Posts in MOVIE REVIEW
MOVIE REVIEW: Stuck

Yet, like the truthful insides of any gathering of unknowns, there’s more to Stuck than a mere interval of happenstance, and the swelling urban musical that rises from its collective lungs elevates that fact. The spoken and sung revelations of each character’s plight create a clashing cross-sectional dip into America’s Melting Pot. These poignant emotions fuel biting social commentary in a way few films, big or small budget and musical or otherwise, have ever succeeded.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Mary Magdalene

This film’s slightness is meant to simplify proceedings to their truest essence. Mary Magdalene contains the bare minimum of theatrics. The result may be painstakingly slow at times, but its grounded firmness is precisely its beauty. There is a calmly effective empathetic power to that method and approach. The specifying or sermonizing is scant and still stoic. The poignancy is pitched and still powerful. The grace is consoling and still genuine. All of that is mightily impressive.

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
MOVIE REVIEW: Breakthrough

Too often nowadays in our headline-seeking and attention-starved society, that first definition of “miracle” is stretched and overused to the point of hyperbole, right there next to other words like “epic” and “masterpiece.” There are places where effectiveness has been lost. That second definition calling for divine intervention is a doozy. It calls for higher piety. Well, good believers love divine challenges and so does this Breakthrough starring Chrissy Metz.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: The Public

The number of debated points in The Public outnumber the aisles and stacks. On one hand, that crowding creates an involving and intriguing machine of tied fates and a roundtable forum sampler for the viewer. On the other, that same populated weight does make the film saturated with many bouncing tangents of rhetoric, not all of which mesh fluidly. Nevertheless, the debate balance of this brouhaha of hubris and sentiment favors the rightly idealized and positive. The Public makes a worthy stump speech for its checklist of modest societal issues.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Dumbo

During this continuing trend of Disney live-action “reimaginings,” one that shows no sign of stopping, fulfillment is an adulation not often realized by these newfangled and amplified tentpoles.  Improvement is another lost reward. Audiences constantly question the values of duplicated enjoyment or tangible purpose for needing anything new and shiny made from something that worked just that way it was intended decades ago.  With Tim Burton’s ambitious Dumbo, we fortunately get both.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Shazam!

Shazam! might be the new exemplar for the word “zany.” What is fantastical and ludicrous was just what was needed for this DC Comics material. Zachary Levi’s schtick of superpowered shenanigans becomes the epitome of both the adjective and the noun variations of that choice word. Zany is the bullseye of Shazam! and, boy, is that all kinds of satisfaction. Go get that satisfaction synonym list next.

Read More
OVERDUE REVIEW: Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns is the cinematic equivalent of a very pleasant British greeting. The film is completely courteous and undoubtedly well-meaning. It presents itself with manicured poise and a dress-to-impress sense of style. It aims to please and presents the proper success. The movie makes kind contact and bows nicely before you. Mary Poppins Returns is the nicest hat-tip possible, but then is gone as soon as it arrived. It’s merely a grand gesture and not more than that.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Us

One’s communal theater experience and entertainment value is addictively fed and your mind will race afterword, preserving the impact for even more internalization, compartmentalization, and surprise. That said, what do these lessons and all of this in Us mean? If the details do not expand the buzz of the mindf — k at hand, nothing will. Keep Peele’s targeted purpose in mind when you dig into Us for what you can extract. Open your perceptions and hold your s — t together.

Read More
DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: Apollo 11

There are about three levels of “how in the hell did they do that?” that come from watching the sterling documentary Apollo 11. That exasperating and jaw-dropping question comes out often when we watch fantastical cinematic tales of fiction. But it’s different with Apollo 11 because of the non-fiction nature. Dozens of brilliant-yet-unassuming scientists, engineers, and specialists poured their lives and livelihoods into this mission and the entire program. In their honor, the documentary team led by director/producer/editor Todd Douglas Miller, have now echoed that monumental achievement with an artistic one of their own.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Finding Steve McQueen

Finding Steve McQueen carries the boasting superlatives of the detailing the “largest bank heist in U.S. history” and, according to director Mark Steven Johnson, one of “the greatest stories never told.” Don’t expect a film of that kind of scope and size. This is a big crime orchestrated by small people who think they are bigger than they really are. The year is 1972 and the illegal act is the United California Bank Robbery.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

One of the most exceptional qualities of the How to Train Your Dragon films are their undaunted sense of encouragement. Too many animated film entries targeted to kids are dominated by crass and crude humor. We may laugh, but we don’t grow. This hit franchise always achieves the latter in splendid fashion. Through its motivating attitude, rich pathos, and indomitable spirit, the final chapter of How to Train Your Dragon celebrates the substance that has made this series triumph.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Fighting with My Family

The new film Fighting with My Family drops the perfect gem of a “soap opera in spandex” and has characters describe themselves as “riddled with wrestling” like an addiction. The fitting melodrama is as ripped as the muscles being flexed. Stephen Merchant’s film borrows and mashes together two tried-and-true movie formulas to tell a very engaging true story of one of their superstars, Sariya-Jade Bevis, better known as Paige.

Read More
OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2019: The music and sound 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 music and sound categories of score, score, sound mixing, and sound editing. As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: Then Came You

Peter Hutchings’ comedy Then Came You presents romance entangled by terminal illness. That topic seeped in gallows humor is far from new territory, meaning this is not a very deep film. Then Came You doesn’t have to be a message-thumping torchbearer for anything. Instead, it is squarely comfortable with its pile of pluck and parade of quirks. There’s a place for an easy film like this. Why? Look no further than those qualities of personality and earnestness. Everything difficult and rough is softened by cheeky and easy charm.

Read More
CAPSULE REVIEWS: The 2019 Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Short

Call it a critic’s perk, but it is an absolute treat to be able to annually view and review many of the Academy Award nominees for the minor film categories. This year’s finalists for the Animated Short category are the best field in several years. They vary in emotional anchors and artistic styles, but sacrifice little in quality, effort, or impact. Locally here in Chicago, these selections are playing at the the Landmark Century Centre Cinema location in Lakeview.

Read More
MOVIE REVIEW: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

Matching the classic plastic building toys themselves, reinvention is as easy and frequent as the twist of one of their rainbow-hued blocks if one is prepared for it. Projecting that life’s simplicity through its dazzling style of presentation, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is another sparkling escapade of accepting and approachable entertainment.

Read More