2019 Milwaukee Film Festival – Review – RIVERWEST FILM & VIDEO
RIVERWEST FILM & VIDEO is the little neighborhood shop with an outsize reputation in the City of Milwaukee. Part of that reputation is because it hosts a storefront radio station, Riverwest Radio, where anyone can sign up to host a show. That kind of community involvement makes it a neighborhood institution rather than just a store. So, naturally it’s a subject of a documentary at the Milwaukee Film Festival.
RIVERWEST FILM & VIDEO is essentially a collage of clips and scenes showing the shop as a place and home and giving glimpses into the people who run the place, frequent the shop, and host shows. It’s fairly comprehensive, but in being so comprehensive it doesn’t really delve into any of its subjects all that deeply. And it never develops any sort of a narrative or flow which makes the film, despite a modest 64 minute run time, feel long. This would probably work better as a short rather than a feature.
But, RIVERWEST FILM & VIDEO is a success at conveying the look and feel of the shop, giving glimpses into the people, and getting across the general ethos of the place. It’s a part of Milwaukee and the Riverwest neighborhood in a way that a chain can never be. But its formless, non-narrative nature stands in the way of it being really compelling and entertaining cinema. The film convinced me that visiting the shop would be rewarding, but I have little desire to revisit the film. I imagine in its authenticity, it’s going to play for a lot of people familiar with Milwaukee and Riverwest, but can’t see it finding much of an audience outside of that niche.
RIVERWEST FILM & VIDEO is part of the Milwaukee Film Festival’s Cream City Cinema Program. It plays twice more at the 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival on Wednesday, October 24 at 6:30 pm at the Oriental Theatre and on Wednesday, October 31 at 4:00 pm at the Oriental Theatre.
The 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from October 18, 2018 to November 1, 2018. Information and tickets can be found at Milwaukee Film’s website.