Posts in ADVANCE MOVIE REVIEW
MOVIE REVIEW: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

Matching the classic plastic building toys themselves, reinvention is as easy and frequent as the twist of one of their rainbow-hued blocks if one is prepared for it. Projecting that life’s simplicity through its dazzling style of presentation, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is another sparkling escapade of accepting and approachable entertainment.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Vice

With more dismissive scowls than joking winks, thinly veiled outrage outweighs the drink-clinking humor in Adam McKay’s film presenting a biography of one of the least favored men in American political history. Hazy in some moments, hasty in others, and always provocative, Vice is easily the most polarizing film of the year. The movie is not unlike Cheney’s own aim with a shotgun, hitting and missing plenty with occasional collateral damage.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Bumblebee

Plenty of loud-and-dumb still comes out of Bumblebee, but at least the pompous hubris and sophomoric fixations that fuel it are exchanged for those three missing elements of tone, character, and heart. The charming zeal of this revisionist prequel stands as the beacon signal to welcome back those who wrote this series off (including this very writer) years ago.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Aquaman

Bounding over land and sea across the oceanic globe, Aquaman is a bona fide comic book adventure with all the proper melodrama, pathos, heroics, and world-building amplified to a fantasy level of the highest order. James Wan’s crowd pleaser is a gushing rush of dazzling entertainment fully aware of its challenge to wash away decades of misplaced opinions and intentions. Enjoy bringing these action figures into a really big bathtub of flavored popcorn. For as fantastically cheesy as this movie is, its brassy and glossy pull is quite surprising.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Roma

That unfortunate fate could not be farther away from a film like Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma. For all of those possible extrapolations of commitment and dedication taking place within the craft of filmmaking, you may never, not this year and maybe several more after, see a more intimate artistic expression than this powerful and personal film. To the man making Roma, this film is special. To those viewing it, this film is important. To the art it serves, this film could be a potential masterpiece.

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MOVIE REVIEW: A Private War

The biographical film A Private War is a collection of those slivers, each with increasing sharpness to cut to the core of our moral constitution. Like each year taking its toll on Colvin, A Private War is the kind of movie that wears you down with increasing tension and toll in the effort to move and reforge your empathetic spirit. This is a phenomenal and ferocious lead performance from Rosamund Pike, who deserves the second Oscar nomination of her career for this combination tenacity and honesty.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody lives and dies through the vitality of its lead performer. Emmy winner Rami Malek gives a smashing performance that should skyrocket him into the Oscar conversation. He and the film thrive when the volume is turned up and the microphones are on. It withers when it stifles that provocative heat. What should and, frankly, deserved to be a line-blurring and envelope-pushing affair of affairs is, to borrow a pair of friends’ terms, “straight-washed” into something “puritanical” instead of free, open, and, most of all, potent. Allowing something this hot to go lukewarm is a cinematic crime.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Silencio

Within in the 98 minutes of Silencio, this little dual-language flick accomplishes what few high concept indie films have been able to achieve with their wildly audacious ideas. It builds a bridge, not a wide and sturdy one, mind you, but a successful structure nonetheless, from the nonsensical to the profound. That is a normally a huge canyon of belief and consideration to cross.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Beautiful Boy

This is not your typical feel-good factory product. Beautiful Boy is bracingly honest with its turns and barriers built by emotional whallup. The remarkable performances of Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet deserve the credit for that impact, fashioning a touchingly stout drama that is braver than most films on the subject. One of the best films you will ever see examining the breadth of drug addiction

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MOVIE REVIEW: Venom

For the purpose to sell tickets, this proper villain is touted to be an response to the world having enough superheroes. The resulting film debunks its marketing by reducing Venom into a do-gooder and carnival attraction opposite of that claim. Never once does your heart pump a little quicker from tension. Never once do any hairs stand up in fright in the presence of what should be a complete badass. Those deficiencies shouldn’t happen with Venom.

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MOVIE REVIEW: First Man

Unlike the popular space race films that have come before it, not a millisecond of First Man feels like typical hero worship celebrating astronaut and aeronautical engineer Neil Armstrong.  The music or soundtrack doesn't announce his entrances or achievements. The camera doesn't bathe Armstrong in light and genuflect in his presence to make him seem larger than he really is.  What is not trumpeted as heaps of grandiose praise by Academy Award-winning La La Land director Damien Chazelle is instead honed into a poignant and resolute testament of honor.

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MOVIE REVIEW: A Star is Born

Cooper simmers with swagger before Gaga’s vocal force boils the cauldron over, taking everything to another level.  Songs emerge and what was cauterized by charged passion is now frozen in alluring amazement of the talent on display.  With this fourth version of A Star is Born, you will find yourself captivated watching the expressive performances, both sung and unsung, no matter if it is for an audience of thousands or just merely one.

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: The 4th Irish American Movie Hooley

For the fourth year, the proud national and international efforts of Irish flair and flavor grace the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago. With sponsorship led by Slane Irish Whiskey, the Irish American Movie Hooley is a three-night trio of films gracing Chicago screens as a special program. The “party” translation of its title at the forefront. Here are my capsule reviews!

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MOVIE REVIEW: Blaze

 Serenading and soul-bearing for two stout hours, Ethan Hawke’s third directorial effort personifies the quintessential plight of the “starving artist.” Whether they carry a paintbrush or a guitar, these will-they-or-won’t-they tales stir hope and anticipation as nearly irresistible cinematic story material. Real or fictitious, we want to see the Vincent van Goghs, Llewyn Davises, and Blaze Foleys find success. Greater than rooting for an ending of stardom, there is whimsical power to be found in simply reaching emotional fulfillment.

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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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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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MOVIE REVIEW: BlacKkKlansman

The slogan of Spike Lee’s long-time production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmwork is “by any means necessary,” a tagline that could not be more fitting of the urgency and purpose of Spike’s works. Nothing he puts his effort into ends up empty or meaningless. His lightning rod flair singes silver screens again with Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix prize winner BlacKkKlansman, stoking a p

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mission: Impossible - Fallout

The wow factor will always bring eager action junkies to a Mission: Impossible film. This one earns your admission price and then some with some of the best set pieces, fight sequences, and chase scenes in the franchise’s history. It’s all pure finesse. Impressiveness notwithstanding, it’s the intelligent cleverness of each entry as a spy flick that keeps audiences coming back for seconds. This series has only gotten stronger thanks to the healthy spacing of releases, trajectory of continuity, and established character anchors started by J.J. Abrams 12 years ago.

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