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The Daily


A woman, and the Earth, face doom in Melancholia

The ghost of Irwin Allen must be smiling. He produced a run of disaster movies in the 1970s (The Poseidon Adventure, The Swarm), and in 2011 the genre staged a remarkable comeback. The difference is that the new offerings are thoughtful and gripping, as opposed to junky and Shelley-Winters-starring. >More
 The Skin I Live In is a loopy sex thriller

Let's take a moment to remember Ken Russell, the English director who died Nov. 27 at age 84. When I was a kid in the early 1980s, I came of age as a film fan with cable viewings of Russell films like Tommy and Altered States. What I learned from them is that crazed imagery, stupefying violence and intense psychosexual freakouts add up to memorable movies. >More
 A man woos his maid in The Women on the 6th Floor

The Women on the 6th Floor is a light French comedy that is pure bourgeois fantasy, but a genial fantasy nevertheless. Charming performances go a long way toward smoothing over the characters' perpetuation of class distinctions and patronizing attitudes. >More
 The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 takes a fresh look at a volatile era

A remarkable, unexpected and highly impressionistic document of the Black Power movement in America, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is a historical treasure trove of never-before-seen footage. The period interviews with Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton give a freshly human face to an American era too often depicted only in iconic terms. >More
 Weekend gets so much right about modern gay living

A gay drama, a sad romance, the excellent Weekend centers on two young men who meet in a club one Friday night. Over the next couple of days, between sessions of lovemaking, they talk earnestly about, well, being gay -- how it affects, in a practical sense, the way they live in the world. >More
 Delightful The Muppets goes beyond nostalgia

Hard as it is to pick one scene that captures everything delightful about the endlessly entertaining The Muppets, let me go with this one: During the climactic live Muppet Show revival at the end, Camilla -- beloved chicken of Gonzo the Great -- and several poultry friends perform a version of a certain recent, ubiquitous Cee Lo Green hit. >More
 A man is haunted by visions in Take Shelter

In Take Shelter, Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) stands in his yard in Ohio, staring at the horizon and sensing that something is wrong. Storm clouds are massing in the distance, and when the rain begins to fall, it has the consistency of motor oil. It's just one of the many troubling sensations Curtis has recently noticed: Birds flock in strange patterns, his pet dog nearly bites off his arm and his living-room furniture levitates. >More
 Happy Feet Two is weird and incoherent

Late in the animated sequel Happy Feet Two, a penguin chick named Erik (Ava Acres) bursts into operatic voice at a moment when hope seems dim. "Nothing makes sense in this world," belts out young Erik. "It's all a big pile of crazy!" And that, friends, is about as pithy a summation as one could hope for. >More
 UW Cinematheque leads a growing downtown film scene

It's been a good year for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cinematheque, and also for its first director of programming, Jim Healy. The organization has two gorgeous new venues, at the Chazen Museum of Art and Union South. Celebrated director Joe Dante just paid a three-day visit to screen Gremlins, as well as his personal favorites. Attendance for the summer series was up 70%. >More
 Too much timeline, not enough life in J. Edgar

Director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have as a subject one of American history's most enigmatic, polarizing figures in J. Edgar Hoover, and yet J. Edgar almost never offers the buzz of discovery. It's merely a 50-year kaleidoscope of American history, with the founder of the FBI serving as Forrest Gump. >More
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