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Friday, October 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 57.0° F  Overcast
The Daily

MOVIES

In Promised Land, a gas-drilling project unearths an unsettling truth

Traveling salespeople swoop into small, dying towns and buy up the rights to drill for natural gas. They promise money and leave behind landscapes ruined by a technique known as fracking, which contaminates groundwater and makes residents sick. They feed on poverty and desperation, so they must be villains, right? >More
 A vacationing family battles a tsunami in The Impossible

There are some fair reasons to be frustrated with The Impossible, director Juan Antonio Bayona's fact-based account of a European family trying to survive the devastating tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in December 2004. But I'm not going to pretend I was thinking about these reasons during most of the film's first hour, which turned me into a gnarl of tension. >More
 Django Unchained takes historically inaccurate revenge on slaveholders

Quentin Tarantino is back with another wish-fulfillment history adventure. Like his last picture, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained creatively rewrites the past in favor of the victimized. The heroes this time may not accomplish anything as history-altering as bringing down the Third Reich, as they did in Basterds, but they do manage to obliterate one of the most perverse slave operations in the antebellum South. >More
 Les Misérables is a watered-down version of the Broadway smash

I adore the Schönberg-Boublil musical based on Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables. I've seen multiple touring productions, and I've wept to "A Little Fall of Rain" more times than I can count. I'm pretty sure the theatrical production is impossible to turn into an equally powerful film. If there were a way to accomplish that task, Tom Hooper's new movie isn't it. >More
 Damaged souls attract in Silver Linings Playbook

Matthew Quick's 2008 novel The Silver Linings Playbook is a funny, unsettling account of a man trying to recover after a mental breakdown. Writer-director David O. Russell (The Fighter) turns it into something completely unexpected: one of the best romantic comedies in years. It's not as though Russell tore up the source material and started over from scratch. >More
 This Is 40 is funny but desperately needs an editor

I have a dream that, one of these days, Judd Apatow is going to make a 100-minute comedy so packed with hilarity that I'm not going to be able to breathe from the laughing. Luckily for my windpipe, this hasn't happened yet. From The 40 Year Old Virgin to Knocked Up to Funny People, Apatow knows how to deliver laughs. The thing is, he doesn't understand the concept of less is more. >More
 UW Cinematheque screens Studio Ghibli anime, new David Cronenberg film in spring 2013

UW Cinematheque will host the Madison premieres of several new films this winter at 4070 Vilas Hall. Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg's futuristic drama starring Twilight's Robert Pattinson, will hit the screen Saturday, Jan. 19, and The Loneliest Planet, a minimalist account of a backpacking trip starring Gael Garcia Bernal, will be shown Friday, Feb. 22. These are just a few of the films on Cinematheque's spring 2013 calendar, which will be unveiled today. >More
 The Hobbit struggles to build a backstory for The Lord of the Rings

"All good stories deserve embellishment," says the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He says it with a twinkle, as though he knew snarky critics would quote it. "Embellishment" characterizes The Hobbit's journey to film, from the expansion of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings prequel first to two movies and then to three, and to the decision to shoot the movies in a new 48-frames-per-second format. >More
 Hitchcock oversimplifies the legendary director's quirks and contradictions

Alfred Hitchcock, the undisputed master of movie suspense, is given a fairly fanciful treatment in Hitchcock, which is supposed to be based on Stephen Rebello's book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho'. In actuality, this film written by John J. McLaughlin and directed by Sacha Gervasi is a love story about Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), not an accurate backstage look at the creation of his groundbreaking horror film and its enduring role in the American psyche. >More
 In Another Country examines cultural barriers and cinematic illusions

At the start of In Another Country, the newest dramedy by Korean writer-director Hong Sang-soo, we meet a Korean film student distraught about a situation involving her uncle. "He's not even a human being," she insists to her mother, who, in turn, pledges to fix the problem. This promise does not satisfy the young woman. >More
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