What’s playing in Madison theaters: April 18-24, 2013


No, I’m sorry, no breaks. Though you may still be reeling from binge-watching at the Wisconsin Film Festival, the Madison movie scene keeps right on rolling with another busy weekend.

All week

Oblivion” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema, Sundance) — The big blockbuster of the week is the sci-fi action tale starring Tom Cruise as WALL-E (basically, right?) a repairman who happens to be the last man on a battle-ravaged Earth. Or so he thinks.

The Lords of Salem” (Eastgate) — This is the first horror movie Rob Zombie has made with complete creative control, which means he’s able to cast his wife in the lead role, not just in a supporting role like in all his other movies. She plays a DJ questioning her sanity as a town’s coven of witches rises again.

Upstream Color” (Sundance) — Shane Carruth returns nine years after “Primer” with a film that makes that 2004 time-travel film look simple to understand by comparison. This time around, a couple gets ensnared in a bizarre life cycle that involves mind-control, maggots, and pigs. Lots of pigs. I’ll be doing a post-show Q&A in Sundance’s Overflow Bar after the 7:05 p.m. Monday show, which should be a blast.

From Up on Poppy Hill” (Sundance) — If you’ve been enjoying the Cinematheque at the Chazen series of Japanese animated films Sunday afternoons this year, make sure to check  out the latest from Japan’s legendary Studio Ghibli. Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away”) and his son Goro directed this lovely film about two teens in 1963 Japan, caught between the country’s painful past and bright future. My review is here.

The Sapphires” (Sundance) — Chris O’Dowd (the Irish cop in “Bridesmaids”) is supposed to steal the show as a disreputable music promoter who discovers an aboriginal girl group in 1960s Australia in this musical-comedy.


The Rules of the Game” (7 p.m., UW-Cinematheque) — Jean Renoir’s masterpiece tale of the upstairs and downstairs denizens of a country estate, and how tragedy briefly levels the playing field one memorable weekend, is one of the great movies of all time. Free!

Zero Dark Thirty” (5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Union South Marquee Theatre) — Kathryn Bigelow’s meticulous recreation of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden doesn’t take a political stance, but forces the audience to own all that was done in the country’s name, both the heroic and the morally questionable. Free!

Flash Gordon” (midnight Friday, Union South) — Sam Jones’ hilarious cameo in “Ted” last summer revived interest in this 1980 camp classic. Free!


Honor Flight” (6 p.m. Union South Marquee) — This stirring documentary highlights a program that takes World War II veterans to Washington D.C. to see the monument erected in their honor. Free!

“A Fistful of Dollars” (7 p.m., UW Cinematheque) – If the Wisconsin Film Festival whetted your appetite for Spaghetti Westerns, check out this Sergio Leone classic update of “Yojimbo,” with Clint Eastwood as the Man With No Name, playing two gangs controlling a small town against each other. Free!

Zero Dark Thirty” (8:30 p.m., Union South) — See Friday listing.

Stripes” (midnight, Union South) — If “Caddyshack” did not exist, this would be the most quotable Bill Murray movie ever made. I’ve never been a huge fan of the film’s turn into action-movie territory in the third act but up until then — gold.


Princess Mononoke” (2 p.m. UW-Chazen) — The Studio Ghibli series continues with the studio’s first big breakthrough in America, this ecological-minded fantasy adventure with surprisingly adult themes. Not to be missed. Free!

Zero Dark Thirty” (3 p.m.  Sunday, Union South) — See Friday listing.


King of the Hill” (7 p.m., UW Chazen) — After several films made in 1934, the Cinematheque at the Chazen’s “New Deal Cinema” series shifts to a movie set in 1934, specifically Steven Soderbergh’s wonderfully observed tale of a boy living on the margins during the Great Depression, without his family, and includes a wonderful performance from the late Spalding Gray. Incredibly, this film still isn’t available in the United States on DVD — paging Criterion? Free!

God Loves Uganda” (7 p.m.,  Union South Marquee) — Another film festival! This time it’s the Wisconsin Union Directorate’s annual Mini Indie Film Festival, a four-day celebration of new independent film, most of it playing in Madison for the first time. It kicks off with this unsentimental look at the work of American missionaries in the Third World, looking at both the good they do and the harmful attitudes (such as rampant homophobia) that they foster. Free!

Caesar Must Die!” (9:30 p.m., Union South Marquee) — In this Italian docudrama, inmates at a prison in Rome prepare to put on a production of Julius Caesar. Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” this ain’t. Free!

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