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Saturday, September 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 67.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily

MOVIES

Compliance is a psychological thriller and a philosophical statement

Yes, writer-director Craig Zobel's unsettling drama Compliance provides a harrowing true-life demonstration of the infamous Milgram experiment, in which participants blindly deferred to an authority figure. But even though visceral unpleasantness often takes center stage, the film packs an even greater philosophical punch. >More
 In Wreck-It Ralph, a videogame character barges into a new world

In the realm of fantasy fiction, there's a concept called "world-building": creating a different universe, perhaps one based on the future of our own planet. It has become the go-to approach for feature animation as filmmakers look for a blank canvas on which to begin their creations. >More
 In Flight, an alcoholic pilot saves his plane but crashes his life

For its first half-hour, Flight enraptures you with thrilling action and a troubling moral quandary. But after it descends from its high-wire act, it becomes a fairly standard story about a substance abuser and his difficulty getting permanently sober. >More
 Six storylines yield trite conclusions in Cloud Atlas

There's nobility in striving for a cause that seems foolhardy, toward a goal that could bring greater joy and understanding to the world. That's one of the many ideas bubbling through Cloud Atlas. It's also a way of thinking about the project itself. David Mitchell's 2004 novel seems unfilmable, with six stories that span from the 1840s to the 2200s. >More
 Searching for Sugar Man is a detective story about a forgotten musician

Detroit, 1968. Mist rises from the river as freighters pass by. Two men walk into a bar called the Sewer. An eerie voice floats toward them, like the smoke that fills the dingy, beer-stained room. They draw closer to its source. The singer's back is turned. He could be anybody -- or nobody at all. >More
 A man romances his alma mater in Liberal Arts

On the topic of liberal education, there's disagreement. Skeptics, including anxious parents, worry that English majors aren't prepared for rewarding careers. Proponents counter that liberal-arts disciplines develop useful professional skills, especially critical thinking. The career debate misses the point. >More
 A family's antics get a little too nutty in 2 Days in New York

Julie Delpy's 2 Days in New York resembles a Woody Allen comedy, but there's more than one kind of Woody Allen comedy. The film combines a couple of classic Allen approaches: the thoughtful, character-based humor of Annie Hall and the farce of early, funny movies like Bananas. I'm afraid the combination is unwieldy in 2 Days in New York, which Delpy directed, co-wrote and co-produced. Even so, I laughed a lot. >More
 Argo hatches a crazy plan to spring hostages from Iran

It seems absurd to those of us who associate him with Daredevil, J-Lo and Gigli, but when our backs were turned, Ben Affleck became a Serious Filmmaker. That's not to say he makes Serious Films. He launched his directing career with low-key, character-based genre fare -- tense crime-fiction narratives that were smart, efficient and restrained. >More
 Tim Burton rekindles his creative spark in Frankenweenie

In 1984, Tim Burton, a 25-year-old Disney animator, made a 29-minute live-action film called Frankenweenie. In this lively tale, a schoolboy named Victor Frankenstein (Barret Oliver) revives his beloved dog, Sparky, who's been killed by a car. >More
 Neil Young Journeys needs a bit more direction

Rock concert movies are a distinctly mixed bag. Filmmakers long ago realized that they can't convey anything like the near-religious experience of a great show, and better rock films come at the issue sideways. Consider Woodstock, which conveys in such marvelous detail that festival's ups and downs. >More
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