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The Daily

MOVIES

A murderer lurks in the tryst-filled bushes of Stranger by the Lake

There's no shortage of graphic violence on multiplex screens, but graphic sex is pretty rare. So it's remarkable when a work like the compelling French movie Stranger by the Lake comes along. It depicts sex with a frankness I've seldom encountered in mainstream films. There are Catherine Breillat films like Romance and... not many others. >More
 Better Living Through Chemistry sends up America's obsession with prescription drugs

Who knew Olivia Wilde was so funny? She's a comic delight in the uneven satire Better Living Through Chemistry, in which she plays a bored, pill-popping trophy wife. She delivers wisecracks with zeal and is hilariously frenetic in her many lovemaking scenes with Sam Rockwell. I know her best from her work in Tron: Legacy, which wasn't an actors' showcase. So her excellent turn in the new film is a welcome surprise. >More
 Need for Speed finds lots of excitement but little ambition in a cross-country car race

Need for Speed celebrates reckless driving with the bloodless consequences of an Xbox game for 10-year-olds, probably because it's adapted from the video-racing series of the same name. It's a daredevil fantasy of sideswipes and smashups that never collides with the mangled reality of vehicular misfeasance. >More
 The future of Four Star Video Heaven

Four Star Video Heaven has been a staple for Madison cinephiles since 1985. In addition to sating numerous movie cravings, the video-rental shop helped launch the careers of former employees like Dan Savage, writer of the nationally syndicated sex-advice column Savage Love and editorial director of Seattle's The Stranger. >More
 The Smart Studios Story will show how Butch Vig and Steve Marker made music history in Madison

It's been four years since Madison's Smart Studios shut down, but local musicians refer to it so fondly that one might think it's still alive and kicking. >More
 Omar's title character is both a lover and a fighter in occupied Palestine

A wronged man fights to clear his name. Is it a Hitchcock movie? A Western? No, it's the Oscar-nominated Omar, a really fine, claustrophobic thriller set in occupied Palestine. >More
 Dan Savage's HUMP! Tour titillates Madison with dirty movies starring amateur actors

Whether you have a nightly date with porn, think it's the devil personified, or fall somewhere in between, you've probably noticed that sexually explicit movies don't get much love in public. But how would people feel if they could make their very own porn, specific to their imaginations, turn-ons and principles? >More
 A Saudi girl schemes her way toward an off-limits bike in Wadjda

Wadjda is a sly kid, entrepreneurial, even conniving. She's like Tom Sawyer if he were a girl and could recite long passages of the Quran from memory. Played by Waad Mohammed, Wadjda is the title character of writer and director Haifaa Al-Mansour's fine debut feature, a family drama with some very funny moments. >More
 Guy Maddin: The most accessible film avant-gardist

"I don't believe in ghosts," says Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, "but when ghosts appear in film or literature, they are the positive record of something missing, a loss." The Winnipeg native, whose films include The Saddest Music in the World (2003) and Keyhole (2011), both featuring Isabella Rossellini, will elaborate on the concept of loss in cinema in a series of free public events organized by the UW Cinematheque and the Material Culture program. >More
 A writer loses his passion for lavish living in The Great Beauty

If I lived in Jep Gambardella's apartment, I would never leave. Jep is at the center of the seriocomic Italian film The Great Beauty, and his flat has a close-up view of the Colosseum in Rome. It's a stunning vista, and it reminds me that by way of comparison, one of the most interesting views I ever had from a Madison apartment was of the old Kohl's supermarket on East Washington Avenue. >More
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