I’m going to try something different here. Regular readers of the blog will know I usually post a “What’s Playing” column on Friday mornings, running down all the movies that will play in Madison in the next week. Extremely regular readers will also know that I haven’t done a “What’s Playing” column in the last few weeks.
Part of the reason is that the personal situation I alluded to last week in explaining why I hadn’t covered any of the Wisconsin Film Festival is still ongoing. It’s improving, everything will be fine, but it’s still something I have to deal with, and that takes away time from other things.
It’s also a fair bit of work to put it all together each week, and I wondered if it was really the most useful way for me to survey the movie scene in Madison and point out screenings that readers might not know about. And I also wondered if it made sense to do a weekly “What’s Playing?” list when another Madison movie blogger, David Klein at LakeFrontRow, does a fine comprehensive list each week.
So I’m going to try something different starting this week, zeroing in on a few movies and screenings that I think people really ought to know about. Let me know what you think!
“Under the Skin” (Sundance, all week) — It’s taken Jonathan Glazer nine years after his Kubrickian “Birth” to make his third film, in which Scarlett Johansson plays a mysterious woman stalking the streets of Glasgow looking for men to take back to her lair. Would it be giving too much away to say that Scarlett is not whom she appears, and that the film is actually science fiction? Probably not, because Glazer’s films have always been more about style and tone than plot, and because it sounds like he takes this premise in a surprisingly odd and moving direction. Can’t wait to see it.
“Dom Hemingway” (Sundance, all week) — Jude Law roughs up his pretty-boy exterior to play a paroled safecracker in this crime comedy from writer-director Richard Shepard (who performed similar scuffing up on Pierce Brosnan in “The Matador”). I’m a sucker for a good British crime movie (such as Glazer’s debut, “Sexy Beast”) and this one looks like a lot of fun.
“Jacquot De Nantes” (UW-Cinematheque, 7 p.m.) — This seems to be the late French director Jacques Demy’s moment; his films were part of this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival, and the Criterion Collection announced this week that it will be putting out a six-film boxed set of Demy’s movies (including “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”) in July. Demy was married to another great filmmaker, Agnes Varda, and this 1991 personal documentary is Varda’s tribute to her late husband, including recreations of his boyhood, clips of his films, and rare interviews conducted shortly before his death. The Demy series will continue over the following to Fridays at the Cinematheque. FREE!
“Frozen” (Union South Marquee Theatre, 8:30 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday) — Here’s my original review. It was telling that Union South replaced a Thursday night screening of avant-garde cinema with yet a fifth screening of the Disney animated juggernaut. Perhaps in the future, all movies will just be “Frozen.” “Frozen” will be up for all nine Best Picture slots, and next year’ s Wisconsin Film Festival will just be 141 screenings of “Frozen,” along with a few shorts programs featuring clips from “Frozen.” The Friday night screening is a “singalong” version with lyrics printed on the screen — like you and your kids needed a reason. FREE!
“In A World. . . ” (Union South Marquee, 7 p.m. Thursday) — Here’s my original review. The WUD Film Committee’s sixth annual Mini Indie Film Festival has always been a bit bold in arriving just a couple of weeks after the end of the bigger Wisconsin Film Festival. But they always deliver with a lively slate of recent indie films, most of which have never played in Madison before. One of the exceptions (and a welcome one) is Lake Bell’s very funny debut as a writer-director, a Hollywood farce set in the world of voiceover artists that, in its own screwball way, slips in a potent feminist theme. Check out the full Mini Indie schedule at union.wisc.edu/film — I hope to dig into more of the films next week. FREE!