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Thursday, July 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 77.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily


Entertaining X-Men: First Class traces the heroes' origins

One way of looking at Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class is as a Holocaust film. A big, bright, loud, broadly pitched Holocaust story surprisingly outfitted with shape-shifting comic-book superheroes and multitudinous fireballs, but a Holocaust film nonetheless. >More
 Famous interviewees can't save self-absorbed I Am

Don't know who Tom Shadyac is? Let's allow the man to introduce himself -- believe me, he isn't shy: "I made Jim Carrey talk out of his ass." As a writer and a director, Shadyac first unleashed Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Nutty Professor remake on the world; later he directed what could charitably be called a string of film fiascoes (Patch Adams, anyone?). >More
 Film fans have options for summer 2011 with Rooftop Cinema, WUD and UW Cinematheque

It is finally warm out, Wisconsin, and with any luck it will stay that way for a while. That's good news for fans of avant-garde film, because this Friday, June 3, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art kicks off its outdoor Rooftop Cinema series, which presents experimental works old and new. >More
 The Hangover Part II takes the party to Bangkok

The funniest thing about The Hangover Part II isn't, as you might expect, the onscreen, pre-matrimonial chaos involving the returning cast members. No, the real yuks commence immediately, with ex-Misfit Glenn Danzig, who croons -- there's just no other word for it -- "Black Hell," a brand new theme song for the franchise, thereby setting the film's tone of cheerful nihilism. >More
 Po wonders where he comes from in Kung Fu Panda 2

Let's face it: Jack Black is perfectly cast as Kung Fu Panda 2's portly, animated panda Po, the Dragon Warrior who keeps the peace in the Valley of Peace with the help of his comrades, the Furious Five. The enthusiasm Black brings to the character's line readings injects just the right amount of gusto, immaturity, humor and pathos into this animated kids' action tale. >More
 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides buries its lead

In the abstract, I'm kind of giddy that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has reached its fourth installment, On Stranger Tides. Critics aren't supposed to think such things, because Hollywood franchising is killing our souls. But take a moment to contemplate a series of action blockbusters built around a protagonist who's vaguely effeminate, frequently cowardly and generally disreputable -- not just an antihero, but an anti-the-whole-idea-of-what-a-hero-can-be. >More
 Certified Copy is a romance that feels like homework

Made in France, Certified Copy is master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's first feature narrative to be filmed outside his homeland of Iran. The movie toys with ideas suggested by the title: why we assume that copies do not have the same value as the originals, and whether anything within the human purview can be truly original. >More
 Bridesmaids transfers the bromance formula to women

Bridesmaids is actually two movies, which may explain why it clocks in at a sprawling 125 minutes. It's a wedding farce à la Father of the Bride, and it's a romantic comedy that rigorously follows that genre's stations of the cross. >More
 Will Ferrell plays melancholic in Everything Must Go

Recall Adam Sandler's impressive dramatic turn in Punch-Drunk Love. Like that film, Everything Must Go is a drama starring a Saturday Night Live alumnus (Will Ferrell) in a role that's less funny than it is melancholic. There's an SNL-specific subgenre working itself out here: the dramatic farce. >More
 Sticking to formula, Thor provides a few satisfying twists

Movies based on Marvel characters are about as sure a thing as there is in the uncertain world of theatrical exhibition. But what separates the good ones (Iron Man) from the bad ones (Daredevil, Ghost Rider)? It comes down to tone and casting, and Thor shows that director Kenneth Branagh grasps this. He nails a unique tone, and he's got a lead actor who seems to understand how to play a god. >More
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