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Patrick McDonald

Brazillian Indie ‘The Year My Parents Went on Vacation’ a Tender Window to the World

CHICAGO – Film is often at its best when it offers a “window to the world” about other cultures dealing with issues that life in the U.S. never imagines. “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation” is a meticulous, fascinating and tender story of Brazil in 1970 when revolution was in the air and the World Cup was the hope of bringing a country back together.

‘Snow Angels’ an Essential Examination of Yin, Yang in Our Vulnerable Lives

CHICAGO – Staying sane is truly an edge-of-the-knife proposition. We are all the sum of our past environments, our present circumstances and our future worries. The sludge that is generated by such a mixture becomes the psyche that’s ready to interact with other psyches we deem important or are forced to be around through family or commerce.

Wizard of Oz is America in Immigration Film ‘Under the Same Moon’

CHICAGO – The immigrant “crisis” in the United States is discussed mostly in political generalities as if those seeking a better life are subhuman. “Under the Same Moon” focuses on the real faces of these people through a 10-year-old Mexican boy who risks everything in a journey to reunite with his mother in Los Angeles.

Israeli Directorial Debut ‘The Band’s Visit’ Built on Series of Bittersweet, Exquisite Moments

CHICAGO – When we speak of conflicts between people or ideologies, there’s a tendency for broad categorization. Who are the liberals or the conservatives? What type of people make up the Israelis or Palestinians? Who are the people of color and who are white?

Skater Boy Culture Takes Center Stage in Cult Director Van Sant’s ‘Paranoid Park’

Paranoid Park (1)

CHICAGO – For “Paranoid Park,” cult director Gus Van Sant returns to high school, which is the setting of his previous chilling look into the Columbine incident in 2003’s “Elephant”. Though not as successful as “Elephant,” “Paranoid Park” evokes a dream-like meditation on the trials and extreme tribulations of a skateboarding teenage boy trying to find his way.

With Surreal Madness, Strange Boys Play ‘Funny Games’

CHICAGO – Imagine a film with no redeeming or uplifting emotional qualities with evil that tortures the soul, squirm-inducing narrative elements and a relentless anxiety that practically has us – like the characters in the film – screaming for mercy. Imagine also that this film is excellent.

Interview: Chris Cooper, Director Ira Sachs Marry Blissfully in ‘Married Life’

CHICAGO – Sitting down with Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper and Ira Sachs – the director of Cooper’s latest film, “Married Life,” which opened on March 14, 2008 in Chicago – is to marvel at the passion and commitment these two high-level professionals bring to this entertaining, poignant and hilarious new film.

‘Sleepwalking’ Has Exactly That Potential Effect on Moviegoers

CHICAGO – When done improperly, there’s nothing more embarrassing than actors playing against their type or social class. There is a subtlety to channeling the lower middle or the working class beyond dressing down or developing a bad hairstyle. “Sleepwalking” is the type of film that gets it wrong and just gets worse as it tries harder.

Filled With Political Blackmail, ‘The Bank Job’ Pays Dividends

CHICAGO – Done properly, the classic heist or caper film is a welcomed genre of suspense-filled locations, stereotyped experts and the big cash payoff. Based in speculative part on the true story of a robbery in a vital London safety deposit vault, “The Bank Job” adds the spice of political intrigue as an underlying factor to the actual crime.

‘Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day’ as Rare as Boobs Without Silicone in Hollywood

CHICAGO – Character comedies that actually have some depth and fun are as rare as boobs without silicone in Hollywood. “Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day” reaches these heights with a sensibility of an old studio picture with stylized glamour, lovable rogues and at the center the great Frances McDormand as the title character taking a chance in 24 sparkling and event-filled hours.

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