Film Exhibitor Spotlight: The Oriental Theatre
By Livia Peterson
I love the Oriental Theatre (2230 North Farwell Avenue in Milwaukee’s Upper East Side) so freaking much. Yes, the words cannot express my infatuation with this particular film exhibitor.
Expect to witness breathtaking ornate designs and Buddhas – galore, here. The Oriental Theatre provides a reminder why the motion pictures exist, let alone why the film exhibition still exists today. The magic is in full swing during the Saturdays evenings at 7pm – the organ performance (by Perry Petta) prior to a feature film in the main house (Theatre One).
Despite I haven’t attended the Avalon Atmospheric Lounge (2473 South Kinnickinnic Avenue in Milwaukee's Bay View Neighborhood), the Oriental Theatre is why I attend movies on the big screen. You’ll instantly fall in love film once stepping foot in the cinema. It is difficult to deny the Oriental’s beauty – eye candy and then some.
The Oriental Theatre recently celebrated the Ninetieth Anniversary with fun festivities and showing “Casablanca” (1942). With that said, the crowded screenings enhance the Oriental’s experience as a whole. A small audience does not give the exhilaration. I am able to attest this fact because I’ve attended films with small and big audiences. If you’re able to experience a film with a packed theatre, that’s the way to go. If possible, the organ playing as well. The heads up – the ladies’ room line is insane during massive attendance. My guess, the ladies’ room wait time varies from ten minutes to forty-five minutes, depending on the film.
The sigh with exultation is the best feeling ever, especially for cinephiles. I’ve endured several euphoric sighs at the Oriental Theatre – craving the aforementioned fervor at the twin Downer Theatre, Marcus Theatres, Rogers Cinemas, and AMC Cinemas. The truth is the feeling will never be replicated – only occurs at the Oriental Theatre every single time, regardless of the films. Hell yes, this singular feeling occurred attending “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” today.
The Oriental Theatre is located near Rosati’s Pizza (closing soon), Von Trier, Pita Pit, and Landmark Lanes (walking distance). Moreover, the cinema is nearby the wonderful Beans and Barley and Huan Xi. On the one hand, Beans and Barley provides the excellent lunch and dinner selections. The desserts are just killer. On the other hand, Huan Xi delivers authentic Chinese food. A bit expensive, but so worth it to dine in.
The North Farwell Avenue boasts a vast entertainment selection. Not just the Oriental Theatre, but so much to do along the avenue. Just goes to show the Upper East Side is awesome in terms of the film culture and nightlife. You are not required to visit Downtown Milwaukee, Bay View Neighborhood, and Historic Third Ward to receive perfect diversions. Alas, I am a bit biased due to I love the city of Milwaukee, in general. Haha.
The Landmark Theatres will operate the Oriental Theatre for about ten more months. Milwaukee Film is the new leaseholder, breathing practically the annual festival into the historical theatre – commencing on July 1, 2018. I have no idea what the new programming will be like, let alone wondering will Milwaukee Film keep its traditions thriving (e.g. the organ, “The Rocky Horror Picture Horror Show”). I feel heartbroken for the Landmark Theatres and yet, excited for Milwaukee Film. Ultimately, the mixed emotions are in play here. The Oriental Theatre nearly altered my life after stepping foot in the place, approximately eight months ago.
If you’re visiting Milwaukee for the initial visit, I highly recommend seeking the Oriental Theatre. The unique experience cannot be replicated elsewhere. Not even at the Downer Theatre. (Just to make sure to visit during the Saturday evening.)