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Friday, December 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Overcast
The Daily


We Need to Talk About Kevin profiles a demon child

Based on Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a hybrid, and not an appealing one. Lynne Ramsay's film has horror elements, but it lacks the gleeful, bloody guilelessness of that genre. At the same time, it's not the nuanced indie drama it aspires to be. >More
 Wisconsin's silent film era: The Badger State was home to a host of cinema pioneers

Despite critical and popular success for Oscar darling The Artist, the silent film era remains for many a dim, flickering curiosity. Perhaps those early Hollywood days would be more real if we knew that studio chiefs and countless silent stars were our neighbors. >More
 A Separation charts the despair of two families

Everything in A Separation hangs on one moment. It's very quick. An enraged man and woman are fighting. She is struggling to get into his apartment, and he is struggling to get her out. Then she is gone, the door is closed, and the moment is over. >More
 Act of Valor is authentic but uninvolving

Plenty of movies let you know fairly quickly that they're going to be excruciating. Far rarer is something that starts out excruciating, then becomes fascinating. And rarer still is a movie that, after making that 180-degree turn, pivots back to unbearable again. That's the curious experience of watching Act of Valor, a military thriller that prominently advertises that many of its "actors" are, in fact, active-duty Navy SEALs. >More
 Agents vie for romance in empty This Means War

It has taken decades of watching and writing about movies, but This Means War might have finally helped me articulate what feels like a fundamental rule about would-be escapist entertainment: The more preposterous the situation at the center, the more genuine the characters need to be. >More
 Unlike so many animated films, The Secret World of Arrietty takes its time

If your impression of animated features has been shaped entirely by the whiz-bang studio product of the CGI era, bring an open mind to The Secret World of Arrietty. That's not the way Japan's Studio Ghibli rolls. >More
 Shame is a harrowing story of sex addiction

All humans have habits, some of them bad. Brandon Sullivan's (Michael Fassbender) bad habits have curdled into full-bore addiction. The escorts with whom he politely negotiates terms, the workaday masturbation breaks, the Internet porn he watches to accompany a dinner of leftover takeout: This is Brandon's everyday landscape, as commonplace to him as another's crossword puzzle or nail-clipping. >More
 Small worlds: Oscar-nominated 2012 shorts lack storytelling heft

It's always charming to watch obscure filmmakers as they receive Oscars for their short subjects. They look dazed and grateful as they accept their due in front of a massive television audience. But charm notwithstanding, viewers generally don't tune in for the shorts. >More
 Daniel Radcliffe never ignites in spooky The Woman in Black

Oh, where's that boy wizard from Hogwarts when you need him? It turns out that Daniel Radcliffe did not bring his sorcerer's wand with him when he graduated to his first adult film role since the conclusion of the Harry Potter series. Too bad. Magic powers would have come in handy when dealing with the malevolent ghost that haunts The Woman in Black, the first film in 35 years to be shot in Great Britain under the venerable Hammer banner. >More
 With great power comes great irresponsibility in telekinesis tale Chronicle

From out of left field comes Chronicle, a PG-13 thriller breathing new life into the found-footage formula that has become so popular in the dozen or so years since The Blair Witch Project. Like a marriage of Cloverfield and Carrie, Chronicle blends its faux nave techniques with a teen telekinesis plot to create something that feels fresh and authentic. >More
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