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‘BAAM’ an explosion of film and fun

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“Reservoir Dogs” is the first film in the Pabst’s “Beer and a Movie” series, beginning March 11.

For most people, the average movie-going experience involves taking out a small loan for tickets and snacks, and sitting in a dark, quiet theater for two hours. If you try to be social, ushers in cheap tuxedos escort you out of the theater. Not exactly what most people would consider a festive atmosphere.

If that all sounds a bit dull, then Turner Hall Ballroom has the cure for the common movie theater with their upcoming BAAM film series.

BAAM, short for “Beer and a Movie,” features $5 tickets, a sharp decline from the price of your average new release, and an additional $8 will get film-goers all-you-can-drink beer. The series begins on Friday, March 11, with famed writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s first film, “Reservoir Dogs,” and continues the next night with Christopher Nolan’s dream-centric thriller “Inception.”

Much of the inspiration behind the film series is based on the fall “Fish Fry and a Flick” program, which has been organized by the Pabst Theater and Discovery World outside the latter for the past two years.

“It was a really good time,” said Andrew Nelson, event manager for the Pabst Theater. “So we thought it was a great opportunity to bring this into such a versatile space.”

The program is scheduled to keep running on various Friday and Saturday nights throughout the month of March. Nelson hopes the event will bring a new type of film-going experience to Milwaukee cinema fans.

“This is something different,” Nelson said. “This is more like you’re going to a friend’s house, hanging in their basement, having some beers and watching some crazy movie. It should be a bit more rowdy.”

Adding to the atmosphere are, of course, the movies themselves. Later in the month, the program will be showing “The Fighter,” a recent Oscar winner, and one of the most popular cult films of all time, “Clerks.”

Nelson notes that while the movie genres they are currently looking at are mainly second-run films and cult classics, they hope to expand to different genres that are equally fun to watch with friends.

Also helping in the decision-making process is the BAAM Facebook page, which already has an active fanbase.

“It’s for people to go on there and say ‘show this one,’” Nelson said. “We honestly look at that.”

In addition, the BAAM Facebook page is being used as an outlet for movie fans to discuss recent films with others. Nelson, in particular, mentioned that he had recently watched the 2009 blaxploitation movie, “Black Dynamite,” and brought it up on the site to create conversation with other fans.

Another unique feature of the BAAM film series is the venue itself, Turner Hall Ballroom. Despite the multitude of classic movie theaters in Milwaukee, such as the Oriental Theatre on the East Side and Rosebud Cinema in Wauwautosa, the Turner Hall Ballroom also manages to stand out and be an attraction in itself.

“When you go into the Oriental, not only are you seeing a movie there, but it’s also the space that you’re in that sucks you in and becomes a separate character of the movie,” Nelson stated. “We feel that Turner Hall can be that too.”

Built in 1882, the building has survived not one, but two fires. Over the years, the hall has been the host of a variety of musical and comedic performances, including bands such as OK Go, Vampire Weekend and Girl Talk. Hosting a film series is a step in a new direction for the ballroom, but Nelson stated this was just the beginning of several new attractions coming to the famed Milwaukee landmark.

“You’re going to see a lot of totally different events that you’re going to be scratching your head about and say ‘That’s awesome; let’s do this,’” Nelson said.

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