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Monday, April 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Fair
The Daily

MOVIES

The Gatekeepers examines the triumphs and failures of an Israeli intelligence agency

The cardinal rule of surveillance is to keep quiet and let others do the talking. The Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers flips the script, to astonishing effect, giving voice to the retired directors of Shin Bet, Israel's domestic intelligence agency. >More
 In Spring Breakers, reality fades faster than a suntan in March

Harmony Korine, writer and director of Spring Breakers, launched his career as a teenager by writing the script for Larry Clark's incendiary opus Kids. His output since has included a movie about pranksters roaming the streets humping trash cans. But don't presume that Korine's work revolves around empty provocation. >More
 A gay couple try to adopt a disabled boy in Any Day Now

I admire the premise. In the indie drama Any Day Now, a gay couple (Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt) in 1970s Los Angeles take in a teenage boy (Isaac Leyva) with Down syndrome. The men bond with the kid, who has been all but abandoned by his junkie mother (Jamie Anne Allman). Then, in court, the men try to get permanent custody. >More
 The police state corrupts East German citizens in Barbara

In case anyone's not sure what's at stake, there are the body cavity searches. The chilling drama Barbara stars Nina Hoss as an East German doctor who has been banished by the state to the provinces. It's 1980. The collapse of the Soviet empire is only a few years away, though no one knows that yet. >More
 Is The Incredible Burt Wonderstone a redemption tale or a raucous comedy?

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone offers a useful humor principle: Nothing can ruin a comedy faster than changing what the audience is supposed to laugh at. Unfortunately, the movie hasn't fully absorbed this lesson. >More
 Happy People is a striking portrait of Siberian fur trappers

Werner Herzog peered into the infinite with the recent documentaries Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about 20,000-year-old paintings; and the death-penalty-themed Into the Abyss. He's at it again with the marvelous Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, which he codirected with Dmitry Vasyukov. >More
 In Oz the Great and Powerful, a lowly trickster becomes a VIP

"If you can make them believe, then you're wizard enough," a witch named Glinda says to a con man in Oz the Great and Powerful. Though this scammer is supposed to be the savior of her people, she senses his discomfort. But the real question isn't whether he can play the part of a hero. It's whether he's "wizard enough" to satisfy viewers, most of whom are accustomed to MGM's 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. >More
 A Place at the Table illuminates America's hunger problem

Consider cutesy animations. These days, they're a cliché of hectoring documentaries that advocate for social or political change. In the crypto-conservative Waiting for Superman, cartoon people with lemons for heads dance, illustrating, um, something. Animations likewise jazz up overwrought lefty polemical films such as Food, Inc. and Under Our Skin. >More
 Jack the Giant Slayer is one messy, lazy fairy tale

When the closing credits for Jack the Giant Slayer began to roll, I knew I was in dangerous territory. Every one of my film-critic colleagues has been there. It's that place where you're about to dis big-budget escapist fare, and you know the people who leave comments on your review will play the "you snooty critics don't know how to appreciate fun" card. Then comes the kicker: "Lighten up." >More
 Snitch is an action film with an ax to grind

Snitch is a socially conscious action-adventure film that's also an indictment of the federal government's minimum-punishment guidelines for drug offenses. Though it criticizes drug gangs for being violent and corrupt, it slams the legal system even harder for punishing minor-level offenses with prison terms much harsher than those rapists and murders receive. >More
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