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Movies

MOVIES

MOVIES

Bradley Cooper is a revelation in Clint Eastwood's American Sniper

Clint Eastwood's second film of 2014 (Jersey Boys was released in June) is also his best film since at least 2008's Gran Torino. With it, the filmmaker revisits his long preoccupation with guns and their capabilities, although the recoil of American Sniper doesn't have the same moral reverb of Eastwood's finest work. Still, the action sequences are packed with zealous clarity and tense dynamism. >More
 The wee bear gets the movie he deserves in Paddington

Bears and marmalade have gone together like Pooh and honey ever since 1958, when U.K. author Michael Bond and illustrator Peggy Fortnum published their children's book A Bear Called Paddington. Featuring the misadventures of a young bear from "darkest Peru" who finds himself living in London through no fault of his own, the Paddington books are the rarest of VYA (Very Young Adult) touchstones, the children's classic. >More

MOVIES

Selma portrays a determined yet flawed Martin Luther King Jr.

Selma could have been just an inspirational drama about a pivotal historical moment, and it could have been just a hagiographic portrait of Martin Luther King Jr.'s efforts at promoting African American civil rights. But director Ava DuVernay and her team are interested in doing something much less common, something that echoes the similar success of 2012's Lincoln. >More
 Joaquin Phoenix displays a talent for physical comedy in Inherent Vice

There are those who will observe -- and have observed already -- that Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice is weird, rambling, fragmented, occasionally over the top and not at all concerned with pulling together the threads of its sprawling detective narrative. And I nod in agreement, and shrug, because those are features, baby, not bugs. >More

MOVIES


Fast forward: Movie theaters adapt to digital technology

Like so much of the rest of our lives, movies have been digitized. In most instances, going to see a "film" now means going to see a collection of ones and zeroes projected from a server, rather than a 35mm film print. >More
 Benedict Cumberbatch excels in The Imitation Game, despite underwritten part

Is The Imitation Game gay enough? That's not a flippant question; I fretted about it both times I watched the movie. Its subject, Alan Turing, was a pioneering figure in computer science who led the covert group at Bletchley Park that broke the Nazi Enigma code; many credit those cryptologists with winning the war. >More

MOVIES


Rob Marshall makes it work in Into the Woods

For large chunks of Into the Woods, it seems as though Rob Marshall is determined to do what we're all told never works: turning a stage musical into a movie while resolutely retaining its "staginess." But that's when Into the Woods is at its most delightful. >More
 Unbroken is a 'triumph of the human spirit' story that forgets the spirit

A life story generally doesn't fit a neat dramatic arc. When you're telling the cinematic tale of a real-life person -- as Unbroken does with the tale of Louis Zamperini -- you're going to be deciding what part of a cradle-to-grave timeline is part of your narrative, and what part isn't. >More

MOVIES


Wild is an unapologetically feminist film

Cheryl Strayed was a mess. She was in the midst of divorcing her husband. She was using heroin. She was lost. So, in the summer of 1995, she figured maybe she might be able to find herself by hiking a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Which she did. And then she wrote a book about her transformative experience. And now it's a movie. >More
 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies fails to live up to the epic Lord of the Rings

The best thing about finally reaching the third and last chapter of Peter Jackson's ponderously epic eight-hour adaptation of the rather brief and chipper novel The Hobbit is that we may be assured that once the DVD hits next year, some intrepid fan is going to whittle the whole thing down into a breezy 105-minute phantom edit... like it should have been in the first place. >More

TELEVISION

How the #SweetScientists Amy DeJong and Maya Warren won The Amazing Race

If you're reading this, it's very likely that you followed Amy DeJong and Maya Warren as they traveled from New York to Los Angeles, taking the long way around the world, in a quest to win $1 million on the 25th season of The Amazing Race. Labeled the #SweetScientists by CBS, they visited 20 cities in eight nations over the span of about three weeks. >More
 The Amazing Race 25, Episode 12: The #SweetScientists come from behind, play smart, and win!

When I pitched recapping the 25th season of The Amazing Race to Isthmus, all I wanted was to get paid to watch TV. That's the American Dream, right? I honestly hadn't thought about the possibility that contestants Amy DeJong and Maya Warren, a pair of students in UW-Madison's Food Science doctoral program, would actually make it all the way to the finale, much less come from behind to win it all. >More
 The Amazing Race 25, Episode 11: Running on fumes, the #SweetScientists make it to the finale

Here we are, at the penultimate leg of the 25th edition of The Amazing Race -- just one more week until it'll all be over. The bad news: Our gals, UW-Madison grad students Amy and Maya, the #SweetScientists, ended up in last place on this leg. The good news: No one was eliminated. >More
 The Amazing Race 25, Episode 10: The #SweetScientists stay focused and finish strong

This leg kicked off with one of the things that irk me about The Amazing Race, and that's when everyone has to hustle to get to a place for no reason at all >More
 The Amazing Race 25, Episode 9: The #SweetScientists endure pain and deceit in Singapore

For the most part, there really haven't been any specific strategies in play during season 25 of The Amazing Race other than 'do well at racing.' >More
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TELEVISION

Scrupulous sleeping around on The Ethical Slut

Hussy, floozy, strumpet, slut: So many colorful words have been invented to weaken a woman's power by condemning her sexual past, even without knowledge of her actual behavior. Many of these terms come from the Victorian Era, when a lady's virtue was measured by her aloofness. Desires -- material, sexual and otherwise -- were the province of fallen women, the lowest of the low. >More

TELEVISION

The Amazing Race 25, Episode 12: The #SweetScientists come from behind, play smart, and win!

When I pitched recapping the 25th season of The Amazing Race to Isthmus, all I wanted was to get paid to watch TV. That's the American Dream, right? I honestly hadn't thought about the possibility that contestants Amy DeJong and Maya Warren, a pair of students in UW-Madison's Food Science doctoral program, would actually make it all the way to the finale, much less come from behind to win it all. >More
 The Amazing Race 25, Episode 11: Running on fumes, the #SweetScientists make it to the finale

Here we are, at the penultimate leg of the 25th edition of The Amazing Race -- just one more week until it'll all be over. The bad news: Our gals, UW-Madison grad students Amy and Maya, the #SweetScientists, ended up in last place on this leg. The good news: No one was eliminated. >More

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