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Saturday, December 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 30.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily


Safe Haven lifts an iconic scene from The Notebook

Sometimes a person just wants to take a hot bath and quick-skim a paperback romance. Novelist Nicholas Sparks has built an empire out of that kind of waterlogged romance, and Hollywood has delighted in sending his bestsellers down the factory line toward multiplexes. >More
 Animated tales shine in a program of 2013 Oscar-nominated shorts

In the recent past the Oscar-nominated shorts have disappointed me. I'm happy to report that this year's nominees have much to recommend them. Programs of animated, live-action and documentary shorts open this week at Sundance. I'm focusing on the animated and live-action ones. >More
 Side Effects proves that genre fare can be elegant and memorable

Steven Soderberghrecently announced his retirement from feature filmmaking. It was a bleak day for cinephiles who appreciate his approach to "genre" movies. If Soderbergh has proven anything over the last three decades, it's that any broad concept can be executed with professionalism and style. >More
 A man cares for his terminally ill wife in Amour

Emmanuelle Riva is up for the Best Actress Oscar on the strength of her work in Amour, a painful, exquisite family drama. Her performance is remarkable. In the beginning her character, an elderly piano teacher named Anne, walks and talks. Then, because of a series of strokes, she is almost completely incapacitated. >More
 Warm Bodies is a zombie romantic comedy

What am I doing with myself? Why can't I connect with people? These are the sorts of questions that make humans sleepless and despairing. Warm Bodies posits that the same questions keep zombies up at night, too. >More
 In Tabu, a love affair springs from the moral decay of colonial Africa

In Tabu, a haunting new film by Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, a human-rights activist named Pilar (Teresa Madruga) prays to Anthony of Lisbon, the patron saint of lost items and lost spirits. She's trying to help her elderly neighbor, Aurora (Laura Soveral), who has just lost all of her money at a casino and seems be losing her mind as well. >More
 Dramatic dead ends spoil Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut Quartet

You'd think that when a veteran actor steps behind the camera, the resulting movie would showcase performances rather than kinetic pacing or stylistic experiments. Actors would receive sustained scenes to show off their chops. In other words, you'd expect a play recorded on film. Quartet is the first feature Dustin Hoffman has directed. >More
 In Rust and Bone, romance springs from street fights and soul-crushing tragedies

Rust and Bone is not the first movie French filmmaker Jacques Audiard would be expected to make on the heels of A Prophet, his widely lauded 2009 film. A devastating story about race, class and power, A Prophet takes place within an all-male prison, far from the azure waters of Antibes, the Mediterranean resort town where Rust and Bone is set. >More
 Broken City's detective stumbles into a web of corruption

Broken City evokes the gallows humor of Menace II Society, the 1993 debut of twin-brother directors Allen and Albert Hughes, but it lacks a coherent plot. Allen went solo to direct this detective story, suggesting that Albert is the twin with the most talent. >More
 Zero Dark Thirty explores the human cost of hunting bin Laden

A lot of bright people have said a lot of dumb things about Zero Dark Thirty. Some have argued that it glorifies torture by showing that "enhanced interrogation methods" were needed to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Others have argued the exact opposite: that the movie illustrates how torture failed as an intelligence-gathering technique. >More
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