The five movies you need to see in Madison: May 23-29, 2014

CHEF

1. “Chef” (Point, Sundance) — Before he became Mr. Blockbuster with the first two Iron Man movies (and less so, much less so, with “Cowboys and Aliens”), Jon Favreau made small comedies like “Made.” He gets back to those indie roots with his new film, in which he plays an arrogant chef who learns a little humility when he loses his job and starts running a food truck. I hear it’s really good, and that the food in the film is so mouth-watering that if you don’t have a meal beforehand, you’ll start gnawing on the arm of your seatmate.

2. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” — My full review is here. The fifth movie in the franchise (not counting the “Wolverine” spinoffs) mixes casts from the original three films and “First Class” to tell a time-traveling tale. It’s a gimmick driven largely by franchise considerations rather than story, but it works pretty well, particularly because returning director Bryan Singer has such clear affection for these characters, and revels in the ’70s setting and its potential for humor. Also, Quicksilver movie now, please.

3. “Belle” (Sundance) — This is a very different kind of costume drama, as the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of an aristocrat, played by Sarah Gadon, moves through British society with some privileges afforded her class, but denied others because of her race. Eventually, she uses her standing to push for the end of slavery in England.

4. “Ghostbusters” (UW Memorial Union Terrace, 9 p.m. Monday) — You guys? It’s summer, you guys! And that means outdoor movies in Madison, as the Lakeside Cinema series kicks off a summer of firsts (first films in a series) with the original “Ghostbusters.” It’s 30 years old, which means I’m much, much older, but is still a fantastic crowd-pleaser that’ll be perfect for a warm Terrace night. FREE!

5. “Palo Alto” (Sundance) — My full review is here. The first film from Gia Coppola (granddaughter of Francis Ford) is a little thin on story, as aimless as its teenage characters. But she quickly develops an empathetic and insightful style, mixing flat visuals with a dreamy pop soundtrack, that sets it apart from similarly-themed films by Larry Clark. Again, not a great debut, but it’ll be interesting to see where she goes from here.

 

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