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Thursday, December 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 18.0° F  Overcast
The Daily

MOVIES

Margaret: The annoying teenager

Eleven years ago, esteemed playwright Kenneth Lonergan's debut movie, You Can Count on Me, received many accolades and a couple of Oscar nominations. He shot his second film, Margaret, in 2005. It has taken years of reedits and backstage wrangling for it to reach the screen. As it stands now in a final two-and-a-half-hour cut, Margaret is an ungainly mess, full of interesting moments and top-tier actors but extremely scattered. >More
 The Lucky One: Follow the photo

Depending on your taste in romantic fare, you'll find The Lucky One, adapted from Nicholas Sparks' novel, toe-curlingly dreamy or ploddingly predictable. I fall into the latter camp. The film is shopworn. >More
 Ones to watch: Ten gems from the 2012 Wisconsin Film Festival

The Wisconsin Film Festival had a shaky start this year, with online-ticketing glitches that provoked a flurry of consternation on Twitter. I suspect most of the unhappy tweeters won't hold on to their discontent, though. They just want to watch some films. What to watch? The schedule is, as always, overwhelming. I can't vouch for every single film that will be screened in the fest, which runs April 18-22 at various downtown venues and, for the first time, at Sundance Madison. But here are 10 I know you'll like. >More
 This Is Not a Film is an urgent act of defiance

The other day I used my cheap smartphone to shoot footage of a funny Flash ad on my computer screen. Is that clip a film? No. If I show it to someone else, is it a film then? I don't think so. What if I had previously been awarded prizes at Cannes, and what if the government had ordered me not to make films? Is it a film then? Hmm. >More
 Shhhhhh! Don't spoil the glorious surprises of The Cabin in the Woods

Two men (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) have a conversation around a water cooler about mundane topics. Later, five college students prepare to pile into an R.V. and head out for a weekend of fun at a remote lake house. >More
 Funny American Reunion is the franchise's best so far

Thirteen years after the Weitz brothers forever defiled the Great American Apple Pie with sexual innuendo and jump-started the joys of camsex for a generation, American Reunion, the fourth film in the series (not counting four direct-to-DVD spinoffs) proves the best of the lot thus far. Part of this film's winning appeal may be the nostalgic and nearly complete return of American Pie's original cast. >More
 A man loses his sex appeal in The Salt of Life

Although it's told in a breezy fashion, The Salt of Life wishes to address dispiriting subject matter: an aging man's psychological trauma when he recognizes that he is no longer viewed as a sexual object by women. Yet director, co-writer and star Gianni Di Gregorio (Mid-August Lunch) barely scratches the subject's surface. >More
 Lasse Hallström goes Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Oh, but how a satirist like Chris Morris (Four Lions) or Armando Iannucci (In the Loop) might have made mincemeat of Paul Torday's 2007 comic novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and its enjoyably preposterous premise: a super-wealthy sheik hatches an implausible-seeming scheme to build a manmade river in Yemen and stock it with salmon flown in from the United Kingdom. >More
 Crazy Horse takes a backstage look at a Paris cabaret

Unlike most of the "gentlemen's clubs" in the U.S. (not that I've been to that many, but still...), Paris' famed Crazy Horse saloon has been an ongoing erotic attraction for tourists and locals alike since 1951. The place has been a rich and endlessly creative bastion of pure French showmanship, and it harbors a deep, Parisian reverence for all things female. >More
 The Hunger Games soars when it focuses on its heroine

With The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins mines familiar dystopian ground, building around the kind of public-spectacle blood-and-circuses concept that has fueled everything from Death Race 2000 to The Running Man. Yep, there's little new under the dome of the battle arena -- except the character at the center. >More
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