The transitive verb “beguile,” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “to engage the interest of” or “lead by deception.” Hoodwink and divert are synonyms. Director Sofia Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled means to charm our corsets and britches off right in line with its title’s root definition. Methodically and dastardly, the film wishes to seduce us with a heightened intrigue of challenged sexual repression.
Lost in Paris is an exceedingly charming ditty of a comedy from the writing, directing, and starring duo of Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon. Three overlapping character-coded chapters follow a wayward character’s pratfalls and screwups through the course of their fateful intersections. Lost in Paris weaves its yarn with clever panache. It’s a surreal jaunt that juggles the cheekily uncouth with the innocently sweet inside its ever-present sense of whimsy.
Scheduled months ago after starting to write my regular weekly column with them, the hosts of the "Feelin' Film" podcast, Aaron White and Patrick Hicks, kindly asked me to guest on a future full-length podcast episode. The film was Phil Alden Robinson's 1989 keeper (check that: classic) Field of Dreams. As fate would have it, the viewing and the show fell on Father's Day week. Father’s Day and baseball go together like Heaven and Iowa.
Grant Focus Features, director Colin Trevorrow, and debuting feature writer Gregg Hurwitz all the balls in the world for putting out a movie this daringly original during the summer marketplace. Ambition notwithstanding, the extreme tonal shifts, while effective at keeping you invested in The Book of Henry to see what happens next, only half work in totality.
This writer is an unabashed film music lover. I owned more film score CDs than ones of popular music back in the day and that ratio hasn’t changed with digital media. Hell, I wrote a long-form editorial three years ago proclaiming film music as an improvement of the Mozart Effect for babies and children which led to a playlist afterwards that I still use to this day. I am a mark for what Score: A Film Music Documentary was selling and many of the names and talents featured in the film are found on that personal playlist.
The soon-to-be 73-year-old Sam Elliott is a goddamn national treasure and no one can convince me otherwise. Most folks go straight for the man’s imposing baritone voice or his sweet ‘stache. I go for his swagger and resolve. What makes Sam’s signature timbre memorable is the determination behind it, not its sound. The purpose makes the presence. Written especially for him by writer-director Brett Haley, The Hero is a sublime epistle to the silver screen specter cast by Sam Elliott.
The "Pixar Punch," as I like to call it, is alive and well in the vast franchise improvement that is Cars 3. Progressive with diversity and delivered with top-shelf computer animation, Cars 3 will earn your appreciate and change your mind about the series after Cars 2. Here is my newest YouTube "Movie Classroom" video review using the ShowMe iPad app and iMovie. Enjoy!
In Episode 4 of the new Reel Talker podcast, fellow CIFCC director Jim Alexander and I discuss The Mummy, I, Daniel Blake, My Cousin Rachel, and It Comes at Night newly arriving to theaters. In part two, we talk about the week's new Blu-ray/DVD releases and hot topic movie trends from the week. Listen and enjoy!
The new "Feelin' Film+" shows on the Feelin' Film Podcast website set out to document full-throated and unfiltered reactions to film showings, spoilers and all. Feelin' Film host Aaron White and his team have me on speed dial for these hot takes and mental exercise put on the mic and recorder. Here's my therapy session with Aaron for It Comes at Night.
The new "Feelin' It" quick takes on the Feelin' Film Podcast website are designed to be spoiler-free impressions to help audiences make decisions of whether to see a film or not. Feelin' Film co-leader Aaron White, a fellow press credentialed critic, has enlisted me to come on for many of these reaction discussions. Here are my two most recent appearances talking Cars 3 and Alien: Covenant.
Wendy's founder Dave Thomas once said: “It all comes back to the basics. Serve customers the best-tasting food at a good value in a clean, comfortable restaurant, and they'll keep coming back.” Apply that telling quote of ease and simplicity to Cars 3 as a perfect parallel. The savvy creators at Pixar know how to package a quality product of with clean and clear values that gain brand loyalty from wide audiences. Returning to its Americana roots, Cars 3 rediscovers the franchise’s successful foundation of wholesome heart.
The new film from Trey Edward Shults needs to be scene to be believed. There is hype and highmindedness beyond the horror film marketing of It Comes at Night. That said, it will scratch many heads at the same time. Here is my newest YouTube "Movie Classroom" video review using the ShowMe iPad app and iMovie. Enjoy!
Roger Michell stiffens his upper lip from his Love, Actually and Notting Hill fare to tackle a costume drama with My Cousin Rachel. Oddly enough, this film can stake a serendipitous claim as the second Michell-directed film about “kissing cousins” after Hyde Park on the Hudson. Unfortunately, more than a little uncomfortable laughter of preposterousness pokes out of this film while trying to portray itself as flowing romantic drama. That’s not going to sweep anyone.
I, Daniel Blake is unabashedly a “bleeding heart” film on literal and figurative levels. If this was a Hollywood film, it would be overrun with shouted speeches and orchestrational swells trying to manufacture emotional peaks. Fluff like that is unnecessary if you have the right poetic realism, For Loach, that’s second hand and he picks the right soapbox placement and thickness.
In returning to my "Movie Classroom" series of interactive whiteboard video reviews with new vigor, new skills, and new tools, I wanted to bring back and upload my old video attempts to my Every Movie Has a Lesson YouTube channel. In a massive file drop, I recently uploaded 29 of my past Movie Classroom videos from 2014, including winners like Whiplash and Birdman. Head over and reminisce on some fine films and commentary by yours truly.
Episode 3 of the Reel Talker Podcast is all about Wonder Woman. I was invited again to join Jim Alexander, my fellow co-founder and co-director of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. Jim brings up his frustrations with the early Wonder Woman critic reactions while I discuss my favorite moments of the film and why I think it can be an inspirational movie. We also debate where Wonder Woman ranks among DC movies. All that and more in the Reel Talker podcast!
Take the title of the film whatever way you wish, be it literally with the lurking threats of nightfall in this landscape or figuratively with the visions and nightmares one has while alone with their thoughts before sleeping. It Comes at Night is tightly comprised of excruciating moral challenges that escalate with time.
This past week, the Kicking the Seat Podcast reunited a super-team of critics to discuss Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman! I was invited by the KtS host Ian Simmons to join himself, David Fowlie of Keeping it Reel, and Emmanuel Noisette of Eman's Movie Reviews after an advance screening at the ShowPlace ICON X at Roosevelt Collections. As always, I'm honored to be invited by Ian, a gracious host like no other.