Posts in Independent Film
MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on June 25, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: With 2019 almost half-over, what is the best movie performance of the year so far?

With June soon swooning to July, critics will start making their halfway and “so far” lists of films and performances. David Ehrlich put performances on the table to measure for this week’s survey and an outstanding list was built. I love the selection of Lupita Nyong’o from Us. She would be my 1A choice, but I was wowed this weekend by Ann Lupo in a little movie call In Reality which just won the top award of the debut Rom Com Fest in Los Angeles. Give this week’s survey a look.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on June 18, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Best animation studio. Ghibli or Pixar. Pick one and only one and why.

Full disclosure: I’ve never seen a Studio Ghibli film, but I know their reputation and impact. I know what they stand for and how much they have inspired other creators, including the fine folks at Pixar. With Pixar settling too often for sequels lately (and this was before Toy Story 4), I feel like a small measure of their quality and importance has faded or shrunk a little. I voted on principle in the blind to what I felt was more important.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Starfish

The opening credits of Starfish may drop the “based on a true story” prompt, but every moment of this twisty science fiction slow boiler feels like the filmed account of a racing mind. Rather than dwelling on footholds to societal norms, isolation reigns here, with all of the flutters, visions, shifts, daydreams, and nightmares possible. Dangling the mysteries of the fallout from an off-screen cataclysmic event, the mental maelstrom of Starfish is eerie, imaginative, and highly impactful.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Plus One

Here in June, our 2019 calendar has reached the peak of the annual wedding season. Some love it. Some hate it. Some are even participating. No matter where you sit, it’s a roller coaster for all ages. The traditions of nuptials and romantic comedies are keenly and boisterously observed and challenged by Plus One, the feature film debut of the writing and directing team of Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer that premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Every moment to cringe and every moment to cherish swirl together with very appealing zest. Plus One plays locally in the Chicagoland area exclusively at the AMC Barrington 24 location starting on June 14th.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on June 10, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the best movie ever about TV?

This week’s pick for me was an instant no-brainer. Sidney Lumet’s masterpiece satire has evolved from being a sarcastic time capsule to a modern-day cautionary tale we’re nearly living. I do have to love these other picks included this week and I most especially need to clear out that blind spot for Broadcast News. Summer break can’t get her soon enough.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: How Does It Start

In the provocative short film How Does it Start, a young teen girl in 1983 named Rain, played by Lola Wayne Villa, has been introduced to topic of sex without such positive elder counsel. The wheels have turned. The curiosities have sparked. The peers have stoked the fire. The triggers have all gone off and this girl wants the mystery of what has been made out to be so taboo and important to growing up as a real woman.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on June 3, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the best movie cameo ever?

Keanu Reeves just got done dropping jaws and metaphysical truths in Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe this past weekend. It got David Ehrlich to wonder was was the best cameo ever. I was heartset on Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross, but he’s technically a billed member of the cast. After that, it came down to Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder or Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction. You can read my pick and criteria below from the survey article. Many great picks from the other critics boost the list!

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MOVIE REVIEW: Always Be My Maybe

Far rarer than they used to be twenty-plus years ago, easy and breezy flicks like Always Be My Maybe from Netflix remind us the traditional romantic comedy is alive and well. Best of all, the nostalgia present in today’s artists from growing up during that 1990s heyday are now making their own movies with their own lens. Smash hit stand-up comedienne Ali Wong and the ever-affable Randall Park of Fresh Off the Boat fame are clearly two of those people. Affectionately blending their own societal zest from their place in America’s Melting Pot, Wong and Park bring new voices as a genius comic pairing. Much of the method of Always Be My Maybe may be routine, but the resulting charm is unfailingly welcome.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on May 28, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the worst movie ever and why?

Not too many critics are taking too kindly to Disney re-imagined Aladdin. I see the appeal, but it’s far from a great remake. That said, it’s far from the worst too. By golly, have there been some stinkers. This week’s IndieWire critics survey from David Ehrlich polled for the ugliest of the ugly and got ten selections. For the second survey in a row, I went to the 1990s, this time for Gus Van Sant’’s reviled Psycho remake. Misguided isn’t even the beginning of it. Any other choice here was going to be a distant second for me.

