Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

Review: Captain America: Civil War

3-D, Action, Recommended, Sci-Fi & Fantasy No Comments »


“Everyone’s got a gimmick now!” one of the phalanx of superheroes rightly remarks in the middle of “Captain America: Civil War.” And hell-o, Tom Holland, Spider-Man the third! With 147 minutes of call-and-response among eleven characters, and despite the affable dispatch of the second “CA” movie directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, the debut of the newest lamb relatively late in the picture (not lessened by the introduction of a new Aunt May, Marisa Tomei) was the first passage where I found myself chortling aloud. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Francofonia

Documentary, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »



“Who would we be without museums?” In “Francofonia: An Elegy for Europe,” Aleksandr Sokurov’s latest prose-poem-cum-philosophical essay on art and history housed in a world-class museum, the Russian filmmaker alights on the Louvre in 1940 at the onset of World War II as museum director Jacques Jaujard (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) and German officer Count Franz Wolff-Metternich (Benjamin Utzerath) collaborate to keep the assembled artworks from Nazi hands. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: April And The Extraordinary World

Animated, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »



A question to which I immediately say yes, yes: Smart, clever, ceaselessly dazzling steampunk, drawn entirely from French visual sources, about a family of scientists obsessed with longevity who dash about an alternate-universe Paris, where the Industrial Revolution never happened, where progress stopped when most of the scientists disappeared at the turn of the century and where everything is fueled by coal and steam, with no electricity to light the land?

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

Action, Comedy, Recommended 1 Comment »


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: 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: Old Fashioned: The Story of the Wisconsin Supper Club

Documentary, Recommended No Comments »



Holly de Ruyter’s “Old Fashioned: The Story Of The Wisconsin Supper Club” fits a snug little niche with its look at the unusual persistence of “supper clubs” in the Badger State, even as chain restaurants dot the Midwestern landscape. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Fireworks Wednesday

Drama, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »



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: Babushkas Of Chernobyl

Documentary, Recommended No Comments »



In the Dead Zone outside Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4, three women—Hanna Zavorotyna, Maria Shovkuta and Valentyna Ivanivna—have lived almost three decades on their own. They get the occasional visitor, ranging from ample feral fauna to workers who rotate in and out of the exclusion zone to adventurers who play out their own post-Tarkovsky “Stalker” fantasies on some of the most toxic land on the planet. (A Chernobyl-set video game, “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.,” is the more immediate inspiration for the incursions.) Read the rest of this entry »