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Sunday, July 13, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 81.0° F  Partly Cloudy
The Daily

MOVIES

A virus convulses the world in Contagion

With its dire scenario, all-star cast and multithreaded plot, Contagion resembles 1970s disaster flicks like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno (Henry Fonda as The Scientist! Helen Hayes as The Stowaway!). But those trashy old movies are enjoyable as camp and not much else. Contagion is a thoughtful, subtle film, a look at the global devastation wrought by a deadly virus people pick up from handshakes and subway rails. >More
 Cave of Forgotten Dreams takes prehistoric art personally

You know the old saw: When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, when you're one of the world's most thoughtful filmmakers, maybe everything looks like cinema. With Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog has taken material that could have made for a really spiffy episode of Nova and created a very personal documentary, one of the most moving, absorbing films I've seen in some time. >More
 Tabloid sneers at its strange subject

Here's a dilemma not many of us face. Given the choice, which one would you humiliate, the strange, sad, perhaps mentally ill woman unknown by most people, or the icy warmonger responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Americans and Southeast Asians? >More
 A unlikable hero holds our attention in The Guard

At first I had real concerns about the Irish action comedy The Guard, because its hero seemed so unlikable. The policeman Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) ingests drugs he steals from corpses. He romps with prostitutes. He drinks and plays videogames on the job. He tells racist jokes. But I worked through my concerns, and I'm glad, because The Guard is funny and rewarding. >More
 James Madison Park after dark

At first I was dubious about seeing a silent film in James Madison Park. The feature was to be a 1920 German Expressionist telling of The Golem, an ancient monster-morality tale set in the Jewish ghetto of Prague. It sounded like dark stuff. >More
 Crazy classic Scarface returns to the big screen

Did you ever notice the one-line bios in the Internet Movie Database? When you look up moviemaking professionals on that comprehensive website, next to their names you see the one work they're most noteworthy for, by someone's reckoning, anyway. Steven Spielberg: Director, Schindler's List (1994). Edith Head: Costume designer, Vertigo (1958). And there is this: Brian De Palma: Director, Scarface (1983). >More
 Errol Morris, A Tribe Called Quest highlight Sundance Madison Screening Room calendar for early fall 2011

Sundance Madison has released another schedule of films in its Screening Room series, which presents consistently intriguing foreign and indie fare. The latest lineup is generous with documentaries. >More
 Likable characters overcome the gimmick of One Day

It's laughably ridiculous, the concept behind the romantic comedy-drama One Day, so maybe there's no logical way to defend the fact that the film charmed me. It simply does much of what you ask of a romance: gives you two interesting people and a reason to hope they wind up happy. >More
 The Double Hour's supernatural trickery disappoints

Damn you, Internet film culture, and your inviolable laws governing spoilers. Understand, I think not disclosing spoilers is good manners, whether we're talking about critics or the guy in the next row. But sometimes a film like the Italian romantic thriller The Double Hour comes along, and I can't tell you in much detail what I think of it without ruining big surprises. >More
 UW Cinematheque expands for fall 2011 season

Last winter at Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center, I saw Claude Lanzmann's 10-hour Holocaust documentary Shoah as it ought to be seen: in a theater with strangers, over the course of one long, sorrowful, uncomfortable day. You won't get exactly that experience next month, when UW's Cinematheque screens the landmark 1985 film on consecutive Sundays, but it's still a must-see. >More
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