The 2015 Milwaukee Film Festival runs Thursday, September 24 through Thursday, October 8. Check out our list of 13 reasons to get excited for the fest here. If you’re looking for daily recommendations and/or when and where to stalk us, look no further.
Uncertain (1 p.m. – Avalon Theater)
You took off two weeks of work for this film festival thing, right? You’re going to have a tough time catching everything you want to catch while wasting eight hours of prime wakefulness sitting at a desk. Okay, maybe if you go in super early today, you can justify a two-hour lunch break to catch Uncertain, a creepy/beautiful documentary about a tiny Texas town that’s actually called Uncertain. It’s probably the very last tiny Southern town with a ridiculous name that didn’t already have a movie, so you’d best jump on it. Hey, then you could claim food poisoning (Can popcorn become poisonously rancid? Google it!) and take the whole afternoon off—maybe even parlay it into Tuesday, if you’re truly committed to the festival spirit. If your boss gets suspicious, you could get fired and not even need to burn any vacation days! You’re welcome.
Recommended if you like: Rich Hill; Happy, Texas; a slice of rural life without the city-folk snark.
Call Me Lucky (4:15 p.m. – Avalon Theater)
Bobcat Goldthwait has had a patchy, prolific film career, but he occasionally strikes gold (Hot To Trot immediately comes to mind). He directed this documentary, a tribute to influential humorist Barry Crimmins, and it’s been garnering nothing but accolades as it makes the festival rounds. It’s just a pity the timing couldn’t have been different, as Crimmins’s favorite targets are the U.S. government and the Catholic church, neither of which has been in the news much lately. We’re pretty confident that you’ll get some enjoyment out of this flick anyway, though; it features commentary from a host of today’s best comics, and covers a lot of non-comedy ground, as Crimmins has focused a ton of energy on earnest activism and humanitarian efforts. And don’t forget: Crimmins will be doing standup on Tuesday night at Frank’s Power Plant, as well as attending this screening.
Recommended if you don’t like: child abuse; the U.S. government; the Catholic church.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution (6:15 p.m. – Oriental Theatre)
It can be difficult to navigate the troubled history of the Black Panther Party, particularly if, let’s say, you don’t completely trust the historical accuracy of anything that came out of J. Edgar Hoover’s mouth. Even if history has judged the group’s relatively brief run a failure, it’s hard to imagine the Black Lives Matter movement coming into the national consciousness without the Black Panthers’ trailblazing influence. It’s safe to say that acclaimed director Stanley Nelson Jr. (who will be receiving a Tribute Award in person prior to the screening) will present a more sympathetic account than the FBI or Forrest Gump, and the time couldn’t be more ripe to reopen the conversation about what the Panthers accomplished, where they went wrong, and what the modern civil rights movement can do differently to combat police brutality and systemic racism.
Recommended if you like: Freedom Riders; Spike Lee joints; civil rights history.
Theory Of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents (10:15 p.m. – Oriental Theatre)
You’ve all at least seen photos of those guys wearing tuxedos and top hats and giant eyeball helmets, right? Those guys are The Residents, and at least up until the advent of the Internet, that’s about all anyone knew about them. Although theories abound, the identities of the members of the legendary avant-garde band remain a mystery, even though they’ve put out over 60 albums and toured sporadically around the world throughout their nearly five-decade career. It seems unthinkable in today’s zero-privacy global climate, and it’s not the band’s only unique quality. In fact, considering how belligerently strange and experimental their music was as far back as the late ’60s, and their pioneering theatricality and satire, The Residents have to be considered one of the most influential American musical acts of all time—just not where mainstream culture is concerned. Either you’re already incredibly curious as to what this documentary might reveal about the band, or you ought to be.
Recommended if you like: experimental music; cryptic corporations; sharp-dressed eyeballs.