In Movies & TV

"2001" and "On the Waterfront." Thanks indeed, Oriental Theatre.

Give thanks for the awesome lineup of movies at the Oriental Theatre this week

Despite what you may hear on FM radio or see in store windows, it's actually Thanksgiving, not Christmas, coming up next week. And if you're looking for a break from cooking up the big meal (or overcooking it, if you're me) or from the family that's come to town early, there's no better escape than the movies.

The multiplexes, of course, have plenty of options – from Oscar contenders ("A Star is Born," "Green Book") to brassy rock musicals ("Bohemian Rhapsody") to fun for the whole family ("The Grinch," "Ralph Breaks the Internet") to actioners ("Robin Hood") and gigantic fusterclucks perfect for a two and a half hour nap ("Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald").

But your best bets for a cinematic escape before the family and feasting can be found at the Oriental Theatre, where there's a whole cornucopia of unique, once-in-a-lifetime (quite literally) movie experiences truly worthy of giving thanks.

The theater's standard bookings are excellent enough on their own – including the mesmerizing and gulp-inducing free-climbing doc "Free Solo," the delightful Milwaukee Film Festival-opening doc "Science Fair" and the Oscar-primed conversion therapy drama "Boy Erased." But we're here to talk about its special selections, truly unique offerings that are not to be missed.

For starters, on Friday, Nov. 16, support a local theater by also supporting local film as the Oriental will host the world premiere screening of Drew Rosas and Nick Sommer's episodic comedy "Shangri-L.A." Following a variety of misfits as they attempt to make their way in Los Angeles, all 13 mini-episodes will screen back to back starting at 6:45 p.m. – complete with a Q&A with the filmmakers afterwards. Why binge alone on your couch when you can binge with a big screen and your fellow cinephiles?

That same Friday night, if you're still in a Halloween state of mind, the Oriental will screen the 4k restoration of John Carpenter's literally atmospheric classic "The Fog" on Friday night at 10:45 p.m. Come see a horror maestro's work as you've never seen it before – beautifully refreshed and utterly frightening. And while you're filling up on frights, come back Saturday, Nov. 17 for a screening of the original "Suspiria" – complete with Goblin providing a live score to the blindingly colorful creepout. It'll be full-sensory (and, again, likely never-to-be recreated) experience like few others – and the perfect distraction from the true terror approaching: your in-laws.

As for the rest of the week leading up to Thanksgiving, gobble up some more classics making a rare appearance on the big screen, from the Best Picture-winning "The Best Years of Our Lives" to a leading candidate for best camp picture with the Bette Davis-Joan Crawford feud-fiesta staff pick "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" – both screening on Sunday, Nov. 18. And there's no Packers game this weekend, so you really have no excuse.

Finally wrap up your holiday preparations (or ignoring them) by grabbing a screening of Marlon Brando's iconic performance in "On the Waterfront" at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19 and the glorious return of 70mm film projection to the classic movie palace with the hypnotic "2001: A Space Odyssey" in the big house on Tuesday, Nov. 20. And because it's a restoration so nice they had to screen it twice, the theater will screen "The Fog" one more time on Wednesday, Nov. 21 – this time at 7 p.m. if you're not enough of a night owl for the late first show.

So forget cleaning or grocery shopping; here's your real pre-Thanksgiving to-do list:

  • Friday, Nov. 16: "Shangri-L.A." at 6:45 p.m. and "The Fog" at 10:45 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 17: "Suspiria" with Goblin at 9 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 18: "The Best Years of Our Lives" at noon and "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" at 4 p.m.
  • Monday, Nov. 19: "On the Waterfront" at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 20: "2001: A Space Odyssey" at 6:45 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 21: "The Fog" (again) at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be found at Milwaukee Film's website, so be sure to claim a seat for at least one of these spectacular and truly special screenings. (And while you're at it, literally claim a seat for a good cause, too.) Because it's a time for showing your appreciation for the wonderful people and things in your life – and the Oriental's impending lineup is overwhelming evidence it belongs on that list.


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