Posts tagged foreign films
MOVIE REVIEW: Liquid Truth

The discolored and dingy tile grout at the bottom of a swimming pool and the imagery effect of rippling water seen under the surface bending the images above perspective starkly symbolize the many warped dimensions of Liquid Truth.  The truth in the title is as slippery as the water in director Caroline Jabor’s simmering social commentary.  The film may be foreign from Brazil, but it typifies all too many social media ills that would explode in a parallel fashion here in this country.

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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 Villainess

The opening number makes the single-take climax fight with Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde look like a box waltz lesson from an elementary school gym class.  The woman is the reckless assassin Sook-hee, played by Ok-bin Kim of Thirst, and the scene ends with a hint of a deranged smile of glee.  The Villainess spins with dynamic energy of wanton mayhem and operatic displays of graphic violence when the talking stops and confrontations begin.

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MOVIE REVIEW: My Cousin Rachel

Roger Michell stiffens his upper lip from his Love, Actually and Notting Hill fare to tackle a costume drama with My Cousin Rachel.  Oddly enough, this film can stake a serendipitous claim as the second Michell-directed film about “kissing cousins” after Hyde Park on the Hudson.  Unfortunately, more than a little uncomfortable laughter of preposterousness pokes out of this film while trying to portray itself as flowing romantic drama.  That’s not going to sweep anyone.

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MOVIE REVIEW: I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake is unabashedly a “bleeding heart” film on literal and figurative levels.  If this was a Hollywood film, it would be overrun with shouted speeches and orchestrational swells trying to manufacture emotional peaks.  Fluff like that is unnecessary if you have the right poetic realism,  For Loach, that’s second hand and he picks the right soapbox placement and thickness.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Love, Lies

“Love, Lies” plays upon the decaying dichotomy orbiting the two women as they vie for love and validation against dignity and betrayal.  It’s impossible not to feel the emotions imbued into the punctuating moments of expression through song that fully embody the conflict and romantic encumbrances weighing on the characters.  The music is the vital and resonating fiber that unites the period atmosphere with the stirring portrayals of talent.

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MOVIE REVIEW: My Egg Boy

The trappings of “My Egg Boy” are firmly entrenched in melodrama, yet kissed with delightful fancy.  The strength is in the dynamic writing to weave practical magic with fertile imagination.  The romantic and symbolistic peaks and valleys built by Tien-Yu Fu are endlessly relatable even when characterized.  What begins as whimsy evolves quite affectingly to something rapturously heartfelt.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Debt

2017 Chicago Irish Film Festival: Short Program II

Kids not only say the darndest things, but do the darndest things too.  “The Debt” is a highly charming short film illustrating a child’s view of courtship and love.  The romantic ways of the world are foreign to the young, so they make up their own ideas.  Engaging and well-acted by youth performers, this short film will charm you to pieces.

 

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EDITORIAL: The 10 best Italian-themed films

As an equal opportunity movie writer and fan, I would be negligent and remissed if I didn't show my friends of Italian ancestry the same love I did just week for my fellow Irish-Americans.  For those who don't know, today, just two days after St. Patrick's Day, is the Feast of St. Joseph, or St. Joseph's Day.  This list is a refresh of an editorial list I made five years ago.  To my Italian-American readers and friends, take in this list of muddled stereotypes and relish in what the American audience thinks of you and your heritage.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Julieta

Renowned Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar seizes our attention and lights the fires of intrigue with human simplicity in “Julieta,” his 20th feature film and Spain’s entry this year for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.  Concocting a brew of passion coupled with remorse across personal history young and old, Almodovar unspools the tangled threads of a guilt-ridden woman’s heart.  Adapted from three Alice Munro short stories, “Julieta” is a strong return to the female-focused storyscapes that have made him a legend.  

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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: Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bete)

All eyes are on the hotly anticipated live-action "re-imagining" of Walt Disney Pictures' enormously successful "Beauty and the Beast" from 1991.  That March 2017 sure-fire blockbuster will garner tremendous attention in its attempt to honor the animated Best Picture Oscar nominee and double Academy Award winner.  In the meantime, the fairy tale's home country of France throws down its own gauntlet to give Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve's 1740 original story and Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's abridged 1756 standard the grand, epic big-screen treatment it warrants.  Let's just say the French sure know what they are doing.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: Hands of Stone

To use a boxing term favored by commentators, “Hands of Stone” has a “big fight feel.”  The ferocious energy and volatile personality of Edgar Ramirez’s Roberto Duran emits enough heat to liquefy lead.  Add in the smooth and suave Sugar Ray Leonard, played by a game Usher Raymond IV, as the titan to topple and the effect is multiplied.  “Hands of Stone” doesn’t break any new ground, but it operates with low mistakes to be a step above competent and solid within the sports film genre. 

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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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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: June Bride: Redemption of a Yakuza

"June Bride: Redemption of a Yakuza" presents an international alternative to the Scared Straight programs that have become a fascination here in the United States.  No, not this one (though enjoy a quick laugh), but prison initiatives like those chronicled in A&E's popular "Beyond Scared Straight: Success Stories.  Rather than bombard subjects and audiences with fear, one man in Japan finds faith to be the greater answer.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Dough

If you take one look at the doctored-up theatrical poster for the independent film "Dough," you might get the impression of an absurd weed romp to come.  Very quickly within John Goldschmidt's film, you will see the depth behind the film's comedic costume.  For better or worse, "Dough" is a strong mentor-mentee film that just happens to have a special funny ingredient in its cooking that adds wrinkle and flavor.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Wave

Plenty of disaster movies pretend to lean on real science to justify their cinematic ambitions in order to offer belief an audience can accept and exude some form of intelligence.  Too often, the manic energy to entertain exceeds the science and a two-hour turd polishing clinic results.  The decent ones can touch base with the right science and blend in the theatrics.  As long as you can stand subtitles and tray of cheese samples, you have a mild winner in "The Wave (Bolgen)" from Norway.

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