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Movies, Film, Television, Video, News, Previews, Reviews, Madison, Wisconsin

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    Don't be fooled by the title: "The Italian" isn't an Italian film. It's a Russian film, and it shows us a side of contemporary Russia that doesn't make it into the travel brochures.

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    Just over two weeks ago on Sunday, May 6, WADOMA (or West African Dance of Madison) performed on stage at the High Noon Saloon. The occasion was Drumming for Hope 2007, an annual benefit concert conducted by African Youth Outreach.

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  • 05/24/07--08:43: Apocalypto and Venus
  • Released this week: Apocalypto, Epic Movie, The Good German, The Italian, Venus.

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  • 05/24/07--08:44: His royal greenness
  • I wish I could say the third time's a charm, but charm is the one thing that's missing from Shrek the Third, Dreamworks' latest chapter in the storybook life of the world's kindest, gentlest ogre.

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  • 05/24/07--08:46: Casualities of war
  • Generals are always fighting the last war, and war movies tend to do the same thing. Home of the Brave, in which several soldiers who fought in Iraq try to adjust to civilian life, seems haunted by Vietnam (okay, two wars back) - the profound disillusionment, stemming in part from defeat, that seeped into such movies as Deer Hunter and Coming Home. But it's never quite clear where the disillusionment is coming from, since none of the soldiers is opposed to the war.

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    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Sunday, 8 p.m., HBO) dramatizes Dee Brown's nonfiction book about the tragic collision of white and Native American culture as the U.S. expanded westward in the late 19th century.

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  • 05/24/07--12:13: Getting pitchy with it
  • The key to "winning" in Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol (PlayStation 2, rated E 10+) is to stay on pitch, just as the judges always say. If you do, the game thinks you're doing great even if you're singing different words, or mumbling.

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    While watching the iconic opening sequence to The Sopranos, set to "Woke Up this Morning" by A3, it's easy to reimagine its visual commute from Manhattan to suburban Essex County, N.J. transposed to other locales.

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    Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Chris Garneu performed at Cafe Montmartre on Saturday night, one half of a bill also featuring Chicago's Track a Tiger.

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    "Chad Vader" wins the "George Lucas Selects" award in the Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge.

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    "I hope they'll really like it and put it on television and stuff," ends the description for the sketch, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

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    Blood and Chocolate: A female werewolf falls in love with a man. The film has a certain growly romanticism, but most of the dialogue alternates between the hormonally overwrought and the insipid.

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  • 05/31/07--07:05: Boys' club
  • The concept for Gracie was developed by Andrew Shue and director Davis Guggenheim, who were inspired by the true story of the Shue family (Elisabeth and Andrew both act in the film, and Guggenheim is Elisabeth's husband). To honor the family's story, Gracie is earnest and loving, but that doesn't make for a good movie.

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  • 05/31/07--07:07: We'll always have Paris
  • Love is the unifying theme in Paris, Je T'Aime, an anthology film in which 18 teams of filmmakers were assigned to make a five- or six-minute narrative short about a separate Parisian neighborhood. The producers go out of their way to avoid cliché. Once we get past the Paris-Love equation, the choice of collaborators is surprisingly fresh.

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  • 05/31/07--07:09: Kill if you must
  • Serial killers are a dime a dozen in Mr. Brooks. It's an often beguiling but essentially ludicrous movie that flirts with the idea that the urge to kill is just another one of the pesky addiction problems that plague modern society.

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    During my conversation with Redford, he surprised me by bringing up 19th century philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

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    Creature Comforts (Monday, 7 p.m., CBS) is the brainchild of Aardman Animations, creators of the droll Wallace & Gromit series. It takes interviews with ordinary Americans and puts them in the mouths of animals, animated with Aardman's classic stop-motion technique.

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  • 05/31/07--08:26: Space shoot
  • The gaming world awaits the Sept. 25 release of Halo 3. If you're antsy, you can already download and play a short preview version of the outer-space shooter game through Xbox Live, though you have to own or rent Crackdown for the Xbox 360 to do so. (Crackdown itself is a stellar shooting game.)

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    Released about three weeks ago, the new video was "shot mostly in a farm house," says James Jones, the band's bassist.

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    "Cold beer, bratwurst with mustard, sunshine, geez," urges the Cork n'Bottle Sting Band, now in their fourth summer of weekly shows at the Union. "See you there."

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