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Thursday, July 10, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Fair
The Daily

MOVIES

In Bad Words, a 40-year-old misanthrope competes in a spelling bee for middle-schoolers

Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman), the 40-year-old protagonist of Bad Words, is a wretched human being. He takes advantage of a loophole in the rules for a national spelling bee so he can compete against a bunch of middle-schoolers, but that's the least of his sins. A true misanthrope, he treats everyone around him like garbage, including the journalist (Kathryn Hahn) who's sponsoring him in exchange for an exclusive story about his perplexing quest. >More
 The Grand Budapest Hotel is both a sly crime caper and a charming ode to Old World culture

Wes Anderson doesn't give a damn about critics who ding his movies for their dollhouse aesthetic and affectless performances. Either you get it or you don't. With his latest effort, The Grand Budapest Hotel, the writer-director doubles down on everything that makes his pictures his own. The product is so enchanting that even the holdouts will be hard-pressed to resist it. >More
 A murderer lurks in the tryst-filled bushes of Stranger by the Lake

There's no shortage of graphic violence on multiplex screens, but graphic sex is pretty rare. So it's remarkable when a work like the compelling French movie Stranger by the Lake comes along. It depicts sex with a frankness I've seldom encountered in mainstream films. There are Catherine Breillat films like Romance and... not many others. >More
 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
 Need for Speed finds lots of excitement but little ambition in a cross-country car race

Need for Speed celebrates reckless driving with the bloodless consequences of an Xbox game for 10-year-olds, probably because it's adapted from the video-racing series of the same name. It's a daredevil fantasy of sideswipes and smashups that never collides with the mangled reality of vehicular misfeasance. >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
 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
 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
 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 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
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