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Friday, October 31, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 27.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Daily


Frozen River: People mover

If you thought Erin Brockovich was too user-friendly, in that old Hollywood way, then you might want to check out Frozen River, where Melissa Leo plays a working-class mom without Julia Roberts' million-dollar smile. Leo's Ray Eddy doesn't take on an entire power company all by herself. She has enough trouble just feeding her kids, who are getting by on popcorn and Tang for breakfast as it is. They all live in a single-wide trailer that Ray hopes to trade in for a double-wide. But the man of the house, a gambling addict, has run off to Atlantic City with the next payment. Ray's broke. >More
 Burn After Reading: Mission: Improbable

The Coen brothers reached the pinnacle of success with No Country for Old Men, and it must have scared the crap out of them, because with Burn After Reading they're back to their old tricks again, mixing and matching movie genres with film-school glee. >More
 My Winnipeg: Way up north

"I kind of like poking around in my own little cesspool and every now and then making a film," Canada's Guy Maddin recently told The New York Times. And if by "cesspool" he means his mind - all those memories and fantasies, dreams and nightmares - then that's a pretty good description of what Maddin does. Like David Lynch, he's more interested in the unconscious mind than the conscious mind. >More
 Dancing camera: UW Cinematheque mounts a Max Ophüls series

A true cosmopolitan, Max Ophüls directed films in five different countries and five different languages. And yet there's a consistency to his work that has made the German-born Frenchman, who spent some crucial years in Hollywood, an auteurist's dream come true. >More
 Up the Yangtze: Big river

The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics got awfully close to raising Leni Riefenstahl from the dead. Such pageantry! Such thinly veiled militarism! China is undoubtedly on the move these days, and perhaps the best symbol of its gargantuan plans is the Three Gorges Dam, which is five times the size of Hoover Dam and, when completed, could tilt the planet on its rotational axis by turning the Yangtze River into a vast inland sea. Talk about changing the world! >More
 Disaster Movie: On the brink of funny

I was worried about Disaster Movie. The early word-of-mouth was worse than President Bush's approval ratings. But I can't say it's not funny. Unfortunately, I can't say it's funny either, but it inhabits that nether region between funny and not-funny rather well. You don't laugh, or even smile, on the outside, but you do kind of smile, even laugh occasionally, on the inside. >More
 Man on Wire: Balancing act

"There is no why," Philippe Petit told reporters on his way to jail, back in 1974. Calm, yet ecstatic, the 24-year-old Frenchman had just spent 45 minutes on a wire suspended between the two towers of the World Trade Center. He'd crossed back and forth eight times, turning and running the other way when the police made a grab for him. At one point, he went down on one knee and raised an arm, bowing to the sky gods. Later, he reclined on the wire, head to toe, as if needing to catch his breath. >More
 Hamlet 2: The spoof's the thing

Something may be rotten in the state of Denmark, but that's nothing compared to the smell emanating from Tucson, Ariz., where high school drama instructor Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) is committing his latest crime against theater, a musical sequel to Hamlet. You may recall that nobody was left standing at the end of Hamlet. No worries: Marschz, who somehow manages to pronounce every single consonant at the end of his name, has come up with a time-travel gimmick involving no less a savior than Jesus Christ. >More
 Attention cineasts

Believe it or not, the UW Cinematheque is now 10 years old, a landmark that Henri Langlois, the founder of Paris' Cinémathèque Franaise, would surely propose a toast to, were he still alive. Instead, the folks at 4070 Vilas Hall will celebrate with a Friday night screening (7:30 p.m.) of what some of us consider the greatest Hollywood musical of all time, Singin' in the Rain. >More
 When Did You Last See Your Father?

Dear old dad takes another left hook to the chin in When Did You Last See Your Father? - well, not a hook so much as a series of jabs. Colin Firth, as handsomely dour as ever, stars in this adaptation of British writer Blake Morrison's memoir about having grown up with a man who never got around to growing up himself. >More
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