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Friday, February 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 6.0° F  Fair
The Daily


Micmacs tastelessly combines whimsy and horror

I didn't participate in the world's love affair with Amélie, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 2001 film about a Parisian waitress played by Audrey Tautou. I found the film too cute and smug, and I didn't care for its excess of childlike wonder. But I deemed it not a terrible way to spend a couple of hours, and I moved on. >More
 Diane Lane picks a winner in Secretariat

Saddle up for some old-fashioned inspirational movie entertainment as Disney mounts the story of horse-racing's 1973 Triple Crown winner in Secretariat. Actually, the focus of the movie is not really the horse but the people who owned, trained and shared with him the will to succeed. >More
 The Social Network portrays Facebook's creator as a tragic a-hole

In Ben Mezrich's engaging nonfiction book The Accidental Billionaires, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a fascinatingly enigmatic figure defined primarily by what looks like an undiagnosed autism spectrum condition; it's a central irony that the guy who has connected millions seems incapable of creating his own social connections. >More
 Unlikely spies trade secrets in Farewell

The number of people who mourn the collapse of the Soviet bloc is presumably small and dwindling. But I can't be the only one who mourns what went away along with it, Cold War dramas. From The Manchurian Candidate through WarGames and beyond, geopolitical conflict made for fine screen entertainment. So I cry a little tear of moviegoer nostalgia now that I have watched Farewell, the French film that tells an exciting and true story of Cold War espionage. >More
 Cairo Time is a screen romance that dares to be sad

I am moved by Patricia Clarkson's performance, in the fine film Cairo Time, as Juliette, a fashion magazine editor who is meeting her husband in the Egyptian capital. This is pleasingly understated acting. Walking in a vibrant, crowded, unfamiliar city, she reacts to much of what is going on around her with a series of little smiles. But Juliette also is sorrowful. That she mostly keeps to herself. >More
 A ballet star escapes from China in Mao's Last Dancer

I never expected this to be the year I glimpsed Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in two new movies. First I saw Parisians jeer the ballet's controversial 1913 debut in Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. And now, at a climactic moment in Mao's Last Dancer, I have seen Texans rapturously greet a 1986 performance starring the Chinese dancer Li Cunxin (Chi Cao). >More
 Oliver Stone's South of the Border praises controversial Latin leaders

He has his detractors, his loud, angry detractors, but I enjoy films by Oliver Stone. I may not always agree with him, and he may even be a buffoon, but I salute him for using mainstream cinema to explore his dark, detailed vision. My favorite Stone film, Nixon, is a shattering, despairing aria about what's wrong with everything. >More
 Joaquin Phoenix either does or doesn't fall apart in I'm Still Here

Most clips on America's Funniest Home Videos are my ecstatic guilty pleasure -- the barfing brides, the collapsing Christmas trees. But I dread the practical jokes, as when the poor guy cries upon learning he hasn't really won the lottery. Hoaxes are cruel, and professional practical jokers, from Punk'd's Ashton Kutcher to the Yes Men, just depress me. >More
 Community Cinema at Madison Public Library, Spotlight Cinema at MMoCA

Although Madison lost the UW's beloved Starlight Cinema series earlier this year, local cinephiles are gaining two new series. >More
 The stakes aren't clear in Anton Chekhov's The Duel

Perhaps it's the exquisite boredom of lazy afternoons, or maybe it's just the effects of the warm weather, but summer has a way of breeding mischief. Mischief breaks out in Anton Chekhov's The Duel, a languorous costume drama set during a hot summer in the Caucasus. And then mischief leads to mayhem. >More
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