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Sunday, December 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 36.0° F  Overcast
The Daily


Woody Allen's To Rome With Love is hit-or-miss

The original, more euphonious title for Woody Allen's 42nd feature film was The Bop Decameron. He flirted with Nero Fiddled for a while before settling on the postcard-generic, free-from-menace To Rome With Love. He didn't just lose lyricism in the name change; the Decameron association might have given the film a glimmer of grandness -- a raison d'être -- that's sorely missing from this ambling, just-passable picture. >More
 Magic Mike takes it all off

Directed by pretty much anyone besides Steven Soderbergh, Magic Mike might have been virtually unwatchable. But it's entertaining almost entirely thanks to what its director adds to the formula. >More
 Ted brings a stuffed toy to life

Ted is the first live-action feature film by Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy): the misadventures of a miraculous, talking teddy bear and his human, 35-year-old best friend forever (Mark Wahlberg). The cast is fine; the script is teasingly self-referential and packed with MacFarlane's gleefully coarse wit; and the digitally animated Ted is a visually flawless creation. >More
 Brave explores the struggle between mothers and daughters

At first glance, it looked like Pixar's Brave was going to be another one of those animated tales of frustrated outcasts who just wanna be accepted for who they are. But directors Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell pirouette back from that precipice to discover something considerably richer. >More
 Seeking a Friend for the End of the World has a novel take on the apocalypse

When it comes to the end of the world, Hollywood movies have heightened our expectations for an apocalypse full of surround sound and digital fury. But what of the doomsday that's merely a date on the calendar, something that spurs humans to finally tackle their bucket lists or reveal their true selves? >More
 Hair-metal musical: Rock of Ages head-bangs with style

We've seen the emphatic return of so many 1980s pop-culture touchstones, from tinny synthesizers to white sunglasses. But there's one Reagan-era institution young revivalists haven't really embraced: hair metal. There's a reason for that. It's terrible. >More
 Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding closes the generation gap

In Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, Jane Fonda isn't seen sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. But her performance as a war-protesting hippie still might give hives to Silent Majority types with long memories. Politics isn't really the Fonda character's main focus, though. >More
 Ridley Scott's Prometheus ponders big questions

Director Ridley Scott has played coy about whether his new science-fiction tale, Prometheus, is a prequel of sorts to his landmark 1979 horror-in-space film Alien. Stop reading now if you'd consider such information a spoiler. >More
 The Island President fights to save his country

At the very end, with a title, the documentary The Island President conveys what is probably the most important piece of information: The island president isn't the island president anymore. Mohamad Nasheed led the Maldives from 2008 until earlier this year, when he left office under disputed circumstances. >More
 Snow White and the Huntsman mines folklore's elemental urges

The hunger for fairy tales never wanes, but appetites refine. Snow White and the Huntsman -- ambitious, brutish, ruthlessly unromantic -- has the right idea casting its heroine as a Joan of Arc-type crusader. Its evil queen is a dissertation, albeit first draft, on beauty as the most direct path to power for the disenfranchised female. >More
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