Posts tagged VOD
MOVIE REVIEW: Te Ata

Not all actors and actresses are motivated by fame and profit.  Some are in it for the performance and chance to share culture through an artistic medium.  Before the hey-day of cinema, one such actress captured the fascination of an audience higher than any Hollywood premiere and did so as an ostracized minority.  Better yourself with a slice of history to learn about Mary Frances Thompson, or, as she was called on stage, Te Ata.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Sex Addict

“The Sex Addict” is tailor-made to serve comedy fans that soak up humor akin to “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.”  The humor is naturally vulgar and dark, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  The crowd that will be repulsed can be replaced by those rolling on the floor laughing.  “The Sex Addict” is a ways away from the supreme mockumentary exemplars of Christopher Guest, but that’s the perfect plane for Amir Mo and company to aspire to.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mine

Isolated survival films have an immense draw.  Our self-preservation instincts kick in and we, as the audience, cannot help but hypothetically put ourselves in the same conundrum as the main character.  Often these films delve into the preciousness of the life and dabble in the “what does it all mean” direction to pull even more thought and emotion.  A few metaphors dipped in symbolism make for nice touches.  Regrettably, the peril grinder of “Mine” pounds its not-so-thinly-veiled metaphors repeatedly and insufferably into the ground.

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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: 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: Barry

Every influential man or woman had a formative period of their life where their impressionable knowledge coalesced into cemented principles that would guide them going forward.  The outgoing 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, is no different.  The new Netflix and VOD entry “Barry,” from director Vikram Gandhi, muses on the internal and external catalysts that shaped the then-20-year-old piece of unformed clay into the future leader of the free world.  

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COLUMN: 16 hidden gem films from 2016

Even with my access to more-than-most with festival coverage and press credentials, I can’t see everything.  What I can do is prop up some hidden gems that I was lucky enough to see and review.  Here are 16 under-seen winners from 2016.  The qualifier for the list was title earning less than $1 million at the box office.  They are ranked from highest-scoring review to least.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Hunter Gatherer

The micro-budgeted indie film “Hunter Gatherer” is the directorial debut of art director Josh Locy.  The filmmaker has cut his teeth creating the visual palettes of independent fare such as an art director on David Gordon Green’s “Prince Avalanche” and Peter Sattler’s “Camp X-Ray.”  His film, led by a charismatic performance from Andre Royo, shows the egotistical plight of a recently released con trying to reinsert himself in his old South Central Los Angeles neighborhood.  

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Story of 90 Coins

"The Story of 90 Coins" is a microcosm of pure and modern young love that transfers in any language and is free of unnecessary cinematic obstacle courses that strain believability.  This short story is completely relatable and endearing melodrama in all its approachable beauty that succeeds in under 10 minutes to tug heartstrings and linger in your consciousness.  Don’t you dare call this an overlong greeting card, a miniature soap opera, or a expanded touchy-feely TV commercial.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: Certain Women

Spareness and simplicity can either be a fountain of nuance and austerity or it can be a vacuum of plainness and lethargy.  Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt is a celebrated torchbearer of the minimalist film movement and her newest feature, “Certain Women,” boast three strong female leads in Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, and Kristen Stewart.  Despite that base of acting forte and the patronage of Todd Haynes as an executive producer, the void outweighs any wellspring.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Level Up

As a clever and unusual experiment, “Level Up” maintains a sobering edge of straight-faced menace.  Set to the electronica of the British musical duo Plaid, any sense of humor is present purely as a WTF moment of reminder of this scenario’s gonzo craziness.  Targeting the metaphor of video game violence, once the clues bear fruit and darker confrontations ensue, “Level Up” earns your twisted interest and delivers on its high-concept potential with an adequate amount of thrill.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Comfort

The simplified noun definition of “comfort” reads “a state or situation in which you are relaxed and do not have any physically or emotionally unpleasant feelings.”  Especially during this summer season of loud blockbusters and mayhem, when was the last time you felt simple comfort coming out of film?  What types of films bring you comfort?  That is a formula few genres and films can crack.  William Lu’s patient romance and successful festival award winner is entitled “Comfort” and does its absolute best to deliver that very feeling.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Equals

Young writer-director Drake Doremus has carved out a reputable niche in the romantic drama department.  Many of the Sundance darling's films feature a prominent theme of longing love.  That motif is on full display and meshed with mindful science fiction in his new film "Equals."  Starring Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart and backed by Ridley Scott, the film is making a limited theatrical run alongside a full release on VOD marketplaces.  Mindful doesn’t exactly equal poignancy on the scale of desired response.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Gun Equation

Short films have the unenviable creative and artistic challenge of time limitation.  By design, they have a brief window to cut the BS, grab your attention, spin its narrative, and create resonance.  Simplicity is key and nuance takes over for sprawl.  A razor sharp example of a short film that checks those boxes with raised eyebrows and quick captivation is local Chicago filmmaker Matthew Weinstein’s “The Gun Equation.”  His short film plays at the 2016 Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival which runs from July 24-31 at the AMC Randhurst 12 theater in Mount Prospect, Illinois.  

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COLUMN: Newly updated BAG website and platform for "Every Movie Has a Lesson"

Back in January, I introduced you to my involvement on BAG Movies as one of their "PRO" critics and contributors.  In April, I was one of their inaugural "Critics of the Month."  As of today, I've logged over 650 reviews on their site.  I am happy to report that BAG Movies has gotten a massive facelift making it even more organized, personalized, and interactive than before.  Their new-and-improved website just launched here in June 2016.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: BFFs

While watching a film about dysfunctional relationships, regardless of its drama or comedy slant, one cannot help but measure their own relationship against the examples they are observing on screen.  The judgmental reactions, either spoken or unspoken, cannot be contained.  To capitalize on that drawing power without going to far, frankness and believability become key.  Debuting on VOD on June 3, the film festival favorite "BFFs" can call those two storytelling essentials allies and welcomes the fun of esteem-boosting judging.

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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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COLUMN: New daily themes for social media pages

For quite some time, I've been meaning to add more momentum and engagement to my presence on Facebook and Twitter.  I'm active with posting my reviews and shared fun stories, but that content is more random than formal or thematic.  It lacks a guiding regularity.  So, as of this new year and new work week, I'm adding daily themes to my posts and threads shared on my Facebook and Twitter pages.  I have a blast talking to all of you casually and I would like to do more.  Here's the plan:

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