Posts in Foreign Film
MOVIE REVIEW: Still Human

Those lines are a screenwriter’s dream of created sentiment. As doubtlessly as it could sting a nose on its directness, the moment squeezes tear ducts easily too. In this case, the sincerity is earned by Still Human’s meaningful journey and the dedicated performances of the leads. Director Oliver Siu Kuen Chan’s debut feature is the epitome of the genuinely genteel washing crassness away. The spirit-affirming foreign entry debuts locally in Chicago for a run at the Gene Siskel Film Center starting on May 13th.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Storm Boy

Ten life lessons than pet ownership can teach children include responsibility, trust, bereavement, respect, self-esteem, physical activity, loyalty, patience, and social skills. Now, for most of us stateside, our preferred companions are often dogs and cats. The canines and felines get movies for days from Old Yeller to The Secret Life of Pets. In South Australia’s coastlands, the prevailing animal neighbors are birds. So, how well do you know a pelican? Come to Storm Boy and find yourself newly enamored.

Read More
OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2019: The race for Best Picture

It’s time to breakdown each category and put some stone cold predictions into digital ink. Throughout the busy awards season, this website’s 2019 Awards Tracker has been my workspace to tally all the early award winners. That prognostication data is cited in these predictions. This column examines the race for Best Picture. As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!

Read More
OSCAR PREDICTIONS: The minor film categories

It’s time to breakdown each category and put some stone cold predictions into digital ink. Throughout the busy awards season, this website’s 2019 Awards Tracker has been my workspace to tally all the early award winners. That prognostication data is cited in these predictions. This column examines the minor film categories of foreign film, documentaries, animated films, and short films. As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Perfect Strangers (Perfectos Desconocidos)

The poster for the Mexican remake Perfectos Desconocidos glows with affluence.  We see a richly appointed dinner party scene flush with refinement from edge to edge across fashions, place settings, and the flowing wine.  What intentionally glows the brightest on the poster is the statement “We all have a secret life.” It symbolically shows materialistic beauty undone by the blunt intrusion of technology. Thematically, that tagline statement is the lightning bolt of tension that charges this entire film.

Read More
SPECIAL: See “Roma” in 70mm this week at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre

Chicago’s 90-year-old premiere arthouse venue will be exclusively presenting Alfonso Cuaron’s highly regarded Oscar contender Roma in widescreen 70mm. The Spanish-language film from Mexico will play on their main screen over the course of five days and fifteen showings between Wednesday, January 9th and Sunday the 13th. Tickets for Roma are $15 ($12 for Music Box members) and available now at their box office or online.

Read More
GUEST CRITIC #29: Leon: The Professional

As busy I get from time to time, I find that I can't see every movie under the sun, leaving my friends and colleagues to fill in the blanks for me.  As poetically as I think I wax about movies on this website as a wannabe critic, there are other experts out there.  Sometimes, it inspires me to see the movie too and get back to being my circle's go-to movie guy.  In a new review series, I'm opening my site to friend submissions for guest movie reviews. Today, meet fan and follower of the page Farnaz Nazari

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Roma

That unfortunate fate could not be farther away from a film like Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma. For all of those possible extrapolations of commitment and dedication taking place within the craft of filmmaking, you may never, not this year and maybe several more after, see a more intimate artistic expression than this powerful and personal film. To the man making Roma, this film is special. To those viewing it, this film is important. To the art it serves, this film could be a potential masterpiece.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: The Guilty

Played in nearly real-time, The Guilty jolts the audience with the fits and spurts of the received and dropped calls. Some are dangled snippets and others linger with impact. Their rising and falling tensions are shrewdly and sharply written by director Gustav Möller and TV writer Emil Nygaard Albertsen. Their unforgiving suspense create an engrossing and choking mood of unknown and mounting dread. The Guilty is as smooth and taut of a 85-minute feature as you’ll see, no matter the language.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Silencio

Within in the 98 minutes of Silencio, this little dual-language flick accomplishes what few high concept indie films have been able to achieve with their wildly audacious ideas. It builds a bridge, not a wide and sturdy one, mind you, but a successful structure nonetheless, from the nonsensical to the profound. That is a normally a huge canyon of belief and consideration to cross.

Read More
CAPSULE REVIEWS: The 54th Chicago International Film Festival

For the fifth year in a row and the fourth with press credentials, I am proud to represent Every Movie Has a Lesson and Medium.com to cover the ambitious slate. No single critic can see it all, but I’ll take my swings to find some buried treasure and films to explore when they come to your city or streaming platforms at home down the road. Here below are my collected capsule reviews from the 54th Chicago International Film Festival, ranked in order of highest to lowest recommendation.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Loving Pablo

The overarching challenge remains making romance out of a villain, enough to soften the depravity of the historical truth. Matching Vallejo’s own findings, Loving Pablo defines that Escobar’s darkness cannot be diluted, making much of this film a difficult and treacherous viewing experience. To its great credit, the merciless edge of Loving Pablo rejects forced cinematic sugar-coating overused in other crime films to romanticize its leviathans.

Read More
CAPSULE REVIEWS: The 4th Irish American Movie Hooley

For the fourth year, the proud national and international efforts of Irish flair and flavor grace the Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago. With sponsorship led by Slane Irish Whiskey, the Irish American Movie Hooley is a three-night trio of films gracing Chicago screens as a special program. The “party” translation of its title at the forefront. Here are my capsule reviews!

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: The Captain

Writer-director Robert Schwentke has boldly moved away from schlock (R.I.P.D., RED) and softness (The Time Traveler’s Wife) for something visceral and chillingly raw. As Herold shows no quarter, neither does Schwentke and this film’s penchant for discomfort. The events portrayed are so imprudently berserk that it borders on unbelievable farce, despite its cited historical inspiration of the man who performed these acts before he was even 21 years old.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: En el Séptimo Día

If you didn’t know it, you would think this film is a slice-of-life documentary, giving the film similar striking authenticity and power as Chloe Zhao’s celebrated spring film The Rider. En el Séptimo Día presents an empathetic and beautifully rendered microcosm of the American Dream. Between the recent World Cup and our country’s ever-present immigration debate, a tender and compassionate allegory such as this could not be more soothing cinematic balm and satisfying experience.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: The Last Suit

Making its Chicago premiere this weekend playing for a run at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Pablo Solarz’s film earns every measure of its stirring dedication. The Last Suit has an approachable and undeniable warmth beneath that thorny senior center masterfully played by Miguel Ángel Solá. The writer and director himself will join audience discussion on the Friday and Saturday evening showings. Keen audiences looking for an empathetic elixir would do well to absorb and appreciate this film at the Siskel.

Read More
MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on "You'll Probably Agree" to recap the 6th Chicago Critics Film Festival

In the third and final part of a busy May collaboration, Mike Crowley of "You'll Probably Agree" leads a full-bodied recap of what he and I covered from the prestigious and successful 6th Chicago Critics Film Festival.  We rundown a collection of 10 reviews that included The Guilty, First Reformed, On Chesil Beach, Eighth Grade, Bodied, Support The Girls, Revenge, We The Animals, and Abducted in Plain Sight.  Enjoy this uncut back-and-forth shared discussion!

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: The Guardians

There is a different and commendable bravery found in the young and old to carry on the community dream of hearth and home. For the “War to End All Wars” at the beginning of the 20th century, those civilians predominantly included women who were mothers, wives, fiances, and sisters.  Xavier Beauvois’s often lovely foreign film The Guardians from Music Box Films follows the hardscrabble trials and tribulations of one French homestead of ladies during the lean years of World War I

Read More