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The Guard, Don Cheadle, Brendan Gleeson

An FBI agent (Don Cheadle) and an eccentric Irish cop (Brendan Gleeson) go after drug smugglers in the violent comedy “The Guard.”


The Wisconsin Film Festival is a couple of weeks ago, and are you still having trouble watching only one movie in a row? For the fourth year, the Wisconsin Union Directorate is saving Madison cinephiles with the free Mini Indie Film Festival, packing in 16 films between tonight and Sunday.

All the films play in the lovely Marquee Theater at Union South, 1308 W. Dayton St., and all are free with seats going first-come, first-serve. As in past years, the line-up is a satisfying mix of arthouse hits that you might have missed when they played at Sundance Cinemas, as well as new films that haven't played anywhere outside of festivals. I'm particularly jaked to see the documentary "Indie Game," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and doesn't open in New York for several weeks.

Here's the complete line-up, along with a few thoughts and/or review links for movies that I've already seen. Visit for more information.

Wednesday, May 2

7 p.m. – "The Invisible War" – Documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick looks at the epidemic of female soldiers in the U.S. military being raped by their fellow soldiers, especially in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.

9:30 p.m. – "The Guard" – This very funny and literate comedy pairs Brendan Gleeson as a corrupt Irish policeman and Don Cheadle as a straight-laced FBI agent, both trying to ferret out a drug ring. Here's my full review.

Thursday, May 3

7 p.m. – "Beginners" – Christopher Plummer deservedly won an Oscar for his role as an elderly gay man who comes out of the closet after his wife dies, to the bewilderment of his son (Ewan McGregor).

9:30 p.m. – "A Prophet" – To me, this is one of the best crime films of the last decade, a gritty and operatic tale of a man who enters a French prison as a frightened petty crook, and leaves as a powerful crime kingpin. Here's my full review.

Friday, May 4

4:30 p.m. – "Martha Marcy May Marlene" – Sean Durkin's haunting tale of a young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) who escapes a manipulative cult, but has trouble transitioning back into everyday society. Here's my full review.

6:45 p.m. – "Teddy Bear" – A lonely Danish bodybuilder looks for love in Thailand, and finds his romantic notions of love tested.

9 p.m. – "Indie Game: The Movie" -- This new documentary looks at game developers who work on independent video games that are works of art as much as they are entertainment.

Midnight – "Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil" – In this sly send-up of horror movies, two kindly backwoods hillbillies happen upon a group of nubile teenagers, who keep accidentally and horribly dying on them.

Saturday, May 5

3:45 p.m. -- "The Dynamiter" – I'm getting kind of a "George Washington" feel off this indie drama, about a 14-year-old Mississippi boy who reunites with his older brother, a faded ex-high school athlete.

5:30 p.m. – "Take Shelter" – Michael Shannon is terrific as a Midwestern family man who is plagued by apocalyptic visions, and unsure if they're signs of a deteriorating mental condition or prophesy. Here's my full review.

8 p.m. – "Starlight Cinema: Technophobia" – The UW's venerable experimental film series returns with five short films about uneasy living in the digital world.

9:30 p.m. – "Elite Squad: The Enemy Within" – This Brazilian film mixes gritty action and political commentary in its tale of a good cop facing chaos when corrupt cops take over Rio's poorest neighborhoods from crime gangs.

Midnight – "The Last Circus" – If you find clowns creepy, you'll love this eerie Spanish film, in which rival clowns compete viciously for the love of a woman.

Sunday, May 6

1:30 p.m. – "The Interrupters" – The best documentary of 2011 is a searing look at urban gang violence in Chicago, and a group of ex-gang members who are trying to intercede on the streets and save lives. Here's my full review.

4:30 p.m. – Student short film showcase – See what some of the university's most talented film students have been up to in this collection of shorts.

7 p.m. – "The Future" – Miranda July's latest film features a boyfriend who can stop time, crazy dancing, and a talking cat, yet the whimsy is put to resonant purpose in a film about aimless types who can't commit to anything.  Here's the full review.