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Saturday, November 1, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 23.0° F  Partly Cloudy

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Bill Murray bares the soul of a boozing, gambling grump in St. Vincent

Although playing the unabashed curmudgeon next door is the kind of thing Bill Murray could do in his sleep, the treasured actor brings everything he has to the role of Vincent MacKenna in St. Vincent. >More
 An odd couple explore Iceland's wonders in Land Ho!

It seems that the road movie has entered a new era, one in which the destination and the progression of the characters don't matter very much. I'm thinking of movies like The Trip to Italy, which features English funnymen Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Their colorful personalities drive the film, not their adventures. Land Ho! is a similar type of movie. >More
 A teen receives all of civilization's memories in The Giver

Teen dystopias are as hot as can be at the cineplex these days, as demonstrated by the massive popularity of the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises. The Giver certainly fits into the trend, but it's no latecomer to the party. The material on which it's based, Lois Lowry's Newbery Award-winning young-adult novel, has been celebrated and reviled since its release in 1993. >More
 Filmed over a 12-year period, Boyhood examines the small but essential details of growing up

With Boyhood, Richard Linklater has created the ultimate coming-of-age film. Many other movies in this genre present one big event as the kick-in-the-rear that propels a character toward maturation or a greater sense of the world beyond oneself. >More
 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
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