Posts tagged CIFCC
ANNOUNCEMENT: Hosting new "Kids Klassics" series at The Wilmette Theatre!

The Wilmette Theatre is excited to announce a new, curated film series for children and families starting this spring. KIDS KLASSICS is a themed film series screening some of the most beloved classics. Each screening will be followed by a fun and educational talkback to engage young audiences to think about films in a new way. Hosted by Chicago film critic for Every Movie Has a Lesson and educator Don Shanahan, who will lead an interactive discussion. 

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COLUMN: The 10 Best Films of 2017

The end of the year brings grading and reflection points for both the school teacher in me and the film critic.  Looking at the online Trapper Keeper portfolio called Every Movie has a Lesson, I published 126 full film reviews in 2017, topping last year’s 114 and setting a new high mark.  Here’s my definitive list of the "10 Best" films of 2017.  True to this website’s specialty, each film will be paired with its best life lesson.  Enjoy!

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: Playing catch-up on December awards contenders

Though the day job work was no longer in the way, good times with family and friends was the better thing to do than lock myself in a room on a laptop and write.  Three of these films are cracking my Top 20 of 2017 and possibly even my final “10 Best” list.  A year-end bang like that deserves to be talked about, and I couldn’t keep sitting on them without getting something out to you.  To get the good word out there, here are some quick hot take capsules of the films with full reviews in the works.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on "E-Man's Movie Reviews" podcast for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"

Minutes after stepping out of an advance press screening of the most-anticipated movie of the year, Emmanuel Noisette of E-Man's Movie Reviews summoned his recording equipment and a brake-pumping exhale session for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  The SPOILER ALERT neon light is on for the two of us breaking down our impressions, reservations, likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams for this middle chapter of a new trilogy.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on "E-Man's Movie Reviews" podcast for "Justice League"

Emmanuel Noisette of the newly updated E-Man's Movie Reviews called for a wingman on a team-up movie.  He was kind enough to invite me to represent Every Movie Has a Lesson on  a recorded SPOILER-FILLED podcast of our immediate reactions after watching the Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon concoction of Justice League.  We sit down and discuss what we saw, what we liked, and didn't like.

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GUEST CRITIC #26: Murder on the Orient Express

Fellow Chicago critic Jeff York is a delight to talk to on any and all topics, but our movie chats have become truly special.  Jeff was able to view and review Kenneth Branagh's remake of Murder on the Orient Express. He's a self-professed fan and cover-to-cover expert on the Agatha Christie source novel and the previously celebrated 1974 film adaptation.  His review will do better informative service than mine ever would. 

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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: Goodbye Christopher Robin

Simon Curtis’ Goodbye Christopher Robin is a cinematic quilt collecting experiences from many different narrative themes.  A few patches carry the pattern of biographical films, chronicling life’s highlights and lowlights within a well-to-do family and their hired caretaker.  Others carry the created images of a writer’s world-building legend.  The threads binding those quilt pieces are a woven blend of the barbed wire of post-traumatic stress disorder and the smoothly silken cords of childhood whimsy. The experience of snuggling up with the Goodbye Christopher Robin blanket of testimony and memories is as affectingly dramatic as it is comfortably warm.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Not Yet

For a while now, I have long wondered how someone could bottle that signature Pixar-level lightness for dramatic heft and pour it into a live-action piece with the same welcome whimsy.  Pixar's animated feature films and shorts consistently have a special way with conveying humor within the most difficult emotions  I might have found the closest attempt yet in Chad Hamilton’s lovely short film Not Yet.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Loving Vincent

The filmmakers promised Loving Vincent to be nothing you’ve ever seen put to film and they were not lying.  The sheer artistry is miraculous where even folded shirts look as dramatic as emoting faces.  To call the biographical drama a work of art and astonishing technical achievement would be shameless understatements.  The best part of all is the massive wellspring of creativity was thankfully applied to an engaged narrative worthy of the artistry and the legend cast by Vincent Van Gogh

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MOVIE REVIEW: Chasing the Blues

Chasing the Blues is a dark comedy through and through.  Director Scott Smith and his co-writer Kevin Guifoile crafted an engaging yarn of hijinks and hilarity.  Their narrative might feel like something out of a Coen brothers rough draft, but this film sides with a far less gonzo approach that suits its shrewder stature.  Like the musical genre at its core, patient storytelling is at the forefront.  Could it use a stiffer punch or two?  Maybe, but then it wouldn’t be the blue and not everything has to be shock cinema.  Waiting for the payoff in this tidy 77-minute film is an easy and worthwhile short hike to climb.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Marshall

Can you learn about a popular band by listening to their B-sides instead of their greatest hits?  Can you get a sense of the brilliance within a writer from their early drafts and not their published masterpieces?  Can you spot the traits of a future Hall of Fame sports legend solely by their work in college or the minor leagues before the professional ranks?  The answer to each is quite likely the same: sometimes, but not always.  Tally one in the sometimes column for  Reginald Hudlin’s Marshall and its biographical podium choice.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Florida Project

The crucial emotional response The Florida Project demands of its viewers is empathy.  If you can’t find that, if you turn your nose, close your eyes, and refuse to accept that this kind of American lifestyle exists, you are missing the hard truths, the teachable moments, and the larger points being presented.  onvenient Hollywood endings don’t exist in the real life Baker’s film examines.  Applaud a film that dares to push that stark reality.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Te Ata

Not all actors and actresses are motivated by fame and profit.  Some are in it for the performance and chance to share culture through an artistic medium.  Before the hey-day of cinema, one such actress captured the fascination of an audience higher than any Hollywood premiere and did so as an ostracized minority.  Better yourself with a slice of history to learn about Mary Frances Thompson, or, as she was called on stage, Te Ata.  

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Young Offenders

The banter and B.S. traded back and forth between Alex Murphy and Chris Walley is as hysterical as it is pleasurably uncouth.  It’s an absolute wonder to realize that The Young Offenders is mutually their first on-camera film roles.  Alex and Chris’s chemistry through sarcasm and shared shenanigans feels and looks effortless.  Flabbergasted energy blasts out of both of them and it’s a hoot to watch.  Seeing the two young actors operate these over-the-top losers with reckless abandon while still injecting a little coming-of-age heart for good measure, makes the film highly entertaining.

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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 Dunning Man

Inspired by true events, which will cause a fun double take as the film transpires, The Dunning Man is adapted from the published short stories of producer Kevin Fortuna.  Precariously, at times, balancing somewhere between an urban drama and paperback crime novel, the film presents a seedy slice of Atlantic City calmed by nostalgic scene transitions of vintage footage of the city in its decadent heyday.

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MOVIE REVIEW: mother!

There is extreme thematic and visceral content in mother! that will rattle even the toughest souls.  Metaphorical imagery and symbolism are everywhere, and the number of literal and figurative interpretations of what is implicitly or explicitly transpiring can kill as many brain cells as it multiplies.  The film begs endless questioning. Surviving and absorbing the film becomes a maddening experience.  In the end, what is evident to celebrate is also categorically impossible to fully condone.

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