Marquee Film Festival Day 4: “Tu Dors Nicole” and “The Black Panthers”

Photos de plateau du tournage «Tu dors Nicole» de Stéphane Lafleur, une production micro_scope

Photos de plateau du tournage «Tu dors Nicole» de Stéphane Lafleur, une production micro_scope

The free four-day festival at Union South’s Marquee Film Festival, 1208 W. Dayton St., finishes up with another strong selection of films, plus a preview of next weekend’s Polish Film Festival.

Amour Fou” (1 p.m.) — The formal rigor of this Austrian film set in the Romantic era camouflages a rather strange and wicked story, as a young man searches for a woman who loves him in order that they can execute a suicide pact together. And he might just have a taker.

Tu Dors Nicole” (3:30 p.m.) — This languid French-Canadian comedy-drama follows an aimless post-graduate young woman who spends the summer lounging around her parents’ house, watching her brothers’ band practice, trying to figure out the next move in her life. With gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and gently offbeat humor (like the guy driving around the neighborhood listening to whale noises, which actually has a totally plausible explanation), “Tu Dors Nicole” is a winning film.

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The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” (5:30 p.m.) — As America grapples with a new generation of racial issues, this documentary looking back on the ’60s black activist movement couldn’t be more relevant.

Call Me Marian” (8 p.m.) — Next weekend’s Polish Film Festival gets a preview with this empathetic documentary about Marianna, a transgender Polish woman struggling to find acceptance among her family as she transitions.

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Marquee Film Festival Day 3: “Breathe” and “The Second Mother”

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The 2015 Marquee Film Festival has a full day of free programming slated for Saturday, from noon till midnight, in the Union South Marquee Theater, 1208 W. Dayton St. Visit wudfilm.com for more details. Saturday’s lineup seems to emphasize world cinema, with new films from Austria, Brazil, Mexico and France.

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“Labyrinth of Lies”: What did you do in the war, Vater?

Alexander Fehling (Rolle: Johann Radmann)

Alexander Fehling (Rolle: Johann Radmann)

“Labyrinth of Lies” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. R, 2:04, two stars out of four.

The terrific drama “Phoenix” showed us a post-war Germany in moral as well as physical ruins, where Nazis and Jews alike longed to slip quietly back into their old lives and forget what happened, only to find that was impossible. The crimes committed were too vast, the betrayal of one countryman by another too great.

“Labyrinth of Lies” at times feels like the Hollywood version of that same theme, with a hard-charging attorney battling his superiors to uncover the truth of what happened in places like Auschwitz and bring the Nazi perpetrators, who have slipped seemlessly back into German society, to justice.

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Marquee Film Festival, Day 2: “I Believe in Unicorns” and “Mistress America”

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There’s nothing “Mini” about the Marquee Film Festival put on by the student programmers at the Wisconsin Union Directorate at the University of Wisconsin Union South’s Marquee Theatre, 1208 W. Dayton St. Originally called the “Mini Indie Film Festival” when it came on the heels of the Wisconsin Film Festival in the spring, the festival was moved to November last year so as not to compete for eyeballs with the much bigger WFF. The “Mini Indie” name was dropped this year.

The festival is a free, four-day, 14-film festival, running Thursday through Sunday, featuring films that either didn’t play Madison or probably didn’t get the theatrical runs they deserved. I already missed writing about Thursday’s double feature of Charles Burnett’s sublime African-American drama “Killer of Sheep” and the wrenching Amy Winehouse documentary “Amy,” but I’ll try and keep up from here on out. Visit http://www.wudfilm.com for a full schedule and other info, and check back here Saturday and Sunday for more previews.

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“All Things Must Pass”: How the Tower of music came crumbling down

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“All Things Must Pass” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. Not rated, 1:36, three stars out of four.

The numbers on them were usually too high, but I still miss those little yellow price stickers. Whether it was going to the two-story Tower Records on Chicago’s North Side or making a pilgrimage to the massive store on Columbus and Bay whenever I was in San Francisco, there was something special about Tower Records. While the Sound Warehouses and Sam Goody’ses felt impersonal, Tower seemed like that rarity — a successful franchise that was also your neighborhood record store.

But nothing lasts forever, especially in the music business. Tower Records was a billion-dollar business in 2001 and dead in 2006, succumbing to a combination of market forces (hello Napster!) and self-inflicted wounds. The entertaining and elegaic documentary “All Things Must Pass” by Colin Hanks (son of Tom) tells the story of Tower Records’ rise and fall, mixing testimonials from some famous customers (Elton John, Bruce Springsteen) with war stories from the guys who started it all.

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Instant Gratification: “Anna Karenina” and four other good films new to Netflix

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Pick of the week: “Anna Karenina: Director Joe Wright and actress Kiera Knightley reunite from “Atonement” in this bracing adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel, written by playwright Tom Stoppard, in which sets blur into each other, and country houses become stages, the better to heighten the artificiality of Anna’s life. At the center of this maelstrom, Knightley holds her own with a finely-tuned performance as the tragic heroine.

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“The Wonders”: Italian coming-of-age drama is the bees’ knees

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“The Wonders” has its Madison premiere on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St. FREE for members, $7 for non-members. Not rated, 1:51, three and a half stars out of four.

“The family who best represents our traditional values will win a bag of money.” If Alice Rohrwacher’s “The Wonders” was just a satire of reality televiison, it would be pretty good for that line alone, niftily summing up the yawning gap between the professed goals and “journeys” of such shows and the greedy underpinnings beneath.

But “The Wonders,” which won the Grand Prix at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, uses its reality-TV satire as a minor ingredient in a luminous and keenly observed coming-of-age story. As Rohrwacher did with her previous film “Corpe Celeste,” she sinks so deep into the life of a pre-teen girl and her flawed but loving family that we feel like we’re immersed in a novel as much as a film.

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