Our Madison movie calendar is back with a “Women in Avant Garde” showcase, Goodnight Mommy, the Asian-American Film Festival, and a Steve Jobs advance screening.
Stray Dog (6:30p — Central Library, Rm 302)
After meeting Ronnie “Stray Dog” Hall on the set of Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik’s filmmaking zig took a zag. Her 2014 film both captures Hall’s life at home — as he tries to bring his wife’s two sons to America from Mexico — and on the road. Hall, a Vietnam vet and advocate for veteran’s issues, embarks on a cross-country motorcade to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., touching the lives of service members he meets along the way. Granik’s film is messy but it finds a half-catharsis in spinning wheels and American flags and gives a warm message about the importance of ritual. It also features hands down one of the best final scenes of a documentary in recent memory. (FREE.)
“Women in Avant Garde” (7:00p — Union South Marquee)
The resurrected “Starlight Cinema” highlights four avant-garde pieces including Karen Yasinsky’s Life Is An Opinion, Fire A Fact, Miranda July’s The Amateurist, and Basma Alsharif’s Everywhere Was The Same. Kelly Gallagher’s The Herstory Of The Female Filmmaker is the highlight of the evening’s program though, using lively, unorthodox animation techniques for a feminist retelling of cinema history. (FREE.)
Finding Noah (7:00p — Point)
The $3 million budget of this Gary Sinise-narrated documentary on the search for the remains of Noah’s Ark doesn’t include the extra half a million dollars the filmmakers were forced to give up to Kurdish militants blocking their hike up Mount Ararat. Apparently mixing science and faith isn’t the most dangerous thing about Fathom’s “one night only event.” Featuring a simulcast discussion with the filmmakers following the screening.
Magic Mike XXL (9:30p — Union South Marquee)
Steven Soderbergh, who’s (so far) stood by his pledge to retire from directing theatrical features, sticks to the camerawork for this sequel and gives the reins to long-time associate Gregory Jacobs. Alex Pettyfer may be gone, but the rest of the guys are back and this time it’s adapt or die as they strap up and strip down for a competition in Myrtle Beach. Except they’re not strippers. They’re like, healers or something. (FREE.)
All freakin’ weekend
Goodnight Mommy (Sundance)
The Austrian language slow-burner that came out of nowhere at Fantastic Fest last year finally hits Madison. Two twin boys (Elias and Lukas Schwarz), who look more like Nazi poster children than fair-haired innocent, begin to suspect that their mother (Susanne Wuest), whose face is covered in bandages, isn’t really their mother. Georges Franju’s Eyes Without A Face seems like an obvious influence on Wuest’s masked visage, but the real terror might be the twin boys, who go to increasingly extreme lengths to discover the alleged impostor’s real identity. (Either that’s the scariest part or it’s James Franco’s endorsement.)
He Named Me Malala (Sundance)
But later I started thinking and I used to think that the Talib would come and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want’.
That’s from Pakistani activist, Nobel Laureate and all-around amazing human being Malala Yousafzai, in her response when Jon Stewart asked what she would say to the Taliban gunman who tried to kill her for refusing to stay out of school. Davis Guggenheim (of An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman fame) directs the documentary profile. On a related note, what did everyone else accomplish today?
Pan (AMC Star, Point, Stoughton Cinema Cafe)
Putting the “pan” in “critics are panning the shit out of this,” Joe Wright’s (Atonement, Hanna) Peter Pan thing seems more than a little ill-conceived: Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) enslaves a young Peter Pan (Levi Miller) to mine for the fairy dust that keeps the pirate youthful, Rooney Mara’s the only non-Asian actor in her Princess Tiger Lily’s tribe, vague prophecies about chosen ones, etc. Positioned as a prequel-origin story and teasing more stories to come, the box office success of this might determine whether Garrett Hedlund’s nice-guy Captain Hook ever turns bad.
Rudrama Devi (AMC Star)
Big Stone Gap (Point)
Ashley Judd stars as the old maid of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, who waits around for lifelong friend Patrick Wilson to make a move. Singer-songwriter (and gun control advocate) Roseanne Cash provides some original songs. Adriana Trigiani pulls from her own experiences as an Italian-American growing up in the Appalachians in the 1970s in adapting her own best-seller.
