Posts tagged 2016 Spring Movie Checklist
MOVIE REVIEW: Elvis & Nixon

Combine the oft-used expression "a picture is worth a thousand words" with the idiom "a fly on the wall," and you will have the contagious vigor that is "Elvis & Nixon."  The most famous loose collar in the land meets the most-buttoned up Commander-in-Chief of this generation in a comedy of jovial possibilities.  There is better-than-good chance that not a lick of "Elvis & Nixon" is true, but that doesn't ruin the fun of examining a documented moment of star-crossed brevity.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Louder than Bombs

"Louder than Bombs" is the English language debut of Norwegian director Joachim Trier and his writing partner Eskil Vogt, best known for their 2006 Academy Award-nominated foreign language film "Reprise."  Their newest work was a competitor for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Norway's first since 1979.  Possessing a compelling rotation of inner monologues, the heavily dramatic film observes a fractured family of men dealing with the overhanging aftermath of losing their iconic matriarch.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Jungle Book

By employing all of the bells and whistles of today's digital effects and key frame animation, director Jon Favreau's live-action reimagining of Walt Disney's adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" sets its own stage very quickly to put adventure and peril first and foremost.  The groovy and memorable song-and-dance numbers from the original's 1967 soundtrack are forever revered as the leading component of the traditional animated classic's charm.  Those episodes of music have been trimmed from six songs to about two-and-a-half.  Ferocity steps ahead of frolic and you might ask yourself how you feel about that when you watch "The Jungle Book."

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Invitation

Adorned with the weights of divorce, loss, and tested friendship, “The Invitation” wears those issues like a cloak to hide its real menacing intent and implications underneath.  Karyn Kusama’s film holds a marvelous poker face that siphons your piqued curiosity and unraveling attention.  “The Invitation” might be labeled as a horror film, but it far better fits the prodigious “mindfuck film” subgenre.  Enjoy the steady increased heart rate and spinning cerebrum this film has to offer.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Midnight Special

In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the adjective form of "special" can be defined as "held in particular esteem" and "readily distinguishable from others in the same category."  For a film to earn that distinction it has to do more than have the word in its title, as is the case with the Jeff Nichols film "Midnight Special."  It has to possess exemplary qualities to revere that enable it to stand out from its peers.  As one of the most striking, imposing, and spell-binding original science fiction films in recent memory, "special" is fitting trademark for "Midnight Special."

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MOVIE REVIEW: Everybody Wants Some!!

Through two parallel veins of his filmmaking career, director Richard Linklater freely operates between free-wheeling fun and poignant realism with scant middle ground.  His movies are either a party or a deep character study.  Kick back and turn off the introspection for "Everybody Wants Some!!"  This is a shameless dudes' flick and Party Linklater of the highest order.  Those of you with Y chromosomes are going to love every minute.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Marguerite

Do we all remember the infamy of William Hung from 2004?  You should.  Take William Hung, turn back the clock 80 years, and, here's the kicker, give him a judging audience that won't tell him he's bad.  If you can do that, you can step into the foreign film "Marguerite" from French director Xavier Giannoli playing now at the Landmark Theater locations in Lincoln Park and Highland Park.  Divided into five chapters, "Marguerite" is an immersive character study into a would-be singer's obsession with talent.

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MOVIE REVIEW: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

To sneak preview a later life lesson in this review, you could trade the Greek demographic of the central Portokalos family in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" with any other American immigrant nationality and get much of the same effect.  Nearly all people are being both defined by and embarrassed by their family.  Whether you're Greek or not, you will watch both original and the sequel and poke fun at the similarities and differences.  Such is an easy draw, but that charm has limits in a been-there-done-that sequel.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" is constantly intense, powerfully suspenseful, and operatically enthralling on an emotional and sensory level.  It is a remarkable experience on the big screen.  We are in a new era with a new tone.  There is room in the cinematic superhero landscape for important and formidable urgency like this.  Let Marvel stick to the shiny sparkles and corner their piece of the market.  This new franchise has chosen its mature path and they are showing the resolute fortitude to stick with it, haters be damned.  What follows is spoiler-free!

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Confirmation

If we were to play Word Association and you were given the name Clive Owen, what would you say?  The lucky astute of us who have followed Clive since 1998's "Croupier" have seen him play brash and gruff villains, antiheroes, and leading men.  As of the new film "The Confirmation," you have very likely never seen him play a domestic father.  Now, north of 50 years old, here's Clive Owen in a role that doesn't require, nor utilize, any of the sexy traits that made him a James Bond candidate before Daniel Craig.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Program

Creating entertaining biopics about a universally disgraced figure are a hard sell under that key word of "entertaining."  If they attempt to create sympathy, a duel of alienation and bias can arise.  A good, thought-provoking movie has to fearlessly dig deeper.  As Van der Rohe is attributed to saying, "the devil is in the details."  Exposing the sordid and untold details of what led to the subject's defamation is where your film gets interesting.  The rise and fall of champion cyclist Lance Armstrong is fertile ground and a fresh wound that has yet to be solved.  "The Program," directed "Philomena" and "The Queen" Oscar nominee Stephen Frears, pedals uphill in attempting to shine a light on the dark details.

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MOVIE REVIEW: 10 Cloverfield Lane

It sure is nice to see a surprise stay a surprise.  In today's day and age of instant and nearly universal access to information, news, and buzz, it's very hard to keep anything the size of a movie a secret.  The filmmakers of "10 Cloverfield Lane" and its studio have pulled off a marketing stunt that has now paid off as a entertainment coup.  "10 Cloverfield Lane" is capricious blast of horror, drama, and science fiction all rolled into one twisty enigma.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Knight of Cups

The title of "Knight of Cups" from polarizing filmmaker Terrance Malick refers to the tarot card of the same name, a symbol that represents someone "constantly bored, in constant need of stimulation, but also artistic and refined."  You don't say?  That label may just apply to anyone in the audience watching this film.  Your copacetic taste is better than this film and you will be spiritless and dispassionate, matching the assigned astrology.

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COLUMN: 2016 Spring Movie Preview

The spring movie season is meant to bring promise coming out of winter, the slowest annual season of the year.  The awards seasons is done and gone and new movies can make their mark on 2016.  Most of the blockbusters we've been drooling over are still looming for when summer hits in May.  However, for several years now, more tentpole movies are starting to stake their claim and populate the spring season where the competition is much less than the summer gauntlet which presents a new slugger every week from May until August.

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CHECKLIST: 2016 Spring Movie Calendar

Here is your lineup of upcoming films for the ever-warming spring movie season that aims to put winter behind us.  Pick through this list for March and April and find a few winners.  Add these to your calendar or print and slip this list on the fridge. 

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