Posts in MOVIE REVIEW
CAPSULE REVIEWS: The 2019 Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Short2

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.

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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.

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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.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Glass

Injections of high interest and good graces were attempted by attaching the hope of the present to an old hit of the past. The big Unbreakable reveal that elevated the otherwise uneven Split is wasted in miscalculations to the point where Glass can be weaken a portion of that first film’s favor. The monotony replacing ambition pushes viewers to be ready for washed-out despondency.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Stan & Ollie

Steven Coogan and John C. Reilly offer meticulous and mirror-like stage perfection. Their movements, cadences, and pliable statures stir light shenanigans and incalculable charm, just the like the genial historical figures. The winsome and touching delights spreading from the remembrances and respect found here in Stan & Ollie make for amiable and meaningful engagement. This one is a true treat.

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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: They Shall Not Grow Old

Free of labels and talking heads and clean in ambiguous anonymity, They Shall Not Grow Old is entirely composed of footage and voiceovers restored and transformed by current production technology. The documentary takes viewers through the enlisted man’s journey through the Great War from sign-up to homecoming in vibrant color and 3D, a theatrical event (presented by good people at Fathom Events) like no other you will find this year.

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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

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MOVIE REVIEW: If Beale Street Could Talk

All of these sumptuous and strenuous sways are the work of Barry Jenkins taking James Baldwin’s lengthy and verbose prose and shaping it into a carefully honed narrative fit for the visual storytelling of the motion picture art form. The power of Baldwin is in his words, combinations of asides and absolutes with both bountiful and poignant descriptive details in between. Every adapted word from Jenkins telegraphs that gravity and projects these historical scenarios with towering relevance and parallels to present society.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Vice

With more dismissive scowls than joking winks, thinly veiled outrage outweighs the drink-clinking humor in Adam McKay’s film presenting a biography of one of the least favored men in American political history. Hazy in some moments, hasty in others, and always provocative, Vice is easily the most polarizing film of the year. The movie is not unlike Cheney’s own aim with a shotgun, hitting and missing plenty with occasional collateral damage.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Bumblebee

Plenty of loud-and-dumb still comes out of Bumblebee, but at least the pompous hubris and sophomoric fixations that fuel it are exchanged for those three missing elements of tone, character, and heart. The charming zeal of this revisionist prequel stands as the beacon signal to welcome back those who wrote this series off (including this very writer) years ago.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Aquaman

Bounding over land and sea across the oceanic globe, Aquaman is a bona fide comic book adventure with all the proper melodrama, pathos, heroics, and world-building amplified to a fantasy level of the highest order. James Wan’s crowd pleaser is a gushing rush of dazzling entertainment fully aware of its challenge to wash away decades of misplaced opinions and intentions. Enjoy bringing these action figures into a really big bathtub of flavored popcorn. For as fantastically cheesy as this movie is, its brassy and glossy pull is quite surprising.

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MOVIE REVIEW: When Jeff Tried to Save the World

Not only has writer-director Kendall Goldberg fleshed out this excellent main character, she guides it through this plot with a matching sense imagination and earnestness. The nuances win in a story where heart and pragmatic approachability outshine any need for shock value and raunch. The smart and spot-on tonal mix of such simplicities deserve to be appreciated.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Favourite

The Favourite has a wider scope and warmer temperature than Lanthimos’ previous two films. His aim for deadpan delivery highly on display last year in The Killing of the Sacred Deer bends to occasionally include pulse-quickening emotions and diaphragm-shaking chuckles. The Favourite says that “love has limits.” The same can be said for Lanthimos. He is the exact definition of an acquired taste. The brilliance is there, with much to love and plenty still to rebuke.

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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.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Rendezvous in Chicago

Michael Glover Smith’s third feature film channels Éric Rohmer to present three collisions of love occurring in the writer-director’s own beloved Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Smith’s canny talent to pen and juggle a triptych is not what impresses the most. Rather, what is greater, quite simply, is his sense of feel as a storyteller and filmmaker.

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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.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Creed II

Sylvester Stallone and debuting co-writer Juel Taylor have fleshed out more layers of storytelling sinew than most Rocky movies deserve. Beyond the ropes of the squared circle is where Creed II softens us up as armchair and popcorn ring partners. The heart may do the talking, but the fists still say plenty and find themselves pumped into the air with cheers just fine.

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