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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 »

MARSHALL

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Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) is the paradigm, an icon, encompassing the formative years of the civil rights movement; appointed to the Supreme Court by President Johnson in 1967 his influence has grown exponentially through the decades. Chadwick Boseman nails to the core the young NAACP lawyer, traversing the country, defending innocent black men accused of a crime, based solely on their ... Read More »

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

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There is a compelling, electric magnetism, an aura emanating from Idris Elba, an uncontainable masculinity, captivating, informing his filmic presence; more mesmerizing because he is totally unaffected by its force. An English actor, unknown to me, until  my recent exposure to “Luther”, an enthralling BBC crime series, starring Mr. Elba as a damaged but brilliant detective.  In “The Mountain Between ... Read More »

AMERICAN MADE

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Since 1983’s “Risky Business” I have been a major admirer of Tom Cruise; his fearlessness in role selection, never giving a half-hearted performance: “Rain Man”, “Top Gun”, “Jerry Maguire”, but one of the greatest filmic portrayals of all time is his depiction of Ron Kovic in 1989’s “Born on the Fourth of July”, gut-wrenching, metamorphic display of a paralyzed, crazed ... Read More »

BATTLE OF THE SEXES

Emma Stone as "Billie Jean King" and  Steve Carell as "Bobby Riggs" in BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

This film could not have been made in 1973; 44 years hence directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris gift movie-goers, more than a historical, ground-breaking tennis match but a compelling, introspective study in self-discovery. Emma Stone and Steve Carell soar as the legendary Billy Jean King (1943-) and Bobby Riggs (1918-95), making it difficult to differentiate between the real and ... Read More »

STRONGER

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Jake Gyllenhaal, whose star-power has been ignored by the Academy (“Jarhead”, “Southpaw”, “Nightcrawler”, “Nocturnal Animals”) gives a dazzling, perceptive performance as Jeff Bauman, whose legs were severed on April 15th, 2013, as he waited for his girlfriend, Erin Hurley, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. His is the story of a young, happy man, living mundanely in the ... Read More »

FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER (NETFLIX, AND IN THEATRES)

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Wordlessly, empathetically filmed, is this documentary based on Loung Ung’s memoir of her torturous four years under the inhuman, communist regime of the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979); over two million Cambodian citizens lost their lives; Loung, raised in an educated,  accomplished milieu in Phnom Penh, was five-years-old when she and her entire family were systematically stripped of their dignity. “First They ... Read More »

MOTHER

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Writer/director Darren Aronofsky pushes the “envelope” into oblivion with this blistering, harrowing film, focusing on Christian/Biblical iconography, philosophy; a massive, bloody metaphor for inventiveness, inspiration, and “if at first you don’t succeed”, give it another go! From its commencement there is something awry in this May/December pairing, a chasm between the perpetually cooking, cleaning, painting housewife and her mate’s frenetic ... Read More »

HOME AGAIN (OR NEPOTISM GONE AWRY)

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Writer/Director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of Nancy Myers (“It’s Complicated”) tries, unsuccessfully to clone themes from past Myers films; which might have worked if the characters had not been shallow, paper mache replicas, ubiquitous in a myriad of B-movies: separated, forty-year-old mother, “Alice” (Reese Witherspoon’s effervescence fizzled at the halfway point) with two synthetically, precocious daughters “Isabel” and “Rosie” (Lola Flannery, ... Read More »

THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD

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This was the summer of discontent in filmic mediocrity; “The Beguiled”,”A Ghost Story”, “Landline”, a few fabulous flops, earning top grades for ennui, enervation and exhaustion. The anemic, paltry product led me to visit Patrick Hughes’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”, expecting explosive vapidity I was gleefully surprised to find myself laughing out loud, enjoying predictability, but primarily the comedic charms of ... Read More »

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