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The Long & The Shorts

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In late May, just before Memorial Day, I’m in the Times Cinema munching Eric’s splendid popcorn and sipping soda, but not through a straw as the slurping sound would disturb my concentration, worse yet, it might disturb the concentration of the awed faithful gathered to absorb the Milwaukee premiere of “Oscar’s Shorts.” The title of the event seems silly (as if Oscar had shed his underwear), but when the ultra-silly “Gopher Broke” opens the program of animated and live-action flicks (bestowed with honors during the 2005 Academy Awards), I get with the groove and savor the thought that on June 9, the Times Cinema celebrates 70 glorious years. Layered ‘twixt those stellar happenings…”The 7th Annual Milwaukee Short Film Festival,” with both local and not-local films. By the way, the cake served at the Times celebration deserves mention. Made by Eat Cake on Vliet Street, it’s a charming reproduction of the Times, complete with miniature movie posters. For those of us who live for films, it’s a bonanza, a great run-up to the Milwaukee International Film Festival (MIFF) that unreels in October. Over the July 4th weekend, I’ll be able to squeeze-in “Villisca, Living With The Mystery” (the axe-murder saga as detailed by two L.A. filmmakers) and, wow, I’ll be watching it in my home town of Villisca, Iowa in the very same Rialto movie theater where I ogled so many flicks in the ’40s and early ’50s. When I return to Milwaukee, “Cut/Film as Found Object” will be at the Milwaukee Art Museum until September 11. Douglas Gordon’s “24 Hour Psycho, 1993,” is one of 14 video works conjured by contemporary artists who have created new works from old images. Remember Janet Leigh lying face down, eyes-wide-open with beads of water running down her lifeless self? Admit it, has showering been the same since first you saw “Psycho?” Rewind. From July 27-28, competing filmmakers will make a video in 24 hours The site is the Milwaukee Art Museum, from 10:30 AM to 10:30 AM on the aforementioned dates. No need to bring a shower cap. The video challenge will be juried and screened the following day at MAM. On August 25, the Milwaukee International Film Festival will screen 80 minutes of short films from their 2004 festival. Outdoors, weather permitting…on MAM’s grassy knoll. It’s lakeside and August, so tote bug spray, or a giant swatter. Whatever. MIFF has a ton of film-related stuff planned and naturally they’re seeking volunteers. Managing Director, David Polacek can be found in Suite 212 of the white clock-tower building at 2266 N. Prospect and advises that interested volunteers contact . Or you can call them at 225-9740, ex. 421. The biggest problem (well, maybe not) is that everyone seems to be wanting to get into MIFF’s act, which is to say cultural venues are eager to collaborate with what has grown to be a highly successful fest. There is always the danger that this most majestic of art forms will, over time, become diluted, but success always involves risk, and these collaborations are well worth it. I’m reminded of this as I sit in my favorite seat at the modest Times Cinema watching the 1946 version of “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” I’m reminded of this when I read a film review, buy a ticket for a great few hours at the Oriental and/or Downer theaters, or tune in to Turner Classic Movies, or maybe drop in the DVD of my favorite film, bar none. Monte Python’s “The Meaning of Life.” I was in the audience when it screened at the Oriental years ago and couldn’t figure out why folks exited during the “Every Sperm is Sacred” scene, so it does my heart good to hear that Python’s “Spamalot” scooped awards on Broadway. In 1957, at the Cannes Film Festival, Jean Cocteau addressed the Federation Internationale des Auteurs de Films et de Television: In a world of discord and serious misunderstandings, I would like to express the hope that our international group will give an example of mutual comprehension, and the most open, free and profound friendship. As the Milwaukee International Film Festival 2005 swings in to view, it’s appropriate that their theme is “Movies for Everyone.” Cocteau’s thoughts still ring true, don’t they?
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