Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

Review: The Lobster

Comedy, Drama, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »


Deadpan allegory without a single straight answer: Yorgos Lanthimos’ fourth precise, absurdist comedy (after “Dogtooth” and “Alps”), and his first in English, is the answer to the question: Is one of the worst bad-date movies ever made also one of the great ones? Oh yeah. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: A Brighter Summer Day

Action, Comedy, Drama, Recommended, Romance, World Cinema No Comments »



“A Brighter Summer Day,” the late Edward Yang’s four-hour 1991 masterpiece, set in Taiwan in 1959 or so, is a coming-of-age film, a love story or three or four or five. It is also a true-crime tale, a wondrous gift in so many ways, especially on a large screen in this recent 4K digital restoration. Its multitude of astonishments include a sure, novelistic mastery of accruing details in an expansive shape that is built upon observation of the smallest moments, gestures, blood-boiling fixations, fetish objects, mortal desires, moral frustrations. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Money Monster

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“Money Monster,” a verbally snappy, ticking-clock, balls-in-the-air near-real-time hostage thriller-media satire, in the hands of director Jodie Foster, is compact and expansive, breezy and bitter, and attentively, lovingly layered (even when the plot falls to contrivances). It’s also a head-rush of twists and turns, behavioral asides. explicit, angry political exchanges and deeply dark passages. And: wish fulfillment for the fantasy that any banking or stock market CEOs would be punished for wrongdoing in the past decade of fiscal indecencies. (“This is just business and this is how business is done!” the bad guy insists with tonic assurance.) George Clooney brings his Coen-style goofball game to a womanizing, telegenic airhead, Lee Gates, a less-shrill version of “Mad Money”’s Jim Cramer. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Viktoria

Comedy, Drama, Recommended, World Cinema 1 Comment »


A girl is a woman is a country in the bold thunderclap of “Viktoria,” Bulgarian filmmaker Maya Vitkova’s magical mixed-genre widescreen debut feature. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: High-Rise

Comedy, Drama, Recommended No Comments »



Apocalypse? And how! “High-Rise,” J. G. Ballard’s slim but fierce 1975 novel-cum-provocation about the wages of indolence and the precariousness of social decorum, slides into calculated chaos in Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump’s deadpan adaptation. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Club

Drama, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »


Four disgraced, abusive Roman Catholic priests live quietly by the remote seaside in “The Club” (El club), the latest drama from Chilean director Pablo Larraín (“Tony Manero,” 2008; “No,” 2012). Guilt and denial about Chile’s past and the predations of Pinochet run deeply through Larraín’s work and the hothouse atmosphere, steeped in tragedy and in darkest comedy, open another door to a society’s dark past. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Louder Than Bombs

Drama, Recommended No Comments »


The fleet dreams of Joachim Trier’s three features, “Reprise,” “Oslo, August 31st” and now “Louder Than Bombs” define the Norwegian director as one of the most cinema-savvy of contemporary filmmakers. Playing with formal qualities while also baring the darkest emotions, Trier’s style, allusive as literature, elusive as lyricism, accomplished with a regular crew of collaborators that include co-writer Eskil Vogt and cinematographer Jakob Ihre, is virtuosic but intentionally, intrinsically ragged. First, you think, how is this moment, this shot, this patterning, this music cue, so beautiful, so odd and then so true, and often so emotionally devastating? Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Fireworks Wednesday

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Master filmmaker Asghar Farhadi has a seventh feature in post-production, but the director of “The Past” and “A Separation” has had a welcome, if uncommon high profile in American art-houses, with a first theatrical release of 2009’s “About Elly” last year, and now his third feature, 2006’s “Fireworks Wednesday” (Chaharshanbe-Soori). Farhadi’s superb directorial attributes include immaculate production design, the blocking of actors inside lovingly detailed locations and a sure sense of suspense, which often simmers when the most commonplace of gestures is mistaken for the deepest betrayal. 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: In Harmony

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En equilibre 02


Denis Dercourt’s “In Harmony” (En équilibre) pits a willful stuntman (Albert Dupontel) who loses use of his legs after a fall from a horse against a woman, an insurance adjuster, who had intended to be a pianist (Cécile De France) but was thwarted early. Read the rest of this entry »