The Wisconsin Film Festival graced the screens of Madison this week, bringing a wide variety of films to it's loyal viewers for the 13th year. From shorts to documentaries to a five-and-a-half-hour-long epic series, this years festival lived up to it's eclectic past. Although the chance to catch these flicks is past, here's The Daily Cardinal's take on five movies featured in the festival.
""Troll Hunter"" is a movie that is summed up by it's title. It's about a group of college students in Norway who are making a documentary about several recent bear killings and are in search of a strange and mysterious hunter who they find out is actually a troll hunter.
It's a mockumentary at its best and the movie has many laugh-out-loud moments and some genuine scary ones as well. It features some pretty flawed character and story arcs, but that's the fun of it. The plot is simple. the film is a great horror spoof, and it's a real joy to watch.
Breaking and Entering
""Breaking and Entering"" is a documentary by Benjamin Fingerhut that was about five-and-a-half years in the making. It features a series of characters that have broken or are attempting to break world records, ranging from the longest continuous bike ride to the longest distance a grape can be caught in one's mouth.
Fascinating characters abound and are prescient to larger themes of conquest in both their exuberance and commitment to their feats. The documentary is funny and heartbreaking, as we follow rivals and the victory that comes with trying to be the best in the world. It's a must-see.
""Meek's Cutoff"" is set in 1845 and is the story of a group of settlers led by the incompetent Stephen Meek (played by Bruce Greenwood). Members of the group include Soloman and Emily Tethethrow (played by Will Patton and Michelle Williams) and Thomas (Paul Dano).
The film is methodically paced and it may bore some viewers, but it's an epic journey of a group on the fringe of survival. It's tender and sweet at some moments and roughly sporadic at others. Williams puts in a stellar performance as the strong and hardheaded wife who can barely contain her contempt of Meek. It's a film about hardship and a tempered study of life in 19th-Century America.
""13 Samurai"" was the perfect film to officially launch the Wisconsin Film Festival. It's a relatively unknown foreign film that is worthy of a bigger audience, but is also the kind of film that is palatable to anyone who's even remotely interested in action movies. It's not a masterpiece like ""Seven Samurai"" or a Hollywood indulgence-fest like ""The Last Samurai,"" but an intriguing hybrid of the two. I didn't blink for the last 30 minutes of this film, it was that good. All the action, passion and fun were packed into one beautifully performed final showdown and it was such a joy to watch.
""Marwencol,"" by Jeff Malmberg, is by far the most unique documentary I've seen in a while. The movie documents the creation of the miniature town of Marwencol, a land of danger, romance and intrigue created inside the mind of its maker, a man recovering from a severe brain injury. The town and its characters are beautifully intricate and painstakingly photographed, but what is most incredible is the pertinence it has to the life of the artist, Mark Hogancamp. The idea of the film is a little creepy, but as the film goes on Hogancamp becomes more and more endearing and ends as a touching account of one man's alternative recovery.