Instant Gratification: “Under the Skin” and four other good movies to watch on Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant

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Pick of the Week: “Under the Skin” (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Jonathan Glazer’s chilling sci-fi arthouse movie will certainly have one of the very top slots on my 2014 Best Movies list, following an alien predator (Scarlett Johansson) who lures horny young men home and then . . . well, you just have to see it. With its mix of gritty on-the-street filmmaking and surreal imagery, “Under the Skin” is an unsentimental meditation on humanity that’s like nothing you’ve seen before.

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The five movies you have to see in Madison: Sept. 5-11, 2014

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1. “Under the Skin”/”The Lego Movie” double feature (6 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Union South Marquee Theatre, 1308 W. Dayton St.) — Oh, those crazy college kids. The UW Union South Marquee Theatre’s fall season starts this weekend, and the student programmers in charge clearly have a gleefully perverse sense of humor in their pairings. First on Friday, catch “Under the Skin,” Jonathan Glazer’s disturbing R-rated sci-fi film starring Scarlett Johansson as an alien hunting horny Scotsmen. Then stick around for the hilarious and inventive “The Lego Movie” starring everybody’s favorite plastic blocks. On Saturday night, the order is reversed. Both films are strong Top 10 of the year contenders for me — I just never thought to pair them together like that. FREE!

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The top 10 films of 2014 (so far)

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It’s June 30, the halfway point in 2014. So, although there’s many more movies to come in 2014 (including two I’ve already seen that will almost certainly make my Top 10 at the end of the year), it’s a good chance to take stock of my 10 favorite films thus far.

I’m not including films I saw at festivals, such as “Boyhood” and “Life Itself,” since they haven’t been commercially released yet. I’ve marked the ones out on DVD in case you missed them. Let me know in comments if I’ve overlooked any good ones.

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“Under the Skin” in black and white

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Never be lulled into thinking that a stylist has nothing to say. Jonathan Glazer has made three films all heralded for their style, but he uses those visual gifts for more than just figuring out the coolest camera angles. His debut, “Sexy Beast,” began as a late middle aged take on the British crime film, the camera gliding over Ray Winstone’s baking flesh, but became a strange and sad portrait of middle-aged reckoning.

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The five movies you need to see in Madison this week: April 18, 2014

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I’m going to try something different here. Regular readers of the blog will know I usually post a “What’s Playing” column on Friday mornings, running down all the movies that will play in Madison in the next week. Extremely regular readers will also know that I haven’t done a “What’s Playing” column in the last few weeks.

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