Posts tagged Every Movie Has a Lesson
ANNOUNCEMENT: Hosting new "Kids Klassics" series at The Wilmette Theatre!

The Wilmette Theatre is excited to announce a new, curated film series for children and families starting this spring. KIDS KLASSICS is a themed film series screening some of the most beloved classics. Each screening will be followed by a fun and educational talkback to engage young audiences to think about films in a new way. Hosted by Chicago film critic for Every Movie Has a Lesson and educator Don Shanahan, who will lead an interactive discussion. 

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EDITORIAL: 19 films to watch for the 2019 Oscars

In what has become an annual day-after-hangover and post-Oscars tradition, I have this editorial that closes the book on one awards season and declares the next one open for competition.  Each year, I pull out the crystal ball and look into the murky future to prognosticate which films coming in 2018 will we be applauding for at this time next year for the 91st Academy Awards.  Here are 19 films to watch for the 2019 Oscars.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The 15:17 to Paris

That crucial third act would make a heck of a short film on its own.  If we could fast-forward to there, we would be in business.  Instead, we get the Eastwood hero worship vanity project parade.  Invisible yet incredibly overt, The 15:17 to Paris freely flies its flags of god-fearing conservative morals, manly superiority, unwavering courage, dreams of glory, and military brotherhood.  The content isn't lowered for Eastwood’s credibility, but the execution is, even if there is an audience for this sort of thing. 

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VINTAGE REVIEW: The Astrologer

In a reversal of this practical parable’s usual cadence, one man’s treasure is another man’s trash.  This is where the tastes, descriptions, and comparisons begin for 1975’s The Astrologer.   A young man named Craig Denney set out to direct and star is his own feature film to break into stardom.  It was a passion project of sorts derailed by a backstory of avoidable failure.  Along the same lines as trash versus treasure, one filmmaker’s passion project is another man’s vanity film.

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INFOGRAPHIC: Vaping on Screen

We all know that Vaping is taking over the world, but did you know that due to its popularity, Vaping devices are being introduced into movies, TV shows, and even Video Games? It’s true! This infographic piece from Grey Haze takes a look at where vaping has popped up on the big and little screen and see which Vaping device each character is using and what that tells us about them.  Enjoy!

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: "Connecting with Classics" Episode #1: All the President's Men

Welcome, listeners new and old, to the FIRST episode of our new series “Connecting With Classics.” In this initial episode, Aaron and I discuss the #77 film on AFI’s Top 100 10th Anniversary list, and one which is closely connected to current new release The Post. If All the President’s Men isn’t the best journalism film ever made, it’s certainly in the conversation. Join us for some history, some lessons, and as always some emotional connection.

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COLUMN: The 10 Best Films of 2017

The end of the year brings grading and reflection points for both the school teacher in me and the film critic.  Looking at the online Trapper Keeper portfolio called Every Movie has a Lesson, I published 126 full film reviews in 2017, topping last year’s 114 and setting a new high mark.  Here’s my definitive list of the "10 Best" films of 2017.  True to this website’s specialty, each film will be paired with its best life lesson.  Enjoy!

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: Playing catch-up on December awards contenders

Though the day job work was no longer in the way, good times with family and friends was the better thing to do than lock myself in a room on a laptop and write.  Three of these films are cracking my Top 20 of 2017 and possibly even my final “10 Best” list.  A year-end bang like that deserves to be talked about, and I couldn’t keep sitting on them without getting something out to you.  To get the good word out there, here are some quick hot take capsules of the films with full reviews in the works.

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20 YEAR RETROSPECTIVE: The 10 Best of 1997

In a new annual series, Every Movie Has a Lesson is going to look back twenty years to revisit, relearn, and reexamine a year of cinema history to share favorites, lists, and experiences from the films of that year.  Twenty years ago, I graduated high school in 1997 and the movie milestones matched the personal ones for me.  Here's my list of the best of 1997.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour and Gary Oldman exhibit tremendous fight to match the vigor of the era.  The film builds its mounting prospects of calamity and clashes of dissension with polish and gumption, avoiding many of the dull notes normally saddling most other behind-the-war-room yak-fest.  The screenplay shrewdly skips laborious biographical notes and tautly fixates primarily on the two weeks of debate leading up to Operation Dynamo

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MOVIE REVIEW: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Martin McDonagh’s new film puts prickly in the pastoral glazing its country charm with absolute acid every chance it gets.  Part stern crime drama and part small-town chicanery, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri displays the next level of McDonagh’s talent and potential.  Always the sharp storyteller since his roots on the Irish stage, McDonagh’s writing prowess elevates a premise that would fall flat as pure farce in other hands

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mercury in Retrograde

Michael Glover Smith’s words of mounting depth and weight turn idle chatter into soapboxes that eventually become proverbial fortifications built around questioned principles and shattered wills.  The ensemble of performers delivers on the required heavy lifting from the director to make the multitude of human flaws believable yet still approachable.  Mercury in Retrograde is a hidden gem.

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GUEST CRITICS #27: A Bad Mom's Christmas

In a return engagement for a zany sequel, Every Movie Has a Lesson welcomes back the four fine ladies and working moms of the "TTC" (Terrific Teacher Committee).  Say hello again to Donna Ferretti, Kelly Johnson, Manda Torres, and my own wife, Mrs. Thanh Shanahan, the purveyor of this website's "Pillow Rankings" section.  Sixteen months ago, they reviewed Bad Moms on this website as "Guest Critics."  

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on "Kicking the Seat" podcast talking "Justice League"

This past week, I was cordially invited and honored to join a panel on the "Kicking the Seat" podcast hosted by Ian Simmons.  As always, Ian is joined by his regular wingman David Fowlie of Keeping it Reel.  We left a seat warm for mutual friend Emmanuel Noisette of E-Man's Movie Reviews, but he couldn't make it.  Ian, David, and I have talked comic book movies before, so it was only proper to get together for Justice League.

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STUDENT-FRIENDLY MOVIE REVIEW: Wonder

I do my best to write professional grade film criticism fit for a formal audience, becoming best friends with a thesaurus and using my big boy words.  By day, I'm an elementary school educator.  At work this year, I've been organizing a special field trip for 5th graders to see Wonder after they've been reading the novel all fall.  This second "student-friendly" movie review is for them and other younger readers.  Revised, this review scales down my review down from an 11.6 Flesch Kincaid readability level to a comfy 4.4 average.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Wonder

Wonder’s buoyant messages are the moving jolt of empathy this generation needs.  Even better, its literal and figurative precepts carry an inspiring weight worthy to last many generations more.  Directed by the good hands of Stephen Chbosky, Wonder is an instant classic, sure to become a new favorite, for its target audience and a winning (and rare) example of a film taking great care to do justice by the book it is based on.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Justice League

Justice League comes across like attempted course correction done on that Etch-a-Sketch.  The artist, or artists in this case, are trying to retrace old paths and smooth over past missteps with redrawn swirls, lighter hues, and a fluffy cover-up we call comedy.  That effort on the cinematic Etch-a-Sketch indeed changes the initial picture, but only after unnecessarily tedious effort and some remaining messy results.

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