Reviews, profiles and news about movies in Chicago

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 »

Review: The Measure of a Man

World Cinema No Comments »



French film stalwart Vincent Lindon offers one of his most engaging performances in memory in the muted drama “Measure of a Man,” as Thierry, an unemployed working-class husband and father of a mentally challenged teenager, who returns to the workplace after nearly two years of unemployment. (The French title of “La loi du marché,” translates roughly to “The Law of the Market.”) Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Behind The Scenes Of The Chicago International Movies & Music Festival

Chicago Artists, Events, Festivals, Recommended No Comments »


By Ray Pride

We met up at the Music Box Lounge on a sunny afternoon after a day of slush with the amiable if weary quartet behind CIMMfest, the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival, the behemoth festival, now in its eighth year, that sprawls across Chicago with “99+ Films! 99+ Bands!,” as their promos banner. [The downloadable fifty-six-page program is here.]

Executive director Dave Moore, forty-eight, has been with CIMMfest for four years, and was not only a fan from the start, but was also the fest’s first passholder. Co-founder and artistic director Josh Chicoine, forty-two, and director at large Carmine Cervi, forty-eight, have been with the fest from the get-go. Creative and marketing director Gary Kuzminski, forty-eight, has been under the big tent for five years. (In addition to CIMMfest, Cervi has the production company BulletProof Film and Kuzminski teaches interactive advertising at Columbia.) We talked about their blend of programming, as well as the logistics of the epic endeavor at thirty venues across four days.

Opening night is five days away. Does time get away from you?

Josh: So many details.

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Review: Bill

Comedy No Comments »


Casts of two British children’s series, “Horrible Histories” and “Yonderland” combine to extremely local effect with a family-ish comedy of a low order about the “lost years” of the lute-playing “Bill” (Matthew Baynton). Read the rest of this entry »

Review: In Harmony

Drama, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »

En equilibre 02


Denis Dercourt’s “In Harmony” (En équilibre) pits a willful stuntman (Albert Dupontel) who loses use of his legs after a fall from a horse against a woman, an insurance adjuster, who had intended to be a pianist (Cécile De France) but was thwarted early. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Invitation

Drama, Recommended No Comments »



Here’s some nocturnal dread for you. Seething paranoia in the form of slow-burn tension marks “The Invitation,” Karyn Kusama’s scalpel-sharp Hollywood Hills dinner party-gone-wrong chamber drama where agendas overlap and bite. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Illinois Parables

Chicago Artists, Documentary, Experimental, Recommended No Comments »



Deborah Stratman describes her latest one-hour experimental essay, the meditative “The Illinois Parables,” which debuted at Sundance 2016, as “a suite of Midwestern parables that question the historical role belief has played in ideology and national identity.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mountains May Depart

Romance, World Cinema No Comments »



Jia Zhangke’s heartfelt, melancholy, ever-mysterious eighth feature, “Mountains May Depart,” is an intimate drama that, on a globalized level, teems with enigma and patterns with grace. On black, under the main titles, we hear birds and the sea. Young Chinese men and women dance in a line in a nondescript hall while we hear the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of the Village People’s “Go West.” The camera moves in. They’re happy. A title arrives: “1999.” Fireworks erupt. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: No Home Movie

Documentary, Drama, Recommended, World Cinema No Comments »


The cumulative impact of “No Home Movie” is of being slammed against a brick wall. Full stop. The great Chantal Akerman’s final feature, at the age of sixty-five before taking her own life, is a bittersweet testament about the final years and last spaces of her beloved mother’s life. A Holocaust survivor and recurrent figure in Akerman’s work, Natalia is the subject of moments that Akerman calls “rough-hewn,” “raw material.” Her poetic filmmaker’s statement about her essay film continues, “The film wanders without our really knowing where it’s going. And yet, it can only lead us to one thing, death.” Read the rest of this entry »