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Monday, June 6, 2011
Milwaukee-based filmmaker Brooke Maroldi, an animated, vibrant character known for her documentaries and fiction shorts, is slipping into new roles as an improv actor and a stand-up storyteller. "I've done it three out of the last four years. Before that, I had written screenplays and longer...
Monday, Dec. 27, 2010

Mark Wahlberg rises to the challenge

Boxing has long been a favorite topic for filmmakers looking for life’s gritty backside or simply a thrilling outsider’s tale of accomplishment. With The Fighter, director David O. Russell (Three Kings) and a quartet of screenwriters achieve both. Based on the true story of champion light-welterweight Micky Ward and his half-brother Dicky Eklund, The Fighter is also an opportunity...
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Audiences transfixed by post-World War II dramas

There was a time when powerful, mature movie dramas of black-white racial conflict caused a stir throughout America. I’m not talking about the 1960s, when the modern Civil Rights Movement flowered, or the ’70s, when Blaxploitation films were running wild. I’m talking about the post-World War...
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thomas Balmes Gives Humans the Wildlife Documentary Treatment

‘Babies cry across the world for hunger and attention and in every society, mothers answer their call. That just about sums up the message and meaning of Thomas Balmes’ documentary, Babies. The French director collects his...
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Russell Crowe as sensitive outlaw

Outlaws who spare the innocent in the pursuit of profit are mythologized as heroes, and outlaws from times when the law is bad are honored even more. The archetypal outlaw in the English-speaking world, Robin Hood, might never have existed, but his pull on the imagination has continued over the centuries. According to legend, he was a rebel against social injustice who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor...
Monday, Jan. 25, 2010

Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg grapple with a fallen world

Weeks after their child fell from a window to his death on the sidewalk many floors below, the married couple returns home for the first time to their toy-strewn apartment. The wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is the thin shadow of sorrow, clutching her bottle of antidepressants in a bony Edvard Munch hand. Glancing...
Friday, Jan. 22, 2010

Jeff Bridges dominates as outlaw country singer

The romance of being a bad-to-the-bone rambling man had long since faded into a drab routine for the ’70s-era outlaw country singer called Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges). When we first meet him in Crazy Heart, Blake is 57 and broke; he drinks whiskey like water and smokes like a dirty fireplace. Driving himself in a ’78 Silverado, he pulls into another desolate town for a bowling-alley gig he can barely finish...
Friday, Jan. 15, 2010

Another Road Taken

With the many problems facing the world, a strong undercurrent of apocalyptic anxiety runs through contemporary culture. The Road is the recent masterpiece of apocalypse cinema and it’s a hard trail to follow for The Book of Eli. The landscape of both movies is strikingly...
Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009

From ‘Damn Yankees’ to ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ how movies ruin our imagination

Before Damn Yankees was popularly known as the best/worst butt-rock outfit starring Ted Nugent, Damn Yankees was a hit 1955 Broadway musical and 1958 movie-musical. And before it was a hit movie-musical, it was a children’s book called The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. I discovered this book in 1992, effectively ending what had previously been a promising...

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