Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The 2nd Annual Milwaukee Festival Day 4

A full day ahead - I have scheduled at least three, maybe four movies for today. Unfortunately the last movie scheduled is one that I really want to see, so there's no going home early to write and I'm not going to get out of here until after 11:30 pm.

My first movie today is Baraboo, and apparently the demographic for the film is old because I would say about 90% of the audience is over the age of 65. I'm not sure what's up with that, considering the driving force behind seeing the film, for me at least, is the fact that the director worked with David Lynch, one of my cinematic gods. Anyway, I'm not the fastest person in the world, but when I'm here, I have an agenda, so my triangular work space of Theater 1 - Potty - Theater 2 is sacrosanct and today it's been obliterated by swerving around kids from the children's film festival and old people seeing Baraboo. Oh well.

Oh, scrap that - I'm surrounded by old people and an infant who is sitting with his mom in front of me. I'm not sure what's more annoying, the threatening little cries coming from the kid or the old ladies behind me clucking about it.

Apparently one of the people in the movie was in the audience (she's old too) who joined Baraboo's director, Mary Sweeney for a talk back after the movie. It was a really good sized crowd - about 250 people and 35 walkers. I think that Wisconsinites really have pride in their home-grown movies. (Note that Feed the Fish, another Wisconsin film, was apparently sold out within the first day of the festival.) On a personal note, I was delighted to finally see Anna Krutzik, who introduced the film, as I have worked with her via e-mail on getting my press credentials the last two years and she has been an absolute delight to work with.

Next was My Dog Tulip, an animated film for adults that caught my eye in the program book immediately and was a must-see in my schedule. Apparently it's one of Program Manager T.J. Fackelman's favorite films of the festival, as he introduced it as such. Another great crowd of about 200 - other than one or two sparsely attended films, there have been some really great audiences at the screenings I've been to, regardless of day, time or subject matter. And truthfully, there are probably better numbers at the ones at the screenings I haven't been to since I always seem to miss the films that win the audience awards every year. I'm not sure if that's a particular talent of mine or if I just choose the "different" movies, (neither explanation would surprise me) but there we are.

Against my personal wishes, as I always want to see as many films as I possibly can, I decided to skip the screenings after My Dog Tulip in favor of dedicating some time to catch up on reviews. I made the final decision when I left the auditorium and saw mayhem outside of Bhutto, the one I had planned on seeing (apparently it was another sold out show) and after looking at the other film choice, I reluctantly decided it would be best to just bite the bullet and sit down in the lobby with my steno and write some reviews.

Unfortunately, that was short-lived because it seems that when one wears a press badge, it invites questions: "Who do you work for? Is it the Journal?" "How many movies are you seeing?" Normally I wouldn't mind questions, but A) I'm pretty antisocial and B) I had a job to do. So after getting up to go to the ladies' room and getting assaulted in there by an old lady in her walker who didn't understand the concept of "I have a web site." I decided to go out to my car and catch some chilly, chilly air.

But I was chilly and alone, and listening to classic alternative on XM satellite radio and by some miracle, had parked close enough to the neon marquee where I could actually see what I was writing, so all was good in the world. Two hours later I was caught up with at least well-thought out outlines that I can fully flesh out later, and since I've resolved myself to write nothing more than mostly capsule reviews (or I would probably go insane with the volume of films I am seeing) it shouldn't be too bad to catch up in front of the laptop.

I don't regret missing a film to see it, but I really hope The Revenant is worth sticking around a few hours for. I have old tired eyes and a newly DVR'd Mad Men waiting for me at home.

I'm not really sure what the deal is with The Revenant, but it looks like it's kind of a zombie movie, and I'm all about zombie movies. However, I'm also a complete wuss when it comes to horror films and make it a practice not to see them by myself (if at all) so I definitely had some trepidation going on. (It turned out to be completely unfounded.) Meanwhile, true to form, while I'm sitting in the theater a little nervous (especially since thus far I was the only person sitting in the lower section, with about 30 people sitting in the stadium seating behind me) and despite the plentiful number of actual "good" seats available above me, someone sits down in the weird single seat directly behind me. WTF?! My first thought was to move, and then I thought screw that, I was here first. At least if I get killed during the movie my reviews are caught up.

Following The Revenant, there was a talk back with director Kerry Prior, who seemed like a nice guy, but the whole thing was just awkward. The weird person behind me had left by that point and I was the only person left in the lower row, and he decided to stand in the middle of the theater, so he was essentially behind me during the talk back, so I wasn't really sure where I should be looking or how I should position my body, so I just kind of decided to give my nails a really thorough examination. Then there were the hopelessly awkward questions asked by the audience: "Do you have kids?" What the hell? Even Prior couldn't mask his surprise at that one. He was like, "...why?" Then there was one question by a guy who, if you can sound like a presidential assassin, he was one, that was so unintelligible that I'm pretty sure Prior just skipped over it and moved on. Meanwhile, it was the longest talk back ever and when I finally got out to my car I was once again one of the last people there.

To home, to bed 3 hours past normal time...

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