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Monday, October 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 54.0° F  Overcast
The Daily


Battle for Terra: Space invaders

Science fiction holds limitless possibilities, especially animated science fiction. So why, too often, do science fiction filmmakers simply recycle stuff from older, better movies? The animated eco-fable Battle for Terra features much that is lovely and thought-provoking, but it also features sleek, battling spaceships flying down a trough, in a sequence that echoes Star Wars. >More
 Sin Nombre: Agonizing journey

Sayra is a pretty teenage girl. Under most circumstances, that's a good thing. But in the world of Sin Nombre, it's a liability. >More
 Everlasting Moments: Watch the birdie

Everlasting Moments is based on the reminiscences of Maja Oman, a distant relation of director Jan Troell. We meet Maja as a little girl of about 7, played in early scenes by Nellie Almgren, later by Callin Öhrvall. Her mother is tense Maria, and her father is boorish Sigfried, who in the course of the film works various backbreaking jobs: dockworker, chalk miner. >More
 The Soloist: Transported by music

The Soloist is a very serious-minded, slickly produced and emotionally ambitious movie about a middle-class journalist -- a star columnist on a huge metropolitan daily -- who discovers a homeless man living on the streets near his paper: a bedraggled, verbose, shabby wreck of a guy who carries all his possessions in a shopping cart and bags, but who may be possessed of musical genius. >More
 Gomorrah: Crime scenes

Gomorrah is harrowing. It also is astonishing, a supremely controlled, supremely devastating work that alternates scenes of dread with moments of quick, almost surgically precise brutality. There are a handful of light moments, but they are the blackest of comedy, and they only throw into relief the despair that suffuses this remarkable film. >More
 Examined Life: Drive-by philosophy

For the purposes of movie-going, documentarian Astra Taylor poses the key question in the second sequence of Examined Life, as she strolls in a sunny park with New York University literature professor Avital Ronell. Books that are hundreds of pages long are an appropriate medium for exploring philosophy, notes Taylor, but what about feature-length films? The answer, based on this evidence: Um, not so much. >More
 The Great Buck Howard: The entertainer

I'm not quite old enough to remember firsthand the Tonight Show performances by the Amazing Kreskin, a.k.a. George Joseph Kresge Jr., the magician who appeared on the old Johnny Carson broadcast scores of times in the 1970s. But the poignant, funny, not wholly satisfying film The Great Buck Howard is based on Kreskin's life, so after I watched it I turned to YouTube to gather impressions from Kreskin clips. >More
 Winter of Frozen Dreams: Frozen concoction

The long-awaited film version, which played to a packed house at the Wisconsin Film Festival, comes nowhere near matching Harter's book in either drama or insight. The only thing both have in common is a certain seediness. >More
 Fast & Furious: The race is on

No one is giggling in Fast & Furious, the fourth installment in the series Vin Diesel kicked off eight years ago. The milieu is an underworld of casual murder, and it would be unsettling were this not the sort of goofy action movie in which a leering male character says, in an automotively themed pickup line, "I'm one of those boys who appreciate a fine body, regardless of the make." >More
 Alien Trespass: Strange invaders

I had hopes for Alien Trespass, which lampoons paranoid 1950s science fiction thrillers. It gets many particulars right, including the stilted dialogue and the silly rubber monster. Alien Trespass clearly is made with great affection for those old flicks. >More
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