What’s playing in Madison theaters: Dec. 13-19, 2013


All week

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema, Sundance) — The first installment of Peter Jackson’s overinflated three-film adaptation of a trim fantasy novel was flabby and frenetic, but the reviews say this one is better. Bonus points for saying “Sma-oog” correctly when you buy the ticket.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema) — Tyler Perry throws on the dress yet again, although Madea seems to be playing the straight “man” to Larry the Cable Guy, whose presence answers the question “Could you make me less interested in seeing a Madea movie?”


A Touch of Sin” (7 p.m., UW Cinematheque, 4070 Vilas Hall) — My full review is here. The Cinematheque finishes off a strong 2013 this weekend with one of its best films, Jia Zhang-ke’s angry look at the new capitalist China through four violent tales. FREE!

Turn Me On Dammit!” (7 p.m, Union South Marquee Theatre, 1308 W. Dayton St.) — A Norwegian teenage girl’s hormones are out of control is this raunchy yet winning comedy. FREE!

Elf” (9:30 p.m., Union South) — Will Ferrell commits as a human being raised by Santa’s elves in this family-friendly but still hilarious Christmas comedy. FREE!

Withnail & I” (midnight, Union South) — It’s Brits behaving badly in this cult classic about unemployed actors debauching themselves in the countryside. FREE!

Silent Night, Deadly Night” (midnight, Point and Eastgate) — “Bad Santa” is a saint compared to the slasher in this ’80s ho-ho-horror film.


Elf” (7 p.m., Union South) — See Friday listing. FREE!

Communication Arts Showcase (9:30 p.m., UW Cinematheque) — Check out the best of the semester’s work by the Comm Arts students. FREE!

Die Hard” (9:30 p.m., Union South) — Interesting how this “Christmas-adjacent” action classic has become a bonafide holiday classic — Matt Zoller Seitz live-tweeted it on Thursday while trimming the tree with his kids. FREE!

Withnail & I” (midnight, Union South) — FREE!

Silent Night, Deadly Night” (midnight, Point and Eastgate) — FREE!



Trapeze” (2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave.) — UW-Cinematheque at the Chazen finishes off its salute to Cinemascope with this high-wire romantic drama about two trapeze artists in love with the same woman. FREE!

Die Hard” (3 p.m., Union South Marquee) — See Saturday listing.


Bad Santa” (7, 9:30 p.m. Monday, Point and Eastgate) — Harken back to the days when Billy Bob Thornton was good-weird (confessing his phobia about Benjamin Disraeli on talk shows) than bad-weird (yelling at Canadians for not taking his music career seriously) with this curdled-nog black comedy.


Bad Santa” (2 and 4:30 p.m., Eastgate, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Point) — See Monday listing.


Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema) — They’ve been over-promoting this sequel to the point that a backlash (or an underwhelming seems inevitable), but something tells me this will go all right, recapturing the bizarre spirit of the original.

It’s a Wonderful Life” (1:55 and 6:45 p.m., Sundance) — Just my favorite movie ever, which takes you about as dark as you can get for a 1940s film into how fragile a community and an individual can be before pulling back up into its incandescently hopeful ending. Sniff.

Bad Santa” (3:40 p.m. Point and Eastgate) — See Monday listing.


“Bad Santa” (7 and 9:30 p.m., Point and Eastgate) — See Monday listing.

Invasion USA” (6:30 p.m., Madison Central Library) — Nothing says the holidays like Chuck Norris, especially when he’s saving America from an army of international terrorists — on Christmas Eve! FREE!

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