Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

Review: The Pearl Button

Documentary, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »


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: What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy

Documentary, Recommended No Comments »



David Evans’ “What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy” traces the opposed views of two men whose fathers had committed Nazi crimes, as the title well indicates. Human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, descendant of a Holocaust survivor, investigating the history of the Nuremberg trials, discovered two elderly men, Niklas Frank and Horst von Wächter, sons of Nazi governors (and by extension mass murderers), and talks to both at length about the legacy of their fathers. Dramatically, one son forgives; the other cannot. (“He loved Hitler more than his family” is only seven words, but what words.) They have lived, remembered, thought. And Evans contrives, prods, watches. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green

Chicago Artists, Documentary, Recommended No Comments »


“Chicago’s most hotly contested seventy acres of land” is the apt description of the central area of the city covered by Ronit Bezalel’s documentary, “70 Acres In Chicago: Cabrini Green.” Bezalel’s 1999 short, “Voices of Cabrini,” was her introduction to her subject, and the feature encompasses two decades in its heated history. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: I Smile Back

Drama, Recommended No Comments »



Adam Salky’s “I Smile Back,” written by Paige Dylan and Amy Koppelman, offers Sarah Silverman (based on a 2008 novel by Koppelman) a plum role as Laney Brooks, a privileged New Jersey housewife, a mother with two kids, whose lifelong depression deepens as she self-medicates with drinking and drugs. Silverman’s dramatic bona fides have always glimmered around the corners of her small, sly smirk-smiles, and in Sarah Polley’s 2011 “Take This Waltz,” she shared a couple of that drama’s darkest scenes. And while it seems she has nothing to prove as a performer, her habitation of this dark, destructive character is more than impressive, it’s stark and stirring. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Victoria

Action, Drama, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »



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

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


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: Trumbo

Comedy, Drama, Recommended No Comments »


Jay Roach’s shift from broad comedy (the “Austin Powers” pictures, “Meet the Parents”) to lower-key, politically tinged comedy (“Game Change,” “The Campaign,” “Recount”) is a cheering one, even if small scale. The splendidly acted while tonally eccentric “Trumbo” engages all sorts of adult concerns missing from movies these days, not limited to gently dramatizing the life of one of the most colorful characters affected by the late 1940s and 1950s Hollywood blacklist. Bryan Cranston’s a crotchety character actor all the way here, making for a more modest performance than his “Breaking Bad” life-changer, but there’s a keen twinkle here that pops up sporadically among all the other real-life, if not necessarily true-to-life figures. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: OUT 1

Action, Documentary, Drama, Events, Recommended, Romance No Comments »



Never lost, but seldom seen, Jacques Rivette’s “Out 1,” the justifiably legendary twelve-hour-fifty-five-minute epic of post-1968 Paris has been digitally restored, supervised by cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn. Previously seen only via a single 16mm print circulating to cinémathèques (including a Memorial Day weekend Siskel showing in 2006), it is now being shown around the country prior to a January 2016 Blu-ray release. Its extended form, divided into eight episodes, anticipates the phenomenon of “binge-watching” by decades, and that 2007 showing in the company of a raft of cinephiles old and young was a fantastic communal experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Four First Looks At Spike Lee’s “Chi-raq”

Drama, News and Dish No Comments »


Amazon Studios will release Spike Lee’s “Chi-raq” in time for the holidays (or at least year-end awards). Theatrical distributor Roadside Attractions has released four images as a first taste of the Chicago-set film, which may or may not be a drama, a comedy, or an adaptation of “Lysistrata,” and which may or may not become controversial on our streets. Three more photos below, plus a first trailer.

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Comedy, Drama No Comments »


Not that I expected Bond 24, aka “Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions presents Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 in SPECTRE,” to make a lick of sense… A screenplay credited to John Logan (“Skyfall,” “The Aviator,” “Hugo”), Neal Purvis & Robert Wade (“The World Is Not Enough,” “Die Another Day,” “Casino Royale,” “Quantum Of Solace,” “Skyfall”) and Jez Butterworth (“Jerusalem,” “Black Mass”) goes through disjointed motions, shoehorning Bond lore from before the days of Daniel Craig and dovetailing dribs and drabs of the increasingly Christopher Nolan-like family drama that’s infused the movies since Craig shouldered on those fantastically fitted Tom Ford suits. Read the rest of this entry »