Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

Review: Full Moon In Paris

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

FULLMOONINPARIS
RECOMMENDED

Eric Rohmer: where to begin? How about with an offhanded masterpiece, 1984’s “Full Moon in Paris,” the most elegant of the splendid miniatures that constitute his cycle of “Comedies and Proverbs” romantic comedies? Louise (Pascale Ogier) is the bright center of his tale, an artistic young woman working in a design firm who abandons an older lover for a sequence of flings and affairs that have consequence by virtue of their very inconsequence. The slender but electric Ogier is a natural screen presence, and she beguiles her men (and the audience) with her angular, even aquiline features, her quick smile, her 1980s hair piled high, large-lidded wide eyes taking it all in with gentle bemusement and modest befuddlement. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Manglehorn

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Manglehorn Pacino

RECOMMENDED

“I’m losin’ hope in tomorrow.” Man, those words murmured by Al Pacino in what may be his finest performance in far too long, they’re bittersweet. David Gordon Green’s quiet character study of a lonely, lovelorn small-town Texas locksmith, “Manglehorn,” was written by Paul Logan, a childhood friend of Green’s, who was also a driver on Green’s “Prince Avalanche.” As written by Logan, and with letters to a lover lost decades early, heard in voice-over, partially improvised by Pacino, A. J. Manglehorn’s wistful want for love in his late years holds no less ache than that of Green’s young lovers in “All The Real Girls.” Manglehorn meets a younger woman (Holly Hunter), a teller at his local bank, and his mood lightens, if not the brood of his long-nurtured wounds. Along with his usual knack for finding privileged moments of behavior, Green also expands on his use of expected, near-surreal images to gratifying effect. (Spontaneous public singing; a strange roadside accident out of a particular Godard movie; earthquakes.) Manglehorn is surprised by nothing, no matter how odd: this becalmed man lives fully in his head and Pacino plays him quietly, a magnificent loser. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Eden

Drama, Musical, Recommended, Romance, World Cinema No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

With her fourth feature, the dreamy, low-key “Eden,” Mia Hansen-Løve continues to work in a different style that suits the subject at hand. Based on a screenplay she wrote with her brother, Sven Hansen-Løve, who is also a deejay, her film follows two decades in an unaging young deejay’s life in the Parisian electronic dance scene of the 1990s. Based partly on Sven’s experience, as well as those of Daft Punk, “Eden,” simmers in music and mood but the floppy-haired cipher of a male lead (Felix De Givry) is her least interesting protagonist yet, especially in light of the sharply drawn, nuanced figures of the middle-aged male protagonist of “Father of My Children” (2009) and the young girl center-screen in “Goodbye First Love” (2011). Read the rest of this entry »

Requiem for a Scream: “Heaven Knows What” and NYC Mad Love

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Heaven Knows What

By Ray Pride

“Heaven Knows What” is an unabating horror movie, superficially a story about heroin and homelessness, filled with wakeful terrors, but it’s about something far worse, far more toxic.

Harley is a young woman, an unfinished child, on the streets of modern-day New York City. She’s wide-eyed, more than a waif, but lost to a terrible addiction: a crude brute of a boy named Ilya (Caleb Landry Jones). Love and heroin: which is Harley’s worse addiction? The opening of Josh and Benny Safdie’s third feature finds her on the street, lost to a kiss, but soon in need of help. What could kill her? What she believes: that she has a freighted case of true and fated love, or at least a willful misapprehension that nothing matters more than him. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Me And Earl And The Dying Girl

Comedy, Drama, Romance No Comments »

Olivia Cooke as "Rachel" and Thomas Mann as "Greg" in ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL. Photo by Anne Marie Fox. © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

“I’m, like, innovatively stupid,” says the protagonist of coy Sundance sensation “Me and Earl and The Dying Girl,” amid clever details and a teeming plethora of semi-self-aware verbal asides. But Wes Anderson movies and “Napoleon Dynamite” should require adult supervision before going on any more dates. Chatty and simmering with simple charms, Jesse Andrews’ adaptation of his Pittsburgh-set young adult novel putters along at a dullish roar, nearly likable, not quite causing an annoying itch. Of course other high schoolers would ignore a kid who says things like, it’s “literally like trying to have lunch in Kandahar”! And for a boy like “Me,” there will always be “the part where I panic out of sheer awkwardness.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Little England

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Little-England

RECOMMENDED

(Mikra Anglia) Pantelis Voulgaris’ 2013 dream project, “Little England,” is a nice slice of Greek pageantry, a richly melodramatic “women’s picture” centering on three young women on the Greek island of Andros in the 1930s and, as the slogan for the local release put it, “one house, one secret, one man, two sisters.” Ships come and go, the waves crash, passions thrive. Men leave for the sea, women await, triangles turn. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Filmmaker “Bar Talks” At Chicago Underground Film Festival

Chicago Artists, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Events, Festivals, Recommended, Romance, World Cinema No Comments »
L for Leisure

“L For Leisure”

As moderator of the festival’s fourth edition of “Bar Talks,” I can’t formally review what’s in store in the five days of the Chicago Underground Film Festival, but I’d like to indicate the goals of the annual “Bar Talks,” four extended filmmaker/audience conversations, especially in light of the notably consistent focus on atmosphere, mood and elusive narratives in the feature and shorts programming at the twenty-second edition of CUFF, the world’s longest-running underground film festival. The “bar talks,” taking place in the Logan Lounge at the Logan Theatre, are informal gatherings of local and guest filmmakers, with conversation the intention without the ping-pong of panel-like proclaiming. The talks may run an hour, or even an hour-and-a-half, depending on how much everyone has on their mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: About Elly

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about-elly

RECOMMENDED

A woman goes missing by the sea: the stuff of “L’Avventura,” Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 masterpiece, but also of contemporary Iranian master Asghar Farhadi’s 2009 “About Elly,” only now getting a U. S. release after clearing rights issues. As with his Oscar-winning 2011 “A Separation” and 2013’s “The Past,” Farhadi examines pressures on the modern middle class of Iran, but with visual fluidity and geometric acuity, and “Elly” is the best of these three. Farhadi’s statement of intention, that “a film must open a space in which the public can involve themselves in a personal reflection” is less lucid than any succession of frames in his film. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Ex Machina

Drama, Recommended, Romance, Science Fiction No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

For his directorial debut, “Ex Machina,” novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland (“28 Days Later,” “Sunshine”) crafts a deceptively simple social comedy deeply invested in ideas about artificial intelligence, the nature of desire and the mind-body divide. But cheekily glib, oft-vulgar banter between its two male characters—a billionaire inventor (Oscar Isaac) and the so-bright employee/programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) he’s chosen for a one-man Turing Test—and a female robot (Alicia Vikander) that can flirt, think and scheme—likably mask the hoped-for profundity. (“Ex Machina” could have easily been called “The Imitation Game.”) Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Marfa Girl

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There are wispy visual rewards in Larry Clark’s minimalist 2012 “Marfa Girl,” which the unregenerate seventy-two-year-old filmmaker-photographer-peddler of picturesque prurience at first said would never be distributed theatrically or on DVD. But here it is: More free-floating than haphazard, Clark arrays scenes about a Texas teen (bright-eyed ephebe Adam Mediano) skateboarding through drugs and sex and seemingly random run-ins in the titular West Texas small town on the occasion of his sixteenth birthday. Adolescents just do what adolescents do in Larry Clark films. Sex is spoken, sex is transacted, and there’s a fucking lot of fucking. Read the rest of this entry »