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Saturday, July 12, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 73.0° F  Overcast

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In The Rover, Australia is a wasteland filled with bloodshed and mystery

A guy walks into a bar. Everything else that occurs in The Rover flows from this one happenstance. The guy is Eric (Guy Pearce) and the "everything else" is his bloody and protracted chase through the Australian Outback to retrieve his car, which was stolen while he was inside the bar having a drink. >More
 Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche steam up the screen as damaged prep-school instructors in Words and Pictures

Words and Pictures has a pretty creaky storyline, but who cares when actors Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are so sublime together? Even though the film creates an artificial construct that rings hollow, the two central characters generate great heat and interest. Their presence is enough to keep the film's nattering foolishness at bay. >More
 In A Million Ways to Die in the West, Seth MacFarlane unbridles irreverent jokes on the frontier

Seth MacFarlane, creator of the anarchic cartoon comedy Family Guy, is Hollywood's barbarian at the gate. Right now he's kicking down the barriers that have trapped him in television animation. In addition to directing, producing and cowriting the live-action feature A Million Ways to Die in the West, he cast himself in the lead role. It's the first of many overindulgences, but somehow, none of these missteps are grievous enough to scuttle the film. >More
 In Chef, an unemployed cook finds his calling in a food cart

A man goes back to the basics to rediscover his passion, reclaim his soul and reconnect with his 10-year-old son. This storyline may not be particularly fresh, but it works in Chef thanks to up-to-date elements like a food truck and Twitter. More importantly, the tale is served up with warmth and verve. >More
 Seeking to punish a murderer, an unkempt loner cleans up his act in Blue Ruin

It's clear from the outset of Blue Ruin that the protagonist, Dwight (Macon Blair), is a wreck, but we have to observe him for a while before the film discloses what caused this predicament. Thoroughly disheveled, he is a loner who sleeps in the backseat of a bullet-riddled car parked somewhere in the Delaware dunes. >More
 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
 The Armstrong Lie examines a champion cyclist's elaborate scheme to hide his drug use

Oscar-winning documentary maker Alex Gibney is best known for films built on the assumption that truth can be separated from spin (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks). For his latest project, The Armstrong Lie, he turns to Tour de France medalist Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his titles after admitting to doping. >More
 A loquacious videogamer gets a taste of police work in Ride Along

It's easy to find a buddy-cop action comedy at the cinema, but it's hard to find a really good one. Unfortunately, Ride Along isn't a gem of the genre. >More
 Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is hero worship, but what a hero

The release of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom could not be better timed. The worldwide face of the anti-Apartheid movement died earlier this month at age 95. He was laid to rest after a 10-day mourning period that coincided with the planned international rollout of this biopic. >More
 In Dallas Buyers Club, AIDS turns an uncouth jerk into a rough-edged humanist

Dallas Buyers Club is proof that Matthew McConaughey has resurrected his acting career. His ascent started in the 1990s with a standout performance in Dazed and Confused, but he got waylaid over the next decade with a series of wan romantic comedies. Over the last two years, however, McConaughey's choice of roles has improved. >More
 I'm So Excited! is a zany comedy about an airplane waiting to land

Here's one movie I can guarantee you'll never see on an airplane. Even with opening disclaimers that it is a work of fiction and bears no relationship to reality, Pedro Almodóvar's I'm So Excited! presents an unsettling portrait of mile-high behavior. >More
 Johnny Knoxville poses as an elderly man to prank bystanders in Bad Grandpa

After three successful feature films, the Jackass gang have added a whisper of a plot to their documentary stunt-mélange formula in their newest offering, Bad Grandpa. This little storyline doesn't get in the way of the dumb pranks, but, for the most part, the jackassery is gentler and less life-threatening than in previous outings. >More
 R.I.P.D.

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 The Bling Ring; The East

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 Sarah Polley questions her family history in Stories We Tell

The further details recede into the past, the knottier the truth becomes. Reality is multifaceted, and a devil of a thing to pin down in a documentary. Acknowledging all this, Sarah Polley plunges ahead with Stories We Tell, a very personal and inventive inquiry into the true identity of her biological father. >More
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