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Friday, November 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 18.0° F  Overcast
The Daily


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
 A Late Quartet stars Christopher Walken as a musician in decline

If you long to see Christopher Walken play a character other than a wacky eccentric who speaks with a weird cadence, get yourself to the cinema to see A Late Quartet. But beware: This is the most interesting part of the movie, despite its intriguing premise and stellar cast. A Late Quartet remains earthbound when it should soar. >More
 UW's Odyssey Project fights poverty with humanities classes and a new documentary film

When professor Emily Auerbach hears the word "Madison," she doesn't immediately picture the glowing granite Capitol or the most postcard-worthy scenes on the UW campus, where she teaches English and co-hosts Wisconsin Public Radio's University of the Air program. Instead, two Madisons appear in her mind's eye: one filled with opportunity and another sorely lacking it. >More
 Anna Karenina brings theatrical energy to a stolid movie genre

Historical costume dramas based on literary classics are all over theaters during the awards-baiting winter months. They fill their casts with great actors, place these actors in meticulously decorated rooms and have them speak the words of the world's greatest writers. Also, a whole lot of them suck. >More
 Killing Them Softly stars a menagerie of criminal characters

Killing Them Softly -- the new crime caper from writer-director Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) -- is set in 2008, during the panic over the financial collapse and the run-up to Barack Obama's election. You might miss that crucial bit of subtext if you're completely out to lunch. >More
 Stunning images redeem Life of Pi's tale of a man and a tiger

It makes almost no logical sense to turn some books into movies. Yann Martel's Life of Pi is one of them. While this novel is a critical success, it's hardly a household name. Make it a mix of gritty survival drama and otherworldly visuals, as though somebody dipped Cast Away into a vat of Avatar. >More
 You'd never guess that an Oscar-winning director made The Twillight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

So here it is: the final installment of the Twilight saga, or "our long national nightmare," as I have come to think of it. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 picks up with former human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) getting her first taste of vampire life, after her bloodsucker husband, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), saved her during the difficult childbirth that concluded Part 1. >More
 Why is downtown Madison film culture disappearing?

Perhaps you read Roger Ebert's rave review of Leos Carax's Holy Motors earlier this month, when the film opened in Chicago. Perhaps you were intrigued. Unfortunately, you've already missed this movie in Madison. You're likely to miss nearly all of downtown's most interesting films unless you venture to nontheatrical venues. Though former movie palaces pepper the city center, permanent projectors are few and far between near the Capitol. >More
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