October 16th, 2014

Milwaukee Film Festival: “Advanced Style”

“Advanced Style” was our last movie of the Milwaukee Film Festival, which we saw Tuesday evening, October 7th, at the Fox Bay Cinema.

“Advance Style” began as a photo-heavy blog of the same name, compiled by New Yorker Ari Cohen, who is fascinated by the panache and flamboyance of women who are both “advanced” in years, and “advanced” in stylistic sensibility. This project has become a book, and now a movie, which celebrates these women and their approach to life.

The ladies presented run a gamut of style choices: retired editor and singer Joyce Carpati favors a style that is very much grande dame; style maven Zelda Kaplan had clothes custom-made out of her collection of fabric art; artist Ilona Smithkin creates many of her own pieces, including inch-long eyelashes to match her neon hair. Of course, there’s a lot of fabulous vintage wear on display—whole shops full of it, in the case of store owner Lynn Dell, but none of the ladies affect any strict period; they all mix and match as they choose to assemble a look that is unique to each.

Ranging in age from 62 to 95, the thing they all seem to have in common is great attitude: seize the day, before it gets away. You can’t say whether having a great sense of style keeps one young, or having youthful energy inspires style, although I think it’s some of both. The ladies (mostly) stand straight, are (mostly) bright of eye, sharp of mind, and, being New Yorkers, stride confidently around the city on their own, stalking the elusive just-right accessory.

In the movie, besides showing off their collections, the women talk about their lives, their pasts, and their choices, with candor and humor. This movie was inspiring, uplifting, frequently very funny, and sometimes sad. Above all, you are left with the impression that these are all great ladies you would like to know.

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West Allis Players, “The Cupcake Killer”

October 10th, we went to see “The Cupcake Killer,” West Allis Players’ fall production and a world premiere of a new play. This is the third play by Katherine Beeson, who also directed the play for the group, and was very good. (Ms. Beeson also took the role of the murder victim--.)

Set in the ‘fictional Louisiana town of Salisbury,’ the plot deals with the mystery surrounding the death of Betsy Ross-Garrett, the domineering secretary of the local Baptist church, who has put more than a few noses out of joint. She also, it appears, has an estranged husband who has recently won a million dollar lottery prize.

So, who slipped Betsy a poisoned cupcake at the church social? That’s the problem that confronts the sheriff (Bill Kaiser) and his deputy (Scott Fudali). In a nice change from the conventional plot, the officers frankly admit that they lack experience in major crime, and perhaps the visiting detective novel writer, Zoe Shepherd (Sara Pforr), might actually be able to help them out. That is, until it appears she might know a bit TOO much--.

Very nice performances by the Players’ troupe, including Corey Klein as the troubled preacher, and Marilyn Daleiden as “Miss Ruby,” who stole scenes as the town’s diner proprietor. We found the characters to be quite true to life, including the coterie of church ladies, and the sheriff’s secretary with a big ear for gossip. When the murderer was finally revealed, I found the criminal’s motives quite believable.

The play’s one flaw is that it is a very talky script and a bit overlong. I gather that Ms. Beeson acknowledges this, and future editions will undergo some editing. Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable play and a good evening at the theatre.

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