“The Giver”: How could a movie about remembering be so forgettable?


“The Giver” is now playing at Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema and Sundance. PG-13, 1:27, two stars out of four.

Imagine living in a place with no color, no emotion, no wildness, where everyone is polite, dresses the same way and thinks the same way.

But enough about Waukesha.

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“The Expendables 3”: I love the smell of Cialis in the morning


“The Expendables 3” is now playing at Point, Eastgate, and AMC Star Cinemas. PG-13, 2:06, two and a half stars out of four.

Having not seen the first two “Expendables” movies, I found it surprisingly easy to jump straight into the third installment of Sylvester Stallone’s action franchise/jobs program for old action stars. Not a lot of backstory here.

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The five films you have to see in Madison: Aug. 15-22, 2014


Pick of the week: “Magic in the Moonlight” (Sundance, AMC Star Cinema) — It’s a Woody. Yes, “Magic in the Moonlight” has been getting pretty lousy reviews, and the idea (magician Colin Firth hired to debunk mystic Emma Stone)  sounds like one of those bad ideas Woody had back in the “Curse of the Jade Scorpion” days. But it’s a new Woody Allen film, and we won’t be able to say that that many more times, most likely. So we show up, hoping for another “Midnight in Paris.”

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“Breathe In”: Not quite what the foreign exchange student program had in mind


Drake Doremus’ “Breathe In” is certainly aptly named. There’s a lot of breathing in, and breathing out, and pausing, and meaningful glances exchanged between characters. Doremus (“Like Crazy”) likes to have lots of dramatic improvisation on set, but this is the first time I can remember seeing actors improvising non-verbally.

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Instant Gratification: “Nymphomaniac” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix Instant


Pick of the week: “Nymphomaniac” —  My full review is here.  Come for the graphic sex, stay for the fly fishing tips in Lars Von Trier’s four-hour tale of a woman (Stacy Martin in Part I, Charlotte Gainsbourgh in Part II) whose lifelong quest for sexual gratification takes her into some rough corners. It’s funny, shocking, depressing, pretentious, scuzzy — either one of the worst porn movies ever made, or one of Von Trier’s best films.

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“Locke”: Tom Hardy shows a lot of drive

‘Mastery of small, telling gestures’: Tom Hardy as a man who goes awol in Locke.

Ivan Locke seems like a man who knows what to do. A construction foreman in Britain, we get a glimpse of him at the beginning of “Locke” as he gets into his car, a big and confident man. (After all, he’s played by Tom Hardy, who doesn’t look like he loses a lot of arguments.)

Locke has a firm, patient voice, giving orders to his sons and his employees in the same way, like a headmaster explaining sums to a befuddled student. Ivan Locke knows what to do.

And, as the events in “Locke” transpire, Locke knows exactly what he needs to do. He’s going to tear his entire life down to the foundation, brick by brick.

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The five movies you need to see in Madison: Aug. 8-14, 2014


Boyhood” (all week, Sundance) — My full review is here. The long-awaited new film from Richard Linklater is finally here, and its a masterpiece of everyday life, following a boy as he grows from 6 to 18, Linklater and his actors filming a few scenes each year. As we see Mason and his parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) grow older, becoming the sum of their choices, Linklater strings ordinary events together like Christmas lights to make an entrancing portrait of an extraordinary, average life. See it this weekend, or wait until Tuesday when the Mad Film Forum will host a special meetup for the 8 p.m. show, preceded by drinks and music from DJ The Real Jaguar up on the Rooftop at 6 p.m.

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“Into The Storm”: The weather is coming from inside the house!


“Into the Storm” opens Friday at Point, Eastgate and Star Cinemas. PG-13, 1 hour 29 minutes, two and a half stars out of four.

Four teenagers are out in their SUV, planning a makeout session on a dark and stormy night. One of them sees something mysterious up ahead, and, over the objections of his friends, decides to investigate. Dumb move, kid — they all get killed.

Not by Freddie Krueger, or by Jason. By weather.

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“The Hundred-Foot Journey”: If only an Indian restaurant was 100 feet away from the theater


The Hundred-Foot Journey” opens Friday at Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema and Sundance. PG, 2:02, three stars out of four.

Haveli Restaurant is just a quarter-mile east of Star Cinema on Highway PD. Swagat is about a mile north of Point on High Point Road. Maharana Indian Restaurant is a couple of miles southwest of Eastgate, near East Towne Mall. And Taste of India is about three miles east of Sundance Cinemas on Monroe Street.

Because, let’s face it. As much as you want to know how good “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is, the news you can really use is where to get good Indian food afterwards.

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“Boyhood”: A movie that took 12 years to make, and worth every second


“Boyhood” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. R, 2:45, four stars out of four. Mad Film Forum will host a “Madfilm Meetup” at Sundance at 8 p.m., Tuesday, with a pre-party featuring cocktails and music at 6 p.m. at the theater’s Rooftop Bar.

You could rate Richard Linklater’s new film “Boyhood” strictly on degree of difficulty, like an Olympic dive. Linklater has been making “Boyhood” since 2001, visiting the same group of actors each summer, adding more scenes as they grew older.  Ellar Coltrane was six when he was hired to play young Mason  , Lorelei Linklater (Richard’s daughter) was eight. The film is built around Ellar, and Linklater had no way of knowing what kind of actor he’d grow up to be. Embarking on such a project was a tremendous leap of faith for all parties.

Or you can just look at the finished movie. By that standard, “Boyhood” is one of the best of the year, a funny, moving and realistic look at growing up, looking backwards and looking forward. It’s like a naturalistic, conversation-heavy response to Terence Malick’s ethereal “Tree of Life,” which also dealt with epic themes of childhood and parenthood in Texas.

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