MOVIE REVIEW: Aladdin

Disney and Sherlock Holmes series director Guy Ritchie aimed admirably with an “ambitious and non-traditional” take employing minority casting against whitewashing and colorism. Those skin-deep improvements are progressive, but who are we kidding? The color that mattered most was blue. All the desired diversity in the world paled to who could possibly follow the late Robin Williams? The Genie is the ticket to more than just wishes when it comes to this reboot’s success.

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: Feature films of the 7th Chicago Critics Film Festival

The 7th Chicago Critics Film Festival began May 17th at the famed and restored Music Box Theatre.  Steaming towards a decade in successful existence, the CCFF remains the only film festival in the country curated by film critics. For the third year in a row, Every Movie Has a Lesson will be credentialed to cover this fine spread of movie offerings.  Ranked in order of recommendation, here are my capsule reviews. Full pieces coming later when the respective films have their proper release:

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MOVIE REVIEW: John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

War set to a rate-of-fire beat of melee lead and breaking bones is indeed what you’re getting with John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum. Springboarding from its increasing success, one could say the movie stylishly assaults your senses with its own creative focus, commitment, and will behind the camera to match the stoic Keanu Reeves protagonist in front if it. Swelling enough from its redundancies, this symphony of gunpowder and gumption will satiate your summer thrills just fine.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on May 13, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the best Keanu Reeves performance and how does it speak to his unique persona?

With the third John Wick film dropping this week, the question was an easy softball matching the film’s star. Keanu Reeves has had one interesting and steady career. The peaks are far spaced between his breakout with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Speed, The Matrix, and John Wick, but he’s as steady as they come. I went with the dark and seedy stuff that made him break his deadpan persona for my survey pick. Second place would have been the little-seen The Watcher where Reeves plays an enigmatic serial killer.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Participant in "World of Reel" Critics Poll for Best Films of the 2010s

As I grow with press credentials and professional affiliation locally and nationally, I find myself more and more landing and conversing in circles with other film critics of various levels. Much like the David Ehrlich survey I participate in, I answered an open social media call from Jordan Ruimy of World of Reel. He is a fellow Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic who also has contributed to The Young Folks, The Playlist, We Got This Covered, and The Film Stage. His poll was to collect the Top 5 films of the 2010s from critics and other industry folk. I was honored to chime in with my quintet.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Still Human

Those lines are a screenwriter’s dream of created sentiment. As doubtlessly as it could sting a nose on its directness, the moment squeezes tear ducts easily too. In this case, the sincerity is earned by Still Human’s meaningful journey and the dedicated performances of the leads. Director Oliver Siu Kuen Chan’s debut feature is the epitome of the genuinely genteel washing crassness away. The spirit-affirming foreign entry debuts locally in Chicago for a run at the Gene Siskel Film Center starting on May 13th.

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SPECIAL: Previewing the 7th Chicago Critics Film Festival

For the seventh consecutive year, many of the best domestic and international films on the festival circuit come to Chicago thanks to the Chicago Film Critics Association. The 7th Chicago Critics Film Festival opens May 17th at the famed and restored Music Box Theatre in the northside Lakeview neighborhood. Steaming towards a decade in successful existence, the CCFF remains the only film festival curated by film critics in the nation. This year, 25 feature films and two short film programs comprise their rich and ambitious offering slate

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MOVIE REVIEW: Clara

Citing genuine and actionable science, Clara builds heady inquiry for the voluminous and important research of its depicted discipline. Its sense of intelligence intertwines with the unpredictability found in the amorous reverberations of the human heart. This combination creates an intimate and daring film experience that enraptures as easily and as powerfully as it fascinates.

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