves it. However, “Free Solo” and “RBG” were way more visible this year. Because of that timeliness, we think “RBG” has this locked in.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The nominees: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,”
“If Beale Street Could Talk” and “A Star Is Born”

What we think: A lot of times, this category is a way for the Academy to make up for snubs in the Best Picture category. Because it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, we’d love to see “If Beale Street Could Talk” take this award home. But since “BlacKkKlansman” likely won’t win Best Picture, we’d also like to see Spike Lee win this one.

Best Original Score

The nominees: “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Mary Poppins Returns”

What we think: We’re rooting for “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Period.

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‘Green Book’ does more harm than good in telling a story about Don Shirley

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“Green Book” review

The plot: Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is a world-class African-American pianist, who is about to embark on a concert tour in the deep south in 1962. In need of a driver and protection, Shirley recruits Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a tough-talking bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx. Despite their differences, the two men soon develop an unexpected bond while confronting racism and danger on the road in an era of segregation. In the film, Doc’s record label gives Lip the titular “green book,” which refers to the real-life “Negro Motorist Green Book” published from 1936-1967, written by Victor Hugo Green.

This movie is based on the true story of a trip that acclaimed virtuoso Don Shirley took with his driver known as Tony Lip, though much of the movie ended up being untrue. And don’t just take it from us—take it from Shirley’s family themselves.

For a movie that frames itself to be about Don Shirley and his experience as a black man at the time, it ignores much of who Don Shirley actually was–not only a musical genius, but a civil rights activist who knew Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and marched in Selma in 1965.

“Green Book” mentions none of this, nor does it even feel like Shirley is the main character. Instead, it turns into a movie about Lip. The film has him doing most of the talking and character development.

That’s what made the film a poor representation of the true story and steered it into white savior territory.

Shirley is portrayed as cartoonish and without much of the intelligence or agency that this brilliant man actually had, while Lip is portrayed as the hero for going from racist to slightly less prejudiced after getting to know Shirley, “protecting” him and “teaching” things to him.

If we had to say anything positive about this movie though, it would be about Mahershala Ali. Though we don’t think his character was as well-written as he could have been, Ali is always a great actor. And he’s apologized to Shirley’s family on behalf of how the film misrepresents him after they took offense. It was a classy move. And since winning a Golden Globe for his role, the family has said they’re happy for Ali.

And yeah, even though we thought this movie was poorly done, there are a lot of people who liked it. It’s winning awards. Critics are divided. We understand this, but don’t agree with it. If you don’t go into this movie with a familiarity with Don Shirley or the white savior trope, you’ll probably like it and come out thinking it’s a feel-good story about overcoming racism. But when you gloss over reality, stories like this can be more damaging than uplifting.

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Milwaukee Film is celebrating Black History Month with a special screening series

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“Mo Better Blues”

spike lee's mo better blues

The first film will be Spike Lee’s “Mo Better Blues” on Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. It stars Denzel Washington as a trumpeter who is obsessed with his own music, yet struggles with his own inability to decide between two girlfriends.

Originally released in 1990, the movie also features several other prominent actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, John Turturro and Cynda Williams.

Tickets for “Mo Better Blues” are available now.

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‘Roma’ isn’t as great as everyone says—it’s even better

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‘Roma’ review

The plot: Set in 1970 and 1971, the film is a semi-autobiographical take on director Alfonso Cuarón’s upbringing in Mexico City, and follows the life of a live-in housekeeper to a middle-class family. The title refers to Colonia Roma, a neighborhood in the city.

Verónica García as Sra. Teresa, Daniela Demesa as Sofi, Marco Graf as Pepe, Marina De Tavira as Sofia, Diego Cortina Autrey as Toño, Carlos Peralta Jacobson as Paco in Roma, written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón.
Photo by Carlos Somonte

We don’t usually talk about movies that aren’t in theaters, but you can’t have a film podcast and not talk about what’s being called the best movie of 2018.

As I said before, I think “Roma” lived up to the hype (and then some). Kpolly thinks all of its accolades might have ruined it for him in the beginning, though he came around. We both liked this movie. I just happened to love it.

This film was on par with all of the atmospheric directors of the ’70s—all the movies that we think of as “cinema.” It has Ingmar Bergman. It has the surrealism of Federico Fellini. And it’s kind of movie that will probably change the way many movies are made in the future because of the way that its storytelling captures drama in the moment. It is funny, it is devastating, it is outrageous, it is everything, it is nothing, but in the end—it is life.

Visually, this film is impeccable. And not just because it’s shot in some very aesthetic black and white (though it certainly doesn’t hurt). It feels like a small film—until it doesn’t. Most of the film’s cinematography is meticulous, tight shots, whether inside the home or filming daily life in a street or at the theater. But then, the film is able to shoot some large scale things in the same way. Like when a riot that breaks out in the city, the film pans out into the streets and suddenly there are a lot of extras and there’s this whole outside world going on.

I am dubbing the genre of this movie an “observational drama.” This observation is what makes it so good. Like real life, situations and relationships aren’t always clear cut, they just happen and time moves on. That’s the strength (and I believe the point) of this movie. Watching it, it feels like the actors are unaware that they’re on camera, just as the family at times feels unaware that the housekeeper and main character, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), is there watching and taking part in their lives.

And the film ends just as it begins, with the family in the living room, each having lived through their own dramatic stories, but quietly moving on with their lives because that’s how time is—unconcerned with the past.

“Roma” is streaming on Netflix now.

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‘Black Panther’ will be screening for free at Mayfair AMC during Black History Month

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Black Panther

It was also announced that there will be a sequel to the blockbuster film with Ryan Coogler returning as director.  Check out the cast of “Black Panther” backstage at the SAG awards.

Don’t forget to check out our discussion about the film’s cultural significance.

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