Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

A Pounce of Destruction: The Collective Comedy of Key and Peele’s “Keanu”

Action, Comedy, Recommended 1 Comment »


By Ray Pride

After five years on Comedy Central, comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele make a leap to the widescreen with “Keanu,” an action comedy that pits two cousins against drug-dealing gangsters after the loss of a beloved gray tabby named, yes, “Keanu.” The tabby battles for cutest feline honors ever in a swear-filled, R-rated tribute to 1980s-nineties movies like “Midnight Run.” We caught up with the team one recent morning at Bucktown’s Tree House Humane Society, but sadly, sans kittens.

Do you know the collective noun for cats?
Key: No!

It’s a litter of kittens. But it’s a pounce of cats.
Peele: A pounce of cats. Really.

Feral cats, it’s a destruction of feral cats.
Key: Okay, that just overtook a murder of crows. Murder of crows was always the best one. A destruction! What’s a pod? Whales? No, that’s a herd. A pod. A pod of dolphins! And an army of frogs.

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Under Siege: Jeremy Saulnier on the Bloody Precision of “Green Room”

Action, Comedy, Drama, Horror, Recommended 1 Comment »


By Ray Pride

“It’s all just a clusterfuck for them,” writer-director Jeremy Saulnier says of the fate of the young punk-rock protagonists of “Green Room.” Or as Darcy, the blunt neo-Nazi club owner played by Patrick Stewart puts it: “Things have gone south. It won’t end well.”

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Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Action, Drama, Science Fiction, The State of Cinema 1 Comment »


Much, much, much is backward and wrong with the sour, vile, inexplicable wreckage of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Begin with the dim slurry of cinematography. Where celluloid was flecked with dream-sparkles of silver, Zack Snyder’s darkest dark-beyond-dark digital project yet is all clutter and cloaca, as if sprayed and spackled with a sewer’s worth of a city’s shit.

Perspective is another. “BvS: DOJ” is a rotten title, but it could well have been “Watchmen II: The Reckoning, I Reckon.” Based on an interview the Monday before its release to the Wall Street Journal, Zack Snyder reassures the world that his DC Comics blunderbuss would be in school with his elephantine burlesque, “Watchmen,” a major case of putting the meta before the text. “I was surprised with the fervency of the defense of the concept of Superman,” Snyder says of his detractors. “I feel like they were taking it personally that I was trying to grow up their character,” Snyder told Michael Calia. “It’s all about the ‘why’ of superheroes: the political why, the religious why, the philosophical why. In some ways, this will be, I hope at its really best, the impossible version of ‘Watchmen.’”

So. Which part of “inexplicable” is best to convey in a few hundred words? Read the rest of this entry »

Review Flashback: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Action, Drama, Romance 1 Comment »

your money take
By Ray Pride

What if it had been good?

What if it had been a movie?

“Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” is the product placement of all time, the runestone, the grail, the altar upon which billions of dollars of cash will be placed in the next few weeks, and its surge of activity in the economy, coursing from fan-hand to Hasbro or Galoob bank, from T-shirt sweatshop to Lucasfilm coffers, may be more instrumental in lubricating the economy than any amount of e-commerce day-trading in Internet stock ever could. The Force is money. The movie is crap. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Forbidden Room

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guy maddin forbidden room


Guy Maddin goes more madly Maddinesque than ever in “The Forbidden Room,” an eye-popping, mind-throbbing palimpsest of film-historical apocrypha, co-directed with Evan Johnson and aided and abetted by elder poet John Ashbery. To attempt synopsis would be to tempt word salad at apex, swirling into its ever-concentric concatenation of vivid, vibrant visions of forms of filmmaking that resemble fever dreams past, but exist only within its own cloud of visual perfume across two hours of unceasing melodramatic phantasmagoria. Maddin and Johnson frame their stories with an Ashbery ditty about bathing, then moving on to seventeen or so tales-within-tales including a doomed submarine crew chewing the oxygen out of flapjacks, child soldiers, lumberjacks, vampires, wolf men, volcano sacrifices, a teeming array of intertitles and the expected digital experimentation with the lovingly lousy look of the lowest, boldest rungs of twentieth century moviemaking. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Creed

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It’s been too long since a movie has come out of the gate as a plainspoken crowd-pleaser. (Especially after the pile-up in the past couple months of commercial and esthetic misfires from the studios.) But twenty-nine-year-0ld Ryan Coogler’s second feature (after the vivid, emotional tragedy of “Fruitvale Station”) brings it all home with “Creed,” the seventh movie featuring Sylvester Stallone as Philly palooka turned sentimental champ, Rocky Balboa. The first film was almost forty years ago, which means sixty-nine-year-old Stallone was just about Coogler’s age when John Avildsen directed “Rocky” in 1976. Playing the son of one of Rocky’s most memorable adversaries—the title tells the lineage from Apollo to Adonis—Michael B. Jordan surpasses the dignity of his down-to-earth role in “Fruitvale Station” with a go-for-broke range of emotions, dealing with ambition, talent, legacy, romance in all its written variations. Stallone? At his minimalist best as a man of the streets, shouldering years of quiet living: where has this fine actor been hiding these recent years? Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Victoria

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A young woman’s out clubbing one night in Berlin, and people she meets propel her into becoming the getaway driver for a bank robbery. Simple, and simpler: The single, unbroken take that is “Victoria,” lasting two hours and eighteen minutes, is taut, assured and oft-dazzling enough to rise above any sundry accusation of gimmickry. (The real time duration is indicated as between 4:30am and 6:48am.) Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Love

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While the Music Box isn’t showing Gaspar Noé’s newest provocation in its intended 3D, the sex act and concomitant fluids are still going to be in your face in “Love.” The simpler, more elemental Noé’s films become, the more touching they are, especially in this puppyish idyll of fucking as everyday transcendence, rather than transgression. Noé’s sweet heart melts on screen without the vibrant visual innovation of “Enter The Void” or the brutal punishing-of-the-innocent of “Irreversible.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Review: OUT 1

Action, Documentary, Drama, Events, Recommended, Romance No Comments »



Never lost, but seldom seen, Jacques Rivette’s “Out 1,” the justifiably legendary twelve-hour-fifty-five-minute epic of post-1968 Paris has been digitally restored, supervised by cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn. Previously seen only via a single 16mm print circulating to cinémathèques (including a Memorial Day weekend Siskel showing in 2006), it is now being shown around the country prior to a January 2016 Blu-ray release. Its extended form, divided into eight episodes, anticipates the phenomenon of “binge-watching” by decades, and that 2007 showing in the company of a raft of cinephiles old and young was a fantastic communal experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Assassin

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Hou Hsiao-hsien’s movies teem with tactile glories, eddies of visual strophes, the stillness of faces, the tension of bodies transfixed, the swirl of color upon color, the seething heat of regret settled into the body. “The Assassin,” the sixty-eight-year-old Taiwanese master’s first feature since 2007’s “Flight of the Red Balloon” is warm to the touch but cool with intellect. Read the rest of this entry »