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Thursday, December 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 16.0° F  Fair
The Daily


Desperate Brooklynites in Two Lovers

I'm perplexed by Gwyneth Paltrow. Since notching her Best Actress statuette for 1998's Shakespeare In Love, she has wandered. Not always unfruitfully: She thrives in potent small films like Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums, in which she was still and sad. But she was merely incidental -- if indelible -- in eye candy like Iron Man and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. >More
 Sunshine Cleaning: Indie clichés

Rose Lorkowski, in other words, is the heroine of a Sundance-ready independent movie. Produced by the same team that scored a hit in 2006 with Little Miss Sunshine, Sunshine Cleaning isn't much more than an exercise in style and behavior, a blueprint for young filmmakers hoping to get their dark comedies about working-class despondency into Robert Redford's hands. >More
 Heartbreaking lessons in The Class

Franois' classroom is the claustrophobic setting for the moving, Oscar-nominated film The Class, which was co-written by Franois Bégaudeau and based on his novel. The film is lightly comic but mostly grueling, and it resembles noble-educator movies like Dead Poets Society and Stand and Deliver. >More
 Beauty in Trouble: Czech mates

It's a dilemma as old as love itself: Choose the stable dullard or the exciting loser? That's what Marcela (Ana Geislerová) is up against in the poignant, funny, not altogether satisfying Czech film Beauty in Trouble. As the film begins, Marcela and her two kids are fleeing Jarda (Roman Luknár), a steely-eyed auto mechanic who runs a chop shop out of the family's crumbling home. >More
 Testing religion's boundaries in The Secrets

The Secrets begins with a prayer. Standing at her mother's grave, Naomi (Ania Bukstein) reads, "Give me insight into thy righteousness." The request proves not merely rhetorical. Naomi's life is about to be torn apart over the question of what God wants, and in particular what God wants for women in the very religious, very conservative slice of Israel where Naomi lives. >More
 Wendy and Lucy: Woman's best friend

Since 1923, when the heroic German shepherd Rin Tin Tin began a lucrative movie career, dogs have proven reliable film entertainers, often in ramshackle comedies like Turner & Hooch and The Shaggy Dog. But in the movies as in real life, dogs do pathos even better than comedy. >More
 At long last Watchmen

Watchmen is the most eagerly anticipated superhero film of all time -- by its culty legion of fans, at least -- and so it pains me to say that, while scrupulously faithful in nearly every regard to writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons' landmark DC comics series (which ran from 1986 to 1987 before being collected into a single-volume graphic novel), the film itself is bizarrely cold and uninvolving. >More
 Steven Soderbergh's tight close-up on Che

In Steven Soderbergh's film biography Che, a journalist asks the revolutionary: "How does it feel to be a symbol?" He replies: "A symbol of what?" It's a telling moment, because Che Guevara is as ambiguous an icon now as at the time of his death in 1967. >More
 Waltz With Bashir: Cartoon violence

Waltz With Bashir, which is that rare hybrid, an animated documentary, doesn't just freshen our memories. It interrogates the role that memory plays in our psychic survival. >More
 Why can't Oscar winners give better speeches?

When the winners for Best Actor and Best Actress ascend to the stage of the Kodak Theatre during this year's Academy Awards ceremony, do you suppose either of them will have bothered to, you know, rehearse? Aren't monologues part of what they do for a living? In their day jobs, don't they work from a script, which they've memorized? >More
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