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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Love, lust and empire

Famed Indian producer Ismail Merchant is dead, but the brand name he developed with American director James Ivory lives on. Before the Rains, by Indian filmmaker Santosh Sivan, bears the tag “Merchant Ivory Presents” and is the sort of production Messrs. Merchant and Ivory relished. Before the Rains is a carefully recreated and opulent period drama that explores the psychology of individuals grappling, and losing their grip, with the historical conditions of their time. Several important Merchant Ivory films examined the uncertain relations between East and West in colonial times, especially in India . . .
Sunday, June 15, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Evil Empire

The first thing we hear in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” and the first thing we see is a hot rod full of carefree teenagers, zipping around a U.S. Army convoy as if daring it to a drag race. The tone is breezy and the time and place are established with smooth efficiency: It’s the 1950s and the convoy is headed for one of those Trinity, Area 51 bases hidden in the rocky no man’s land of the American West.
Sunday, June 15, 2008

Return of the kings and queens

Harry Potter went darker as the series progressed and the same may be happening with The Chronicles of Narnia. The body count runs high in Narnia’s second installment, Prince Caspian, and some scenes are surprisingly brutal for a children’s movie. This time the Pevensie siblings enter Narnia not through a wardrobe but the London subway, where bullies are knocking brother Peter (William Moseley) against the tiled walls. Through a warp in space and a stitch . . .
Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tonight @ the Times Cinema - Midnight

As just about everyone involved with the recording has made clear time and time again, Dark Side of the Moon was never intended to sync up with the 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz—and 1973 studio technology would have made it nearly impossible to pull off even if Pink Floyd had wanted to. Dark Side of the Moon . . .
Friday, June 13, 2008

Today @ the Humphrey IMAX Dome Theater - 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. a

The Humphrey Imax Dome Theater debuts its latest film today: Mysteries of the Great Lakes. The cameras document some of the oddities hidden underneath the world’s largest lakes—from unusual fish to sunken ships—while the filmmakers tell of the environmental damage done to the lakes and what’s being done to . . .
Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Today @ the Humphrey IMAX Dome Theater

Earlier this month, the Milwaukee Public Museum closed its “Body World” exhibits, and now the time has come from the Humphrey IMAX Dome Theater to ends its corresponding presentation of The Human Body, the 2001 high-definition (and, for that matter, high budget) documentary that follows an ultra-ordinary family . . .
Monday, June 9, 2008

Classic Hollywood’s star system

Jeanine Basinger brings a fresh new level of dedication to classic film in her fascinating survey of the much-maligned studio system, The Star Machine (Knopf), a 550-page book that is difficult to set aside. Her provocative approach balances an encompassing analysis of the “dream factories” that catapulted so many stars into that celluloid stratosphere of the 1930s-’50s with biographical surveys of individual stars “under the influence” of a system unparalleled in the ingenuity of marketing. Basinger doesn’t delve into such famous names as Davis, Gable, Crawford and Cagney, concentrating instead on the less . . .
Monday, June 2, 2008

Tonight @ the Times Cinema - 7 p.m.

The often-tense historical relationship between Catholics and Jews is explored in the documentary Constantine’s Sword, a somber account of former Catholic priest James P. Carroll as he makes the argument that Catholic anti-Semitism set the stage for the Holocaust. This stark film screens tonight at 7 p.m. at the . . .
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Tonight @ the Times Cinema - 7 p.m.

The Milwaukee Short Film Festival wraps up its weekend-long run tonight at the Times Cinema with a 7 p.m. screening of—yup, you guessed it—short films.