Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

Review: Hockney

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“Everyone is looking all the time; you just have to train yourself to look harder.” “Hockney” is a pleasingly colorful assay, made with permission but pretty much free of puffery, of the lengthy career of seventy-eight-year-old English creative force David Hockney, son of Bradford, man of Los Angeles, purveyor of Polaroids, brusher of iPads. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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“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 »

Gleaming the Narcissist: Whit Stillman Updates Jane Austen in “Love & Friendship”

Comedy, Recommended, Romance No Comments »

By Ray Pride

“They have really good coffee here,” Whit Stillman tells me as he busies our introduction with small talk, recalling a previous interview. (I wondered if he actually remembered a slightly confounded review of “Damsels in Distress.”) “I’m so excited by this good coffee.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Strange Victory

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Leo Hurwitz’s dense, dizzying essay film about racial prejudice and ingrained bias in postwar America, “Strange Victory,” was recently restored from a nitrate 35mm “fine grain” by essential distributor Milestone Films. (Its producer was Barney Rosset, fiery free-speech advocate and publisher-producer of Evergreen Review.) Like other important work Milestone has championed or preserved—“I Am Cuba,” “The Exiles,” “On The Bowery,” the films of Shirley Clarke—”Strange Victory” is an exploding flower of visual and formal beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You

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Norman Lear 1


Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s brisk, modest “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” escapes by a whisker the whiff of hagiography in its portrait of the nearly ninety-four-year-old television writer-producer and political activist: in the case of such a loquacious while opaque character, we can take the good with the good. (The most challenging section is a brief interlude where black actors question the political integrity of some of Lear’s creations.) 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: My Big Night

Comedy, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »


Álex de la Iglesia’s sprawling backstage farce “My Big Night” (Mi gran noche) revels in the chaos behind the scenes of a woefully disastrous New Year’s Eve variety show, as it’s pre-recorded months early, to extrava-gonzo result. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: High-Rise

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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 »