The Little Mermaid (Fri through Sun — Point)
Marcus begins their “Disney Enchanted Tales” which, mercifully, isn’t aimed at just one gender. (10:00a, 12:30p, and 3:00p)
Pitch Perfect 2 (5:30p — Union South Marquee)
The Underworld Story + Try and Get Me! (7:00p + 8:45p — 4070 Vilas Hall)
Cinematheque’s one-two punch from Cy Endfield covers both the British-American director’s attention-grabbing B-movie noir that slams McCarthyism (the former) and arguably his greatest effort, a dramatization of the 1933 kidnapping of Brooke Hart (the latter). (FREE.)
The Overnight (9:30p — Union South Marquee)
Two couples (Taylor Schilling & Adam Scott and Jason Schwarztman & Judith Godrèche) shake up their relationships a little too much as one overnight stay becomes an opportunity to swap partners. If one night seems like too short amount of time, know it’s in keeping with the brisk production schedule: Writer-director Patrick Brice shot his breakout Sundance comedy in just 12 days. (FREE.)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (10:00p — AMC Star)
Advantageous (2:00p — Union South Marquee)
The Overnight (6:30p — Union South Marquee)
Operation Popcorn (7:00p — 4070 Vilas Hall)
The Asian-American Film Festival stretches into Cinematheque programming with David Grabias’s detective grind on a mysteriously resurrected anti-Communist effort by the CIA. Sounding more like an ill-fated X-Files episode, the weirdest part of this whole mess is that it allegedly happened. Grabias will appear in person. (FREE.)
Magic Mike XXL (8:30p — Union South Marquee)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (10:00p — AMC Star)
The Return of the Living Dead (11:00p — Union South Marquee)
It’s hard to believe that the guy who helped write timelessly gritty classics in Alien and Total Recall could direct a movie as divergent as The Return of the Living Dead, but that’s exactly what Dan O’Bannon did in 1985. Silly and with a contempt for its audience (or at least a contempt for the obnoxious 80s punks it uses as zombie fodder), Return is a markedly different entry in Romero-birthed franchise. In the case of its schlock production value, that’s not a great thing. In the case of the “Tarman,” played with sublime creepiness by Muppeteer Allan Trautman, that might be the best thing. (FREE.)
Daughter of Shanghai + Dangerous to Know (2:00p + 3:15p — Chazen Art Museum)
Madison Film Forum‘s Taylor Hanley wasn’t big on Daughter of Shanghai and its human trafficking drama however Dangerous to Know, which also stars the first ever Chinese-American movie star Anna May Wong, is a different story. (FREE.)
Magic Mike XXL (3:00p — Union South Marquee)
L for Leisure (7:00p — 4070 Vilas Hall)
If you ask co-directors Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn whether the 90s are fair game for a period piece, they’d probably just point you to L for Leisure, their laid back microbudget film about graduate students’s free time that’s earned comparisons to Hal Hartley and Whit Stillman. I’ll need to sleep on whether or not I’m cool with that analogy. (FREE.)
Tested (7:00p — Union South Marquee)
If our country is so diverse, why do so many students of color miss out on the best opportunities in education? First-time director Curtis Chin’s documentary probes that question with a group study of New York public school kids, all essentially competing for a spot in a specialized public school with a single standardized test. (FREE.)
The Birds (7:00p — Point)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (2:15p, 7:35p — Sundance)
Peace Officer (7:00p — Madison Museum of Contemporary Art)
(MMoCA’s Spotlight Cinema is FREE for museum members and $7 for everyone else.)
Ciao, Professore! (7:00p — Helen C. White Building, Rm 4281)
The Birds (7:00p — Point)
“Monsters in Motion” (7:00p — Alicia Ashman Library)
The Madison Public Library’s month-long “Eerie Tales” program finds Halloweeny connections in all varieties of fiction. “Monsters in Motion” is hosted by former Head Film Archivist at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research Maxine Ducey and will feature clips of all manner of classic movie monsters. (FREE.)
Steve Jobs (7:30p — Union South Marquee)
Danny Boyle hasn’t made a good movie in eight years, everybody’s over Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, and Michael Fassbender looks nothing like Steve Jobs. Yet despite all that, I’ve got a good feeling about this dramatized slice of the Apple co-founder’s life. Separated into three behind-the-scenes sequences all before Apple product launches, Boyle and Sorkin look to dramatize what Alex Gibney’s documentary dug up earlier this year: Jobs may have been brilliant, but at the cost of being an attention-hogging control freak egomaniac who kinda sorta shunned his daughter. Boyle, who cut his teeth on Shallow Grave and later refined that no-holds-barred charm in 28 Days Later and Sunshine, might be the perfect person to get us to swallow that pill. Either way, WUD Film can expect an “Apple Event”-sized line outside of the Marquee for this (FREE) thing.