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Saturday, December 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 30.0° F  Overcast
The Daily


Awake: Under the knife

I'm proud to say that I not only stayed awake during Awake, I even found myself on the edge of my seat a couple of times. The movie was withheld from critics, which is always a bad sign, and when they finally did get their hands on it, they took out their scalpels and started carving away. But having recently learned that I myself have a heart condition, I was especially susceptible to a story about a guy who, unbeknownst to the doctors operating on him, is fully awake, albeit paralyzed, during open-heart surgery. Actually, it gets worse: The doctors operating on him may be botching the operation on purpose in order to inherit the guy's fortune. Why would they stand to inherit his fortune? Well, it's complicated. >More
 What would Jesus buy?

Reverend Billy, a.k.a. Bill Talen, isn't really a reverend, but he plays one on TV or anywhere else he might attract a congregation ready to hear the good news about dropping shopping. And I'll say this for him, he walks the walk and talks the talk, with his bleached-blond pompadour and his singsong delivery. >More
 Ira and Abby: People person

Ira and Abby is such a blatant crowd-pleaser, so determined to entertain us, that I wanted to kick myself for not liking it more. Why wasn't I pleased? Well, it's got too many influences, for one thing, and they're all worn on its sleeve. >More
 For the Bible Tells Me So: God and gays

In the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, various men and women of the cloth say that the anti-gay Rev. Fred Phelps is wrong. A Baptist, an Episcopalian bishop, an adorable Lutheran pastor from Minnesota, an Orthodox rabbi, a professor of divinity from Harvard and even Archbishop Desmond Tutu systematically dismantle the idea that the Bible condemns homosexuality. "Biblical literalists" insist, they say, upon a reading of the Scriptures divorced from their historical and even intratextual context, only to use them as a weapon in the culture wars. >More
 Manda Bala

Kidnapping, corruption and frog farming find common ground in Manda Bala, the assured first film from Jason Kohn. The documentary's nominal subject is the kidnapping epidemic in Brazil's major cities, particularly So Paulo, where a handful of thriving industries cater to potential and actual victims. Bulletproofing cars is big business, and the city has the world's largest private helicopter fleet to help the wealthy avoid street-level attacks. Kohn interviews a surgeon who specializes in reconstructing ears, which kidnappers frequently sever as an inducement to the victim's families. >More
 Sundance Cinemas to feature 'Local Madison Filmmakers Showcase'

Sundance Cinemas Madison will be screening a trio of locally-made movies this weekend in what organizers hope will become a regular occurrence at the Hilldale movie theater. Launched in response to a query from a Madison filmmaker, this inaugural screening will feature three documentaries in a single program on Saturday, December 1. They are: What is Normal? by Mary Jo Oathout, Back to the Land... Again by Gretta Wing Miller and Aarick Beher, and Born Again Free Speech: Victory of The Mic 92.1 by Luciano Matheron. >More
 Thank you, Lord, for this programming

"Home," Robert Frost wrote, "is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." And although most people would protest that sentiment -- have to go there? -- Frost was trying to get at something that runs deeper than how much we happen to like one another. He was referring to the ties that bind. And rarely do those ties bind as tightly as they do on Thanksgiving. >More
 No Country for Old Men: Killing on principle

There are those who swear by Cormac McCarthy and those who swear at him, but no one can deny the sense of place he creates in his novels, or the moral charge he endows those places with. >More
 Diving down the gutter at the Wis-Kino 2007 Fall Kabaret

The organizers of Wis-Kino decided to try something different for the groups's fifth birthday last month. After holding its annual fall Kabaret at several locations around downtown Madison since launching in 2002, organizers of the short filmmaking salon moved this year's party to Westgate Art Cinemas. >More
 Horrorfest 2007 serves up an uneven mix

As a die-hard horror fan, I've watched my fair share of drivel before finding the filet mignon amidst the pile of rotten meat, and while most of this year's line-up of films are little more than tainted tenderloin, there are a few prime cuts worth recommending. >More
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