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


Birdman is an enjoyable farce about an actor desperate to save his career

Well played, Alejandro González Iñárritu. You've dared critics not to roll their eyes at your latest film, Birdman, and you've almost succeeded. >More
 Bill Murray bares the soul of a boozing, gambling grump in St. Vincent

Although playing the unabashed curmudgeon next door is the kind of thing Bill Murray could do in his sleep, the treasured actor brings everything he has to the role of Vincent MacKenna in St. Vincent. >More
 In Listen Up Philip, an arrogant young writer visits the summer home of his pretentious mentor

Writer and director Alex Ross Perry has pulled off a feat of cinematic alchemy. He has made an entertaining film about a monstrously unappealing character. >More
 A seasoned tank commander mentors a terrified rookie in Fury

I wish I'd gotten to watch Fury without knowing it was written and directed by David Ayer. I like to think I would've been able to identify his handiwork without this information. >More
 A dad pretends his slain son's songs are his own creations in Rudderless

If you're like me, you fell in love with Billy Crudup as the charismatic rock guitarist in Cameron Crowe's marvelous 2000 film Almost Famous. Crudup honors that memory with a fine performance in the musical drama Rudderless, even if the musician he plays is not so much charismatic as he is pathetic. >More
 A defense attorney must help his estranged dad fight a murder charge in The Judge

While watching The Judge, I found myself pondering how reviewing a movie resembles being a member of a trial jury. You know you're supposed to consider the matter at hand rationally and objectively. Yet filmmakers, like effective attorneys, often want to shift your sympathies by appealing to a particular emotional response. >More
 Sex, drugs and grimy bathroom fixtures enthrall Wetlands' troubled heroine

John Waters fans will recall the plot of Pink Flamingos, in which warring factions compete for the title of Filthiest Person Alive. Helen, the heroine of Wetlands, could make a strong claim for the honor. Played by Carla Juri, Helen is at the center of this ambitiously disgusting German film, which is based on Charlotte Roche's controversial 2008 novel. >More
 An odd couple explore Iceland's wonders in Land Ho!

It seems that the road movie has entered a new era, one in which the destination and the progression of the characters don't matter very much. I'm thinking of movies like The Trip to Italy, which features English funnymen Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Their colorful personalities drive the film, not their adventures. Land Ho! is a similar type of movie. >More
 Gone Girl is a gripping drama about a man accused of murdering his wife

David Fincher knows how to keep audiences from zoning out during opening credits. The director shares them in an unsettling way in his adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. He immediately makes it clear what he's going to deliver: the cinematic equivalent of a page-turner. >More
 Pay 2 Play examines money's role in union busting and Citizens United

Thank Michael Moore for inaugurating the modern era of the lefty polemical documentary. Various imitators have come along in the wake of successful films like Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, in which Moore promoted progressive causes. I see elements of Moore's style in Pay 2 Play: Democracy's High Stakes, about money's corrupting influence in politics. >More
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