I had the pleasure of bringing two of my Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle colleagues with me LodgeCon 2017, the team of John Robinson and El'Ahrai Stanek of The Harvey and Bob Show podcast! Our one-hour panel was titled "The State of Genre and Fantasy Films" where we bounced around between the coming film projects of 2017 and beyond. Coupled with our attendance at LodgeCon, El'Ahrai and John live-recorded their weekly podcast from the event and I was privileged to be a guest participant.
"The Great Wall" is an imposing creature feature that stands as a three-headed glamour project. You have an A-list star venturing overseas for international credibility and a splashy director landing his official English-language debut. Aiming higher in aspiration is a production company hoping to open a new and profitable pipeline of investment between Hollywood and China. Visually splendid from top to bottom, this epic adventure squeaks by on its looks and spares no expense to make sure of that.
Chock full of more jokes, puns, and references than there are virtual plastic bricks, “The LEGO Batman Movie” is a breezy blast of unabashed fun. Twirling with dazzling animation and saturated with endless character possibilities, these two hours of zippy entertainment offer exhilarating playful engagement for young audiences and many absolute belly laughs for the adults. Like “The LEGO Movie” before it, the biggest flaw will always be the manic pace.
This year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Short are an eclectic bunch. One of them, “Borrowed Time,” I have previously reviewed in full on this website. Here are my collected capsule reviews of the slate of five, complete with my signature life lessons. Look for the theaters this month bundling these nominees together for public viewing and ticket opportunities.
Shameful as this sounds, I have not seen the first "John Wick" and I was not a place to catchup before "John Wick: Chapter 2." Meet Emmanuel Noisette of Eman's Movie Reviews. He is an emerging film critic tackling both written and video reviews. His YouTube channel is must-watch and automatic subscribe material. Emmanuel is a colleague of man with the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle (CIFCC). Eman is a big fan of the first and the second one impressed him greatly.
The documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” from director Raoul Peck unearths “Remember This House,” an unfinished 1979 manuscript of the James Baldwin’s recollections of Medgar, Malcolm, and Martin. This outstanding and informative film presents Baldwin’s musings alongside sobering imagery of both the turbulent history of the era and parallel occurrences of modern racial unrest that echo the same violence, inequality, anger, and sorrow. As an Oscar nominee in a banner year for feature documentaries, “I Am Your Negro” is essential viewing.
Yours truly was asked to host a film-centered panel and I wholeheartedly accepted the chance to back a friend. The topic will be "The State of Genre and Fantasy Films" and I will attempt to hold court on the matter. I'm not going alone though. I have enlisted two Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle colleagues and fellow genre film fans to join me, John Robinson and El'Ahrai Stanek, of "The Harvey and Bob Show" podcast based in Woodridge, Illinois.
Matching my signature niche, I pitched the Feelin' Film website on writing a weekly column on the serious and farcical life lessons learned each week from either the current film releases or the prevailing movie industry trends of the moment. Since mid-January 2017, that idea has become the column "What Did We Learn This Week." My weekly column features commentary and content I don't post anywhere else, not even here.
Call me a softy or a sunny optimist, but I will take "The Space Between Us" over the next "Percy Jackson and the Hunger Maze Runner City of Bones Games with the 5th Wave of Divergent Mortal Instruments." The YA movie marketplace is overfilled with militarized kid-on-kid peril in the science fiction department. “The Space Between Us” is cheesy, corny, and pretends to be better than it really is, but, gosh darnit, the film has a charming and positive core that is hard to ignore.
Renowned Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar seizes our attention and lights the fires of intrigue with human simplicity in “Julieta,” his 20th feature film and Spain’s entry this year for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Concocting a brew of passion coupled with remorse across personal history young and old, Almodovar unspools the tangled threads of a guilt-ridden woman’s heart. Adapted from three Alice Munro short stories, “Julieta” is a strong return to the female-focused storyscapes that have made him a legend.
Directed by Christoforos “Christopher” Papakaliatis, “Worlds Apart” presents three narratives and three different flavors of passion. Each surrounds a Greek native in a burgeoning romantic relationship with an immigrant from another land. Thematically, all that transpires in the film riffs on recurring imagery and commonality with the mythical story of Eros, the Greek god of love. Layering a topical worldview tinged with allegory every step of the way, “Worlds Apart” is a mature and beguiling romantic drama.
Yesterday, I threw down the gauntlet for the fourth year in a row to predict the eventual nominees in the "Big 8" categories (Best Picture, Best Director, the four acting categories, and the two screenplay awards) and, boy, did I nail it. In total, I predicted 38-of-44 correctly for 86% accuracy, with two perfect categories of 5-out-of-5 and all the Best Picture nominees. That’s my best year yet.
Partnering with The Field Museum of Chicago, The Wilmette Theatre will present SCIENCE ON SCREEN series, a creative screening program matching classic, cult, and documentary films with scientists from the worlds of science technology and medicine offering related scientific information and leading lively discussion. The theme of the first season will be the study of the environment, evolution and protecting wildlife, particularly endangered species.
The 89th Academy Award nominations will be announced Tuesday morning, January 24, 2016 after a longer gap than usual between the Golden Globes that were given out back on January 8th. As always, I've been following the full awards season over on my Awards Tracker page. Using that data as the tea leaves and a truckload of hunches, I'm going to attempt to closely predict the Oscar nominations for the "Big 8" categories for the fourth year in a row.
All too often, the recent young adult wave of big studio dystopian fiction films contain three root faults. First, they shoot off preposterous peril for the sake of peril like a pyromaniac loose in a fireworks warehouse. Secondly, within the peril is the overused trope of militarizing teens and children. Finally, the screenwriters feel the need to over-explain every little thing about its created universe as if the audience can’t think for themselves or be challenged to draw an inference or two. For the most part, the small budget independent film “Go North” successfully and thankfully operates above those three traps.
Fellow Chicagoans, “Hidden Figures” has been winning big at the U.S. box office. In a great gesture to her hometown, one of the stars of the film would like you see “Hidden Figures” on her dime. Taraji P. Henson has personally bought out a theater at AMC Ford City Mall on Sunday, January 22nd at 2:00PM for the general public.