What’s Playing, Madison? — Aug 31 through Sept 6 2016

Cheeseheads at the Central Library, an overlooked David Fincher gem, De Palma on De Palma, and “Heroines of Anime”


Cheeseheads (6:30p — Central Library, Rm 302)

As part of LakeFrontRow‘s challenge to get one director to drive around Wisconsin as much as possible, we’re bringing Cheeseheads to Madison by way of John Mitchell, the poor soul who’s already spent several years and hundreds of miles traversing the entire state for his quirky, homespun quilt of a Wisconsin life documentary. To top things off, Mitchell will donate a copy to the Public Library catalog. That shouldn’t stop you from seeing Cheeseheads in person, though. We’re hosting a Q&A with Mitchell as well as UW-Madison’s Luanne Von Schneidermesser (Dictionary of American Regional English) and Joseph Salmons (Department of German Language), both of whom should be able to shed light on the pejorative reclamation of the title. (FREE admission. Doors at 6:00p.)

Videodrome (7:00p — Bos Meadery)

James Woods’ hotshot TV exec goes hunting for an underground program. What he finds is something far more sinister than snuff entertainment. Masochism, reality television, and gastro-intestinal handgun intercourse, David Cronenberg’s arrestingly graphic vision of entertainment fuses sex, garbage and reality into something special. Long live the new flesh. (FREE admission.)


The Game (6:30p — Central Library, Rm 302)

Se7en has the gut punch. Fight Club dominates the dorm room. Zodiac invites endless rewatches with its reflexive obsessions. The Social Network is a well of smart-assed comebacks. Lost within the David Fincher pantheon is the Dickensian The Game, despite several cult websites and a place within the Criterion Collection. Men with nothing left to lose are more compelling than those with everything, so for a twisted birthday gift from his reckless young brother (Sean Penn), Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is stripped of his solitude, his composure, and his financial wealth by Consumer Recreation Services and its reality-bending “great vacation.” Douglas shows glimpses behind his mogul’s steely posturing, slowly unraveling threads and unleashing pent-up anxieties over his father’s suicide. The Game‘s logistics boggle the mind. Its complexities seem ostensibly impossible, and the wry punchline is that an infinite accounting of circumstances are beside the point, especially for a shrewd businessman. (FREE admission.)

All freakin’ weekend

The Light Between Oceans (AMC Star, Marcus Point)

A lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) adopt a newborn that washes ashore, but their second chance at having a family is unsettled by a woman (Rachel Weisz) who goes looking for her long-lost missing child. After Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance’s ambitions blossomed into a bold-but-broad look at violence and forgiveness in The Place Beyond the Pines. His M.L. Stedman adaptation might be smaller in scope, but it looks to be his most melodramatic to date — in addition to serving as an old-fashioned vacation from himself. (Showtimes and admission vary.)


De Palma + Carrie (7:00p + 9:00p — 4070 Vilas Hall)

Who would have imagined that the stuffy guy behind The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach) would be sitting on a documentary about Brian De Palma? Co-directed with Jake Paltrow, De Palma wraps auteur theory in a big bear hug, handing the reins over to Brian De Palma himself, who flits between autobiographical elements and schooling the audience on cinema. As with the inspiration behind Dressed to Kill, the best parts are when De Palma (and De Palma) imply that life and film are one and the same. Let’s just hope that doesn’t hold true for Carrie, too. (FREE admission.)


Belladonna of Sadness (7:00p — 4070 Vilas Hall)

Osamu Tezuka pioneered film animation with A Thousand and One Nights and Cleopatra, leveraging a slim production budget into sexually explicit themes and imagery for an unsuspecting and unappreciative adult audience. Finishing out the “Animerama Trilogy,” Eiichi Yamamoto’s Belladonna of Sadness was completed after Tezuka departed the influential Mushi Production Studio, arguably bankrupting the already destitute studio. Decades later, Yamamoto’s riff on Jules Michelet’s 19th century witchcraft history holds up, pushing every envelope imaginable when the rape of a young woman (Aiko Nagayama) on her wedding night brings about great evil to her village. With demon imagery and watercolor animation, the promising “Heroines of Anime” begins like Ralph Bakshi on a bad trip. (FREE admission.)


The Heiress (2:00p — Chazen Art Museum)

(FREE admission.)

The Lobster (6:00p — Union South Marquee)

Yorgos Lanthimos’s latest addition to the “Greek Weird Wave” is so nice, we wrote about it twice:

In its former delineation, the film leads its denizens (and audiences) to believe in a fundamental difference between the lives of couples and loners; yet, the reality is that each micro-society, whether confined or “liberated,” operates by a firm and largely identical set of fascistic stipulations. In the woods, the poncho-wearing leader of the loners (Léa Seydoux) forbids romance. When David makes his escape from certain institutional retribution but is suddenly drawn to the film’s narrator, the forest-dwelling short-sighted woman (Rachel Weisz), they must develop a code of silent touch to express all emotion. Of course, the irony is thick; David flees the punishment of animal transformation in the hotel only to be reduced to a more elemental, speechless subsistence outside.

(FREE admission.)


“FestFlix and Chill” (4:00p — Union South Marquee)

Sure, the title of this Wisconsin Film Festival nugget is a little off-putting, and mum’s the word on the specifics of the lineup. But the UW Arts Institute has confirmed that June Falling Down will conclude the four-hour program block at 6:00p. As we wrote this past spring, the surprise sell-out is a whirlwind personal crisis dressed “in flannel shirts and country music” with director Rebecca Weaver pulling just enough elements from her personal experiences. (FREE admission.)