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Dear Annie: When the time comes 鈥 hopefully I pass before my loving husband and faithful partner of nearly 25 years, but if not 鈥 I could use …

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When she first saw the email, Nadia Thorne thought it was a prank, or maybe a student project. A Hollywood production company wanted to turn h…

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Dear Annie: I鈥檝e been happily married for over 12 years, but lately, I鈥檝e noticed a growing distance between my husband "Bryan" and me. He鈥檚 a…

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Dear Annie: My mom passed away six months ago. I am in possession of her cremated remains.Shortly before her death, I moved to the other side …

LOS ANGELES 鈥 Are you ready for some movies this summer? There鈥檚 action-adventure, romance, horror, franchises and more populating theaters an…

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Dear Annie: I鈥檝e been reading more and more of your stories and enjoying them. But the one that really caught my eye is from "Heartbroken Nana," the woman who wants to have a better relationship with her grandchildren.

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Dear Annie: My mother, who is now 62, has always been a dominant personality, keen on having things go her way. I鈥檓 34, an independent graphic designer, and I pride myself on being selfsufficient and creative. But every time I share aspects of my life with her 鈥 be it career choices, romantic partners or even smaller decisions like adopting a pet 鈥 she critiques them, often unsolicitedly, making me secondguess my decisions. Her disapproval, which is always veiled as concern, is making me not want to be around her.

I鈥檓 starting to avoid sharing any personal news with her at all to dodge the inevitable criticism.

I understand she might be doing this out of love, but it feels more controlling than caring. How can I communicate my need for support without her judgment?

鈥 Struggling for Independence

Dear Struggling for Independence: It鈥檚 clear you value both your independence and your relationship with your mother. Expressing your need for support rather than criticism is not only reasonable but necessary for a healthy adult relationship.

It might be time for a gentle but firm conversation. Let her know that while you appreciate her desire to help, what you need most from her is trust in your judgment. Setting boundaries is important; you might decide to limit what personal details you share if her responses continue to be unsupportive. This isn鈥檛 to create distance but to protect the relationship you cherish with her. Remember, building a relationship based on mutual respect and understanding is a two-way street, and it鈥檚 OK to take the space you need to foster that.

Dear Annie: My friends and I are a group of four women who have known each other since elementary school. We reconnected at a high school reunion and became very close. We are all retired and travel, have lunch dates, and spend the nights together several times a year.

There is one friend in the group who will not stop talking. She monopolizes every conversation and often tells the same story over and over again. Most of her stories are about her daughter and grandchildren. She does this in person and during telephone calls. When someone else is talking, you can glance at her and tell she is ready to jump into the conversation and say how the same thing happened to her or her daughter. It鈥檚 exhausting.

Other than that, she is a wonderful person. She would give you the shirt off her back and do anything for anybody. She is funny, kind and loving, and because of this, we have silently endured. We are planning a cruise next year and no one wants to room with her. We all hate confrontation and know she will be extremely hurt if we say something. Please help. What do we do?

鈥 Exhausted

Dear Exhausted: It sounds like your friend doesn鈥檛 realize how her behavior is impacting the group. Have a private conversation with her, expressing your appreciation for her kindness and humor, but also share how the group feels overwhelmed by her dominance in conversations.

A friendship that鈥檚 endured as long as this one has can handle tough topics. Just remind her that you鈥檙e all coming from a good place, and that, by confronting this together head-on, your friendship will hopefully only strengthen and grow.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

Dear Annie runs daily in the newspaper.

"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane鈥檚 second anthology 鈥 featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation 鈥 is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing. com for more information.

DEAR ANNIE

Annie Lane

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By Eric Beltmann

Special to Conley Media

After setting the over/under at 15 minutes, I lost the wager in my mind: It didn鈥檛 take that long for the first person to walk out.

The Milwaukee Film Fe s t iv a l 鈥 s annual Super Secret Memb ers-Only Screening is always a gamble. Without knowing which movie would show, hundreds of dues-paying members of Milwaukee Film, the nonprofit organization that runs the festival, gathered April 17 at the historic Oriental Theatre. The large crowd buzzed with anticipation. Would it be an international drama? A poignant documentary? A side-splitting comedy?

