“The Invisible Woman”: An affair that scared the Dickens out of her

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The Invisible Woman” opens Friday at Sundance Cinemas. I’ll be hosting a post-show chat after the 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, April 29 show at the theater. R, 1:51, three stars out of four.

Charles Dickens was a man of the people. In addition to writing stories that changed literature, he was an enthusiastic playwright and orator, championing the plight of the downtrodden in England. In one scene in “The Invisible Woman,” we see Dickens (Ralph Fiennes, who also directs) springing to action after a horrific train accident, quickly taking charge to tend to the wounded.

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Free UW Mini Indie Film Festival kicks off with “In a World . . .” and “A Field in England”

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Now that everyone’s had a couple of weeks to rest their eyeballs after the Wisconsin Film Festival, the UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Union Directorate’s Film Committee gets us back in our seats with the sixth annual Mini Indie Film Festival.

The festival runs Thursday through Sunday in the Marquee Theatre at Union South, 1308 W. Dayton St. This year has a very strong lineup of new independent cinema, most of which hasn’t played in Madison before, including the new film by Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), Ben Wheatley (“Kill List”) and the Madison premiere of the Oscar-nominated foreign film “The Broken Circle Breakdown.” All the films are free (yes, FREE) and open to the public, but there’s no ticketing — just make sure you show up early enough to get a seat.

Here’s what’s on tap for Thursday:

“In A World . . .” (7 p.m.) — My full review is here. Lake Bell’s debut as writer and director (as well as star) initially seems like a laugh-out-loud romcom set in the world of Hollywood voiceover artists, and it’s certainly that, and very funny. But there’s a smart and subtle feminist message woven in there as well, as Bell’s character navigates a male-dominated industry where women use baby-girl voices to get noticed. So, yeah, she falls in love and all that, but the film’s really about women finding their authentic, non-baby-doll voice.

A Field in England” (9:30 p.m) — Ben Wheatley’s films seem to delight in packing one genre inside another — “Down Terrace” hid a crime drama underneath its miserablist family comedy, “Kill List” nestled a cult horror film within a hitman thriller, and “Sightseers” gave us a mild, schlubby character who also happened to be a serial killer. “A Field in England” may be his strangest mash-up yet, a 17th-century war film that plays like “Waiting for Godot” on magic mushrooms — because the characters spend a good chunk of the film on magic mushrooms.

 

Come talk about “The Invisible Woman” next Tuesday at Sundance

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The next two Sundance Cinemas post-show chats I’m hosting have been set, and both films deal with some rather complicated love affairs.

On Tuesday, April 29, we’ll talk about “The Invisible Woman,” which was directed by and stars Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens,and Felicity Jones as the young actress he carried a clandestine 13-year affair with. The talk will take place after the 7:10 p.m. show (so it will start around 9:15 p.m. or so) in the Overflow Bar at Sundance, located on the first floor across from the box office. The movie cost $10, but the talk is free.

Then come back on Tuesday, May 12 to talk about “Le Week-End,” the Wisconsin Film Festival favorite about a late-middle-aged British couple, played by the wonderful Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, re-evaluating their long marriage while on a 30th anniversary trip to Paris. I’ll have more details on that talk in a couple of weeks.

We had a good discussion about “Stranger By The Lake” last month, so please join us!

 

Instant Gratification: “Exit Through the Gift Shop” and four other good movies to watch on Netflix Instant

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Pick of the week: “Exit Through the Gift ShopMy full review is here. Street artist Banksy’s playful (and possibly apocryphal) documentary about a graffiti artist wannabe who ends up becoming more successful than his ideals is a wicked satire on the artist in the age of branding.

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“Under the Skin” in black and white

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Never be lulled into thinking that a stylist has nothing to say. Jonathan Glazer has made three films all heralded for their style, but he uses those visual gifts for more than just figuring out the coolest camera angles. His debut, “Sexy Beast,” began as a late middle aged take on the British crime film, the camera gliding over Ray Winstone’s baking flesh, but became a strange and sad portrait of middle-aged reckoning.

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“Dom Hemingway”: Jude gets on the wrong side of the Law

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Sean Weitner saw “Dom Hemingway” at the Wisconsin Film Festival, and it’s already back in town for an engagement at Sundance Cinemas. Here’s his review:

Are we far enough past the mid-’90s scourge of having every grim, violent, often dull moviemaker being hailed as “the next Tarantino” for me to pay that compliment to Richard Shepard? The label is an oversell, but Shepard picks up the best part of Tarantino-ism: Polishing and electrifying his personal cinema history to make one from the heart that pinballs through a playfield of references.

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The five movies you need to see in Madison this week: April 18, 2014

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I’m going to try something different here. Regular readers of the blog will know I usually post a “What’s Playing” column on Friday mornings, running down all the movies that will play in Madison in the next week. Extremely regular readers will also know that I haven’t done a “What’s Playing” column in the last few weeks.

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