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Friday, January 30, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 19.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Daily


The Purge is an unlikely assault on America's culture of violence

It seems implausible, even for a movie: A decade from now, America's unemployment rate is 1%, and crime is virtually nonexistent. It's all thanks to the Purge, an annual 12-hour free-for-all during which all crime, including murder, is legal. >More
 In Frances Ha, a dancer's romantic moves are delightfully awkward

Noah Baumbach specializes in character studies, and Frances Ha's Frances Halliday -- portrayed and co-conceived by Greta Gerwig, who shares screenwriting credit -- is a study in contradictions. >More
 A dad becomes a killer for hire in The Iceman

A worker at a pornographic film lab evolves into a cold-blooded hit man in The Iceman, a steamy, dark crime thriller. Though he's a devoted family man, his family has no idea what his professional life is like. >More
 Epic is a witty, complex fairy tale about conflict and change

In the 3D animated fantasy Epic, teenager MK (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) sets off to visit her eccentric father (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) at his home in the woods. Dad comes across as a bit daft when he says he's spent years looking for elaborate kingdoms hidden deep in the forest, but one day MK shrinks down to the size of the forest creatures. >More
 A man chooses between the U.S. and Pakistan in The Reluctant Fundamentalist

You'll recall that Roger Ebert longed to be chosen in The New Yorker's cartoon caption contest (and eventually was). Similarly, I longed to be chosen for Ebert's "Little Movie Glossary," the compendium of cinematic clichés maintained by the late critic, whom I really miss. True, I only bothered to send in one entry. It was this: The Go-Go's. In action thrillers, teams of trained operatives spring into action only when someone yells, "Go go go go!" >More
 Fast & Furious 6 is brisk and intense but often incoherent

Full of gimmickry and Vin Diesel's testosterone, 2001's The Fast and the Furious started out as a throwaway action pic about street racing. It wasn't franchise material. Different characters took over for its sequel, 2006's Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. >More
 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
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