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Saturday, December 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 27.0° F  Light Snow
The Daily

MOVIES

The Castle & Who Was Edgar Allan?: Control freak

I once called Michael Haneke "the thinking person's Hitchcock." I've also called him "the postmodern Hitchcock," which may be another way of saying the same thing. For Haneke, an Austrian/German director who often works in French with French actors, likes to take stories that Hitchcock might have told and intellectualize them. >More
 Rambo: Why he fights

Like it or not, Sylvester Stallone is going to go down in history as the creator of not one but two movie legends, Rocky and Rambo. Always slyer than he's let on - his nickname's Sly, for crissakes - Stallone is pretty smart at playing dumb. >More
 There will be blood: Massacre (The Musical) drinks your milkshake

The body count will be high, guts will be spilled, and songs will be sung. If you haven't already heard the news, consider yourself warned: Massacre (The Musical) is coming, and it aims to blow, or maybe just sing, all other horror musical comedies out of the water. At least, that's my opinion. Admittedly, I might be a little biased, as I had a hand in helping to create the movie. >More
 There Will Be Blood: With greed on our side

If movies were judged by their themes alone, There Will Be Blood would be a masterpiece. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson, adapting a 1927 novel by The Jungle's Upton Sinclair, has brought together the two most powerful forces that shaped this country -- business and religion, profits and prophets -- and allowed them to duke it out in the California desert. >More
 Cloverfield: I 8 NY

To say that Cloverfield picks up where I Am Legend left off is to ignore the fact that New York City is always being destroyed in our movie-fed imaginations. Who knows, maybe the 9/11 hijackers watched King Kong to psych themselves up for their flights of destiny. What Cloverfield adds to the pile, to great effect, is the camcorder, that ubiquitous tool for documenting the YouTube generation's every move. >More
 Lightning strikes twice in Youth Without Youth

The problem with going for broke is that you often wind up broke. I can't really recommend Youth Without Youth, Francis Ford Coppola's European-art-film-ish fantasia on such abstract ideas as the origins of language and the transmigration of souls. It's at best a folly, at worst an outright annoyance. >More
 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Mind over matter

The human spirit is always triumphing over something in the movies, but rarely with as much grace, wit and stringent charm as it does in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel's cinematic adaptation of the 1997 memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby. >More
 The Savages: Daddy dearest

"Refreshingly bleak" is how I would describe The Savages, Tamara Jenkins' cold, hard look at a brother and sister trying to escort their resentful father through the dying process. I can't say I enjoyed the movie, but I liked it a lot and admired the way it kept refusing to find a ray of light in all that midwinter darkness, at least until the end. >More
 Cassandra's Dream: Oh,brother

Woody Allen takes another look at morality and fate in Cassandra's Dream, which stars Ewan McGregor and Colin Ferrell as a pair of brothers who surprise themselves in how far they're willing to go to get ahead in the world. And I wish I could say I believed a single word either one of them spoke - the actors, I mean. The script is so amateurish it turns the entire cast into scam artists, trying to sell us a bill of goods even they must know is worthless. >More
 Sundance Shorts: The magnificent seven

Most of us think about short films only when it comes time to fill out our Oscar ballots, and even then we have to resort to various eeny-meeny-miny-moe methods to distinguish among nominees we haven't actually seen. But shorts are an art form of their own, capable of doing things in 10 or 20 minutes that many feature films fail to pull off in two hours. >More
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