"This year we aimed high," Interim CEO Anne Reed told me before the screening, with a faint hint of apprehension that proved prescient.

Even though Membership Director Kristopher Pollard tried to prime the room, many viewers were unprepared for "Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus," a farewell concert film in which the revered Japanese composer plays his best-known classical works mere months before he would die from cancer. The movie opens with a sustained shot of Sakamoto at the piano, back turned to the camera, mustering just enough strength to perform his delicate, plaintive compositions. There are no explanations, no interviews, no plot twists. It鈥檚 just a man and his melodies.

The minimalist documentary was a gutsy choice for the secret screening 鈥 be proud, Milwaukee Film! 鈥 but perhaps it was too melancholic, too niche for an audience that signed up for a conventional surprise. Once the walkouts started, it became an exodus. As people bailed, their counterbalanced seats would flip upright. That mild clanking became so persistent for the next 90 minutes that the metallic reverberations began to synthesize with Sakamoto鈥檚 music to create a strange, somber concord of sound.

Those that stayed were treated to an intimate portrait of a very sick man using his fingers to reflect on his life and career. Recording in dynamic 4K monochrome that captures the silvery beauty of Sakamoto鈥檚 white hair, white lamp, white backdrop and white piano keys, the camera shifts between elegant tracking shots, forthright closeups and disorienting images that always complement Sakamoto鈥檚 music, including his scores for movies like "The Last Emperor" and "The Sheltering Sky."

Sakamoto is clearly moved by the opportunity to communicate through these pieces one final time, and that makes watching and hearing this movie a stirring experience, too. When he says he needs a break, the exhaustion is palpable. When he makes a mistake, the humanity is overwhelming. Contrary to those who griped the movie has "no story," the film tells the tale of a man grappling with his encroaching mortality, musing about the eternal power of art and presenting his last will and testament. There鈥檚 even a shattering coda involving a grand piano that perseveres after its player has disappeared. Ars longa, vita brevis.

Since "Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus" creates a meditative space, my mind drifted to how the French New Wave director Fran莽ois Truffaut once said, "I am not interested in all those films that do not pulse." What makes "Opus" challenging as a work of art is also what makes it pulse, and all of my favorite films at the 16th edition of the Milwaukee Film Festival, which closed April 25, found a way to feel equally alive.

Alice Rohrwacher鈥檚 "La Chimera" follows Arthur, a lovelorn archeologist who leads a Fellini-esque band of grave-robbers in 1980s Tuscany, although it鈥檚 closer to a half-real place that blurs the line between past and present. By the time the gang initiates a growling, teethbearing duel with a shady antiquities dealer, the movie has created an irresistible mix of realism, folklore, mysticism and fourth-wallbreaking asides. There鈥檚 a clear critique of how materialism has displaced sacred values, but the overarching vibe is instead intensely romantic 鈥 Arthur鈥檚 soul most yearns to find the ethereal passageway to his beloved, wherever she may be.

Sol, the 7-year-old girl at the center of "T贸tem," also seems to exist in a moment outside of time. Today her large family has gathered to celebrate her dying father and say goodbye, and the overcrowded house teems with activity that feels detailed, specific and livedin. There鈥檚 no driving plot, just interactions that reveal how each person, in their own manner, is struggling to confront the day鈥檚 meaning. By turns heartbreaking, joyous and profound, "T贸tem" warmly swirls around generations that love deeply but can鈥檛 quite reckon with death.

There鈥檚 barely time to exhale during "Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World," a fearless, 163-minute manifesto about the absurdities of the modern world. We follow Angela, an overworked production assistant, as she motors around Bucharest prepping a work-safety promo. Despite the daily grind, she鈥檚 an uncontainable force who relentlessly asserts her freedom and always has a joke at the ready to serve as the perfect aphorism or riposte. In one of the movie鈥檚 fiercest gestures, she breaks up the day鈥檚 monotony by livestreaming vulgar TikTok rants that satirize the Andrew Tates of the world, turning topsy-turvy the link between hate speech and the profit motive. Might her online alter ego only give toxic ideas more oxygen?

