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53rd CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL UPDATE

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Because you have asked, at the halfway point, here are a few of my favorites:   “THE SQUARE” (SWEDEN, GERMANY, FRANCE). A magnificent, controversial commentary on today’s art world. Will inspire conversations for lovers and detractors on what constitutes and legitimizes an artwork.   “THE CAKEMAKER” (ISRAEL, GERMANY). There are not enough adjectives to describe this achingly poignant love story; ... Read More »

VICTORIA & ABDUL

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Expectations almost instantly squashed, “Victoria & Abdul” is dimensionless, flat and eminently superficial. Dame Judi Dench can imbue the “queenly” into any character and Victoria (1819-1901) is no exception (her second go as the indomitable monarch); but the story of her infatuation and overwhelming attachment for Indian, Muslim “Abdul” (sophomoric Ali Fazal) as a servant, turned teacher “Munshi” is flimsily ... Read More »

VICEROY’S HOUSE (ON DEMAND & IN THEATRES)

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Director Gurinder Chadha blesses audiences with a pivotal portrait of British partition of India, 1947; simply, elegantly the “Viceroy’s House” sheds enlightenment on the monumental task faced by Lord Mountbatten (stuffy but appropriate, Hugh Bonneville), the last Viceroy of India, and his wife, Lady Edwina Mountbatten (remarkable Gillian Anderson). Most of the British forces had departed, leaving a hotbed of ... Read More »

THE OATH (ICELANDIC: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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“If it is given me to save a life, all thanks.¬† But it is also within my power to take a life”. Hippocratic Oath.   Baltasar Kormakur accomplishes a remarkable feat of directing himself in this stunning thriller set in the frigid, gloriously pristine landscape of Reykjavik, Iceland; “Finnur” (Kormakur) a renown heart surgeon, has a seemingly perfect life, blessed ... Read More »

POLINA (RUSSIAN, FRENCH: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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“Dancing is the highest intelligence in the freest body” spoken by Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), an icon of innovative, communicative movement. Husband/wife directors, Angelin Preljocaj and Valerie Muller¬†have presciently adapted Bastien Vives’s novel into a visual homage; the transformation of a spirited, precocious, classically trained ballerina into a contemporary, avant garde interpreter of movement; a translation of the soul into tangible ... Read More »

THE TRIP TO SPAIN ON DEMAND AND IN THEATRES

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To preserve your sensitives and sanity, with the exception of the ending, you’d be best served watching in “mute”; the luscious Spanish landscape (even in a deluge) and delectable cuisine, suffered with the innate, stale prattle of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on their third (hopefully final) traveling trilogy; so tiresome is the monotonous mimicking of Robert De Niro, Marlon ... Read More »

BINGING ON NETFLIX

FOYLES WAR - EP 3 - ELSIE
From ITV

18th January 2015

Pictured: Christopher Foyle (played by Michael Kitchen)

PHOTOGRAPHER:ROBERT VIGLASKY

There is a dearth of film selections in theatres, so I have turned to Netflix to satisfy my craving for crime, scintillating serial killers and tenacious detectives on Netflix; you have asked, and since management aims to please, here are a few of my favorite television dramas: WITHOUT EXCEPTION, FOYLE’S WAR, WRITTEN BY ANTHONY HOROWITZ, STANDS ISOLATED, AS THE FINEST ... Read More »

DUNKIRK

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Christopher Nolan’s mesmerizing masterpiece on the vastness of vulnerability; war’s anonymous selection of who shall live and perish; regardless of rank, the process is random, emotionless, arbitrary. Nolan’s brilliant film focuses on a simple, far from extraordinary soldier, whose fate is in the hands of a higher power; “Tommy” (Finn Whitehead) runs through the streets of Dunkirk, searching for the ... Read More »

LADY MACBETH

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Russian writer Nikolai Leskov’s (1831-1895) 1865 novella, “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” has inspired an opera by Dimitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), a ballet by Rudolf Brucci (1917-2002); Polish filmmaker, Andrzej Wajda’s (1926-2016) 1962 “Siberian Lady Macbeth” brilliantly wallows in the restricted world of a nineteenth century woman, shunning conventions of the time, making her own rules, inevitably leading to her ... Read More »

THE INVISIBLE GUEST (CONTRATIEMPO) – (NETFLIX: SPANISH: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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Summer selections in theaters have been puny at best; in desperation and fighting film withdrawal I have turned to Netflix for satisfaction. Director/writer Oriol Paulo’s (“The Body”) “The Invisible Guest” is stunning, riveting in gifting viewers another prescient take on the “Rashomon Effect”; identical scenario told from different perspectives. Brilliantly written and acted, there is a slick, balanced compilation between ... Read More »

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