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: Feature films of the 7th Chicago Critics Film Festival

The 7th Chicago Critics Film Festival began May 17th at the famed and restored Music Box Theatre.  Steaming towards a decade in successful existence, the CCFF remains the only film festival in the country curated by film critics. For the third year in a row, Every Movie Has a Lesson will be credentialed to cover this fine spread of movie offerings.  Ranked in order of recommendation, here are my capsule reviews. Full pieces coming later when the respective films have their proper release:

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on May 13, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What is the best Keanu Reeves performance and how does it speak to his unique persona?

With the third John Wick film dropping this week, the question was an easy softball matching the film’s star. Keanu Reeves has had one interesting and steady career. The peaks are far spaced between his breakout with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Speed, The Matrix, and John Wick, but he’s as steady as they come. I went with the dark and seedy stuff that made him break his deadpan persona for my survey pick. Second place would have been the little-seen The Watcher where Reeves plays an enigmatic serial killer.

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SPECIAL: Previewing the 7th Chicago Critics Film Festival

For the seventh consecutive year, many of the best domestic and international films on the festival circuit come to Chicago thanks to the Chicago Film Critics Association. The 7th Chicago Critics Film Festival opens May 17th at the famed and restored Music Box Theatre in the northside Lakeview neighborhood. Steaming towards a decade in successful existence, the CCFF remains the only film festival curated by film critics in the nation. This year, 25 feature films and two short film programs comprise their rich and ambitious offering slate

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MOVIE REVIEW: Clara

Citing genuine and actionable science, Clara builds heady inquiry for the voluminous and important research of its depicted discipline. Its sense of intelligence intertwines with the unpredictability found in the amorous reverberations of the human heart. This combination creates an intimate and daring film experience that enraptures as easily and as powerfully as it fascinates.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on April 29, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What major filmmaker should try their hand at television?

Full admission, I don’t little to zero current TV. I’m a long-time cord-cutter and I’ll occasionally binge a show with my wife on Hulu or Netflix. Still, the list of buzz-worthy shows I haven’t seen during this 21st century evolution of the medium that keep water coolers thriving is ridiculously long. However, my eye for the movies can pick out a good creative mind. A little research on Google revealed many prime director names who’ve had their moonlighting projects on television, much to my surprise. After a few nominees, I found my stylish pick.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: Penguins

Penguins represents the combined work of over a dozen cinematographers documenting the miraculous and treacherous annual life cycle of the Adelie penguins of Antarctica. The two directors sought to give this circle of life character. That’s where the affable Ed Helms comes in as a narrator. He provides color commentary as “Steve,” one such Adelie penguin who is a first-time father for this annual journey. High and low, dry and wet, close and far, and through every blizzard in between, Penguins presents this apprehensive newbie with education and entertainment combined together.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Trained

The opening scene of filmmaker Yuri Rutman’s spare yet sizzling short film tantalizingly begs many questions. What kind of couple are we witnessing? What triggers provoke this passion? A montage follows to show that this wild escapade is not the first time the hearts and loins of these two people have been electrified around the rails of public transportation. This is Jake and Emma, and they are tragically intoxicated by two different things at the expense of each other.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on April 22, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: How do you think the legacy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will impact the movie world?

Boy, this was a rough survey collection. The majority of participants this week have more negative responses and rationales than positive ones when it comes to talking about the lasting impact of the MCU. I’m unashamed and proud to try and be one of the more positive replies. Is it part of a big corporate greed monster? Maybe, but I cannot deny how it’s become a huge and influential success.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: David Ehrlich's IndieWire Critics Survey on April 15, 2019

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: What’s the most beautifully animated film ever made?

Much to my surprise, I was the only participating critic in this week’s survey to cite a Disney movie, and a classic one at that. As you’ll read in my contribution, I can’t get over the depth from the backdrops in Sleeping Beauty. I do love that Loving Vincent inclusion. That very much in the running for this vote.

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