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Thursday, December 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 36.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily

MOVIES

Lebanon rides a tank into hostile territory

Watching Lebanon, the powerful, disturbing Israeli film, I kept thinking of the river scenes in Apocalypse Now. In both movies, wary young soldiers make their way through hostile territory, and the tension is agonizing. The difference: At least the men in Apocalypse Now have a little room on their boat to stretch out. >More
 Zhang Yimou's Blood Simple remake doesn't live up to original

What sounds as though it ought to be delicious -- a Chinese remake of Joel and Ethan Coen's debut film, Blood Simple -- winds up, instead, a soggy noodle. A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop more or less follows the Coens' narrative construct about an adulterous wife and jealous husband who hires a private investigator to put an end to the problem, but director Zhang Yimou's version has little of the wit, surprise or memorable characterizations of the original. >More
 A woman helps exonerate her brother in Conviction

Conviction, an entertaining, sobering film, is based on Kenneth Waters' true story. In 2001 he was, thanks to DNA evidence, freed after serving 19 years for a brutal murder he didn't commit. (In a sad twist, he died in a fall six months later.) Distressingly, what happened to Waters is less unusual than we'd like to think. In the U.S., 261 wrongly convicted people have to date been exonerated based on DNA evidence, like Waters. >More
 The Tillman Story documents a shameful cover-up

What the military did to the memory of Pat Tillman, the football player who gave up a lucrative career in the NFL to join the Army and eventually die in Afghanistan, was wrong. The fact that Tillman was felled by friendly fire in 2004 and the military then covered up all traces of that information is a colossal betrayal of trust, if not a criminal act. >More
 Clint Eastwood's Hereafter delves into the supernatural

At a recent promotional screening of Hereafter, I felt the crowd shudder in discomfort, and I was pretty sure I knew why. After the film, in the hall of the megaplex, my suspicions were confirmed. A young audience member complained, "There were SO MANY subtitles." >More
 Winnebago Man tracks down an unwitting YouTube star

YouTube has a way of turning unsavory people into unwitting sensations (see: George "Macaca" Allen). One of the most unsavory YouTube stars is Jack Rebney, the Winnebago Man. In a series of fuzzy outtakes from a 1980s RV marketing film, he is seen delivering explosive, obscenity-laden tirades. Like many such clips, and like 21 seasons' worth of America's Funniest Home Videos, the Rebney scenes have a guileless comic charge that is undeniable. >More
 Waiting for 'Superman' suggests questionable fixes for education

There's no more vivid indication of our nation's economic divide, which amounts to a racial divide, than the state of the school system. Inner-city kids, generally African American and Hispanic, are ill-served by schools that are rife with chaos. It's a crisis, a tragedy. Everyone knows that. Director and co-writer David Guggenheim vividly depicts the crisis in Waiting for "Superman", his forceful, somewhat maddening documentary about the ailing school system and some reformers who are trying to fix it. >More
 Micmacs tastelessly combines whimsy and horror

I didn't participate in the world's love affair with Amélie, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 2001 film about a Parisian waitress played by Audrey Tautou. I found the film too cute and smug, and I didn't care for its excess of childlike wonder. But I deemed it not a terrible way to spend a couple of hours, and I moved on. >More
 Diane Lane picks a winner in Secretariat

Saddle up for some old-fashioned inspirational movie entertainment as Disney mounts the story of horse-racing's 1973 Triple Crown winner in Secretariat. Actually, the focus of the movie is not really the horse but the people who owned, trained and shared with him the will to succeed. >More
 The Social Network portrays Facebook's creator as a tragic a-hole

In Ben Mezrich's engaging nonfiction book The Accidental Billionaires, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a fascinatingly enigmatic figure defined primarily by what looks like an undiagnosed autism spectrum condition; it's a central irony that the guy who has connected millions seems incapable of creating his own social connections. >More
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