For a city its size, Madison does pretty well when it comes to getting movies on the big screen. Between Sundance Cinemas, the Wisconsin Film Festival, WUD Film, the UW-Cinematheque, the MMOCA Spotlight Cinema series, Micro-Wave Cinema and more, we get to see films theatrically that the big boys in Milwaukee and Minneapolis have to wait to see on DVD or Netflix.
But with hundreds of movies being released every year, many of them getting the barest theatrical runs in New York and L.A. before heading straight to video-on-demand, we can’t get everything. That’s where the Missed Madison Film Festival comes in.
Pick of the week: “Goodnight Mommy“ (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Creepy twin boys. A mysteriously bandaged mother. A remote country house. These are the elements for a terrifically creepy Austrian horror film, which deliberately plays against genre conventions by working without creepy music, in broad daylight. Along with the descent into a nasty third act, the film never loses sight of its emotional underpinnings, its exploration into how family bonds can warp under stress.
The purchase of the Sundance Cinemas chain by Carmike Theaters in October doesn’t seem to have had much of a visible effect on the Madison theater. Which is a good thing for fans who have been flocking to the Hilldale Mall theater during this very busy winter movie season.
And now comes word that another favorite Sundance tradition will survive the change-over — the Sundance Screening Room calendar returns on January 29 with a new slate of foreign, documentary and independent films. The calendar locks in some terrific films on the schedule through mid-March, and I’m planning to return to do some post-show chats after some of the films. Stay tuned.
Pick of the week: “Uncle John“ — My full review is here. This 2015 Wisconsin Film Festival hit, filmed in Lodi and Chicago, is part rural noir, as a farmer (John Ashton) wrestles with the consequences of a deadly deed. But it’s also an urban romance, as the farmer’s nephew deals with love and career issues in the Chicago advertising. How director Steven Piet and co-writer Erik Crary bring the two genres in an effective way helps make for an assured debut.