"I criticize by extreme caricature," Angela says, and perhaps the same is true of director Radu Jude, who breaches the usual boundaries of narrative cinema to suggest everything 鈥 our economy, our politics, our entertainment 鈥 is breaking and we鈥檙e unlikely to step back from the brink. Despairing, yes. It鈥檚 also hilarious and formally elastic. What starts as a sprawling, digressive Godardian experiment (Angela鈥檚 arc brilliantly converges with a 1981 Romanian movie called "Angela Moves On") gives way to a Kiarostami-like final chapter. In a static, 40minute unbroken shot, a wheelchair-bound laborer tries to film his testimony for the company鈥檚 PSA. As corporate managers methodically redact the truth of his story, take after take, the scene crackles with righteous fury. If "Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World" is pure punk rock, India Donaldson鈥檚 finely observed "Good One" might be indie folk. For a long while, this tiny, assured three-hander appears to be about a 17-year-old woman spending a weekend hiking trip dutifully nursing the prickly egos of her father and his best friend, two middle- aged dudes who maybe have nothing left in common. But the accumulating micro tensions actually lay the groundwork for another story, one that knows a single sentence can have the same effect as stepping on a land mine.

"Her coming to terms with her father鈥檚 emotional limitations is the best we can hope for," Donaldson said during the post-screening Q&A. "We all inherit the challenges of our own parents鈥 parenting." For the mother in "Monster," the mystery is whether her troubled child is a victim or a bully, an angel or an arsonist. Like "Good One," Hirokazu Koreeda鈥檚 humanist melodrama depends on misdirection, but much more so. That鈥檚 a sticking point for many, especially since the movie鈥檚 convoluted structure 鈥 the story backtracks through three perspectives 鈥 arrives at a simple solution. But the gradual, selective unveiling of key information signals how "Monster" is really about how our blind spots can make others seem like aliens, or worse, make others feel like aliens.

I鈥檓 of a certain vintage, so the teenagers in "Gasoline Rainbow," "The Sweet East," and "How to Have Sex" might as well be from another planet. Their exuberance, though, deserves honorable mention. Each movie presents a fractured odyssey 鈥 a road trip across the American West, a school trip to the nation鈥檚 capital, a spring break in Malia 鈥 that might be too candid for pearl clutchers. But all three express youthful attitudes, both in form and content, that suggest the kids, and the future of movies, are all right.

"La Chimera" is playing now at the Downer Theatre. "How to Have Sex," "Monster," "T贸tem" and "The Sweet East" are on streaming services now. Mubi will start streaming "Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World" on Friday and "Gasoline Rainbow" on May 31.

(Eric Beltmann teaches film and literature in West Bend. He has written about cinema for print and web outlets since 1991.)

Five favorite films at the 2024 Milwaukee Film Festival

1. "Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World" / dir. Radu Jude, Romania 2. "La Chimera" / Alice Rohrwacher, Italy 3. "Monster" / dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan 4. "T贸tem" / dir. Lila Avil茅s, Mexico 5. "Good One" / India Donaldson, USA 鈥 Eric Beltmann

In the Romanian black comedy "Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World," Ilinca Manolache plays an underpaid production assistant who interviews victims of industrial accidents.

Courtesy of Milwaukee Film

"T贸tem" was Mexico鈥檚 official submission for the Best International Feature Film category of the 2024 Academy Awards.

Courtesy of Milwaukee Film

Beltmann

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Dear Annie: The recent letter about giving children experiences instead of things really struck a chord. When the writer said, "One of the most beautiful sounds in the world is the laughter of a child. You can almost hear their brain enjoying life," it nearly brought me to tears.

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Dear Annie: I鈥檓 struggling badly with something that occurred over a week and a half ago. I鈥檓 a mom. My son is 15. I鈥檝e been dating a man for two years now, but I鈥檝e known him for over six. He has no kids and has always expressed his interest in becoming a dad.

