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Wednesday, December 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 35.0° F  Overcast
The Daily

MOVIES

Special engagements: Madison cinema for November 26 - December 3

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 A conservatory student tussles with an abusive drumming teacher in Whiplash

If Birdman borrowed a cup of energy from its drum score, then Whiplash, about a young jazz drummer at a cutthroat conservatory, steals a whole quart. I'm not sure the movie would work if it were about a soprano sax player studying smooth and mellow fare. >More
 Beyond the Lights' tale of a singer on the rise should make Gugu Mbatha-Raw an A-list celeb

As meet-cutes go, Beyond the Lights offers a doozy. When Los Angeles police officer Kaz (Nate Parker) first encounters rising star Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), she's hanging off her balcony. "I see you," the cop assures the distraught performer, saving her with his quick instincts and sheer strength. >More
 Special engagements: Madison cinema for November 20-26

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 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 adds mouth-watering context to the dystopian heroine's tale

Chopping the final novel of the Hunger Games trilogy into two segments, Mockingjay Part 1 and Mockingjay Part 2, was a surprisingly brilliant decision. A similar approach led to the terrible Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2010. Peter Jackson isn't even finished with his Hobbit series, and he's already shown that J.R.R. Tolkien's short-ish novel shouldn't have been turned into three long films. >More
 The Theory of Everything is a remarkable portrait of ailing physicist Steven Hawking and his wife, Jane

The Theory of Everything delicately observes the boundless universe of love's possibilities: what we're willing to give, take and endure. Inspired by Jane Wilde Hawking's memoir about her life with former husband Stephen Hawking, the brilliant theoretical physicist diagnosed with motor neuron disease at age 21, the film's heart beats with a romantic optimism, even when their union ends. >More
 A petty thief becomes a slimy crime-scene videographer in Nightcrawler

"I'm a little lost," Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) admits to the security guard who's caught him stealing chain-link fence in Nightcrawler. A petty thief unable to land a real job, Lou's gaunt appearance makes his perpetual grin appear less than trustworthy, and his overly rehearsed rhetoric rings more hollow with each passing encounter. >More
 Jon Stewart illustrates a jailed journalist's plight in Rosewater

Jon Stewart's big-screen acting work has been spotty, but The Daily Show host's debut as a film director is a much more auspicious occasion. As the writer, director and producer of the film adaptation of Maziar Bahari's book Then They Came for Me, the comedian proves his dramatic chops. >More
 Special engagements: Madison cinema for November 13-19

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 Space travelers scout a better home for humanity in Interstellar

Near the midpoint in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, there's a simple yet remarkable shot. A NASA spacecraft approaches its destination, a wormhole near Saturn. For a moment, the craft and its passengers aren't the center of the universe. >More
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