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Monday, April 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 58.0° F  Partly Cloudy
The Daily

MOVIES

Better Living Through Chemistry sends up America's obsession with prescription drugs

Who knew Olivia Wilde was so funny? She's a comic delight in the uneven satire Better Living Through Chemistry, in which she plays a bored, pill-popping trophy wife. She delivers wisecracks with zeal and is hilariously frenetic in her many lovemaking scenes with Sam Rockwell. I know her best from her work in Tron: Legacy, which wasn't an actors' showcase. So her excellent turn in the new film is a welcome surprise. >More
 The future of Four Star Video Heaven

Four Star Video Heaven has been a staple for Madison cinephiles since 1985. In addition to sating numerous movie cravings, the video-rental shop helped launch the careers of former employees like Dan Savage, writer of the nationally syndicated sex-advice column Savage Love and editorial director of Seattle's The Stranger. >More
 Omar's title character is both a lover and a fighter in occupied Palestine

A wronged man fights to clear his name. Is it a Hitchcock movie? A Western? No, it's the Oscar-nominated Omar, a really fine, claustrophobic thriller set in occupied Palestine. >More
 The Smart Studios Story will show how Butch Vig and Steve Marker made music history in Madison

It's been four years since Madison's Smart Studios shut down, but local musicians refer to it so fondly that one might think it's still alive and kicking. >More
 A Saudi girl schemes her way toward an off-limits bike in Wadjda

Wadjda is a sly kid, entrepreneurial, even conniving. She's like Tom Sawyer if he were a girl and could recite long passages of the Quran from memory. Played by Waad Mohammed, Wadjda is the title character of writer and director Haifaa Al-Mansour's fine debut feature, a family drama with some very funny moments. >More
 Dan Savage's HUMP! Tour titillates Madison with dirty movies starring amateur actors

Whether you have a nightly date with porn, think it's the devil personified, or fall somewhere in between, you've probably noticed that sexually explicit movies don't get much love in public. But how would people feel if they could make their very own porn, specific to their imaginations, turn-ons and principles? >More
 A writer loses his passion for lavish living in The Great Beauty

If I lived in Jep Gambardella's apartment, I would never leave. Jep is at the center of the seriocomic Italian film The Great Beauty, and his flat has a close-up view of the Colosseum in Rome. It's a stunning vista, and it reminds me that by way of comparison, one of the most interesting views I ever had from a Madison apartment was of the old Kohl's supermarket on East Washington Avenue. >More
 Guy Maddin: The most accessible film avant-gardist

"I don't believe in ghosts," says Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, "but when ghosts appear in film or literature, they are the positive record of something missing, a loss." The Winnipeg native, whose films include The Saddest Music in the World (2003) and Keyhole (2011), both featuring Isabella Rossellini, will elaborate on the concept of loss in cinema in a series of free public events organized by the UW Cinematheque and the Material Culture program. >More
 The Armstrong Lie examines a champion cyclist's elaborate scheme to hide his drug use

Oscar-winning documentary maker Alex Gibney is best known for films built on the assumption that truth can be separated from spin (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks). For his latest project, The Armstrong Lie, he turns to Tour de France medalist Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his titles after admitting to doping. >More
 Documentaries shine the brightest among short films nominated for 2014 Oscars

I'll start with the good news. This year's five Oscar-nominated documentary shorts are wonderful. They're screening next week at Sundance, and the shorts nominated in the animated and live-action categories are screening this week. >More
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