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Sunday, December 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 27.0° F  Overcast
The Daily


Wilmington on DVD: A Serious Man, romantic classics, The Time Traveler's Wife

A Serious Man is the Coen brothers' typically dark, typically wry look at a Jewish boyhood (and fatherhood) in the late '60s in suburban Minnesota -- where the youthful Coens grew up, at a time when the brand-new counterculture of the Vietnam riots and the Summer of Love hadn't yet fully penetrated the old Jewish neighborhood culture of bar mitzvahs, Torahs and legends of the Dybbuk. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Amelia, The Wolf Man, Love Happens, New York, I Love You

Amelia is an old-fashioned, overly romantic movie, but likably so. It's true that director Mira Nair and writers Ron Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan don't spring many surprises while telling us the story of the famed trailblazing aviatrix Amelia Earhart -- an iconic American figure of the '20s and '30s who vanished over the Pacific while on a record-breaking, gender-smashing, 'round-the-world flight. But I'm not sure I wanted them too. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Michael Jackson's This Is It, Bright Star, Paris, Texas, Rossellini

Michael Jackson -- looking like a will-o'-the-wisp in military/gangster drag, singing like honey poured through quicksilver, and dancing like a jitterbug angel whirling on the head of a pin -- gets an extraordinary posthumous sendoff in Michael Jackson's This Is It. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Passing Strange, The Battle of Chile, The Haunting in Connecticut

Spike Lee's blazing film of Passing Strange -- the Tony-winning semi-autobiographical musical by Stew (a.k.a. Mark Stewart) -- is one of the best records of a stage production ever. Lee, cinematographer Matthew Libatique and Lee's longtime editor (and ex-Madisonian) Barry Alexander Brown catch every nuance and show-stopping moment of the play. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: The Hurt Locker, 24 City, 8 1/2, Moon

The subject of The Hurt Locker is the Iraq War -- the searing landscape, the uneasy, sometimes hostile populace, the bombs in the streets and the overworked ordnance disposal squad who have to disarm bombs and suicide bombers alike. The movie shows us one such squad as the days tick down toward the end of their tour. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Lorna's Silence, Charles Kuralt, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Lorna's Silence is the latest from Belgium's Dardenne Brothers, masters of the new documentary-style neorealism that gives us life in the raw, captured without sentimentality or melodrama (but not without suspense or drama), artfully composed to resemble the evanescent flow of reality -- caught by the kind of cinema verite camera the Dardennes used to wield as younger movie documentarians. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Paranormal Activity, Two for the Seesaw, Summer Storm, 9

Paranormal Activity has grossed mega-millions on a minuscule initial investment. Why? The setup, of course, is ingenious. Actors Katie Featherson and Micah Sloat, playing brainy bedmates Katie and Micah, are mostly alone together in Micah's isolated house, where Katie is being pursued by the ghosts or demons that have plagued her all her life. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: The 10 best releases of 2009

Here are my choices for the 10 best DVDs for 2009, last year of the first decade of the 21st century. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Inglourious Basterds, Trapeze, The Goods, The Girl from Monaco

Quentin Tarantino shoots the works in Inglourious Basterds, a wild blend of World War II action film pyrotechnics, subtitled art cinema romance, inside-movie allusions of every type and description, grand spaghetti-operatic Sergio Leone stylistics, and a brash "Let's-rewrite-World War II-and make-it-a-De Palma flick" ending. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Departures, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, (500) Days of Summer, Julie and Julia

Death begets beauty in Departures, a moving film that teaches us, and its reluctant hero Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki), all about the fine art of encoffination: the delicate ritual preparation of a corpse for cremation, a last rite performed with the utmost discretion and quiet showmanship in front of the assembled family and funeral guests, before the coffin is plunged into the flames. >More
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