A year ago, we decided to try for a baby, but I was a bit hesitant considering my son is 15 and I was 35. In my head, that鈥檚 kind of old, particularly for me because I鈥檓 not very healthy. I have sickle cell disease, so I鈥檇 capped my latest age to give birth at 32. He鈥檚 a good man to me, and my son鈥檚 very fond of him. He told me I wouldn鈥檛 have to worry about a thing and that he was preparing for a child for a while now, but it simply didn鈥檛 happen. I also knew he would be a great dad, so we agreed to try, and now I鈥檓 36 and expecting.

My issue is that we had an argument the other day and he texted me that he regretted getting me pregnant. I was so hurt. I couldn鈥檛 believe he would say such a thing after none of his other relationships produced a child. Now I鈥檓 not speaking to him because I鈥檓 very upset, and I told him I will not add his surname to the baby鈥檚 birth certificate if he鈥檚 so regretful. He鈥檚 tried to apologize and reached out to my mom to vent his frustration, but I don鈥檛 want to hear from him. I didn鈥檛 wait 15 years just to have some guy say such a horrible thing to me. Do you think I鈥檓 going too far?

鈥 Baby Blues

Dear Baby Blues: Your feelings are valid and understandable given the hurtful words exchanged. Words, especially in moments of anger, can leave lasting scars. Communication is crucial here. It鈥檚 important to address the hurt and the root cause of the argument to understand whether this was momentary frustration or indicative of deeper problems.

Evaluate the relationship鈥檚 overall health and what future you see with him. Is this a one-off or a red flag? Consider if you can overcome this with time, conversation and possibly counseling. The choice on how to move forward should align with what鈥檚 best for you and your child.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

Dear Annie runs daily in the newspaper.

Annie Lane

DEAR ANNIE

Dear Savvy Senior,听Does Medicare offer any financial assistance programs to help seniors with their medication costs? I recently enrolled in a Medicare drug plan, but I take some expensive medications that have high out-of-pocket costs and need some help.

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Dear Annie: We have neighbors who reside in a cul-de-sac that is at the rear of our property. Our property is located on a U-shaped halfmile neighborhood, which is ideal for walking. Over time, these neighbors have chosen to repeatedly cut through our property on an almost daily basis to facilitate their walking routine. It鈥檚 gotten to the point where these neighbors act as if they are "entitled" to treat our property as a public gateway from their neighborhood to ours.

I would note that there was a time when we had friendly interactions with these neighbors; but today, they cut through our property and avoid any acknowledgement of us, even when we are outside doing work on our property.

Please give us direction as to how we can politely convey that our property is not a public walkway.

鈥 Not a Cut Through

Dear Cut Through: The real issue here is that they are not asking for your permission to walk on your property. Besides being rude, there is always the possibility that if they are on your property and something happens to them, you could be held liable.

The best way to stop them from walking on your property is to ask them politely not to walk through. You could also do some gardening and plant some nice spring flowers and say you don鈥檛 want them messed up with foot traffic.

Had they asked in the first place, you probably would have been neighborly, but their sense of entitlement makes you not want to. If they ignore your requests, then you should consult an attorney.

Dear Annie: I am a grandma, mammaw and granny to six amazing grandchildren. Two of my three sons have these children. My sons are constantly ignoring me. They treat me like I do not exist.

I raised them by myself after their father tragically passed away. I did my best to give them a great life. They all mean the world to me. I just need a little advice from you on how to find a way to see my grandchildren.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

鈥 Heartbroken Mammaw.

Dear Heart Broken Mammaw: Be patient and continue to reach out to your sons and find out what their needs are. Do they need help with the kids, or are there sporting events you could attend? Tell your sons how much you desire a relationship with your grandchildren. Grandparents can be a very positive influence on grandchildren鈥檚 lives, but the parents have to allow it. Grandparents tend to be more patient and have a little more life experience than parents who are with their children every day.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

Dear Annie runs daily in the newspaper.

"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane鈥檚 second anthology 鈥 featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation 鈥 is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.co m for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@ creators.com.

DEAR ANNIE

Annie Lane

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Dear Annie: Over the years, I have worked in day care centers for 2-year-olds, and my husband is a speech therapist. I have a family friend who is raising a 2year-old from the community. We see their child continuously and think that he is behind developmentally, especially in speech.

