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Podtalk: Director Trey Edward Shults and Cast on Making ‘Waves’

CHICAGO – One of the best and more emotional films of 2019 is “Waves,” the third film of director Trey Edward Shults (“It Comes at Night”). The eclectic filmmaker explores the viability of family when a crisis occurs, especially through the young actors portraying brother and sister, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Taylor Russell.

Film Review: ‘The Farewell’ Greets with Cultural, Emotional Exploration

CHICAGO – We all have those family stories that seem just so uniquely ours that it is hard to believe anyone could actually relate to them. Stories that, at the time, don’t seem like anyone else would even understand. Lulu Wang proves in “The Farewell” that all it takes is a little empathy, a skilled storyteller, and a group of talented people to bring any story to life.

Podtalk: Director Lulu Wang on Her New Film ‘The Farewell’

CHICAGO – One of the hottest films from the first half 2019 festival season was an emotional story about family. “The Farewell” is a breakout for both the lead actor Awkwafina (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and her director Lulu Wang. Wang’s story of her grandmother became a universal spirit about our relative connections.

Film Review: Mind-Blowing ‘Midsommar’ is Disturbing and Beautiful

Midsommar

CHICAGO – “Midsommar” is beautifully composed, disturbing in nature and very very Swedish. Writer/Director Art Aster creates a stunning sophomore effort (after his brilliant debut “Hereditary”) that is pure cinema, and weaves a fantastical tale of humanity stripped to its bare bones. It moves a bit slow, but it also builds to something completely original and unexpected.

Podtalk: Reflecting on ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’

CHICAGO – San Francisco is dying. Not from blight or fault lines, but by the excess of new tech money that has been buying the city block by block. The diversity that made the town is also going away, and this circumstance is poignantly rendered in the new film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”

Film Review: Julianne Moore is a Ringing Sensation in ‘Gloria Bell’

CHICAGO – The sheer ordinariness of life is not fodder for most dramatic films … the popcorn munchers generally turn out for something more high concept. But in Exhibit A, there is “Gloria Bell,” in which Julianne Moore portrays the title character in a series of ordinary extraordinary events.

Film Review: Growing Up Fast in the Skateboard Life of ‘Mid90s’

Mid90s

CHICAGO – Character actor Jonah Hill has just scored behind the camera. As writer/director of a authentic look back at the “Mid90s” he went back to his inner source of growing up in that 1990s time, skateboarding with his buds and experiencing the teenage life. The story never blinks, as the teens are authentic and the situations they get in even more so.

Film Review: Awkward & Difficult is Played Out in ‘Eighth Grade’

Eighth Grade

CHICAGO – We’ve all been there. Depending on what school structure you lived through, everyone had issues in “Eighth Grade.” Writer/director Bo Burnham puts those universal issues in a modern context (social media, online video), and portrays them through a girl struggling to belong while navigating the choppy waters of adolescence. It’s difficult, awkward and representative.

Film Review: Toni Collette Discovers that Horror is ‘Hereditary’

CHICAGO – The classic horror/psychological films continue to chill our souls long after the experience of them. “Hereditary” uses a masterful performance by Toni Collette, and layers it with symbolic commentary and freaky scares to accomplish that lingering discomfort. After viewing it, the cluck of the tongue will never be the same.

Podtalk: Writer/Director Paul Schrader Blesses ‘First Reformed’

CHICAGO – Paul Schrader can absolutely claim the title of Cinema Icon with his 40 plus years of influence and involvement as writer or director in memorable films such as “Taxi Driver,” “American Gigolo,” “Raging Bull” and “Auto Focus.” His latest written-and-directed-by film is “First Reformed,” featuring Ethan Hawke.

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