Posts Tagged ‘The Orpheum’

The bad, the bad and the bad

July 17, 2010

So the Found Footage Festival screened a film entitled “Computer Beach Party” (1987) at the Orpheum’s Stage Door Theater last night. Yes, I was there. Yes, I wrote about it for Isthmus. Yes, the article can be found here. Yes, “Computer Beach Party” lived up to almost all of my expectations, though as far as bad movies go, it was definitely hurt by its utter lack of aluminum foil UFOs, flashlight laser beams and recycled footage of Bela Lugosi. But seriously, it was incomprehensibly bad.

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The Orpheum: Soon to become Madison’s largest arthouse theater

May 17, 2010

Spatially speaking, that is.

This isn’t exactly news but I missed my initial chance to comment on it when I was tied up with graduation stuff last week: 77 Square’s Rob Thomas reports that all summer long the Orpheum will be bringing an assortment of non-commercial (for lack of a better word) films to town for their first runs in Madison. This would be genuinely exciting news but, alas, the lineup is pretty underwhelming.

Yes, “Police, Adjective” (opening on Friday) is a phenomenal piece of work, but it already played here at the Play Circle in February and during the Romanian and Wisconsin Film Festivals. I tend to doubt that anybody who passed on it then is going to jump at the opportunity to see it now.

As for the rest of the films, only “The Most Dangerous Man in America” (opens May 28) and “House” (opens August 1) stick out to me as potential musts. Everything else screams “we took what we could have gotten without having to make much of an effort” (which is just the opposite of Sundance Cinemas’ attitude; to have a theater downtown that has Sundance’s exhibition mentality, though perhaps with truer aim, would be invaluable).

Finally, I’m totally clueless as to what Thomas likes about the Orpheum as a movie-watching venue:

One of the many good things about the Wisconsin Film Festival is that it reminds you what a great place the Orpheum Theatre is to see a movie. Granted, it’s unlikely that a regular screening there will draw a rapt crowd of 1,500 (like “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” did during the fest, which was a great moviegoing experience), but the charm of the elegant old dame can’t be beat.

I went to three different screenings last semester alone in which the Orpheum’s projector broke down—once when there wasn’t a projectionist anywhere near the booth, thereby turning a 90-second bump-in-the-road into a 25-minute gargantuan annoyance. Plus the place has one of the worst sound-systems I’ve ever heard. When I attended a screening of “Collateral” there during the Wisconsin Film Festival, I asked Manohla Dargis what she thought of the theater’s sound-system, knowing perfectly well how’d she’d respond to my query; she said something to the effect of “Horrible. Just awful.” “Elegant old dame” or decrepit old hag?

“A Prophet” at the Orpheum

April 19, 2010

Fresh off a run at Sundance Cinemas, Jacques Audiard’s 2009 crime opera “A Prophet” just opened at the Orpheum. I’ve yet to see it, though the people I’ve spoken to who have say it’s an exceedingly worthwhile watch. The film received warm responses following its debut at Cannes 2009 and its initial run in NYC. It was highly praised by Manohla Dargis, Anthony Lane and, of course, Ebert. If you haven’t watched the film’s trailer yet, here ya go:

I look forward to seeing the film when I get some free time, maybe this upcoming weekend.

The most wonderful time of the year (a day early, too)

April 14, 2010

This morning I was slightly surprised to find that my DC column (a brief primer on the 2010 Wisconsin Film Festival) was published a day early in order to coincide with the first day of the fest. Luckily, that suits me just fine, seeing as how I’m only planning to check out one film today myself (and what a film it promises to be).

For the sake of being comprehensive, I should also mention that tonight Bradley Rust Gray’s “The Exploding Girl” will screen at 7:30 at the Chazen, Jessica Hausner’s “Lourdes” will screen at 7:15 at the Orpheum’s Stage Door Theater, Don Argott’s “The Art of the Steal” will screen at 7 at the MMoCA and Radu Jude’s “The Happiest Girl in the World” (which I wrote about last month when it screened at the Romanian Film Festival) will screen at 9:15 at the MMoCA; if the press these flicks respectively received is any indication, all four deserve a look. Opening night, opening night…

In my absence

April 5, 2010

‘ello everybody. Just got back from a 9-day road trip to Boston, MA (and countless other places between it and Madison). Only caught one movie while apart from the Badger State; you’ll know which one it was when/if you read my next DC column.

