Connect with Isthmus:         Newsletters 

Sunday, December 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 18.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Daily


Mourning in America

Tommy Lee Jones puts his beef-jerky face to good use in Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah. He plays a retired Army sergeant who tries to figure out what happened to his son, an infantryman back from Iraq whose charred, mutilated, multiply-stabbed body was found in a field. Some fathers would break down and cry. Jones' Hank Deerfield, a former MP, pours his grief into the murder investigation, the saddlebags under his eyes too dried up to hold tears. >More
 Zombie at work

From Dawn of the Dead to Shaun of the Dead, it's "never say die" when it comes to zombie movies, but Fido may be the last nail in the coffin, and I mean that in a good way. >More
 Vocal opponent

At 88, Pete Seeger's fought the good fight longer than anybody, singing his heart out since the Dust Bowl days of Woody Guthrie. In fact, Guthrie taught him how to ride freight trains, and since then Seeger has been crisscrossing the country, singing his songs, sticking it to The Man -- Johnny Appleseed with a banjo on his knee. >More
 Killing babies with Rob Matsushita

I'm happy to announce that principle photography for Massacre (The Musical) wrapped in August, and we are now more than halfway through the editing process. Hopefully, come late October, when we premiere the film in Madison, audience members will enjoy watching the finished product as much as the cast and crew enjoyed making it. This assumes, of course, everyone had a good time and weren't lying to me when I asked them about it. >More
 Old style, new twist

"The past isn't dead," William Faulkner famously wrote in Requiem for a Nun, "it isn't even past." And perhaps no filmmaker has taken that idea and run farther with it than Guy Maddin, whom I'd describe as the bastard son of David Lynch, John Waters and - oh, I don't know G.W. Pabst. You may not recall Pabst, but he directed the classic silent film Pandora's Box, where Louise Brooks unleashed a torrent of flapper-girl sexuality. >More
 The joke's on who?

I was still trying to recover from Becoming Jane, where Jane Austen gets turned into one of her characters, and now here's Molière, where pretty much the same thing happens to France's greatest playwright. With no letters, diaries or memoirs to work with, Molière's biographers have had to comb the plays for clues to his personality. >More
 Cinematheque curators Heather Heckman and Karin Kolb talk movies

his autumn marks a changing of the guard at Cinematheque, the UW film coalition dedicated to screening rare, foreign, archival, and restored films on weekends at Vilas Hall. After helming the projectors for three years, Tom Yoshikami is passing the baton. Karin Kolb, who served as a co-programmer last spring, is working with Heather Heckman to curate Cinematheque this year. >More
 Watching the clock

Having just watched Christian Bale crawl through the jungle in Rescue Dawn, I was kind of hoping he'd take a desk job in his next movie outing, but here he is, in 3:10 to Yuma, crawling through the American West, circa 1875. In James Mangold's remake of the 1957 movie that starred Glenn Ford as a sadistically charming outlaw, Bale has the Van Heflin role of the poor cattle rancher who agrees to escort America's Most Wanted to prison in order to reclaim his land and his self-respect. And Bale, working from the inside out, as always, makes us meet him halfway, which we gladly do. But it's Russell Crowe, as the legendary Ben Wade, who walks off with scene after scene - quoting the Bible one minute, jabbing a fork in someone's throat the next. The 1957 version built up its tension by keeping an eye on the clock. (Would Wade be on that 3:10 to Yuma?) The remake adds a layer of psychotic mayhem. And although the movie's enjoyable enough, especially when Crowe's sweet-talking someone he plans to gut and de-bone, you have to wonder whether graphic violence is all we're capable of coming up with these days. >More
 Breaking the rules

Naked Gun meets Waiting for Godot in The Ten, David Wain's collection of short films inspired by those stone tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai. Combining movie/TV-show spoofs with Beckettian absurdity, Wain and his co-scriptwriter, Ken Marino, work their way through the various "thou shalt"s and "thou shalt not"s, and the particular blend of comedy they've come up with may be a little too rarefied for some people's taste. >More
 It's a man's world

Kurosawa, with his flair for the grand gesture, always had crossover appeal. Ozu, with his penchant for tatami-mat realism, was a tougher sell, but cineastes adore him. And Mizoguchi? >More
Select a Movie
Select a Theater

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar