Instant Gratification: “Renoir” and four other good films to watch on Netflix Instant


Pick of the week: “Renoir“: My full review is here.  The legendary painter in his late years is the subject of this French biopic, but the real star is the colors, the frame dappled with gorgeous orange and vermillion that the artist himself would have envied. Aside from the arresting visual poetry of the film, it’s otherwise an agreeable but shallow look, as the painter’s son (who will one day become “Rules of the Game” filmmaker Jean Renoir) falls for one of dad’s nude models.

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Writing about “Gideon’s Army” and “Much Ado About Nothing”


I’ve done some movie-related writing lately over at the Capital Times, so I thought I’d link to a couple of articles, plus a recent podcast I was on. Expanding the boundaries of the blog or shameless self-promotion — you be the judge.

First, I learned that “Much Ado About Nothing” star Amy Acker and co-star Emma Bates don’t just have Shakespeare in their bones — they have Wisconsin, too. Bates studied theater at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and in 1999 both of them spent the summer at Spring Green’s American Players Theatre, including appearing together in a production of — wait for it — “Much Ado About Nothing”! I couldn’t find Bates’ role in the press clips, but Acker, who had just graduated from college, played young ingénue Hero. The movie is now playing at Sundance.

Second, the most-read story on the last week was a story I wrote back in April on a Wisconsin Film Festival screening of the documentary, “Gideon’s Army,” a terrific film that looks at the battles of three public defenders in the South. It premieres on HBO on July 2, but that’s not why it got the most traffic. For that, thank the good folks at Reddit, after user PennilessGent mentioned a detail from the story, that one of the public defenders has the names of the defendants of every case he ever lost in court tattooed on his back. Thanks, Reddit!

Also, I wanted to make sure to link from the blog to the recent Madison Arts Extract podcast I appeared on last week. It was a great half-hour chat between Mark Riechers, Ben Munson and myself. The first segment covers the UW-Cinematheque’s Roger Ebert tribute series that starts July 12, while the second was a freewheeling discussion about how to build a local film culture when so many people are streaming movies online rather than seeing them at their local theater. It’s also the last podcast Riechers hosted before moving to Chicago, so I felt honored to be a part of it.