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Author Archives: Peneflix

CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: UPDATE

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“MOTHER” (Belgium/The Netherlands); captivating true tale of two mothers, each with three children, one a caretaker the other an early-onset Alzheimer’s patient; forbearing, long-suffering and infused with kindness; audiences watch as these two disparate women become one.   “BY THE GRACE OF GOD” (France); one of the most profound indictments of the Catholic Church and the pedophilia that is pervasive ... Read More »

CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: HALFWAY MARK

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In its 55th year, the Festival exponentially sears in its depth, scope, and remarkable lionization of filmmakers and their creations. Here are my pivotal takes to date:   “SONG WITHOUT A NAME” (PERU). A fraudulent clinic steals and sells newborns of poor, paperless women; a totalitarian regime interferes with its citizens lives. Gloriously filmed in black and white.   “Portrait ... Read More »

THE LAUNDROMAT (NETFLIX)

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The majority of first run films on Netflix are at best average and in the case of “The Laundromat” a dismally pejorative, flimsily transparent rip off of “The Big Short”; based on “The Panama Papers”(2015), exposing the Panamanian law firm of Jurgen Mossack (Gary Oldman), Ramon Fonesca (Antonio Banderas) with slimy schtick, tongue-in-cheek audacity these “dandies” defend their fraudulent, flagrant ... Read More »

PARASITE (KOREAN: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (“The Host”, “Snowpiercer”) won Cannes 2019’s, Palme d’or, for the astronomically mesmerizing “Parasite”; with biting, lacerating wit, psychological challenges, he orchestrates a scenario, in chess-like fashion, of a duel between the “haves” and those who long to be. Sublime acting by every character depicts a likeable group that earns respect from the inception. In dire ... Read More »

FIRST LOVE (JAPANESE: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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Perpetually, I avoid exposing myself to “too much information” about any film; avoidance is easier in the “Foreign” category; “First Love” has catastrophically, with extreme circumstances, altered forever, my resolve. A bastardized attempt by director Takashi Miike to outlandishly mimic “Marvel Mania”, Wes Craven, Stephen King, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Coen brothers, Denis Villeneuve; with the first decapitation, and subsequent drug dynamic I ... Read More »

PAIN AND GLORY (SPANISH: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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Director Pedro Almodovar (b.1949) excavates his inner core gifting audiences his most intimate, revelatory film to date: an aged, aching, physically and mentally scarred director, “Salvador Mallo” (played presciently by an Almodovar favorite, Antonio Banderas) comes to terms with his vulnerabilities, liabilities and mortality. Flashbacks of his childhood, informed by poverty, are sensitively, beautifully portrayed by Penelope Cruz (another Almodovar ... Read More »

WAR (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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Attention “Action Aficionados”! “War” is a breathless, intoxicating, swashbuckling ride of monumental gratification; in league with the “Matrix”, “Raiders” “Bourne” franchises; Bollywood knows how to capitalize on the “thrill factor”: “Dhoom” and “Don” dynamically roar with excitement; “War” directed by Siddharth Anand, starring seasoned heartthrob Hrithik Roshan and relative newcomer Tiger Shroff (Jackie’s son) score in their excessively elegant martial ... Read More »

MY PEOPLE, MY COUNTRY (MANDARIN: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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You know you’ve witnessed one of the finest films of the year when a “sold out” audience does not move or speak until the last credit has vanished and light contaminates an emotionally pulverized, awestruck corps; jingoism, in its purest form, celebrates the People’s Republic of China’s historical highs, in honor of its seventieth anniversary: seven thrilling, with as many ... Read More »

JOKER

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from "Joker," in theaters on Oct. 4. Alarmed by violence depicted in a trailer for the upcoming movie “Joker,” some relatives of victims of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting asked distributor Warner Bros. on Tuesday to commit to gun control causes. Twelve people were killed in the suburban Denver theater during a midnight showing of the Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” also distributed by Warner Bros. (Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Joaquin Phoenix joined the corps of actors who shed massive pounds to authenticate the viability of their characters; this was my first hint that “Joker” would disappoint, whatever the poundage “Joker” is a misfit of monumental proportions; as a hired clown, he is a terrifying, pitiful, misunderstood fool; his neurological, incessant laughter grates on all bombarded, tormented with it (including ... Read More »

SYE RAA NARASIMHA REDDY (HINDI: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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Epically sensational and overblown but truly a wonder to experience; based on the life of icon, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, who championed India’s gory march towards freedom in 1837; Reddy is depicted with pulsating, Herculean prowess by actor Chiranjeevi; as the Emperor of a region in Andhra Pradesh, Reddy initiates a rebellion against the egregious injustices of the British East ... Read More »

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