Skip to main content

Rivoli - Cedarburg

It's 107 miles to Cedarburg, I've got three quarters of a tank of gas, no cigarettes, precarious finances, 90,000 miles on my little BMW, it's sort of dark and I'm not wearing sunglasses.   But sometimes, you just have to get out of the city.

Having languished through the first day and a half of my week off, I decided that I needed to do something, however impractical that something might be.   Finding nothing appealing in Iowa, at least the eastern side of the state, I found what looked like an interesting theater in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.   Finally, at 2:15, fighting against the considerable force field of my condo and paralyzing indecision, I hit the road.   

Tuesday was one of those harbinger of winter days:   leaden skies and bullying winds which seemed intent on striping every last leaf from the trees, leaves once loosed collecting and swirling in small cyclones, or thrown to and fro in bunches, their movement across sidewalks and streets like deranged flocks of birds.   It was, in short, not inviting weather for a road trip.   None-the-less, I proceeded northward, managing to avoid the rush hours of Chicago and Milwaukee.   

Cedarburg is not so far north of Milwaukee, but far enough.   Despite worrying signs announcing "Historic Downtown Cedarburg," and "Preserving Yesterday's Heritage Today," (What of today's heritage?, Are we still producing heritage?), the relatively small town (population 11, 196) proved to be a good call.  As I walked up and down Washington Avenue, the fresh air, even forced upon me at a  high velocity, as was the case, made me giddy.   I wasn't even aware of the existence of Cedarburg when I awoke this morning, and here I was.  

A vestige of Cedarburg's milling past
The former interurban rail bridge, now for pedestrians in Cedarburg

Ah, Blatz....

Do not plug this address into your  GPS - a result of  "over the top" German precision, according to the woman who served me my breakfast at the downtown Stagecoach Inn
 As I rushed around the downtown area - I always head out for the evening movie with little time to spare, whether I arrive in town with ten minutes before a screening or five hours early - figuring out where to grab a quick dinner, I enjoyed seeing the red neon of the Rivoli sign and its tracer lights reflected in the big windows of one of the dignified limestone buildings across the street from the theater.

After having a burger and a couple of beers at a bar and grill, I ran up the street to the Rivoli, just in time to catch the 7:00 screening of Toy Story 3. To look at the theater now, you would have no idea the white brick tackiness that prevailed just a few years ago. Beyond the fairly stunning vitriolite (or to be more exact, black Carrara glass, as their website points out), the recent renovation restored the ticket booth out front. The lobby is nothing over the top, but a kind of deco revival, expressed in the simple yellow and black color scheme, chrome trim and patterned ceiling tiles. The theater is run by local volunteers and when I took a seat in the simple auditorium, I was surprised to see a sizable audience. This on a Tuesday night. In most all ways, the town seems to be getting it right.

Much as it pains me to say anything good about Disney, I even enjoyed Toy Story 3, particularly Buzz Lightyear en enspanol.

"Buzz Lightyear, al rescate!" 


Popular posts from this blog

Only Lovers Left Alive

"So this is your wilderness...Detroit."  So says Eve to Adam as they drive by night through the moribund Motor City in a white Jaguar.  Only Lovers Left Alive is not, as it happens, an update of the book of Genesis that Jim Jarmusch has overlaid onto the urban wasteland of Detroit.  The action Only Lovers Left Alive occurs by night, as Adam and Eve are vampires.  While they're not the primeval lovers of the Bible, the names do obviously carry significance.  Mr. Jarmusch's eleventh feature is an elegaic one, lamenting not only the tenuous existence of analog recording, lovely old guitars and other beautiful objects, but the looming loss of our very own paradise of a planet.

There would seem a certain inevitability in Detroit if you happen to be a vampire.  What better place to take up residence?  A city built for two million now now home 700,000. It is in significant ways -  figurative and quite literal - a city of night.  Former residential blocks now exist as open…

The Florida Project

Fuuuck you!  Lest we miss these final, flagrant word from Halley (Bria Vinaite) in Sean Baker's The Florida Project, the director practically inserts his camera into roaring mouth of the young woman.   This close close up is both typical of Sean Baker the director and Sean Baker the humanist.  There's arguably not much admirable to be found in Halley, but Baker lets her speak, or shout her piece.  This before The Florida Project at its climax spins off into high and sad irony like a firework into the night sky. 

One of our best and most valuable filmmakers, Mr. Baker continues to present us with the travails of those scrapping at the edges of the American economy and society, or at least those generally beyond the interest of politicians, demographers and the like.  Read many reviews of the The Florida Project and you will regularly be served variations on the word margin.  True enough, many of the characters in Baker's half dozen features operate, in a sense, on the mar…

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three billboards with bold black letters in and an attention-grabbing orange field.  These the work of grieving mother Mildred Hayes, goading local Sheriff Bill Willoughby and his police force to show more initiative in solving the rape and murder of her daughter seven months earlier.

 Three films now for Irish playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh, each a kind of blazing billboard in its own right, full of provocation, contrivance, violence, heart and amusement.  Yes, all of that.  Audiences and critics have responded much more enthusiastically to the latest provocation of Mr. McDonagh than most of the residents of the fictional Ebbing, Missouri to those billboards of Mildred.  And yet, skepticism of the film seems even more justified than the disapproval of Ebbing for Mildred's roadside gesture; which is to say - what's the point? 

Accomplished both as a playwright and a filmmaker, Mr. McDonagh is, by his own acknowledgement, more comfortable in the role of the latter. …