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Saturday, December 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 30.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily


Oliver Stone's W. embraces Bush

Asked what he thought his place in history would be, George W. Bush famously replied, "In history? In history, we'll all be dead." That's awfully close to Henry Ford's famous line, "History is bunk," albeit with an added whiff of mortality. Dead or alive, Bush has now been subjected to what we'll just have to call a first draft of history, Oliver Stone's absorbing but not quite mesmerizing W. >More
 Trumbo: Un-American history

Are you now or have you ever been interested in the Hollywood blacklist? If so, you might want to check out Trumbo, Peter Askin's documentary portrait of one of its most prominent victims. When he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1950, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood's highest-paid screenwriter, author of such movies as Kitty Foyle and A Guy Named Joe. >More
 Halloween on screen: Rich Peterson introduces the Madison Horror Film Festival

Rich Peterson has a vision for Halloween in Madison that extends well beyond the costumed parade of inebriation that reigns on State Street. Turning rather to the holiday's supernatural heart and gleeful embrace of the macabre, he has organized the inaugural Madison Horror Film Festival, which will serve up scares on and off the screen all day Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre. >More
 Celebrate Christmas on Mars at the Orpheum Theatre

I collected a few of my most spaced-out friends, and with giant disco balls, spotlights and imponderable waves of technicolor confetti in our brains, we submitted ourselves to Wayne Coyne's vision of Christmas on Mars. Would this be a work of genius? A flop? A nightmare trip? >More
 The Duchess: Unhappy woman

How would you feel if you'd been handed over to the richest man in England, only to find out you're a glorified sperm receptacle? >More
 Body of Lies: Leo's on the case

Political thrillers have gotten a shot in the arm from Islamic terrorism, which replaced Soviet Communism as our favorite geopolitical bogeyman. But it's surprising how quickly the effect has worn off. Body of Lies, which takes us all over Europe and the Middle East in search of a radical cleric who likes to make things go kaboom, is a bit of a bomb itself. >More
 Trouble the Water: Big uneasy

As far as Katrina documentaries go, you may have felt like there was nothing left to say after Spike Lee's epic lamentation When the Levees Broke. But there are as many stories as there were victims, and each one of them has the utter fascination of an individual life torn to shreds. Kimberly Rivers Roberts' life was already a little ragged when the storm started slashing the Ninth Ward home she shared with her husband, Scott. >More
 An American Carol: Comedic conservatism

Does political humor have to align with your politics before you can find it funny? That's the question I kept asking myself while watching An American Carol, David Zucker's comic skewering of the American Left in general and Michael Moore in particular. Admittedly, I laughed only rarely, but was it because Zucker's taking his pot shots from the right side of the aisle or because the pot shots themselves, in a purely esthetic sense, were so lame? >More
 Appaloosa: Way out west

Appaloosa has been made with such quiet authority that its charms may be lost on modern audiences, who expect a certain amount of commotion, no matter what the genre. Of course, Westerns have traditionally taken their time. They're like baseball games, as much about the in-between moments as they are about the major shoot-outs. >More
 Blindness: The vision thing

In the increasingly grand tradition of Children of Men, 28 Days Later and I Am Legend, Blindness takes us to the end of civilization and just keeps going, showing us what it'll be like when all the things that hold us together have disappeared. This time, it's an epidemic of "the white sickness" that sends the world into...well, not darkness, exactly, since the afflicted perceive a sea of milky whiteness. >More
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