Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

Review: Good Kill

Drama, Recommended No Comments »


“Good Kill” is the latest in a career built on conceptual, morally centered, God-playing pictures from writer-director Andrew Niccol (“The Truman Show,” “Gattaca”), a drama starring Ethan Hawke as a disaffected American Air Force drone operator. The tone is curiously still, but seldom inert, filled with didactic dialogue from Bruce Greenwood as Hawke’s boss. “How’s the war on terror going?” “Same as your war on drugs.” The effect, mimicking the vegetation of Hawke’s flyboy who longs to the return to the sky instead of the metal hut outside Las Vegas from which he targets suspects and launches missiles is hypnotic and damning nonetheless. Tonally, it’s a little like an Atom Egoyan film blanched, drained and set on the sideboard for a while (but in a good way). Storywise, tact and intelligence take the day. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: I’ll See You In My Dreams

Comedy, Drama, Recommended No Comments »

See you


As the 1990s heyday of the indie film grows more distant, so do the characters of Sundance hits age, including Lily Tomlin’s acerbic turn in the upcoming “Grandma.” In Brett Haley’s pleasant “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” Los Angeles widow and retired schoolteacher Carol (a miraculous Blythe Danner) whose hit-and-miss encounters with men are transformed when she meets Bill, an appreciative man her age (Sam Elliott), as well as a younger pool boy (Martin Starr). Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Iris

Documentary, Recommended No Comments »



“I improvise, it’s like playing jazz,” says Manhattan fashion icon Iris Apfel in “Iris,” the late Albert Maysles’ final solo venture as documentary director. It’s a meeting of kind minds: Maysles always worked well with women and was drawn to them in many of the films he made, as well as with his brother, notably, “Grey Gardens.” Looking. Listening. Admiring. Even loving. Apfel’s amply creative style, from couture to costume and back again, is as colorful as can be, and through Maysles’ eyes, she’s one chatty, witty, wise character: “I feel lucky to be working. If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Film Critic

Comedy, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »



Why would anyone make a film about a film critic, even in that most analysand-populated city of Buenos Aires? Writer-director Hernán Guerschuny’s “The Film Critic” (El critico) is a dour dark comedy, delicious if jejune, about a disillusioned, middle-aged practitioner of sour cinematic criticism, and a pretty good one. It starts with Víctor (Rafael Spregelburd), a Porteño beardo akin to a figure in a Nanni Moretti film, having a recurrent interior monologue with himself in French. Guerschuny is onto minor-key cinephilic self-deception lived as daily life. “I don’t think cinema is pushing the envelope, I think it’s dead,” he says as if anyone’s listening. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Soul Boys Of The Western World

Drama, Recommended No Comments »
Spandau Ballet press session 2014

Spandau Ballet press session 2014


George Hencken’s cheeky, splendidly edited “Soul Boys of the Western World” draws on ample archive footage and contemporary reminiscence to capture the 1980s post-punk New Romantic pop era that produced bands like Duran Duran, Ultravox and Spandau Ballet with their synthesizer-infused hits “True” and “Gold.” It’s many steps above a “Behind The Music” episode, with far more positive history to relate than tales of broken hearts and emptied wallets. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Lambert & Stamp

Documentary, Recommended No Comments »
THE WHO with Chris Stamp at left. Pete Townshend and Kit Lambert at Windsor Jazz Festival in 1966

The Who with Chris Stamp at left. Pete Townshend and Kit Lambert at Windsor Jazz Festival in 1966


Rock ‘n’ roll: youth. Twenty-first-century rock ‘n’ roll docs: geezers. James D. Cooper’s engaging “Lambert & Stamp,” about two men who met the Who in the early days before they were the Who, does little to mitigate that equation. Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert were young filmmakers, one working-class, the other aristocratic, who happened upon the nascent band and abandoned their vérité ambitions to shape and manage the band within the emerging, insurgent Mod movement. Lambert and Stamp’s footage is striking, alongside their visionary notions of how to create an audience for this sound, especially against the texture of survivors telling their stories of vim and verve from many, many years before. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: She’s Lost Control

Drama, Recommended No Comments »



“Do not feel safe with me”: words of caution when nearing affection, hardly love, from Ronah, the graduate student/sex surrogate protagonist of Anja Marquardt’s accomplished “She’s Lost Control.” Brooke Bloom’s smudged performance is the brooding center of this anxious, chilly Manhattan-set thriller, but Marquardt’s bruised, intent visual style deepens and darkens the moods and alienates the figures of the characters by the moment. It’s the coldest depiction of an inhumane New York City I’ve seen since Lodge Kerrigan’s 1998 “Claire Dolan.” 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 »

The Other Side Of “The Other Side Of The Wind”: Josh Karp Hears The Master’s Voice

Chicago Artists, Events, Film Books, Recommended 1 Comment »

Photo: José María Castellví

By Ray Pride

When I finished gorging on Josh Karp’s “Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind,” the late great director’s cryptic title was both fragrant poetry and flagrant prophecy, a sparky introduction to a film maudit no one would likely ever see. The book was released the Tuesday before Welles’ May 6 centenary, now amplified by May 7’s announcement of a $2 million Indiegogo campaign to complete a feature-length version of Welles’ long-in-the-not-finishing final film, drawing on a trove of 1,083 elements, including the immaculate negative, that reportedly weighs more than a ton-and-a-half.

Welles started his project forty-five years ago; he’s been dead for thirty of those. I recently asked Karp how long he’s been working on his often-rollicking, sometimes-detail-oriented tome on Welles’ parallel satire of Hollywood insiders and European art film of the era. “I think I signed the book deal in mid-2011 and the book was essentially done in Fall 2014,” the Northwestern lecturer and onetime Newcity contributor tells me, “So it was three years, give or take a few months. In my mind, it was going to take two years. I always think that, and it’s always three or three-and-a-half.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: About Elly

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



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 »