What’s playing in Madison theaters, Aug. 9-15, 2013


All week

Elysium” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema, Sundance) — Director Neill Blomkamp proved sci-fi action could be more than just mindless fun with “District 9,” a sly metaphor for racism and prejudice. He does it again with “Elysium,” in which the one-percenters live in a palatial space station high above a ruined Earth.

Planes” (Point, Eastgate, Star Cinema, Cinema Cafe) — The weakest of the Pixar franchises gets co-opted by Disney Central in this high-flying “Cars” spinoff. I suppose “Boats” is inevitable at this point?

Blackfish” (Sundance) — My full review is here. This sobering documentary looks at the way killer whales are treated at SeaWorld, in particular how one male whale has killed three trainers and still performs daily. Not for anyone who sees this film, though, I’ll wager.

Dirty Wars” (Sundance) — My full review is here, and my interview with Jeremy Scahill is here. This powerful and engrossing documentary follows journalist Jeremy Scahill’s investigation into drone strikes and other covert ops performed in the War on Terror, in the shadows and unaccountable. Scahill will be at the 6:50 p.m. Friday and Saturday screenings.


“Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” (7 p.m., Marquee Theater at Union South) — There’s one movie in the UW-Cinematheque’s summer-long tribute to Roger Ebert that Ebert didn’t review, and that’s because he wrote it. “Beyond” is a gonzo Russ Meyer film that’s full of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and the occasional beheading, and has to be seen to be believed. Free!

The Sandlot” (7 p.m., Duck Pond at Warner Park) — It’s the perfect marriage of movie and location, as Madison Parks and the Mallards screens this delightful ode to neighborhood baseball. Free, and concessions will be sold.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (9 p.m., Memorial Union Terrace) — The Terrace’s “Out of this World” outdoor movie series wouldn’t be complete without this aliens-among-us classic, and kudos for showing the original ’50s black and white version in all its chilling, Red Scare-metaphorical glory. Free!

Oblivion” (10 p.m. Star Cinema) — Tom Cruise is WALL-E, the last man on Earth. Or so he thinks in this stylish sci-fi action film. Admission is $3, with proceeds going to autism research.


Epic” (10 a.m,, Point and Eastgate) — For a movie that features rapper Pitbull as a wisecracking frog, this animated tale of a teenage girl who gets shrunk and conscripted into a micro-battle for the forest ain’t half bad. Just $2.

Oblivion” (10 p.m., Star Cinema) — See Monday listing.


Epic” (10 a.m. Point and Eastgate) — See Tuesday listing.

Dirty Dancing” (1:20 and 6:45 p.m.) — Sundance’s Summer Classics series winds up not putting Baby in a corner, in this beloved 1987 film starring Patrick Swayze at the peak of his open-shirted powers.


Oblivion” (10 p.m., Star Cinema) — See Monday listing.


Epic” (10 a.m. Point and Eastgate) — See Tuesday listing.

The Fury” (7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave.) — UW Cinematheque director Jim Healy vividly remembers Roger Ebert raving about this Brian DePalma film about battling psychics on the old Sneak Previews and dying to see it. Now he can screen it, Free!

Rifftrax: Starship Troopers” (7 p.m., Point Cinemas) — The guys at Rifftrax usually target bad old movies, but for the first time they’re doing a live takedown of a relatively new film, the immensely cheesy and bloody 1997 alien invasion movie starring Neil Patrick Harris and a lot of big bugs.

Sundance Classics goes back to the ’50s (through the ’70s and ’80s)


Last Wednesday, I had to beg, borrow and steal to get myself a seat to the sold-out screening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at Sundance Cinemas. I should have known to get to the theater earlier — that series routinely packs the theater on Wednesday nights. “E.T.,” which screens today at the theater, should be no exception. Even if you know the movie by heart (as I do with “Raiders”), it’s still so much fun to see it on a big screen with a big crowd. (Everybody still laughed when Indy shot the swordsman.)

Over on its facebook page, Sundance Cinemsa posted the schedule for its Summer Classics series, which looks like a blast. The theme (with one glaring exception) seems to be movies set in the ’50s but not made in the ’50s. So it’s a calendar of Enchantment Under the Sea dances, dirty dancing, and summer lovin’.

July 10 — “”Grease” — The 1978 musical is beloved by many. This is not intended to be one of those “singalong” screenings, but I bet will turn into one anyway.

July 1y — “Back to the Future” — Marty McFly goes from the ’80s to the ’50s in Robert Zemeckis’ clever and wildly entertaining sci-fi comedy.

July 24 — “Animal House” — Every Judd Apatow comedy, every Seth Rogen film ought to bow down and pay homage to the king of R-rated comedy.

July 31 — “American Graffiti” — Yes, George Lucas made this elegaic look back at the ’50s, with impossibly young Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford playing teens.

Aug. 7 — “Ghostbusters” — No ’50s tie-in here, but it’s the movie that I most associate with summer moviegoing. I can still vividly remember a Friday night screening in 1984, and how the audience of teenagers roared when Bill Murray said “It’s true. This man has no dick.”

Aug. 14 — “Dirty Dancing” — Nobody puts baby in a corner.

Between the six of them, there’s probably 1,000 quotable lines of dialogue. It should be a fun summer at the movies. Visit sundancecinemas.com for more information.