Posts tagged Life lessons
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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MOVIE REVIEW: The Beguiled

The transitive verb “beguile,” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “to engage the interest of” or “lead by deception.”  Hoodwink and divert are synonyms.  Director Sofia Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled means to charm our corsets and britches off right in line with its title’s root definition.  Methodically and dastardly, the film wishes to seduce us with a heightened intrigue of challenged sexual repression.

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MOVIE CLASSROOM: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

THEY'RE BACK! I've been meaning to fire up my "Movie Classroom" series again after a few years off.  Enjoy my YouTube review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!  I've improved the tech/apps used to build them.  Give me a few films and tries to get my voice and cadence together!

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MOVIE REVIEW: Alien: Covenant

Designed by H.R. Giger and manifested by Oscar-winning special effects puppetry, the unforgettable xenomorph creature that debuted in 1979’s Alien lunged with more menace than suddenness.  The acid-dripping extraterrestrial was an overpowering stalker.  Fast-forward 38 years to Alien: Covenant, and the CGI-boosted effects capable today have accelerated the monster’s lethal velocity to an unhinged and downright bonkers level.  Let me tell you, that’s a dandy of a jolt.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Colossal

To come right out and say it, this is more than a monster movie, and you will relish seeing why.  To that degree, so little about “Colossal” is conventional, an appealing and commendable trait in today’s movie landscape.  Satire and dark comedy do more damage than any kaiju stomping cities.  Vigalondo and company are aiming for creative perversion and subversion of multiple genres.  Peculiarity rules over spectacle with minimal loss of entertainment.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Win It All

Dare I say it, I think Joe Swanberg has turned a corner with “Win It All,” a new release available on Netflix.  Coherency has been the bane of mumblecore’s existence and, for at least one film, the celebrated Chicago filmmaker has found the right palatable proportions of his craft.  With “Win It All,” Swanberg stays true to the naturalistic everyday settings and improvisational dialogue that he thrives on and thankfully applies them to tighter narrative structure.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Blackcoat's Daughter

Being “in the dark” is a savory place to be for a film like this.  Keenly and decisively, “The Blackcoat’s Daughter” carries a nearly strict reliance on suggestion and atmosphere over exploitation.  For that, Perkins and company get it and do not need a “throwback” label to prove it.  They know that our mental guessing is always more frightening than showing every little thing.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Landline

If the Windy City can show us anything, it’s that die-hard Chicago Cub fans come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.  More so, fans come from different walks of life, waving flags of different colors, including, best of all, the rainbow-colored variety.  “Landline,” from local do-it-all filmmaker Matthew Aaron, is a fun-loving LGBTQ+ comedy merging ardent North Siders with snappy musings on our societal obsessions with technology, all in proximity to the heavenly palace that is Wrigley Field.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Life

You’ve seen bits and pieces of this human buffet and interstellar peril before in the likes of superior films like “Alien,” “Gravity,” and more.  To its credit, the dour tone frames “Life” as a straight-shooting creature feature trading camp for tension and thrills, plenty of which elicit sly pleasures.  Nonetheless, what separates the spectacular from the mediocre in this science fiction subgenre is the monster and the creative uses by which it is employed.  This one goes derivative.

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MOVIE REVIEW: T2 Trainspotting

To everyone who has seen “Trainspotting,” let’s ask the most obvious question right up front.  How are these characters still alive?!  One drub rehab website tells me rampant heroin addicts like “Rent Boy,” “Spud,” “Sick Boy,” and “Franco” should be dead by now.  Not a chance of that in “T2 Trainspotting” with those tough bastards.  Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle brings us back to our favorite non-gentrified parts of Edinburgh for a spirited sequel to his landmark sophomore feature.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Lift

Six very different people are stuck in an elevator, or “lift” if you will, as it is called across the Atlantic in Dublin.  One of the occupants just beat lumps into a security guard and the rest are stuck fearing for their safety.  This isn’t the most ideal place to find comedy, yet “Lift” fires a few quips at the expense of this predicament.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast

Bill Condon’s “Beauty and the Beast” stands firmly on its own merit.  True to Disney’s recent trajectory, its goal is to “reimagine” a previous animated classic into the live-action medium for a new era and audience.  Unlike the recent treatments of "Cinderella" and "Malificent," this "Beauty and the Beast" stays a full-blown musical.  Imitation, emulation, and homage are all part of that process, but so is reappraisal and reinterpretation.  Those later two actions are what drive this new fantasy film to soaring and successful heights.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island

“Kong: Skull Island” taps into the same definition of “spectacle” that applies to “Jurassic World” nearly two years ago.  This ain’t your old “King Kong.”  This is “go big or go home.”  If you’re looking for the version steeped in awe and wonder, go watch the 1933 original.  To expand the original’s wonderment with the best of today’s special effects, go watch Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake.  If you want a rip-roaring roller coaster with no strings, rules, or heavy gravitas attached, you’ve come to the right place in 2017.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Get Out

To come right to the point, “Get Out” is an 104-minute living embodiment of a slow-burning WTF moment that just keeps growing with every new detail.  And it’s glorious for being that very thing.  More psychological thriller than the spattered horror it’s being billed to be, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is subversively edgy and devilishly clever.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Incoming Call

2017 Chicago Irish Film Festival: Shorts Program

“Incoming Call” has a dynamite premise that would make for a fascinating nugget of science fiction.  The possible latitude one could take with the idea of warning the past about the future is endless. This film keenly distills and scales that down to microcosm level of a single person and the matter of picking up the phone.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Apparel

2017 Chicago Irish Film Festival: Shorts Program

Director Peter Delaney and writer Daniel Mooney flesh out miniature character study with decent results.  Andrew Bennett gives a very solid performance to construct numerous shades of character within Joe.  He is a man that is losing touch with his comfort zone.  We never fully know his issues and we shouldn’t have to.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: First Kiss

2017 Chicago Irish Film Festival: Shorts Program

As it plays out its thirteen minutes, “First Kiss” is hilarious and charming in its tidy simplicity.  Written by Fitzpatrick himself and directed by Patrick O’Shea, the short film generates the right amplitude of sparks cooled by the right temperament of sweetness.

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ADVANCE MOVIE REVIEW: Logan

With stunning brush strokes soaked in pathos and blood, "Logan" taps into a cask of comic book scotch that been reserved to reach maturity.  This is, by a country mile, not only the best film of the “X-Men” franchise, but the best of 20th Century Fox’s entire catalog of Marvel Films.  Presented as an analogy, “Logan” is to comic book films what “Unforgiven” was to westerns.

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