Connect with Isthmus:         Newsletters 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 16.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Daily


21 Jump Street takes an inspired approach to recycling

What do we really expect at this point from movies that cash in on nostalgia for old TV shows, cartoons, toys and board games? Every once in a while, a filmmaking team comes up with a quirky enough perspective that the revival of a title seems not just forgivable, but almost inspired. >More
 A man fumbles with the divine in Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Co-directors Mark and Jay Duplass filmed Jeff, Who Lives at Home in their native New Orleans and its surrounding areas, but they mostly abstain from framing more scenic places and promenades. Instead, they favor the lusterless, eyesore environs of contemporary American life: a chain motel, a Hooters bar, a chain-linked basketball court, the breakfast table of a limply appointed apartment. >More
 John Carter gives familiar sci-fi material a spark of energy

John Carter could tip the scales over to silly, but it somehow manages to stay just on the right side of fun. Adapting Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel A Princess of Mars, director Andrew Stanton (Wall-E) and his co-screenwriters (including novelist Michael Chabon) introduce us to Capt. John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a Confederate Civil War veteran whose death in 1881 brings his nephew Ned (erstwhile Spy Kid Daryl Sabara) to New York for a reading of his will. >More
 A community comes together in Le Havre

A fulsome optimism has crept into the world of Aki Kaurismäki, the Finnish director whose films have always been marked by their distinctive blend of deadpan humor and quotidian melodrama. To Kaurismäki's panoply of underdogs, outsiders and bohemians, Le Havre now adds a sense of people's willingness to do good. >More
 Affluent New Yorkers duke it out in Carnage

Roman Polanski's entertaining Carnage gestures at sharp satire, but I'm not entirely satisfied with the big insight. The film begins with a bloody confrontation between kids on a playground. Later, a glib corporate lawyer named Alan (Christoph Waltz) says, "I believe in the god of carnage," and then he talks smugly about the horrific strife in Congo, where the combatants include child soldiers. >More
 We Need to Talk About Kevin profiles a demon child

Based on Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a hybrid, and not an appealing one. Lynne Ramsay's film has horror elements, but it lacks the gleeful, bloody guilelessness of that genre. At the same time, it's not the nuanced indie drama it aspires to be. >More
 Wisconsin's silent film era: The Badger State was home to a host of cinema pioneers

Despite critical and popular success for Oscar darling The Artist, the silent film era remains for many a dim, flickering curiosity. Perhaps those early Hollywood days would be more real if we knew that studio chiefs and countless silent stars were our neighbors. >More
 A Separation charts the despair of two families

Everything in A Separation hangs on one moment. It's very quick. An enraged man and woman are fighting. She is struggling to get into his apartment, and he is struggling to get her out. Then she is gone, the door is closed, and the moment is over. >More
 Act of Valor is authentic but uninvolving

Plenty of movies let you know fairly quickly that they're going to be excruciating. Far rarer is something that starts out excruciating, then becomes fascinating. And rarer still is a movie that, after making that 180-degree turn, pivots back to unbearable again. That's the curious experience of watching Act of Valor, a military thriller that prominently advertises that many of its "actors" are, in fact, active-duty Navy SEALs. >More
 Agents vie for romance in empty This Means War

It has taken decades of watching and writing about movies, but This Means War might have finally helped me articulate what feels like a fundamental rule about would-be escapist entertainment: The more preposterous the situation at the center, the more genuine the characters need to be. >More
Select a Movie
Select a Theater

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar