Posts in Independent Film
MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on October 14, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the best 21st Century movie about capitalism and class anxiety?

I gotta say, this topic was much tamer and quite the switch from the dangerous inquiry last week. Every generation and decade has their bumper crop of movies about our American capitalizm. In my lifetime, I point to Wall Street in the 80s and Boiler Room in the 90s. For this century, I went sentimental more than combative. The Big Short was a tempting second place choice.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Lighthouse

Nothing about this place, its natural topography or its man-made constructs, looks, sounds, or feels comely. The disquiet is palpable. All the atmosphere is there in Robert Egger’s torturous and pin-pricking thriller. The unfortunate struggle is that the suspense ends there. There is not enough compelling story, mystery, or perversion to fill or overwhelm this eerie environment. All of the portending, however attuned it is to its sense of art, registers as pretentious.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Loyalty

As a school teacher by day beyond this role as a film critic, let me say that there can never be enough messages sent about the troubling epidemic of bullying. All are necessary. All are helpful. We need every personal testimonial. We need every pamphlet. We need every artistic measure of expression that can gather attention, provoke thoughts, and change a few hearts. The Chicago-made short film Loyalty from filmmaker Ira Childs is one of those necessary contributions. The short recently played at the 25th Black Harvest Film Festival at the Siskel Center.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on October 7, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the most “dangerous” movie of this century?

I’m not a believer that movies can incite violence, but I am a big believer that they can incite stupidity. Just like the poor fitness and health that comes from when all you eat is garbage, a mind can be trashed the same way. I put the school teacher hat on for my response to this week’s survey question and I don’t care if I get laughed at. Danger to me is seeing the youth of America in my classrooms accepting the Minions as high quality entertainment worth their screen time.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on September 30, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the best biopic performance of all-time?

After a month off to accomodate the heart of festival season for David Ehrlich, the IndieWire Critics Survey returned this week to point at Renee Zellweger’s raved performance in Judy. The question was posed of what is the best biopic performance of all-time. A year ago, the question of the best biopic movie has been done on this survey (where I picked Raging Bull). For single performance, I went more musical.

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REVIEW COLLECTION: 5th annual Irish American Movie Hooley

As an Chicagoan of strong Irish descent myself, let me step in and play the part of “good authority.” I have it on good authority that the annual Irish American Movie Hooley is a boisterous event with a trio of buried treasure movies that normally wouldn’t grace American screens. Just as the event’s name translates: “When a party gets rowdy, the Irish call it a ‘hooley.’” You need to join the 5th edition of this artistic autumnal party at The Gene Siskel Film Center over the weekend of September 27–29. Come for the scene. Consume some friendly and fascinating culture. Here are my capsule reviews!

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Quoted in Reel Chicago for the short film "A Sisterhood of Signatures"

I’ve know film critic and now filmmaker Okema “Seven” Gunn for a few years now. She is someone I recruited into the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle for a time. When she tabled her review writing to work on her passion project of making a film, I told her I would first in line to give her work a proper review. Her film, A Sisterhood of Signatures, premiered at the Black Harvest Film Festival and recently had another showing at the Oak Park International Film Festival. I’m happy it’s getting itself out there, and I’m glad the words of my positive review could be a benefit for the film, as seen in recent coverage featured in Reel Chicago written by Daniel Patton:

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MOVIE REVIEW: Auggie

There is a fine line when using the verb “titillate.” Broadly, the word can simply mean “excite” or “thrill.” Taken more seriously, the word sharpens closer to “arouse” or “stimulate.” Context, ahem, is key. Auggie, the feature directorial debut of actor Matt Kane, walks that fine line of titillation and deftly blurs where to place its context on that line. This shrewd and stellar work creates a viewing effect in Auggie that tantalizingly bounces your comfort level between intimacy and voyeurism. This moral rattler deserves attention and praise as indie gem.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Goldfinch

Normally, the book vs. movie argument centers around missed opportunities. The majority lament becomes about the necessary condensing and trimming executed by writers and filmmakers that shaves too much of the nuanced essence from the sprawling story of the written page. With The Goldfinch, a different effect occurs. Given a longer running time than most movies already and all the patience in the world, any additions of extra depth and detail to the film adaptation would not help. What is already present is bloated, sluggish, and ineffectual. That’s an odd circumstance to say the least. Talk about a movie that should have stayed a book.

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EVENT: The upcoming 5th annual Irish American Movie Hooley in Chicago

As an Chicagoan of strong Irish descent myself, let me step in and play the part of “good authority.” I have it on good authority that the annual Irish American Movie Hooley is a boisterous event with a trio of buried treasure movies that normally wouldn’t grace American screens. Just as the event’s name translates: “When a party gets rowdy, the Irish call it a ‘hooley.’” You need to join the 5th edition of this artistic autumnal party at The Gene Siskel Film Center over the weekend of September 27–29. Come for the scene. Consume some friendly and fascinating culture.

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EVENT: Season 9 of Asian Pop-Up Cinema in Chicago

Musicals, dramas, comedies, and thrillers are just some of the genres coming Chicago’s way from overseas during the ninth season of Asian Pop-Up Cinemas. For another month between September 10th to October 10th, the non-profit Sophie’s Choice film organization has brought another eclectic slate to the Windy City. Each season, Asian Pop-Up Cinema is the film series that cultivates American interest and understanding of Asian culture through movie storytelling.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Official Secrets

Most cinematic eras have their overuse of dramatic varnish in historical retellings as a means of painted shine for grabbing attention and producing supposedly heightened value. This writer will always contend that if a chosen story needs too much of that glitz, where it cannot compel or entertain with its own facts, it should not be made into a movie in the first place. Gavin Hood’s Official Secrets gives righteous treatment to such a worthy story and builds a stoic thriller by layering its merits with an eye for accuracy.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on August 26, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the best movie of this summer?

To end the month, David Ehrlich went for the season-ending trophy designation. He called upon us writers, podcasters, and more to tell us which film was the best of the summer. Personally, I think it was a substandard and lemon-filled summer comapred to years past. Redemption came in the form is several late-breaking exemplars that landed in July and early August. I repped one of those little guys as my pick for this week.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: A Sisterhood of Signatures

One does not need millions of dollars to create an expression of personal passion. They need patience to see their vision through, a dedication to the project shared all involved, and the courage to put their work and themselves out there. Filmmaker Okema “Seven” Gunn harnessed all three of those values to make her short film A Sisterhood of Signatures and put them right back into the finished piece. She will proudly display her effort alongside the works of her inspirations and contemporaries as part of Chicago’s 25th Black Harvest Film Festival hosted by the Gene Siskel Film Center.

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EVENT: Special 90th anniversary festivities for the Music Box Theatre

Chicago’s famed Music Box Theatre, located near Wrigley Field in the Lakeview neighborhood, is nearly as old as its nearby ballpark neighbor. The historic venue opened its curtains on August 22, 1929 as the city’s first dedicated “talkie house.” The Southport Avenue gem is celebrating its 90th birthday this week with a special slate of outstanding programming that highlights both the rich history of film and the charm of the theater. Saying there’s something for everyone, from the casual fan to devout cinephile, would be an understatement. Follow the embedded links in this article for information and tickets.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on August 19, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the best performance in a Richard Linklater movie?

After a small pause in early August, the IndieWire Critics Survey returned in time for the the release of Where’d You Go, Bernadette from renowned Texas filmmaker Richard Linklater. I count as a very positive fan of his work with the Before Trilogy and Boyhood on the drama side and Everybody Wants Some!! and School of Rock on the comedy end. When it comes to the best, I pick the biggest transformation of range that came from Jack Black in Bernie. What a stunner of a character shift from an actor compared to his usual.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Neurotically charming, yet misshapen in many ways, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is wholly unique from the Texan and Hollywood outsider. The movie has the equal ability to disarm and disgust depending on your perspective or experience with the Maria Semple source material. Non-readers will float with the staccato blustering and the Antarctic kayak currents of fancy. Ardent fans will wonder where all the scintillating mystery went that gave merit to all the haphazard happenings.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Peanut Butter Falcon

The Peanut Butter Falcon doesn’t just tell a good story. It tells a great one worthy of attention, praise, and undying appreciation. The purifying freedom that churns throughout this movie could cultivate even the most barren heart. This little lovable film, winner of the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award from the SXSW Film Festival, is the kind of experience that makes one rethink how their own story is going. That is a mighty, motivating accomplishment for something that couldn’t stand out more from the usual summer blockbuster fare.

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