Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

Partly Like It’s 1999: The Twenty-Five Years, Four Hours And Forty-Seven Minutes “Until The End Of The World”

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UEW06cWWSBy Ray Pride

“Thank you for the days, those endless days, those sacred days you gave me. I’m thinking of the days, I won’t forget a single day…” are words sung in an emotional crescendo near the end of “Until The End of the World,” a Kinks song sungalong in the middle of the night on the bottom of the planet at what a raft of characters believe is already of the end of civilization as they know it, as Wim Wenders and his co-writers Peter Carey and Solveig Dommartin anticipate. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: In The Basement

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If you know the work of the Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl, the mere title “In The Basement” should prompt inappropriate giggles. His visits with countrymen who love their basements and the things they keep down there will also prompt inappropriate barks of horrified laughter. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Pearl Button

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Patricio Guzmán’s “The Pearl Button” (El botón de nácar) finds the seventy-four-year-old documentarian alternating the vast natural beauty and the cruel history of his native Chile. Guzmán draws on similar landscape, including a 3,000-mile coastline, and incident, genocides of natives, the peregrinations of ancient water nomads, and the murder of political opponents by Pinochet, as in his bountiful 2010 “Nostalgia for the Light.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Victoria

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A young woman’s out clubbing one night in Berlin, and people she meets propel her into becoming the getaway driver for a bank robbery. Simple, and simpler: The single, unbroken take that is “Victoria,” lasting two hours and eighteen minutes, is taut, assured and oft-dazzling enough to rise above any sundry accusation of gimmickry. (The real time duration is indicated as between 4:30am and 6:48am.) Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Love

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While the Music Box isn’t showing Gaspar Noé’s newest provocation in its intended 3D, the sex act and concomitant fluids are still going to be in your face in “Love.” The simpler, more elemental Noé’s films become, the more touching they are, especially in this puppyish idyll of fucking as everyday transcendence, rather than transgression. Noé’s sweet heart melts on screen without the vibrant visual innovation of “Enter The Void” or the brutal punishing-of-the-innocent of “Irreversible.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Assassin

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Hou Hsiao-hsien’s movies teem with tactile glories, eddies of visual strophes, the stillness of faces, the tension of bodies transfixed, the swirl of color upon color, the seething heat of regret settled into the body. “The Assassin,” the sixty-eight-year-old Taiwanese master’s first feature since 2007’s “Flight of the Red Balloon” is warm to the touch but cool with intellect. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Taxi

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A film about films and filmmaking and a filmmaker barred from making films by a filmmaker who worships films and is barred from making films, Jafar Panahi’s blissfully kind, effortlessly wise third feature since being sentenced to silence by the Iranian regime is an elegant, minor-key masterpiece. Taking the lead from his countryman Abbas Kiarostami who set “Ten” inside a car and largely confined “Taste of Cherry” to one, Panahi seats himself behind the wheel of a yellow cab, surveying the temperature of his society through frank conversations and freighted interactions with fellow citizens. It’s as self-referential as simple conversation. A female lawyer jokes, “Are you a cabbie now? You’re back in the driver’s seat?” but after talking about her fear of being silenced, says, “Better to remove my words from your movie.” A directing student asks Panahi what to make a film about. “I’ve seen movies, I’ve read books, but can’t find a good subject.” During this, they pass Western DVDs back and forth from the front seat to the back seat of the parked taxi. “Listen… those films are already made, those books are already written. You have to look elsewhere.” As in the film’s entirety, the city flows behind them: face, figure, story, incident, implication, a weft of ceaseless metaphor. “It won’t just come by itself,” he says. “What do I do? Where do I start?” the student asks. Panahi’s features mingle melancholy and bemusement. “That’s the hardest part. No one can tell you.” Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Wim Wenders On The Road Again

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“Alice in the Cities.”


Through October and November, “Wim Wenders On The Road Again,” eleven digitally restored features and six shorts, including Wenders’ 295-minute directors’ cut of his 1992 worldwide walkabout, will be shown at Siskel. The peripatetic German filmmaker’s comprehensive retrospective begins with the wistful “Alice in the Cities” (October 2-3), the long-unavailable Peter Handke-scripted “The Goalie’s Anxiety At The Penalty Kick” (October 3, 7) and “Kings of the Road” (October 10, 14), the magisterial, melancholy odyssey of two projector repairmen along the border between East and West Germany. In the course of time, Wim Wenders’ movies have meant as much to me as the work of any other filmmaker. “The American Friend,” “Kings of the Road,” even “The State of Things” were so compelling to this young moviegoer. Laconic but cosmopolitan, dreamy yet tactile. Melancholy. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Cut

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For a widescreen English-language epic, Fatih Akin’s “The Cut” is emotionally reticent, suggesting sweep while also holding close to its central character, an Armenian blacksmith named Nazaret (Tahar Rahim, “A Prophet”). The forty-two-year-old German-Turkish director is a resourceful collector of the sounds and sensations of the contemporary world in movies like “Head-On” (2004) and “Soul Kitchen” (2009), but there are only a few vividly imagined moments in the muted, somber passage a hundred years ago of Nazaret from the Armenian genocide in his Turkish home village to across the world in search of his two daughters, who may also still be alive. Muted by a stab wound, Nazaret crosses the globe, to Cuba, to North Dakota, hopeful, wide-eyed, silent against terrible things in the world. Metaphors compound and resound in what’s ultimately a most honorable failure. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Saving Mr. Wu

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Gleaming, elementally machined, Ding Sheng’s “Saving Mr. Wu” stars Andy Lau (“Infernal Affairs”) in a crackling true-life thriller based on a 2004 case about a celebrity kidnapped by men disguised as policemen who demand a half-million dollar ransom in less than a day. Beijing’s police marshal a task force and move across the hours toward the inevitable showdown, which is cleanly choreographed. Read the rest of this entry »