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Thursday, October 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 48.0° F  Overcast
The Daily


Star Trek Into Darkness is a sci-fi tale for a post-9/11 world

Something about Star Trek Into Darkness makes me very sad. It's not the perfect storm of an opening that evokes the old-school adventures of the starship Enterprise and also -- hilariously -- Raiders of the Lost Ark. >More
 Baz Luhrmann favors visual flourishes over complex characters in The Great Gatsby

What if Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby didn't have to live up to the legacy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great American Novel? An adaptation of this kind faces assaults from two camps: those outraged by any violation of the sacred text and those who were really frustrated in high school English classes. Too literary or not literary enough: That's a lose-lose scenario. >More
 Koch examines a New York City mayor's controversial legacy

Like any big-city mayor, Ed Koch was controversial. That is made clear by director Neil Barsky's Koch, a compelling, thoughtful documentary that hits high and low points of the mayor's tenure. Koch, who served from 1978 to 1989, struggled with urban poverty, racial politics and organized labor, even as New York teetered on chaos. The city had verged on bankruptcy. The subway cars were covered in graffiti, and Times Square was a red-light district. >More
 West of Memphis raises tough questions about filmmaking's role in criminal justice

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky saved Damien Echols' life. That wasn't their intent when they started making a documentary called Paradise Lost, about three murdered 8-year-old boys and the hasty trials where three teens were deemed responsible. Echols was sentenced to death at one of these trials. Thanks to the film, strangers spent years trying to clear his name. >More
 The Angels' Share is a heist movie soaked in class conflict

Ken Loach's rather wonderful The Angels' Share almost seems like two movies. It begins as a gritty urban drama about young people on Glasgow's margins, but midway through, it becomes a very funny caper comedy. At first I worried. Is the transition awkward? >More
 Renoir is a vibrant drama about the legendary painter and his filmmaker son

The film is called Renoir. Which Renoir? Pierre-Auguste, the great painter, or his son Jean, the great filmmaker? Answer: yes. This appealing, somewhat rambling drama, directed and co-written by Gilles Bourdos, takes place in 1915 on the Cte d'Azur. World War I rages in Europe, but as the film begins, calm prevails at the gorgeous home of Pierre-Auguste (Michel Bouquet). >More
 Four gems to admire at the UW's 2013 Mini Indie Film Festival

Craving another epic movie-watching experience after the Wisconsin Film Festival? The fifth annual Mini Indie Film Festival put on by the Wisconsin Union Directorate Film Committee is just the ticket. The event began with two screenings this evening and will feature 11 more film programs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. >More
 A reporter probes a lawyer's radical past in The Company You Keep

The Company You Keep is an engaging thriller. I wished for more. The film's topic is the Weather Underground, the band of radicals who committed violent crimes in the Vietnam War era. Some of them took it on the lam for years after. You'll recall that the Weather Underground was a campaign issue in 2008, when President Obama's foes attempted to link him to members of the group. >More
 In Room 237, obsessive Kubrick fans share elaborate theories about The Shining

Room 237 is like an Opposite Day version of That's Entertainment!, the 1974 film that gathered the best scenes from old MGM musicals. Director Rodney Ascher's documentary compiles the most mundane moments from Stanley Kubrick's horror film The Shining -- and declares them the most interesting moments. >More
 Upstream Color is an odd fantasy about a worm that facilitates mind control

I haven't forgotten what American Players Theatre actor Jonathan Smoots said about Harold Pinter. At a talkback after a performance of Old Times, Smoots remarked, "In Pinter, there are no ding-dong moments." What he meant is that the playwright doesn't introduce his characters conventionally -- by, for example, having other characters greet them at the door (ding-dong!). There likewise are no ding-dong moments in the enigmatic, rewarding drama Upstream Color. >More
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