Unsurprisingly, there were a few notable developments in town while I was gone. Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” which I still haven’t seen, began a run at the Orpheum showing alongside Sebastián Silva’s “The Maid,” which I also haven’t seen; probably the most attractive coupling of films to play at the Orpheum in quite a while. That said, it’ll be tough to give Scorsese and Silva nearly 4 hours of one’s time when the highly anticipated “Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa” DVD set is sitting at Four Star Video Heaven, ripe for the rentin’—actually, when I went to scoop the entire trio last night “Ossos” and “Colossal Youth” were both M.I.A., leaving me to begin my private Costa retrospective tonight with the seemingly brutal n’ bleak chamber-binge “In Vanda’s Room.” I guess you gotta start somewhere, right?

“The White Ribbon” at the Orpheum

March 15, 2010

Alright, alright: last post about “The White Ribbon,” I promise. Haneke’s film, about which I’ve written a little too much (or not enough?), just began a run of indeterminate length at ye ol’ Orpheum on Friday. At the moment, the Orpheum’s menu of films is almost as tough to beat as its happy hour deal; if you’re in a less-than-grave mood, you can see “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” instead. Now if only they’d get their mitts on “Shutter Island” (and I expect that they will), I’d feel less guilty about missing out on yet another much-discussed recent release.

“Bad Lieutenant” at the Orpheum

March 6, 2010

Just thought I’d let y’all know that “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” which I wrote about in my column this week, is now playing at the Orpheum. Good thing, too: The film’s week-long run at Sundance ended on Thursday.

“Bad Lieutenant” is a lot of fun and a harmonica-backed hallucination covered in Herzog’s unmistakable fingerprints. It’s interesting how Herzog’s recent American productions have done little to diminish the distinctiveness of his directorial touch; yet, I also wonder whether idiosyncratic figures such as Herzog are somewhat problematic in that they too easily inspire the formation of “auteur cults,” effectively downplaying the significance of their collaborators, materials and milieus.

Anyway, “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is highly recommended.

Oh, so that’s where they are

February 5, 2010

I likely should’ve mentioned this yesterday or even the day before but WUD Film Committee is screening “Where the Wild Things Are” tonight and tomorrow night at—where else?—the Play Circle, a venue as iconic as it is mediocre. There’ll be two showings on both nights, at 7 and 9:30 respectively.

I’ve yet to see “Where the Wild Things Are,” but plenty of folks seem to dig it, so I just might have to march my lazy bones on down to the Union for a beer and an inquiry into whether childhood was really all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s what J. Hoberman and Manohla Dargis made of the film when it was released last October.

If you haven’t done so already, go see “Fantastic Mr. Fox” at the Orpheum. The only showing tonight is at 7. Be sure to stop by the Orpheum’s notorious Happy Hour (free mussels!) on your way into the theater.

While you (and I) were away

January 9, 2010

To whom it may concern: The Orpheum is now playing “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which, as you’ll recall, I reviewed for the DC in November; I then went on to name it my favorite movie of 2009. Thus, I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out—even if you don’t conveniently live right around the corner from the Orpheum, as certain Madison-area film-bloggers do (I won’t name names). In fact, I’m personally overdue to see it again.

“Antichrist” coming to the Orpheum

December 10, 2009

It seems as though rumors that Lars von Trier’s now-infamous Antichrist will be making its Madison debut this Friday at the Orpheum aren’t actually rumors at all. I’ve been waiting several months to see this one, knowing all-too-well that von Trier has designed it to shock, to upset, maybe even to provoke an awkward laugh or two.

Indeed, the popular word to use when discussing von Trier’s work is “provocation,” but I’d argue that “shtick” is every bit as vital to his highly distinctive sensibility and how it does whatever it is that it seems to do: no other filmmaker working today relies as heavily on gimmicks—uncommon techniques serving as the rule rather than as the exception—to produce effects upon the viewer, thereby eliciting emotional responses other than “suspense,” “joy,” “calm,” etc. Antichrist will be complicated, no doubt, but that’s how we like ’em.

Allow me to cite my source: Dane101 (and Todd Stevens).

And, of course, the trailer: