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Thursday, October 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 39.0° F  Fair
The Daily


Wilmington on DVD: A forgotten Clint Eastwood classic

Clint Eastwood's love of jazz is responsible for this dark, cool, heartbreaking film -- and for the dramatic change in Eastwood's directorial image that it wrought. Though American critics were mixed on Bird, it's an obviously ambitious, very impressive achievement: a song in blood, junk and tears of alto sax genius Charlie ("Yardbird") Parker (Forest Whitaker), his music, his heroin, his wife Chan (Diane Venora) and his sad, soaring life. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: A foolproof break-in on Baker Street

Roger Donaldson, that top-chop Aussie-bred action/crime director, tools up a really good one with The Bank Job: a fast, slick, smart and very entertaining heist/crime thriller that works on nearly very level. Set in the '70s and based on fact, it's the story of a seemingly ordinary bank robbery that goes shockingly awry when the robbers (led by Jason Statham) accidentally stumble onto safety deposit boxes that contain explosive material: high-level scandals and dark secrets for which some of the owners are ready to kill. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Before the Dark Knight

Batman Begins handed the whole caped crusader project over to cowriter-director Christopher Nolan, of the nifty film noir-in-reverse Memento. (Holy Amnesia!) The 2005 film was an improvement on Schumacher's undynamic duo. (Holy Guano!) And Nolan's upcoming sequel The Dark Knight has bat-buzz at a fever pitch. (Holy Hype!) Justifiably so. Meanwhile, Batman Begins is just what the comic used to be in its own beginnings, and became again in the hands of revisionist, noir-drenched artist-writers like Frank Miller: dark, gothic, scary and full of angst and urban horror. (Holy Gotham City!) >More
 Wilmington on DVD: An unabashed romance for grownups

My Blueberry Nights is a sweet movie romance and a jazzy film noir reverie that, at its best, wafts you right back to the moods and themes of the American maverick cinema of the '70s, a great era that many of us miss. The U.S. directorial debut of Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai (Ashes of Time, In the Mood for Love) and the film acting debut of Grammy winning singer-composer Norah Jones -- Nights is visually stunning, well-written and very well-acted, by a pretty gifted cast that also includes Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, Frankie Faison and (in one of her top screen performances) Natalie Portman. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: A staycation with foreign cinema

Modern film noir with an Irish-British twist is served up with tough grace and skill in playwright and short-film Oscar-winner Martin McDonagh's In Bruges, a sweet, salty thriller about two Irish hired killers (nervy Colin Farrell, melancholy Brendan Gleeson) who bungle a job and are stashed for a while, at Christmas, in the stunning Belgian medieval city, Bruges, by their infuriated Brit/London boss (Ralph Fiennes). Like most really good noirs, In Bruges is obviously hell-bent and doom-drenched. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: The Brazilian Bombshell

Carmen Miranda, the Brazilian bombshell of 20th Century Fox's '40s musicals, was the ultimate showstopper. Though she was a genuine star -- and one of Hollywood's main trump cards in grabbing a share of the wartime South American market -- she never really played leads. Instead, she acted as an explosive sidekick for the Alice Fayes and Betty Grables, or as a femme fatale, either way deliberately fracturing the English language, rattling off Portuguese dialogue a mile a minute and then coming on and blowing away audiences with her fruit bowl hats, tight tropical dresses and machine gun delivery. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Kickin' it

The first half of the likable big-star movie The Bucket List, in which Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play a couple of cancer patients, one fabulously wealthy grouch and one autodidact mechanic, who meet and befriend each other in a hospital, is excellent. It.s a fine acting match up between two consummate pros and great guys. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Gustave Courbet

Only an hour long, Romain Goupil's 2007 documentary on Gustave Courbet, the great French 19th-century realist painter, still expands your mind and heightens your reactions, with the lucidity and grace of all the best art (and criticism). Courbet was a terrific character, a rebel from the bourgeoisie, who accomplished in paint the revolution that he couldn't quite manage in life. A lifelong anti-clericist and socialist, he was an important figure in the Paris Commune, a political indiscretion for which he later paid dearly, with exile and bankruptcy. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Fantasy masterpieces of the past and future

The Thief of Bagdad was a wartime production -- in fact the production was interrupted by the war -- but it's still one of the greatest pieces of pure escapism the movies have ever given us. Based on the great 1924 Doug Fairbanks silent, with 15-year-old Sabu taking the Fairbanks thief part, John Justin and June Duprez handling the romance, and Conrad Veidt the villainy, it's quite a different kind of movie. The movie is full of gorgeous Technicolor landscapes and cityscapes, incredible William Cameron Menzies sets, lusty performances, and one eye-popping, jaw-dropping set piece after another, in an age when CGI magic was unknown. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Happy Birthday Jimmy

James "Jimmy" Stewart (1908-1997), whose centennial we observe this week, was perhaps the most widely loved and genuinely lovable of all the great Golden Age Hollywood move superstars. He was the ultimate small town guy and everyday hero, a sometimes stammering and shy, sometimes wily and devious, sometimes brave, sometimes vulnerable chap who reflected the depths and contradictions of the common American character better than almost any of his colleagues. >More
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