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Thursday, December 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 34.0° F  Overcast
The Daily

MOVIES

The Lunchbox glimpses a charming mealtime tradition in modern Mumbai

The last place one might expect to find the Lubitsch touch would be in The Lunchbox, Indian writer-director Ritesh Batra's debut film. Yet if you disregard the sights and sounds of modern Mumbai for just a moment while the story unfolds, you might imagine yourself in Manhattan during another era, watching as James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan exchange notes in The Shop Around the Corner. >More
 Scarlett Johansson morphs into a sexy, unknowable alien in Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson is occasionally nude: That's all some moviegoers need know about Under the Skin. They're in for a surprise, though: This is easily the most unique science-fiction movie to hit theaters in years. >More
 Kevin Costner is in his element in the football laugh-fest Draft Day

Journey back with me 20 or so years, to the prime of Kevin Costner's movie career. He was the center of romances and heroic narratives like Dances With Wolves and JFK, representing integrity with a square jaw, steely stare and resolute seriousness. It really pissed me off. >More
 Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a gripping adventure and a scathing critique of 21st-century surveillance

Movies about the Avengers keep getting bigger, smarter and more relevant. But none of Marvel Comics' other Avengers movies has stunned me the way Captain America: The Winter Soldier has with its scathing commentary on what's happening in the real world today. >More
 A woman pursues her late husband's doppelgänger in The Face of Love

In college I had not one but two campus doppelgängers, fellow students who looked a lot like me. One was a guy my then-girlfriend knew from high school. There was a funny moment in the dining hall when she ran up and all but threw her arms around him, thinking he was me. Awkward! I mention this by way of introducing the unsettling topic of doubles and doppelgängers. >More
 In Bad Words, a 40-year-old misanthrope competes in a spelling bee for middle-schoolers

Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), the 40-year-old protagonist of Bad Words, is a wretched human being. He takes advantage of a loophole in the rules for a national spelling bee so he can compete against a bunch of middle-schoolers, but that's the least of his sins. A true misanthrope, he treats everyone around him like garbage, including the journalist (Kathryn Hahn) who's sponsoring him in exchange for an exclusive story about his perplexing quest. >More
 The Grand Budapest Hotel is both a sly crime caper and a charming ode to Old World culture

Wes Anderson doesn't give a damn about critics who ding his movies for their dollhouse aesthetic and affectless performances. Either you get it or you don't. With his latest effort, The Grand Budapest Hotel, the writer-director doubles down on everything that makes his pictures his own. The product is so enchanting that even the holdouts will be hard-pressed to resist it. >More
 A murderer lurks in the tryst-filled bushes of Stranger by the Lake

There's no shortage of graphic violence on multiplex screens, but graphic sex is pretty rare. So it's remarkable when a work like the compelling French movie Stranger by the Lake comes along. It depicts sex with a frankness I've seldom encountered in mainstream films. There are Catherine Breillat films like Romance and... not many others. >More
 Better Living Through Chemistry sends up America's obsession with prescription drugs

Who knew Olivia Wilde was so funny? She's a comic delight in the uneven satire Better Living Through Chemistry, in which she plays a bored, pill-popping trophy wife. She delivers wisecracks with zeal and is hilariously frenetic in her many lovemaking scenes with Sam Rockwell. I know her best from her work in Tron: Legacy, which wasn't an actors' showcase. So her excellent turn in the new film is a welcome surprise. >More
 Need for Speed finds lots of excitement but little ambition in a cross-country car race

Need for Speed celebrates reckless driving with the bloodless consequences of an Xbox game for 10-year-olds, probably because it's adapted from the video-racing series of the same name. It's a daredevil fantasy of sideswipes and smashups that never collides with the mangled reality of vehicular misfeasance. >More
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