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The Daily


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
 Your Sister's Sister is as funny and complex as a real-life love story

I love Your Sister's Sister a lot. What is it about this tense, amusing, sexy film? I recall two scenes. One is near the end. A character named Jack (Mark Duplass), who is a schlub, delivers a beautiful speech. Like the rest of the film, it's heartfelt and tinged with irony. >More
 Take This Waltz is an unwitting parody of itself

In the Seinfeld episode "The Frogger," Jerry breaks up with his girlfriend in a montage that wickedly satirizes breakup clichés. It's really funny. There is a similar breakup montage in the romantic drama Take This Waltz. I regret to inform you that we're not supposed to think it's funny, even though writer-director Sarah Polley likewise employs abrupt emotional shifts and snippets of random-yet-fraught dialogue. >More
 The Master is much more than a Scientology saga

Is The Master -- Paul Thomas Anderson's hauntingly intimate epic -- about Scientology? Many people have been focusing on this question, hoping perhaps for a searing, roman à clef takedown of L. Ron Hubbard's movement. It's easy to deduce the inspiration for Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the film's magnetic author-philosopher-guru character. >More
 A con man poses as a missing teen in The Imposter

I complain a lot about contemporary documentaries. That's because too many documentarians keep making the same distracting mistakes. They condescend to their subjects. They use cutesy animations. They stage reenactments. Reenactments bother me the most. >More
 An unlikely genius: Bill W. profiles the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

Most people are at least glancingly familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous. Its slogans and clichés are common coin. Its 12-step philosophy for recovering from addiction is the model to which all others are compared. The program isn't widely understood, though, and that's by design. AA tradition discourages members from discussing the group publicly. >More
 A Lonely Place for Dying needs more action and fewer phone calls

Justin Eugene Evans' Cold War thriller A Lonely Place for Dying has an impressive resume: It's earned 27 awards at 46 film festivals, and its $250,000 budget delivers more production values than one might expect. Evans, a Milwaukee-area filmmaker, will screen the film at more than 20 theaters nationwide, including Madison's Barrymore Theatre. Unfortunately, his ambition is more thrilling than the first half of his thriller. >More
 A machine develops human flaws in Robot & Frank

Robot & Frank is a weird, winning little movie that explores what happens to the essential self as one's memory fades. Oh, and it's a heist picture. With robot butlers. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. >More
 Mike Birbiglia's immaturity charms and chafes in Sleepwalk With Me

Mike Birbiglia is too old to play a teenager -- or even a twentysomething -- but his voice still cracks on occasion. He delivers his lines with long uhhhhs, sarcasm and an overall air of uncertainty. Sight unseen -- which is how many people first came to him, via monologues on his comedy albums and NPR's This American Life -- he could almost pass for a child. >More
 The Words exploits clichés about writers and their love lives

The Words is about struggling writer Rory Jensen (Bradley Cooper) who lives with his gorgeous girlfriend Dora (Star Trek's Zoe Saldana) in New York City. He has two unsold novels under his belt when he discovers a manuscript of unknown provenance tucked inside an old leather briefcase bought in Paris. Already you can see where this is going. >More
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