France

An Obsessive Couple’s Journey in ‘Ash is Purest White’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Obsessive love is a movie story staple, and “Ash is Purest White” puts a Chinese point-of-view on this strange phenomenon. This is a coupling in the background of organized crime and a changing China, and their success and failure is based on the events surrounding them as much as their devotion to each other.

‘Transit’ is an Absorbing Thriller with a Perplexing Conclusion

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – What if a new fascism were to sweep the land, and affects Paris, as it did in World War 2? “Transit” postulates on that very theory and creates a paranoid atmosphere that is stunningly real, but brings that emotion to a conclusion that I believe is redundant, and pretends to be deeper than it is.

‘The Upside’ Works Because of Kevin Hart & Bryan Cranston

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – In 2011, there was a notable French film called “The Intouchables,” based on the true story of quadriplegic Phillippe Pozzo di Borgo and the relationship with his caregiver. Leave it to the U.S. film industry to get its sticky fingers on the story, and seven years later Bryan Cranston portrays “Phillip” and his caretaker is portrayed by Kevin Hart. Instead of story, this version relies on its lead actors.

Keira Knightley is Ahead of Her Times as ‘Colette’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The maturation of Keira Knightley… from ‘Bend it Like Beckham” to “Pride and Prejudice” to the current “Colette,” has had the actor delivering an evolving depth and purpose to her roles. The latest is a fantastic overview of an ahead-of-her-time French novelist, as the rest of society tried to catch up.

Strange ‘15:17 to Paris’ Can’t Make the Connection

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – What’s up with Clint Eastwood, and why in the Sam Hill did he attach himself as director to this film? Also, why was the decision made to use the actual rescuers as the actors in a true terrorist train incident? Nothing adds up in the strangely disconnected “15:17 to Paris.”

Zen and the Art of Cinema in ‘24 Frames’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (“Certified Copy”) passed away in 2016, but he left one more meditation on cinema and illusion, in the artistic “24 Frames.” Yes, it refers to the number of still photos that make up a second of film, but in this case it is also Kiarostami’s observations of stillness in motion.

Inflammatory ‘In the Fade’ is the State of Our Now

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

CHICAGO – In one of the more truthful and contemporary films of 2017, “In the Fade” is a German/French production about the fallout due to a terrorist act. What it also emphasizes is the generated hatred, frustration and waste of such acts, and its textual story is stunning and distressing.

Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet in ‘Leap!’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – One of the rites of passage for most girls in the U.S.(and elsewhere, I presume) is ballet lessons. Usually it lasts for a very short time, but some girls-to-women keep pursuing it, and may even become prima ballerinas. A new animated film named “Leap!” is dedicated to that spirit.

Heroics of ‘Dunkirk’ Portrayed Ardently & Humanely

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – War is hell, even in “The Good War.” The early days of World War II were a desperate time for the British, and the events of “Dunkirk” were largely about loss, yet mostly about inspiration. Director Christopher Nolan gives his film a grand cinematic treatment, evoking an era that has mostly faded away.

Emotionally Animated ‘My Life as a Zucchini’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

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.

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