What goes around comes around. That's the message I'm taking from Ripple Effect, Philippe Caland's karma-driven account of an L.A.-based fashion designer (Caland himself) who can't hit the big-time until he's cleared the accounts on a hit-and-run accident he was involved in 15 years ago. Perhaps only in La La Land would money play such a major role in the interconnectedness of things. But Caland, who also produced the movie and wrote the script, tries to avoid the charge of complete cravenness by making the story about caring for something other than money - you know, like people and stuff. Of course, this is a guy who once made a movie (Hollywood Buddha) about not having landed a major distributor for his previous movie (Dead Girl), so he may have a slightly different meaning for the phrase "pay it forward."
>MoreMamma Mia: Who's your daddy? Kimberley Jones on Friday 07/18/2008 First let me soothe the jangled nerves of any purists in the house: Yes, Mamma Mia! stays faithful to its source material. By source material, I mean the hit theatrical show that strung together a bunch of ABBA chart-toppers and shoehorned a pittance of plot in between a giggling spectacle of song and dance. >MoreGonzo: Writing up a storm Kent Williams on Friday 07/11/2008 What can you say about the legendary Hunter S. Thompson that hasn't been said a thousand times before? He was a red Cadillac speeding down the highways and byways of the American Dream, his turbo-charged prose fueled by alcohol and.... >MoreMountain man: The Children of Huang Shi Kent Williams on Friday 07/11/2008 They don't make 'em like they used to, but they keep tryin'. The Children of Huang Shi is supposed to be one of those large-canvas, exotic-locations, cast-of-thousands epics à la Lawrence of Arabia. And, technically speaking, the ingredients are all there. The canvas is suitably large, the locations are suitably exotic, and the cast includes hundreds, if not thousands, of Japanese and Chinese extras. But the script's a real turkey. >MoreWYOU screens winners of inaugural On-Air Film Festival Kristian Knutsen on Wednesday 07/09/2008 4:05 pm Madison community television station WYOU unveiled the winners of its inaugural 36-Hour On-Air Film Festival with a special screening on Sunday at Sundance Cinemas. Six films were chosen by an official jury and viewers voting online from among scores of selections that aired on the cable access channel over the last weekend of June, representing a breadth of works from the city's filmmaking community. "The film fest was a success," says Eric Allin, technical director for the station. "I think the submitted films were better than expected, and the films that won exceeded expectations too." >MoreWALL-E: Mechanical genius Kent Williams on Friday 07/04/2008 You've got to hand it to Pixar, the friendly folks behind such movies as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Ratatouille: They never rest on their laurels. They've revolutionized the world of animation and made billions of dollars doing it, but they keep pushing themselves and keep pushing us. (Ratatouille was a rat, for crissakes.) With WALL-E, their latest release, they almost seem to be pushing us aside. >MoreHancock:Bad good guy Kent Williams on Friday 07/04/2008 What do you get when you mix a superhero with an anti-hero? Super-Anti-Hero-Man! And although that idea was already floated this summer, with great success, in Iron Man, here's Hancock, an action-comedy that features a superhero so anti-heroic even kids, who should love him, think he's an asshole. We first see Hancock on a Los Angeles street, out cold, sleeping off the night before, like some derelict who just happens to have super-strength and the ability to fly. But the fact that he's played by Will Smith, the most likable guy on the face of the planet right now, suggests that a makeover is in the offing. Indeed it is, in a movie that, like Hancock himself, has its share of problems but nevertheless rises to the occasion, soaring above our comic-book-movie expectations. >MoreWYOU presents Madison flicks in 36-Hour On Air Film Fest Kristian Knutsen on Friday 06/27/2008 5:19 pm Madison has seen a tremendous surge in independent filmmaking over the last few years, a trend that only looks to be building. More affordable cameras and editing software has lowered barriers to entry, particularly in the ongoing explosion of documentaries, and the online video revolution has led to a whole new audience for an ever-increasing legion of shorts. Now many of these local creations have been compiled into the 36-Hour On-Air Film Festival, a fundraiser marathon of movies that will be shown on WYOU Channel 4 this weekend. >MoreGet Smart: Mission: Improbable Kent Williams on Friday 06/27/2008 One of these days we'll run out of old TV shows to resurrect, and then what will we do? In its late-'60s heyday, Get Smart was always good for a laugh. Don Adams delivered his lines like they were stray bullets whizzing toward the wrong targets, and the spy-versus-spy high jinks engaged in by CONTROL and KAOS were a nice joke on the similar shenanigans engaged in by the CIA and the KGB. But that was then, and this is now -- well, maybe not. >MoreRoman de Gare Kent Williams on Friday 06/27/2008 Claude Lelouch is the Robin Leach of French cinema, a gold-plated peephole into the lives of the rich and famous, with their yachts and caviar and graceful lunges toward l'amour. He's still best known in this country for that old tub of Dream Whip, 1966's A Man and a Woman. But with Roman de Gare, his latest opus to come our way, Lelouch seems to have reinvented himself - literally, in the sense that he wrote and directed it under a pseudonym, metaphorically in the sense that this isn't the kind of movie we expect from him. >More