They could hypothetically wait until he is old enough to go to school and, hopefully, the school figures it out, but I have worked with those who have special needs and know that the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome.

The only issue is how to tell the mom that we think they should apply for speech therapy without freaking them out that their child is behind. I just know that with all of these therapies, it may help this child in the future for success. He is an only child.

鈥 Family Friend

Dear Family Friend: I would make doubly sure that you are correct in your diagnosis before you speak with your friend, but once you do, tell your friend your thoughts about the toddler's speech. You and your husband could even offer to help out while you find a good professional, assuming she is up for that. Friends tell friends the truth even if it is difficult. If she is truly a good friend, she will appreciate that you helped her get early intervention.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

Dear Annie runs daily in the newspaper.

"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane鈥檚 second anthology 鈥 featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation 鈥 is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information.

DEAR ANNIE

Annie Lane

NEW YORK 鈥 One of the country's leading artist residency programs, MacDowell, has awarded a lifetime achievement prize to Yoko Ono. The groundbreaking artist, filmmaker and musician is this year's recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal, an honor previously given to Stephen Sondheim and Toni…

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By Eric Beltmann

Special to Conley Media T r芒n Anh H霉ng鈥檚 "The Taste of Things" is no popcorn movie.

Concession stands are downright vulgar compared to the farmhouse kitchen at the center of H霉ng鈥檚 tranquil story about food, art and passion. Set in fin-de-si猫cle rural France, the movie opens with a nearly wordless sequence in which the camera spends half an hour delicately dancing around Dodin, a prominent gourmet chef, and Eug茅nie, his celebrated cook, as they prepare an exquisite meal that will be received by an appreciative company of epicureans.

"The Taste of Things," which screens Friday for a third and final time at the Milwaukee Film Festival (4:30 p.m., Downer Theatre), spurns the whip pans of, say, Hulu鈥檚 "The Bear," choosing to instead extract its ingredients from slow, enchanting gastroclassics like "Babette鈥檚 Feast" and "Big Night." Marked by sensuous colors, natural lighting and rigorous period costumes, the movie鈥檚 autumnal production design reflects the way Dodin and Eug茅nie are meticulous about their process of making elaborate dishes; for them, cooking is an art form, but it鈥檚 also their main language.

When words fail, they speak through food.

There鈥檚 something deeply endearing about the way Dodin and Eug茅nie simultaneously treat recipes, and each other, with reverence. In one vulnerable scene, Dodin scrupulously tailors a table to Eug茅nie鈥檚 palette. The meal is his love letter, of course, which is why he nervously waits for her response. But "The Taste of Things" is more about the constitutional connection 鈥 the mind meld 鈥 between people than simple romance. It knows that relationships can be an art form, too.

Eventually the movie transforms its menu, throwing salt at the viewer in ways that ought not be spoiled. That these turns feel entirely earned owes a great deal to the leads, Beno卯t Magimel and Juliette Binoche. Formerly a real-life power couple, the middle-aged French legends deliver mature, sophisticated performances that seem at ease with the complicated contours of life.

The final passage of "The Taste of Things" presents not one but two perfect closing shots, including a doubled 360degree pan that breathtakingly coalesces H霉ng鈥檚 ideas about what it means to be in harmony, to give and grieve, and to find renewal. Like the gorgeous Vietnamese summer opening to H霉ng鈥檚 "The Vertical Ray of the Sun" 鈥 one of my favorite moments in all of cinema 鈥 it achieves a rare ambrosial effect.

Baked into the Milwaukee Film Festival is FOMO 鈥 for example, foodies who missed the sole screening of "Menus-Plaisirs Les Troisgros," Frederick Wiseman鈥檚 four-hour documentary about a lauded French restaurant, will have to settle for streaming it via PBS 鈥 but fortunately the fest鈥檚 final week offers extra helpings of many key attractions.

(Eric Beltmann teaches film and literature in West Bend. He has written about cinema for print and web outlets since 1991.)

Juliette Binoche and Beno卯t Magimel star as food connoisseurs in Tr芒n Anh H霉ng鈥檚 "The Taste of Things." H霉ng won best director at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.

Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Film

Beltmann