Was it only a few weeks ago that the only new movies we had to choose from were “Sinister 2” and “American Ultra”? Now that fall is underway, it’s an embarrassment of riches for the movie lover in Madison, from the Sundance Cinemas Screening Room series to the UW-Cinematheque fall series to the WUD films at Union South. And the big Oscar contenders are just starting to hit theaters.
Add to the list the Spotlight Cinema series at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The series, programmed by Tom Yoshikami and Mike King, has been invaluable in bringing acclaimed new films to Madison that might not have gotten here by other means. This year’s eight-film series looks especially strong, including the new films by celebrated foreign directors Jafar Panahi, Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
“Force Majeure” screens Wednesday, Nov. 12 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art as part of its Spotlight Cinema Series. 1:59, R, three stars out of four.
Ruben Ostlund’s “Force Majeure” is basically the feature film version of that “Seinfeld” episode where George is at the birthday party where there’s a small fire, and he pushes old ladies and children out of the way stampeding to the exit. Only it’s Swedish, it takes place at a ski resort, and is several degrees creepier.
“The Strange Little Cat” screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St. Not rated, 1:09, three stars out of four. FREE for museum members, $7 for all others.
There’s a little moment early on in “The Strange Little Cat” where a woman is feeding the titular cat. As the orange tabby slurps away happily, the woman dangles her foot over the cat’s head, as if idly contemplating crushing its little skull into the bowl. Then she pulls her foot away.
“Jealousy” plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St. Not rated, 1:16, three stars out of four. Tickets are FREE for museum members, $7 for all others.
Philippe Garrel’s “Jealousy” shows the moments between the moments in a relationship. People break up, people cheat on each other, people go to bed alone, but we rarely see those moments as they happen. Instead, we see the offhand moments, the build-up and the aftermath, and piece together the rest.
“Let the Fire Burn” screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art as part of its Spotlight Cinema series. Not rated, 1:35, three and a half stars out of four.
Jason Osder’s documentary “Let the Fire Burn” opens with what looks like some kind of natural disaster, a massive inferno that engulfed a Philadelphia neighborhood in 1985, destroying 61 homes and killing 11 people, five of them children.
“Our Children” has its Madison premiere at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St., as part of its Spotlight Cinema series. Not rated, 1:51, three stars out of four.
“Our Children” opens in the aftermath of a horrifying event, one of those unspeakable tragedies that we hear about on cable news and come away a little more convinced that there must be evil in the world. Writer-director Joachim Lafosse gives us a sense of the what, and then the rest of “Our Children” goes back in time to show us the how and, as much as it can be possible to understand, the why.
By the standards of the UW-Cinematheque series or the Marquee Theater season, the Spotlight Cinema series at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is rather modest. Five films on five Thursday nights in the fall. Yet the series is always well curated, bringing five movies that have never played in Madison before (and likely never would theatrically) to the big screen. Past years have included such major independent films as “Holy Motors” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”