Posts tagged Gene Siskel Film Center
DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: 42 Grams

Through 42 Grams, documentary director Jack C. Newell muddles away the self-importance and crafts his own dish laced with affinity and rapport.  Following the trials and tribulations of gifted chef Chicago chef Jake Bickelhaupt and his wife Alexa, Newell’s film looks beyond the culinary decadence to reveal a core essence of ambition as relatable as any other version of the American Dream.  The captive fascination swelling from that gathers attention and an audience where it normally would not.

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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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MOVIE REVIEW: The Young Offenders

The banter and B.S. traded back and forth between Alex Murphy and Chris Walley is as hysterical as it is pleasurably uncouth.  It’s an absolute wonder to realize that The Young Offenders is mutually their first on-camera film roles.  Alex and Chris’s chemistry through sarcasm and shared shenanigans feels and looks effortless.  Flabbergasted energy blasts out of both of them and it’s a hoot to watch.  Seeing the two young actors operate these over-the-top losers with reckless abandon while still injecting a little coming-of-age heart for good measure, makes the film highly entertaining.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Emerald City

I know it’s the clickbait haven of Buzzfeed, but this list of jobs well-known celebrities had before they hit it big is pretty humbling and eye-opening at the same time.  Once the millions roll in and we see the red carpets and flash bulbs, we forget the lucky breaks and hard work it took to get there, and that for every one of those matinee idols a thousand never make it.  Upon seeing Emerald City at the 3rd annual Irish American Movie Hooley, I’ll gladly raise my glass in hopes that Colin Broderick’s minimum wage days are over.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Dunning Man

Inspired by true events, which will cause a fun double take as the film transpires, The Dunning Man is adapted from the published short stories of producer Kevin Fortuna.  Precariously, at times, balancing somewhere between an urban drama and paperback crime novel, the film presents a seedy slice of Atlantic City calmed by nostalgic scene transitions of vintage footage of the city in its decadent heyday.

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: The third annual Irish American Movie Hooley

The third annual Irish American Movie Hooley is happening this weekend at the Gene Siskel Film Center from September 29-October 1st.  This very writer and website was both lucky and honored to cover this event last year and has again been granted coverage access this year.  The event is comprised of three feature films, two of which are directorial debuts, all of whom are making their Chicago premieres.  Here are my capsule reviews of the three films.  Get your Irish on at the Siskel Film Center this weekend!

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PREVIEW: The third annual Irish American Movie Hooley

The Gene Siskel Film Center will host the third annual Irish American Movie Hooley from September 29-October 1st.  This year’s event is comprised of three feature films, two of which are directorial debuts, all of whom are making their Chicago premieres.   All screenings and events are at the Gene Siskel Film Center.  his very writer and website was both lucky and honored to cover this event last year and will again this year.  Stay tuned here for future capsule reviews and full reviews.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis

In a terse 80 minutes, The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis locks its suspenseful build and holds your attention.  Open-ended as it is, the film could have employed additional time to hammer its points home and offer a payoff.  However, it’s minimal surface and suddenness feels intentional to mirror the mysterious fates that befell so many people of this era.  Quietly powerful, the effect and feeling are convincing.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: Resilience: The Biology of Stress and Science of Hope

The light shed by the shared research, connections, and testimonials of James Redford’s documentary “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” opens eyes and stirs immediate personal reflection.  Toward your own self or in the role of a parent, “Resilience” puts the right mirrors in front of faces.  It is a worthy alarm notification that encourages more character building than being told to “pull up your bootstraps.”

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: The Lark's View

Ireland is a proud country where a pagan history has been blended with Christianity for two millennia.  Mythology has merged with scripture and history has absorbed legend.  “The Lark’s View” is a documentary reflecting the current and lost traditions on the century anniversary of the significant Easter Rising conflict of 1916.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: A Doctor's Sword

A masterfully powerful documentary, “A Doctor’s Sword,” chronicling the reflective and jarring tale of Irish World War II veteran Aidan MacCarthy, recently played as part of the second annual Irish American Movie Hooley at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.  One half of this fine film is an astounding you-wouldn't-believe-it-if-I-told-you true story of World War II survival that would make "Unbroken" look like a nursery rhyme.  Its calmer other half takes place in a present day where two proud families and two proud countries are forever bonded by shared history.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Beneath Disheveled Stars

Kevin Baggott’s darkly comedic film “Beneath Disheveled Stars" was a favorite of the Cork Indie Film Festival and Brooklyn Underground Film Festival.  The film recently opened the 2nd annual Irish American Movie Hooley at the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago.  As a self-made film from a self-made man, there are qualities to appreciate from this quixotic wild goose choose.

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: The 2nd Annual Irish American Movie Hooley

The second annual Irish American Movie Hooley at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago.  Presented by 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey and produced by Hibernian Transmedia, the spirited mini-festival has a slate of three films, two making their Chicago premieres between September 30 and October 2.  This very writer and website was privy to viewing and reviewing this year’s Irish American Movie Hooley selections in advance.  Here are my capsule reviews and recommendations.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Wait (L'attesa)

The award-winning Juliette Binoche is one of those actresses who can captivate an audience in complete silence.  Binoche has long been a reflective master of inflection and nuance.  She doesn’t have to say a word to convey the waterfall of thoughts an end emotions going on within her characters.   She is a true artist for performance and the latest proof of that is her staggering dramatic role in “The Wait,” the directorial debut of Italian filmmaker Piero Messina. 

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MOVIE REVIEW: Anesthesia

When a crime is committed, an unfortunate convergence of fate, luck, and coincidence occrs between people that would otherwise be strangers.  The violent and emotional sting of that event then spreads to the family and friends of all parties involved, from perpetrator to victim.  Like ripples in a pond, one incident can affect dozens.  Actor/director Tim Blake Nelson's new film and fifth directorial feature, "Anesthesia," probes that social reverberation in a provocative way.

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