I saw loads of movies at the Milwaukee Film Fest, met even greater loads of people, had a few very memorable experiences, and On Tour, the closing night film shown at The Oriental last night, was an emotionally appropriate film to end on. It's a film that's in some ways about movement and change and I think that's what a lot of us were feeling on the last day of the festival.
The film ends with it's troupe of neo-burlesque performers and their producer, after touring through city after strange city, settling into a hotel on the shore that has no other occupants, no staff. It's quiet and still like no other place they've visited. They say that maybe they could stay there, though we know they won't. "Let's keep moving," one of the characters says. "That's what we're doing, right?" Homeless and in some strange place none of them know, they're at home for a moment.
Maybe that's how some of us felt after the week-and-a-half long fest, just getting used to seeing the same people at screenings and after parties, just learning everyone's names, cozy for the tenth or twentieth or thirtieth time in the Oriental's chairs, knowing that when the lights came up it would all be over. Some of the visiting filmmakers would hit the road home or to the next festival, the Milwaukee people would go back to their Monday morning grind, face the welcome but contrastingly bright sunshine we got today. Oh, well.
Maybe I'm confusing my emotions with what was on the screen, but On Tour might have been the best movie I saw at the festival. It was shot and acted naturalistic. The effect wasn't so much as if we were a fly on the wall, but as if we were one of them. As if these were our friends we had gotten to love and hate simultaneously over the journey. Anyone who's traveled a good deal knows unexpected moments of strife and the even more unexpected ones of comfort. You find it in little things, a drink, a cigarette, a joke, a shared bed, then it's gone and you keep moving.
I couldn't say enough good things about the movie and if you catch me in person I probably would say a lot more, but I don't want to tell you about the plot or the style too much. The point is to experience it and you really, really should.
Looking forward to 2012 MFF already.