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Saturday, January 31, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 34.0° F  Overcast
The Daily


The Last Mistress: Vive la nudité

She's been called "the reigning terror of French cinema," "the high priestess of highbrow provocation" and "a dauntingly courageous connoisseur of carnality," but I prefer to think of Catherine Breillat as Simone de Bouvoir with a strap-on dildo. Highly theoretical, but in a very sexy way, her films are like porno for eggheads, turning sexual desire - especially female sexual desire - into a thesis topic while holding on to its tumescence. >More
 Choke: Madness and longing

Sam Rockwell is magnificently scuzzy in Choke, where he plays a sex addict who fakes the need for a Heimlich maneuver in restaurants so that people will hold him for a few moments and perhaps send cash later out of concern for his well-being. >More
 Righteous Kill: Masters at work

It could have been a dream match-up: Al Pacino and Robert De Niro strapping on the gloves and going 15 rounds, may the best man win. Who would win, Serpico or Travis Bickle? >More
 The Edge of Heaven: Between worlds

A man without a country or a man with two countries? That's one of the many questions posed by The Edge of Heaven, Faith Akim's wonderful film about a world where borders are so porous we don't know who we really are anymore. >More
 Frozen River: People mover

If you thought Erin Brockovich was too user-friendly, in that old Hollywood way, then you might want to check out Frozen River, where Melissa Leo plays a working-class mom without Julia Roberts' million-dollar smile. Leo's Ray Eddy doesn't take on an entire power company all by herself. She has enough trouble just feeding her kids, who are getting by on popcorn and Tang for breakfast as it is. They all live in a single-wide trailer that Ray hopes to trade in for a double-wide. But the man of the house, a gambling addict, has run off to Atlantic City with the next payment. Ray's broke. >More
 Burn After Reading: Mission: Improbable

The Coen brothers reached the pinnacle of success with No Country for Old Men, and it must have scared the crap out of them, because with Burn After Reading they're back to their old tricks again, mixing and matching movie genres with film-school glee. >More
 My Winnipeg: Way up north

"I kind of like poking around in my own little cesspool and every now and then making a film," Canada's Guy Maddin recently told The New York Times. And if by "cesspool" he means his mind - all those memories and fantasies, dreams and nightmares - then that's a pretty good description of what Maddin does. Like David Lynch, he's more interested in the unconscious mind than the conscious mind. >More
 Dancing camera: UW Cinematheque mounts a Max Ophüls series

A true cosmopolitan, Max Ophüls directed films in five different countries and five different languages. And yet there's a consistency to his work that has made the German-born Frenchman, who spent some crucial years in Hollywood, an auteurist's dream come true. >More
 Up the Yangtze: Big river

The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics got awfully close to raising Leni Riefenstahl from the dead. Such pageantry! Such thinly veiled militarism! China is undoubtedly on the move these days, and perhaps the best symbol of its gargantuan plans is the Three Gorges Dam, which is five times the size of Hoover Dam and, when completed, could tilt the planet on its rotational axis by turning the Yangtze River into a vast inland sea. Talk about changing the world! >More
 Disaster Movie: On the brink of funny

I was worried about Disaster Movie. The early word-of-mouth was worse than President Bush's approval ratings. But I can't say it's not funny. Unfortunately, I can't say it's funny either, but it inhabits that nether region between funny and not-funny rather well. You don't laugh, or even smile, on the outside, but you do kind of smile, even laugh occasionally, on the inside. >More
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