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Friday, January 30, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 24.0° F  Partly Cloudy
The Daily


Stunning images redeem Life of Pi's tale of a man and a tiger

It makes almost no logical sense to turn some books into movies. Yann Martel's Life of Pi is one of them. While this novel is a critical success, it's hardly a household name. Make it a mix of gritty survival drama and otherworldly visuals, as though somebody dipped Cast Away into a vat of Avatar. >More
 You'd never guess that an Oscar-winning director made The Twillight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

So here it is: the final installment of the Twilight saga, or "our long national nightmare," as I have come to think of it. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 picks up with former human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) getting her first taste of vampire life, after her bloodsucker husband, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), saved her during the difficult childbirth that concluded Part 1. >More
 Why is downtown Madison film culture disappearing?

Perhaps you read Roger Ebert's rave review of Leos Carax's Holy Motors earlier this month, when the film opened in Chicago. Perhaps you were intrigued. Unfortunately, you've already missed this movie in Madison. You're likely to miss nearly all of downtown's most interesting films unless you venture to nontheatrical venues. Though former movie palaces pepper the city center, permanent projectors are few and far between near the Capitol. >More
 Lincoln celebrates the lost art of political compromise

"Compromise... or you risk it all," the president of the United States warns an ideologue in his own party. You haven't just walked into a campaign 2012 reality show. These words are from Steven Spielberg's grand yet intimate drama Lincoln. It's January 1865, and the president (Daniel Day-Lewis) is trying to garner support for the 13th Amendment, the abolition of slavery. >More
 The Sessions explores a disabled man's quest for a physical connection

The Sessions tells the story of a 38-year-old virgin, but unlike the Steve Carell movie about a 40-year-old celibate, it doesn't treat the hero's predicament as a farce. The Sessions is based on the experiences of journalist and poet Mark O'Brien, a polio survivor who recounted how he lost his virginity in a University of Wisconsin Press book called How I Became a Human Being. >More
 Skyfall proves that 007 is still relevant

The James Bond franchise seems to be feeling a bit defensive. After 007 (Daniel Craig) chases a killer through Istanbul to recover a hard drive containing information about undercover agents, M (Judi Dench) wonders if it's time for him to hang up his Walther PPK. Bond and the young tech wiz Q (Ben Whishaw) trade zingers about how espionage has changed into something that's not just about "exploding pens." And when M is called before a government committee, she has to explain why her field agents are still relevant. >More
 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
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