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Film Review: Whit Stillman’s Wittily Precious ‘Damsels in Distress’ Grows Tedious

Damsels in Distress Film Review

CHICAGO – The sly satires of Whit Stillman have cultivated a fan base that appears to consist largely of his fellow peers. Manhattan-based filmmakers such as Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach and Lena Dunham have cited his subdued comedies as an influence on their own similarly mannerist yet considerably more accessible work. For many moviegoers, Stillman’s brilliantly constructed, emotionally distant pictures are easy to admire but difficult to like.

Blu-ray Review: Great Actors Drive Intellectually Engaging ‘A Dangerous Method’

A Dangerous Method

CHICAGO – David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, features four of the most interesting performances of 2011 and is certainly a conversation piece in the themes that writer Christopher Hampton has chosen to explore. I still wish it had more of the actual “danger” of Cronenberg’s early work but there’s more to like here than I first thought, especially in what was brought to the material by those cast to deliver it.

Film Review: David Cronenberg’s ‘A Dangerous Method’ Needed More Risk

A Dangerous Method
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – There are glimpses of actual danger in David Cronenberg’s divisive “A Dangerous Method” with Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, and Keira Knightley, and the film has a lingering power as it’s easy to roll around your brain and contemplate its themes, but I wanted a bit more actual risk to the filmmaking. Easily the masterful director’s most straightforward work in some time (possibly ever), this is a worthwhile piece that nonetheless disappoints in the context of the rest of his filmography.

Film Review: Michael Shannon Mesmerizes in Moody ‘Take Shelter’

Take Shelter Film Review

CHICAGO – It starts with a clap of thunder. Fierce winds cause the once serene landscape to shiver with unease. When the rain comes, it’s the color of motor oil. All it takes is a single glance at the looming gray clouds overhead to realize that the impending storm could be capable of anything. It’s enough to rock a level-headed man to his very foundation.

Film Review: Vera Farmiga Wrestles Religion in ‘Higher Ground’

CHICAGO – The subject of religion in America is rarely portrayed honestly in the movies, with its power to both inspire or offend. Vera Farmiga makes her directorial debut and plays the lead character in the religious-themed “Higher Ground.”

Blu-Ray Review: Sylvain Chomet’s Mesmerizing ‘The Illusionist’

The Illusionist

CHICAGO – I could (and will) watch “The Illusionist” over and over again. It is a stunning, gorgeous, mesmerizing experience. When the history books are written, I don’t think we will EVER have as strong a group of nominees in the Oscar category for Best Animated Film as we did last year when “Toy Story 3,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “The Illusionist” stood tall. All three would have won in many other years.

Film Review: Horrors of War Create Mystery in ‘Incendies’

Incendies

CHICAGO – One of the most honest aphorisms is “the first casualty of war is truth.” Those obscured facts are often the ones that come back to haunt future generations, and that is exceptionally illustrated in the new film “Incendies.” Piecing together a mother’s wartime activities become the basis for solving a mystery after her death.

Film Review: Morgan Spurlock Hawks ‘The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’

CHICAGO – In a remarkable idea for a film, director Morgan Spurlock (”Supersize Me”) funds his new documentary, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” by selling sponsorships for financing. However, the process is redundantly explored, and no new ground is broken.

Film Review: World Conflict is a Boy’s Life For ‘Winter in Wartime’

Winter in Wartime

CHICAGO – When life collides with history, human beings are often both the perpetrators and the victims. In the excellent film “Winter in Wartime,” a boy grows up quickly when confronted with the realities of that history and life in the last days of World War II.

DVD Review: Two Great Docs in ‘A Film Unfinished,’ ‘Inside Job’

Inside Job

CHICAGO – Two of the best documentaries of 2010 were recently released on DVD and both are well-worth your time in the very near future as they serve as prime examples of the vitality of the form of non-fiction filmmaking. Both “A Film Unfinished” and the Oscar-winning “Inside Job” are riveting filmmaking, proof that subjects that one might consider dry can be turned into a devastating experience.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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