Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

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

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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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Review: Rio, I Love You

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A third metropolis gets the “city of love” coochy-coo in “Rio, I Love You,” after globe-com anthologies “Paris, je t’aime” and “New York, I Love You.” It’s not much of a calling card for whichever city the producers hope to descend onto next. Read the rest of this entry »

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: Bill

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Casts of two British children’s series, “Horrible Histories” and “Yonderland” combine to extremely local effect with a family-ish comedy of a low order about the “lost years” of the lute-playing “Bill” (Matthew Baynton). Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Everybody Wants Some!!

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Richard Linklater’s ever-amiable, always ambling, achingly intelligent “Everybody Wants Some!!” is an early-eighties-set comedy-drama set on the weekend before college begins for the baseball team at a Texas university. It slots neatly into the narrative timeline of his filmography, from the boy years of “Boyhood” to the picture it most parallels, and is not quite a sequel to “Dazed And Confused,” as well as to the onrushing “present” days of the “Before” trilogy. Profane, teasing, taunting, Linklater’s script also indulges comedy high and low: hormones and burgeoning ego and beginners’ alcohol consumption bristle on screen. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: River Of Grass

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river of grass


In a career of two decades plus, Northwest-centric filmmaker Kelly Reichardt’s established her voice in features like “Old Joy” (2006; two male friends reunite on the road), “Wendy and Lucy” (2008; a woman and her dog part on the road), “Meek’s Cutoff” (2010; a western in search of a trail), and “Night Moves” (2013; activists seek action to ignite ideas). But even her 1994 feature debut, “River Of Grass,” is a deadpan delight, as richly observant of suburban southern Florida landscapes as the more classical locations in which her characters now shift. (It’s being rereleased now in a digital restoration.) Reichardt’s described the sun-kissed not-quite-a-comedy as “a road movie without the road, a love story without the love and a crime story without the crime.” Genial Lisa Bowman plays Cozy, a bored thirty-year-old housewife who hits the road with Lee (Larry Fessenden, also the film’s editor and co-producer), whose hope is to “just drink.” There’s no lack of charm in the not-lackadaisical spark between these two generous performers as guns, hapless robbery attempts and seedy motels decorate their lives. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: My Golden Days 

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(Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse) Do the French have a word to encompass the cockeyed cornucopias of Arnaud Desplechin’s full-blooded, full-throated movies like “Kings & Queen” (2004), “A Christmas Tale” (2008), and now his masterful “My Golden Days,” one of the very best films from 2015? I know that’s the Germans’ stock in trade; the French likely accept the generous pirouettes and warm embrace without having to verbalize even more than his fretful figures already do. (Oh, shit: joie de vivre, that’s it.) An episodic sequel of sorts to his hypnotically voluble 1996 “My Sex Life… Or How I Got Into An Argument,” the best moments of the vivid, vivacious “My Golden Days” reach across space and time, banter hopefully, traffic in first love that will become lasting laceration. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Marguerite

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Xavier Giannoli’s “Marguerite” is a charming, even beguiling multilevel comedy of manners set in France in 1921, with acting stalwart Catherine Frot embodying the naïve ambitions of Marguerite Dumont, a baroness-turned-amateur soprano. The character name is cagily akin to that of Groucho Marx’s frumpy foil, Margaret Dumont, while the character is loosely inspired by Florence Foster Jenkins, an American singer of the 1940s who committed similar sins against pitch and tune and aural decorum. Richly appointed, emotionally confrontational, often rollickingly funny, “Marguerite” is candied tragicomedy, and Giannoli and Frot demonstrate all the expressive control their character fails to attain in her mad goal of succeeding at public performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Bronze

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Bryan Buckley’s foul mood of a downer, “The Bronze,” a sports satire written by Melissa Rauch (“The Big Bang Theory”) and her husband Winston Rauch, stood out among films I saw at Sundance 2015 for its consistently shitty attitude, as well as for a gratifyingly blunt instrument of a sexual interlude between two gymnasts that was unexpected amid the mean-spirited hijinks. Rauch plays Hope, a bitter, hateful loser, a third-place Olympic athlete who clings to her past glories and stars-and-bars finery a decade after ripping a tendon. We soon find Hope’s a terrible person, a simple, hardly nuanced shitheel, but not before she masturbates to VHS of her Olympics performance. When Hope discovers there’s a new, up-and-coming gymnastics star (Haley Lu Richardson) in her small Ohio town, all heck breaks loose. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The 19th Chicago European Union Film Festival

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Athina Rachel Tsangari’s “Chevalier”

By Ray Pride

“Taken all together, the festival represents a panoramic view of filmmaking across Europe, from West to East,” Siskel Film Center director of programming Barbara Scharres tells me about the nineteenth edition of the indispensable, jam-packed, month-of-March-long Chicago European Union Film Festival.

“As with every year, it’s a view [of European cinema] that’s incredibly diverse and ever-changing, and yet represents pronounced themes, trends and affinities from one year to the next.” But the EU Fest is not designed, like some standalone film festivals, as a platform to launch an upcoming art-house release. “Some films are special advance screenings of titles already acquired by U.S. distributors, and many are films that may not ever make it beyond Europe’s borders again. If you can view the festival as a kind of laboratory, it’s an intersection in a neutral space of films that [can be] enjoyed purely on the basis of their artistic merit. There aren’t so many opportunities for the filmgoing public to choose outside the commercial realm, and we believe the festival offers that experience on a significant scale.” Read the rest of this entry »