“An Evening at Angelo’s” written by Mark Borchardt


In a brief running time, filmmaker Kara Mulrooney amazingly and intimately captures the picturesque texture of a neighborhood Milwaukee bar on New Year’s Eve – deftly satisfying the curiosity one briefly possesses as so many warmly lit corner taverns fleetingly pass within quick eyeshot: Ah, what is it like in there one wonders? Mulrooney lets it be known as she takes us inside “Angelo’s Piano Lounge” and gracefully allows us to hang out for the evening. The warm, embracing cinematography of “An Evening at Angelo’s” gently pushes us into the scene and endearingly allows us to figuratively partake in the intimate proceedings – almost, just almost, we’re able to share a cocktail or two with its small but amiable populace as it nears the hour of year‘s close.


It turns out that a few of those seemingly everyday people lingering about the warmly lit interior, one’s that would otherwise sink into the milieu of everyday ordinariness in the environs of a local watering hole – are actually magnificent crooners. Well, it is a piano lounge of course. And a few can really knock it out of the park – clichés aside, I could really feel some of those deep vocal renditions it in my heart. As the evening progresses and as various personalities take the mic – whether respectfully cajoled or enthusiastically volunteering – one can just sense the presence, the history of their lives as bygone songs come back to life in a magnificent present.

Angelo Mortellaro, the proprietor, and Ginni Smith, the house singer, make for cordial company as the nocturnal patronage increases. In a heartwarming moment Mortellaro takes the stage, and despite obviously having weathered a long road, gives it what he’s still got and we’re all the more enriched for it as he belts out a soulful tune.

Throughout this magnificent film, the camera adoringly tracks by photos of the past as well as those faces in the present, a confluence of good times separated only by the ineffable nature of the clock itself, as the countenances of both eras realize that each moment is their moment in time. “Live while you can” would seem to be an appropriate motto to the proceedings. And I think the good people at “Angelo’s” got that understanding down pat.

Thanks Miss Mulrooney for inviting us in – we enjoyed our stay.