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Film Review: Emotionally Animated ‘My Life as a Zucchini’

My Life as a Zucchini

CHICAGO – Leave it to the Europeans to inject some realistic drama into the art of animation. The recently Oscar nominated “My Life as a Zucchini” is opening in Chicago this weekend, and tells the story of parental abandonment, orphanages and finding family. Co-produced by France and Switzerland, it uses a familiar claymation stop-motion style for more emotional resonance.

Film News: 2016 CineYouth Festival Kicks Off, Runs Through May 7, 2016

CineYouth 2016

CHICAGO – Last night (Thursday, May 5th), the 2016 CineYouth Film Festival – which is associated with the Chicago International Film Festival and Cinema/Chicago – kicked off with “Nocturna,” a European animated film from the famed GKIDS distributor (“A Cat in Paris”). The 2016 festival runs through Saturday, May 7th, with a full schedule of film related youth activities on Friday and Saturday. For the full schedule, click here.

Film News: 19th Chicago European Union Film Festival at Gene Siskel Center Through March 31, 2016

2016 Chicago Euro Film Fest

CHICAGO – Last week, one of the most diverse film festivals of the year in Chicago opened with the Swedish film “The Paradise Suite.” The 19th Annual Chicago European Union Film Fest will be at the Gene Siskel Film Center on State Street. With countries ranging from Austria to Slovakia, European cinema voices will be available to the Chicagoland area through March 31st, 2016.

Interview: Actor Omar Sy Tackles Immigrant Issues in ‘Samba’

CHICAGO – The situation with in-country immigrants is not just an issue in the United States. The new French film “Samba” focuses on the ongoing status of immigrants in Paris, who often do menial jobs while surviving under the radar of immigration laws. French Actor Omar Sy portrays the title character with insight and humor.

Film Review: A Fashionable Man is Captured in ‘Yves Saint Laurent’

CHICAGO – Fashion is art, and the canvas is provided by the wearer of that fashion. The designer biography depicted in “Yves Saint Laurent” is one of tortured genius, as Saint Laurent influenced and commodified the world of clothing and accessory creation for over 50 years.

Film Review: Pieces Fit Together in Sublime ‘Chinese Puzzle’

Chinese Puzzle

CHICAGO – Life is chaos. We in the human race can all agree on that. The new film “Chinese Puzzle” allows that chaos to happen, and the results are funny, affecting and warm. Writer/director Cédric Klapisch completes his “Spanish apartment trilogy,” bringing back the characters from “L’Auberge Espagnole” and “Russian Dolls,” to place them squarely in middle age.

Film Review: Nature’s Instincts on Display in Unique ‘Augustine’

Augustine

CHICAGO – How the human species was able to survive, given its dismissal and treatment of women during certain points in history is somewhat miraculous. This film from France, “Augustine,” chronicles the relationship between a 19th century neurologist and his prized female patient, as she tries to work through a condition called nature.

Film Review: More is Preferred in ‘Love is All You Need’

Love Is All You Need

CHICAGO – Creating the lofty name for this film, “Love is All You Need” – from a translation of its original title, “Den skaldede friser” – is intently ambitious considering its source is a lyric from one of The Beatles most famous songs. The film has its moments, but cannot sustain itself in a stew of high drama and mixed emotions.

Film Review: Connection Overcomes Handicaps in ‘The Intouchables’

The Intouchables

CHICAGO – One of the big movie hits in French cinema last year, “The Intouchables,” comes to our shores with a powerful and unusual redemption tale. The true story of a wealthy but quadriplegic man, and his poor but proud caregiver is the subject of a very compelling relationship.

Interview: Director Olivier Nakache on Truth in ‘The Intouchables’

CHICAGO – One of the great international films from France, which had nine nominations at The 2012 Cesars – the French equivalent of the Oscars – is the intimate relationship film “The Intouchables.” Focusing on a handicapped man and his caregiver, it was created by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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