Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

Review: The Counselor

Action, Adventure, Film Books No Comments »

Counselor poster

But for a pitched altercation on a CTA bus between two elderly, raucously disagreeable men in wheelchairs—a not uncommon occurrence on the 66 bus, in my daily experience—I would have made it to the early morning screening of Ridley Scott’s filming of Cormac McCarthy’s script, the drug-deal-gone-oh-so-terribly-wrong tale “The Counselor” with minutes to spare. The studio showed the film to reviewers only this once, on Tuesday before a Friday opening, keeping it largely under wraps except for the visual sizzle of a few commercials shown on sports channels. Wonder why! While fate kept me from that screening, Vintage published the paperback ($14.95) a week earlier, and I continued to read it as I realized I would be a half an hour or more late. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. On the page, this version is, I don’t know, bonkers? What’s a bigger pile-up of descriptors than brazenly bonkers batshit? Extended monologues alternately wound and caress the eye and, by some reports, what’s on screen deletes some of these scalding siroccos of language in favor of other sandy windstorms. Read the rest of this entry »

Furnish a Room: surveying film books of 2009

Film Books, The State of Cinema, World Cinema No Comments »

farberfarberfarbenBy Ray Pride

As I write, I am surrounded on three sides by books; one window looks out onto the horizontal play of snowfall. Inside it’s warm: books do furnish a room.

Ways of reading and ways of writing are shifting; that opening paragraph’s fourteen characters too long to Twitter. Whatever to do! From the cool hearth glow of computers and laptops, rampant idle bloggotry is committed every hour of the day and night. Everybody’s writing about movies even if no one’s making a remunerative career of it for the moment. Scanning these bookshelves, especially of the titles on film from past decades that seemed important enough to acquire, alphabetize and dust, I wonder how many tomes on the subject will be committed between covers, hard or soft, in coming years. The tacky tens: the decade when the listicle became literature!

For me, the year’s most important film book is “Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber” (Library of America, $40). Read the rest of this entry »

411: The Age of Cinephiles

Film Books, News and Dish, The State of Cinema No Comments »

jrosenbaum150lEsteemed film critic and historian Jonathan Rosenbaum will give a talk at the Newberry Library on December 2 at 5:30pm about his upcoming collection of reviews and articles, “Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in Transition,” set to be published in fall of 2010. A book signing will follow. Rosenbaum will be discussing the changing nature of film in regards to the Internet and digital media. “When I do these talks there’s an element of improvisation,” says Rosenbaum. “There’s a kind of division between the older generation of people who believe it’s the end of film, and the young generation of people who think this change is for the better, and it makes movies more accessible.” Rosenbaum finds himself on the side of this new generation of film enthusiasts. “I tend to think that the future of cinema will happen in places other than theaters. It’s no longer operated by the industry; it happens in storefronts and homes.”

Newman Owns: Shawn Levy on the sturdy “Paul Newman: A Life”

Film Books, News and Dish, The State of Cinema 2 Comments »

By Ray Pridepaulnewman1

One of the metro daily film critics still standing, the Oregonian’s Shawn Levy, has written four nonfiction books, including “King of Comedy,” a life of Jerry Lewis. His “Paul Newman: A Life” (Harmony Books, $29.99, 490 pp.), is the first complete biography of the charismatic actor, underappreciated director and epic philanthropist. Levy thinks Newman was a lot like Lewis, or Frank Sinatra, whom he wrote about in “Rat Pack Confidential”: “Men like this have incredible capacities for work and activity.” Levy expects there’s probably a scurrilous book in the works, but he says the man and the life that he found in extensive research, poring over archives, articles, interviews, letters, legal documents and his own interviews. It’s a no-nonsense read with a satisfying amount of detail. Read the rest of this entry »

Skin Deep: Mr. Skin tests our film knowledge

Events, Film Books, News and Dish No Comments »

Mr. Skin may specialize in finding breasts in films, but he can appreciate finding irony in bookstores as well. The film-nudity mogul, whose recently released book “Mr. Skin’s Skintastic Video Guide” reveals his 500 favorite movies for nudie-viewing pleasure, can’t help but grin when people inside Barbara’s Bookstore start to notice that the children’s book section is bordering the room where his people have set up a video screen. Any little one intently reading “What Color is Your Underwear, Mr. Moo?” could look up to actually see Shannon Elizabeth only wearing underwear. Luckily, there’s no one under 18 even in the store, otherwise there would be hell to pay for the open can of Budweiser literally four inches from Mother Goose.
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