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Thursday, July 31, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 82.0° F  Partly Cloudy
The Daily


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Mind over matter

The human spirit is always triumphing over something in the movies, but rarely with as much grace, wit and stringent charm as it does in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel's cinematic adaptation of the 1997 memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby. >More
 The Savages: Daddy dearest

"Refreshingly bleak" is how I would describe The Savages, Tamara Jenkins' cold, hard look at a brother and sister trying to escort their resentful father through the dying process. I can't say I enjoyed the movie, but I liked it a lot and admired the way it kept refusing to find a ray of light in all that midwinter darkness, at least until the end. >More
 Cassandra's Dream: Oh,brother

Woody Allen takes another look at morality and fate in Cassandra's Dream, which stars Ewan McGregor and Colin Ferrell as a pair of brothers who surprise themselves in how far they're willing to go to get ahead in the world. And I wish I could say I believed a single word either one of them spoke - the actors, I mean. The script is so amateurish it turns the entire cast into scam artists, trying to sell us a bill of goods even they must know is worthless. >More
 Sundance Shorts: The magnificent seven

Most of us think about short films only when it comes time to fill out our Oscar ballots, and even then we have to resort to various eeny-meeny-miny-moe methods to distinguish among nominees we haven't actually seen. But shorts are an art form of their own, capable of doing things in 10 or 20 minutes that many feature films fail to pull off in two hours. >More
 Starting Out in the Evening: Happy ending?

Like old soldiers, old authors never die, they just fade away, often well before they're through writing. Author Brian Morton, not quite old yet, built a novel around that sad fact. And against all odds, Morton's delicately shaded novel has been turned into a film. >More
 Atonement: The truth hurts

Imagination typically should be encouraged in children, but an excess of it leads to tragedy in Atonement, a more-than-worthy adaptation of Ian McEwan's 2002 novel. The child in question is 13-year-old Briony Tallis (the wonderfully unnerving novice Saoirse Ronan), a self-serious budding writer who takes her corners at the family's country estate at hard right angles and filters what little happens to her through a melodramatic sheen. >More

At the start of Juno, the 16-year-old title character (Ellen Page) pays for her pregnancy test with the stick - pink for positive - still in hand. The cashier wisecracks, "This is one diddle that can't be undid, homeskillet." That quip, care of screenwriter and freshly minted Hot New Thing Diablo Cody, almost had me audibly groaning: So it's gonna be like that, is it? Well, yes and no. >More
 Charlie Wilson's War

It's tough selling a picture these days even nominally related to war, so in the blitzkrieg of promotional press for Charlie Wilson's War we were reminded again and again of one simple fact: This one stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Yes, it may be about the U.S.'s dubious involvement in another war in the Middle East, in a season of Iraq movies that have failed to spark the viewership's imagination or interest...but this one stars Tom and Julia. No worries. >More
 The Kite Runner

he screen version of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, a phenomenally successful novel about friendship, betrayal and redemption, set against the turmoil in Afghanistan during the last 30 years, is an example of how good intentions don't necessarily make for a good movie. >More
 Sweeney Todd Close shaves

It's tempting to say that, in making its way from the stage to the screen, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has been slashed to bits, ground into hamburger and served up as so many meat pies. >More
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