INFOGRAPHIC: The films of Nicolas Cage

Meet John Rooney. He is an illustrator from Ireland. John recently embarked upon a project in which he watched every single Nicolas Cage film for 89 days and did a caricature sketch for each role. The results of range and variety are striking. The project really gave Mr. Rooney a new found respect for Nicolas Cage’s acting abilities and craft, never mind the many fascinating films.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mandy

The zany bi-product of Cage’s addictive self-indulgence is that we get to see a committed and endowed artist apply his craft in nontraditional places, which is a nice way of saying lesser and lower-budgeted films. The challenge then isn’t on Cage, who is often better than the material he’s given. It’s whether the film can rise to meet his fury and tenacity as a performer. He brings it. Can the film do the same?

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MOVIE REVIEW: A Simple Favor

Putting the women in charge instead of the men in this modern landscape, Paul Feig’s A Simple Favor had the dreamy cast and pulpy source material locked in to invigorate the subgenre. Instead, the Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters comedy specialist and Nerve screenwriter Jessica Sharzar couldn’t help themselves. Satire is their aphrodisiac and they brought it to the wrong bedroom. Kinky and quirky can be fun, but that mix is tenuous at best. Watching A Simple Favor devolve from intrigue into incompetence is like pouring chocolate sauce over a sizzling steak.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Predator

As riotously entertaining as this ensemble bounds and gurgles with glorious and exasperated profanity, they feel lifted from a different movie. On paper, this infusion of infectious comedy counts as a something devilishly new squeezed onto the Predator franchise from the joyless failures of its past. In execution, the actors are having a blast, right down to the F-bomb dropping Tremblay, but the absurdity takes away from nearly all possible mystery and suspense.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Stepping forward unofficially as a literal and figurative “spiritual sequel,” Unbroken: Path to Redemption corrects that omission. Glowing with effort above its pedigree, the film is an earnest and very commendable exploration into what elevated the former Olympian and POW survivor into a true legend of his “greatest generation.” There is no begrudging this second attempt to make worthy what was tabled as circumstantial.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Friends and Other Spooky Things

The same cadence of thinking can be extended to the upcoming short film Friends and Other Spooky Things by local Chicagoland filmmaker George Sourile.  He chose the right adjective to include in that title because spooky is the proper wavelength of charm that makes something small and DIY like this work.  It’s a nudge of an easy stroll that tip-toes rather than stomps and a worthy notch of greenhorn accomplishment, and that’s all it needs to be.

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EDITORIAL: Best casino movies of the 21st century so far

Flashy casino settings have long been inviting destinations for eager tourists and lavish film productions.  The twinkling lights and allure of scoring a life-changing payday is a shared dream of both the customer and the moviemakers looking for artistic and commercial successes.  Nowadays, a taste of that lucky escapism for thrill seekers can come online through eclectic sites like Casino Billions or continue at their local movie theater or the cushions of their couch with a good flick.

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MOVIE REVIEW: We the Animals

The phrase “they’re just kids” shouldn’t be the verbalization of a dismissal. Rather, it should be spoken as a moment of pause to reflect on what future positive or negative impact could come from the lifestyle choice being observed. We the Animals, the feature debut of short film director Jeremiah Zagar, lives for those errors and pauses as one of the best independent films of the year.

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EDITORIAL: Movies that will help make good students

Ask any teacher or tutor out there worth their salt from anywhere in the world, myself included, and they’ll trade all the flashy material things and gadgets off that school supply list for students prepared with a kind heart, a willing mind, and a positive attitude.  Those three traits aren’t found in the store aisles. However, there are a few movies out there that can inspire future good students and spark conversations for a family movie night at home.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on August 27, 2018

Notable and notorious IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich recently put out a social media call for film critic peers to join a weekly survey to discuss movie topics, answer questions, and highlight their work.  Representing Every Movie Has a Lesson, I, along with over 60 other emerging and established film critics including some of my fellow Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle members, accepted the invitation to participate.  I'm honored by the opportunity, and I hope my responses are chosen each week.  

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: "Connecting With Classics" Episode 8: "Lawrence of Arabia"

Closing out the main summer months with the August pick of the Feelin' Film Podcast "Connecting With Classics" series, host Aaron White and I needed to carve out some serious committed time to absorb and appreciate the longest film ever to win the Best Picture Oscar.  That revered classic and victor is the 56-year-old Lawrence of Arabia from director David Lean and it has a lengthy resume of accolades, rankings, and awards    Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the definition of a true Hollywood epic.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Minisode podcast guest for "Feelin' Film" to review "Searching"

If you follow my social media shingles, you know I can't stop and won't stop stumping for this film.  Searching is an incredible combination of innovative filmmaking, anxiety-inducing thrills, emotionally complex characters, and relevant commentary on the internet as both a danger and potential tool for good. Feelin' Film co-creator Aaron White and I were both floored by writer/director Aneesh Chaganty’s debut feature film and John Cho’s performance in it, so we sat down for a conversation about what makes the film so special.  Enjoy this excellent conversation with all the feels and kudos!

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INFOGRAPHIC: Most destructive house parties on film

A free house, teens, alcohol, and music - what could possibly go wrong? Plenty! We’ve all seen the famous college party depicted in movies. There is almost always debauchery, spilt drinks, and general house trashing. These parties cause a lot more damage than your average house party. In a film, you’d be lucky if your house party cost $1000 in damages. As a matter of fact, none of the parties on this list cost less than $2000. Thankfully, your run-of-the-mill house party doesn’t cost as much. However, it wouldn’t be a cliché movie if it was an accurate representation, would it?

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MOVIE REVIEW: Searching

The entirety of this daring film is presented through the layers of screens across computer desktops, video streams, and a mouse pointer that moves like a scalpel over those pixelated surfaces. The effect is addictively scintillating to create harrowing emotional triggers. Call it a gimmick all you want, but be prepared to be dazzled and proven wrong by the astonishing narrative construction and visual storytelling conduits. True to both the lurid intensity and exceeding excellence of the dictionary definition, Searching is downright sensational

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on August 20, 2018

Notable and notorious IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich recently put out a social media call for film critic peers to join a weekly survey to discuss movie topics, answer questions, and highlight their work.  Representing Every Movie Has a Lesson, I, along with over 60 other emerging and established film critics including some of my fellow Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle members, accepted the invitation to participate.  I'm honored by the opportunity, and I hope my responses are chosen each week.  

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Interview in the "Forest Park Review"

Recently, I pitched my local suburban newspaper, The Forest Park Review, to volunteer my film reviews as a potential worthy addition to their publication. Its editor declined citing space is at a premium for focusing on local topics and issues, but he liked my journey as a school teacher, film critic, and co-founder of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  He wanted to know if I would interested in being interviewed for a citizen's spotlight.  I was glad and honored to oblige.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on August 13, 2018

Notable and notorious IndieWire film critic David Ehrlich recently put out a social media call for film critic peers to join a weekly survey to discuss movie topics, answer questions, and highlight their work.  Representing Every Movie Has a Lesson, I, along with over 60 other emerging and established film critics including some of my fellow Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle members, accepted the invitation to participate.  I'm honored by the opportunity, and I hope my responses are chosen each week.  

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