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Friday, February 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 3.0° F  Fair
The Daily


Wilmington on DVD: Ol' Blue Eyes

Frank Sinatra was, along with Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Ray Charles and Elvis Presley, our greatest pop singer: alternately romantic and cynical, tenderly sensitive and ring-a-ding-ding. But he could act up a storm at times too, and his dramatic prime came in the years including and following his Oscar-winning turn as Maggio in From Here to Eternity. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: One of the greatest silent symphonies

Abel Gance, maker of the spectacular 1927 French epic Napoleon, was one of the great symphonic masters of the silent movie, and La Roue is one of his greatest symphonies. The story of La Roue (The Wheel) is, in many ways, pure silent-movie melodama, but done with such grace, style and deep feeling that it sweeps you up and thrills you, just as the silent melodramas of Gance's friend and admirer D.W. Griffith still do. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Locked-in and set free

Julian Schnabel's new movie is a true story of tragedy and redemption that exerts an almost hypnotic power. Schnabel and star Mathieu Almaric show us the fall and rise of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the high-flying, philandering Elle magazine editor who suffered almost complete paralysis after an auto accident. Bauby, who saw his life become as shattered as his spine, fought back, despite what would usually be numbing difficulties, to write his moving memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: American Kaiju

Cloverfield is one of the scariest monster movies I've seen recently -- or maybe ever. The top TV talent making this, producer J.J. Abrams (Lost), director Matt Reeves (Felicity) and writer Drew Goddard (a Lost writer), use an ingenious framing device. They show a devastating monster invasion of New York City as if it were being recorded accidentally by a home video camera run by a young Manhattan partier as the invasion starts. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: The sun sets on the British Empire

One of the most impressive things about Lawrence of Arabia is its physical spectacle. Shot over several years by the nonpareil cinematographers Freddie Young and second unit man Nic Roeg on burning sandy landscapes that remind you of John Ford's Monument Valley, they are probably unrepeatable today. But the film also has riveting dramatic force. Lawrence bares his psychological wounds as provocatively as he flaunts his reckless courage, and Peter O'Toole, in the performance he never surpassed, catches both the majesty and the destructive egoism. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: One goddamn helluva show

There Will Be Blood is a great American film about the oil industry, set from the late 1890s to the 1920s -- at the dawn of the fossil-fuel era that now seems to be spinning us hell-bent toward world conflict and catastrophe. The anti-hero/villain: driller/speculator Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), the false father who creates a world and destroys it. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: A way to be good again

Art films have often reached audiences most deeply when they center on childhood, as in the first part of The Kite Runner. Based on Khaled Hosseini's very popular (and partly autobiographical) novel about two young friends in Afghanistan, separated by class divisions and then war, it's turned by director Marc Forster into a lovingly crafted movie that, for most of the way, remains admirably intelligent, a truly humane and compassionate drama. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Forbidden Hollywood

Atonement gives us the dark side of the Masterpiece Theatre ethic: a great class-busting pre-World War II romance at a British country manor, a love story that goes poisonous and tragic, feeding into the larger national tragedies of the exploding world conflict -- and whose mysteries aren't resolved until decades later, when the young have grown old, but memories still sting. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Unstoppable evil

Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel about a busted drug deal in the West Texas desert and the relentless three-cornered chase that follows is a fine, brutal, spare, melancholy crime thriller. And it gets as faithful and powerful a film translation as any first-class American book could get from those modern masters of noir, the Coen brothers. They make this material their own, while simultaneously preserving as much as possible of McCarthy's dark, bleak, hard-case vision. No Country for Old Men richly deserved its 2007 Oscars; it's as good as Hollywood can do these days. >More
 Wilmington on DVD: Death of an innocent

A young college graduate from a privileged background chucks it all and heads for the open road, a choice that ultimately leads him to the edge of doom in the wilds of Alaska. If this movie had been set in the '60s, the main character -- the real-life Christopher McCandless, played here by Emile Hirsch -- might have wound up in a hippie commune farm, or just heading north like Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces. But this latter-day tale of revolt against civilization is a more solitary, scary affair. >More
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