What’s Playing, Madison?

le grand amour cinematheque

Bed bugs have got to be out of control in Pierre Étaix’s “Le grand amour.” The french surrealist comedy screens Thursday at the Cinematheque.


Le grand amour (7:00p — 4070 Vilas Hall)

Who could’ve imagined adultery could be so fantastical? So hilarious? So surreal? Apart from French master comedian Pierre Étaix, of course. Cinematheque is back this summer, kicking off the first of two FREE series with a retrospective on one of cinema’s oft-forgotten directors. Rob Thomas has a charming little primer on Étaix over at the Madison Movie blog, but if you were concerned Le grand amour‘s 87 minutes were too short to warrant a trip to 4070 Vilas Hall, the feature is preceded by Étaix’ short film, Happy Anniversary, too. What’s French for “bonus?”


The Third Man (7:00p — Union South Marquee)

That other Cinematheque summer series happens to be in conjunction with WUD Film. It also happens to pay tribute to Roger Ebert, reflecting the late Chicago Sun Times critic’s eclectic cinematic diet, and it begins Friday with Carol Reed’s post-war classic, The Third Man. Joseph Cotten wastes his vacation time in Vienna investigating the strange circumstances surrounding the death of an old friend (Orson Welles). If you ask me, a mysterious death might not be such a bad way to go if one got a song half as awesome as Anton Karas’ “Harry Lime Theme.” 

Kung Fu Panda (7:00p — Duck Pond at Warner Park)

Madison Parks’ continues their “Moonlight Movie” series with the humble beginnings of a panda who learns the discipline of martial arts and who weirdly sounds like the lead singer of Barry Jive & The Uptown Five. Gates open at 6:30p, so you can arrive early and pester whomever’s running the projector that Madison Parks should include Kung Fu Panda 2 in next year’s programming. John Powell and Hans Zimmer cure diseases in that.


To the Wonder (7:00p — Union South Marquee)

This doesn’t just mark the first time Terrence Malick’s lyrical drama To The Wonder has actually screened in Madison. It’s also the last film Ebert ever wrote about. Don’t be thrown by the presences of Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko or the fact that this was booed at the Venice Film Festival; Ebert liked it quite a bit.

All freakin’ weekend

20 Feet From Stardom (Sundance)

Ever felt like you were so close to fame, you could feel it rub off onto you, too? I’m willing to bet the back-up singers from The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band have a bigger beef than you. 20 Feet From Stardom explores the efforts of unsung musicians through song and in-depth interviews. It also earned rave reviews out of the Sundance Film Festival, but that’s probably just from playing alongside more famous fare.

Grown Ups 2 (AMC Star, Point, Eastgate)

The followup to “Adam Sandler’s Multi-Million Dollar Camping Trip with Friends” has already inspired at least one critic to publicly give up on the comedian. On the other hand, I’m hearing Rob Schneider is uncharacteristically absent from this Happy Madison production. That’s a wash then?

Pacific Rim (AMC Star, Point, Eastgate)

Never has Guillermo del Toro’s inner fanboy shown more than in his latest, Pacific Rim, where giant things fight giant things. As a mindless summer action film, it’s been getting good buzz, but those copycats at Legendary ain’t got nothing on Atlantic Rim!

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (AMC Star)

The story of Milkha “the Flying Sikh” Singh, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag tells of the failures and triumphs of the Olympic track star and field sprinter during the British “Partition” of India and Pakistan. Hindi with English subtitles.


Chic: The Series premiere (2:00p — High Noon Saloon)

Madison’s 4114 Production House kicks off its new web series Chic with an exclusive premiere of the pilot episode. Film Reels alumni Sarah Hesch, Tim Towne and Quantum of Vengeance‘s Alissa Kulinski star in this six-part web series about two women struggling to create an independent adult film with some substance. It’s not a film per se, but the Jiminy Cricket inside you would feel better ponying up the $5 cover charge to support local arts. Here’s a preview, Pinoke!


The Last Starfighter (9:00p — Memorial Union Terrace)

It’s more than a touch disturbing that the actor behind Michael Myers’ William Shatner mask in Halloween would also be behind children’s films like Hook and the 90’s Walter Matthau vehicle Dennis the Menace. As it happens, Nick Castle would also direct WUD Film’s latest FREE “Lakeside Cinema” entry, The Last Starfighter, where a young boy is recruited by aliens to fight a galactic war — or every childhood daydream I ever had.

AMC Summer Nights: The Hunger Games (10:00p — AMC Star)

Monday through Wednesday, AMC is screening Gary Ross’s bloodless adaptation of that young adult series where children fight to the death in a national televised tournament. In related mixed messages, each and every $3 ticket goes towards Autism Society of America. For the kids!


Josh Groban: All That Echoes (Point – 7:30p)

The singer-songwriter fires a folly against the bough of the RMS Kevin Hart in what will presumably come to be known as the Great Concert Film War of 2013.

Escape From Planet Earth (Point – 10:00a)

Point Cinema’s family-oriented summer programming continues Tuesday and Wednesday with this animated alien film starring Brendan Fraser — not John Carpenter’s long-delayed sequel to Escape from L.A. 


Sundance Classics: Back to the Future (1:35p, 6:50p — Sundance)

Did you know the only reason time-travelin’ Christopher Lloyd says “jigowatt” is because Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis misspelled “gigawatt” in their script? Sundance gives you two chances to re-experience this classic cinematic ceremonial ritual. Heavy stuff, Doc.

Turbo (AMC Star, Point, Eastgate)

Before you enjoy Netflix’s upcoming series F.A.S.T. (Fast Action Stunt Team)you’ll want to catch Dreamworks Animation’s Turbo, starring Ryan Reynolds as a racing snail with immaculate washboard abs.