We are music people. We don’t play films on the radio, but that is just because that wouldn’t make any sense. Really, we are arts people. We love music, movies, books, the whole gambit of the arts world. That is why we love the Milwaukee Film Festival. It brings throngs of people in Milwaukee out to celebrate the best of the best in film.
So we got our highlighters out, opened up the guide, went through the 300 plus films at the festival this year, and picked the films that we are most excited to see. Each day we picked a feature film, a documentary, and a short film collection. These are our picks for the first weekend.
Feature film: “Take the Dog” 9:30PM at the Avalon Theater
“Take the Dog” is part of the Cream City Cinema series. It was directed by one of Milwaukee’s own Carol Brandt and Andrew Tolstedt. We saw Brandt’s “Things Found On The Ground” in 2013, and we trust this young directors vision.
Documentary Film: “The Wrecking Crew” 9:45PM at the Times Theater
As primarily music people this is our chance to really nerd out. The Wrecking Crew was a legendary studio group that were on a lot of the best albums ever made, but hardly anybody knows about them. This is our chance to learn something about the musical history of America, and we are very excited for this one.
Shorts Program: “Shorts: Date Night” 7:00PM at the Downer Theater
See as many shorts programs as you can. Shorts programs never make it to theaters. They are never usually even considered next to feature lengths. The film festival is the only place where you can see really well curated shorts programs. This one is “Date Night” all shorts about relationships and couples. There is sure to be some sad ones, some funny ones, some thought provoking ones, and some downright weird ones. You get the biggest bang for your buck at the shorts.
Feature Film: “7 Chinese Brothers” 10:00PM at the Oriental Theater
This film has Tunde, from one of our favorite bands, TV On The Radio, and it has Jason Schwartzman from (my personal favorites) I <3 Huckabees, Bored To Death, and a handful of Wes Anderson films. He also has his own musical project, Coconut Records, which I loved as well. It will be worth it to see those two alone.
Documentary Film: “Almost There” 12:45PM at the Downer Theater
As arts people, documentaries about artists are always interesting. This one is about an 83-year old outsider artist in the Midwest. The doc took eight years to make and the filmmakers got very close to their subject.
Shorts Program: Shorts: “The Best Damn F*#@ing Midnight Program Ever. Shit” Midnight at the Oriental
This is a perennial favorite. It’s weird, it’s crass, it’ irreverent, it’s funny, and oftentimes fowl. What more could you want?
Feature Film: “Safety Last!” (live with accompaniment) 5:00PM at the Oriental
Every year the film festival screens a film that has live music accompanied with the film. Last year they packed the Oriental Theater with people who came to see an Avant-garde Russian documentary from 1929. If you screened that movie on an average Sunday night, maybe seven people would come. Last year the theater was packed. That is the power of the film festival. This year they will fill a theater by screening Safety Last!, a silent film from 1923. That is a beautiful thing.
Documentary Film: Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents 10:00PM at the Oriental
The Residents are a weird band. Their music is just a part of who they are, the other part is their performance art. It’s missing when you just listen to their music, and they don’t tour all that frequently, so this is your chance to see them as they should be seen. You will also get great commentary and insight about the band from some great musicians.
Shorts Program: “Milwaukee Show: Part 1” 8:00PM at the Oriental
The Milwaukee Shows are where Milwaukee can see the work of the great filmmakers that work in this city. Nine shorts by nine Milwaukee filmmakers will be shown. Come out and see the talent in this city.