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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

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The MPM's Sci-Fi Film Fest opens with "Jurassic Park" on Thursday, Oct. 23.
The MPM's Sci-Fi Film Fest opens with "Jurassic Park" on Thursday, Oct. 23.

MPM's Sci-Fi Film Fest finds a way, roars to life with "Jurassic Park"

At the end of the month, the Milwaukee Public Museum will celebrate the fall – as well as its current "Alien Worlds and Androids" exhibit – with a Sci-Fi Film Fest. Every Thursday and Saturday (save for Thanksgiving) from Oct. 23 through Nov. 29, the museum will screen a sci-fi flick in the Dome Theater.

This past summer, fans were asked to vote for five of the six sci-fi selections. The votes have finally been tallied, and today the museum announced the festival's lineup. It appears the fest will begin with a roar (and several Goldblum-ian uhs) with Steven Spielberg's classic "Jurassic Park" as its opening feature on Thursday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 25. 

The rest of the strong fan-voted lineup is made up of equally beloved and celebrated sci-fi staples (nice job, fans!). Following "Jurassic Park" will be another Spielberg classic "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial" and then Stanley Kubrick's heavily influential masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey." For those left wanting a bit more monkey suit action after Kubrick's trip-tacular epic, the museum is showing "Planet of the Apes" (the good one, not that Burton garbage with Marky Mark and the Monkey Bunch). 

The lineup, as currently announced, ends with "Back to the Future," but there's still one last film to be announced for the festival's final weekend, and the MPM wants the fans' help one more time. After picking five sci-fi hall of famers, the museum wants voters to pick out a legendary turkey (because Thanksgiving) for the last showing on Nov. 29.

There are plenty of great godawful choices to pick from to unleash your inner "MST3K" spirit. Matt Wild of Milwaukee Record wisely nominated M. Night Shyamalan's man-versus-breeze "horror" spectacular "The Happening," an excellent pick if only for the joys of watching a horrified Marky Mark attempt to make pleasant conversation with a tree.

If we're keeping with the classics theme, there's, of course, the notorious "Plan 9 From Outer Space." For those still demand…

Carla Juri stars in the blissfully obscene "Wetlands," now showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival.
Carla Juri stars in the blissfully obscene "Wetlands," now showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival.

"Wetlands" is a winning combination of heart and hemorrhoids

"We need God."

These are the amusing words of caution that open up "Wetlands," playfully presented on screen, along with the rest of the quote’s source material: a letter to the editor vehemently rallying against the film about to begin and the Charlotte Roche book it’s based on. Starting your movie with a quote? Typical. Using a quote decrying the movie’s creation? Less so.

That concerned citizen might be pleased to know to know that God seemed very much present in my particular screening, as people were muttering and exclaiming "Jesus!" for much of the running time. Then again, it usually came surrounded by shocked, entertained giggles, so maybe not.  

If the movie's opening moment desperately pleads against its existence, the ensuing 109 minutes of youthfully exuberant gross-out comedy – currently showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival with a final showing Monday night at the Times Cinema at 10 p.m. – couldn’t be a more enthusiastic endorsement for it.

Director David Wnendt’s coming-of-age adaptation is an blissfully obscene berzerker, a gleeful – as well as gag-full – carnival of crazed carnality. The repulsively unwatchable has rarely ever been so compellingly watchable. 

In a brave and bright star-making turn, Carla Juri stars as Helen, a young German teen with a hunger with all things related to her body, sex and all the messy, drippy, oozing fluids flowing in between. Pretty much every bodily substance gets at least an extended cameo in "Wetlands," all of them serving as objects of fascination for Helen.

Her adventures into the swampiest parts of herself – as well as the swampiest parts of the local restrooms – come to a screeching halt when she cuts herself hastily shaving her bum, sending her to the hospital with a nice anal fissure to go along with her handsome collection of hemorrhoids. Have I mentioned "Wetlands" is nasty? Because it’s nasty.

While recuperating, Helen makes flirty trouble for her kindly nurse Robin (Chri…

Jay Reinke finds himself battling between right and wrong in "The Overnighters."
Jay Reinke finds himself battling between right and wrong in "The Overnighters."

"The Overnighters" is a fascinating look at America's current moral battle

In the last decade, a modern day gold rush broke out in the town of Williston, N.D.. Oil was found. With that oil came jobs, and with those jobs came thousands of men from across the country and the entire globe – many with different patchy backgrounds, but all hungry and desperate. They all want the same thing – not merely a job, but a fresh start, an escape from past mistakes and a place to plant a flag and raise a family. That’s what Williston means to them all.

The only problem? Tiny Williston isn’t ready to be a boomtown, neither its residents nor its infrastructure. The city doesn’t have the room for all of the homeless men coming to town looking for employment, stuck living out of their cars or wherever they can find room. That alone annoys the locals – many of whom view the new arrivals as an ever-growing invasive species, a constant swarm of locusts – but even more concerning are the criminal records coming in tow.

At merely face value, the documentary "The Overnighters" – which shows at the Milwaukee Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 9:30 p.m. at the Downer Theatre – has a terrific story to tell. In a modest North Dakota town, writer-director Jesse Moss finds a classic Great Depression tale – about the American dream and American reality smashing into one another, leaving broken people in its quietly explosive aftermath – remodeled for modern times.

Even better, however, is the man "The Overnighters" finds at the center of the conflict: Williston pastor Jay Reinke, who becomes one of the most fascinating characters of 2014.

Watching his town quickly overcome by stragglers, Reinke decides to do what he believes is the right, moral thing: He turns his church into essentially a homeless shelter, letting the job searchers make camp with his floor space and in the parking lot until they can find employment and their footing.

It’s an incredibly bold act of generosity, but as Reinke soon finds out, doing the right thing isn’t as sim…

Aubrey de Gray is one of the men fighting for everyone's life in "The Immortalists."
Aubrey de Gray is one of the men fighting for everyone's life in "The Immortalists."

"The Immortalists" finds cinematic life in the search for eternal life

Of all the ailments that plague the human species, age is the most trusted, diligent and effective soldier in death’s army. When death’s other agents – cancer, war, human callousness and cruelty – fall short, age is called in to finish the job. And though he takes his time, there’s no arguing with his success rate. No matter how much you try to dodge or avoid or fend him off, age comes for us all.

But what if it … didn’t? That’s the obvious yet unanswerable essential question driving Bill Andrews and Aubrey de Gray, the two scientists at the center of "The Immortalists," the thoroughly compelling new doc currently showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival.

Forget fountains of youth and holy grails; Andrews and de Gray are using genuine science, not mysticism or miracles, to tap into man’s potential for eternal life. Though their missions are the same, the two men and semi-rivals (a doctor’s visit can only be described as a health-off) share little else in common.

Straight-laced long distance marathon enthusiast Andrews thinks he’s found the key in telomerase, a substance that could potentially keep the little caps on the end of our chromosomes from deteriorating away – and therefore keep a human being from deteriorating away. The only, teeny tiny problem with his solution: Some believe it might cause cancer.

On the other hand, the sprawlingly bearded de Gray is one of those vehemently against Andrews’ solution. In fact, de Gray’s theory involves the complete opposite: cleaning up human cells entirely of telomerase, plus any other junk and damage that clogs it up. 

While the two of them hunt for answers – and funding, namely in Andrews’ case –there are those against their mission to solve the great mystery of human aging. For instance, there’s Dr. Leonard Hayflick, who uncovered a massive breakthrough back in the earliest days of cellular aging research but sees the current research into eternal life and essentially stopping time as a f…