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BETTER DAYS (MANDARIN/CHINESE: ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

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2019’s Asian films have held Western audiences enthralled: “Parasite”, “My People, My Country”, “Gully Boy”. “Better Days”, is a stunner, based on reality, director Derek Tsang, despite controversy, is breaking records, surpassing 190 million USD; focusing on the insidious, universal epidemic of bullying; “Chen Nian” (brilliant, Zhou Dongyu), a teenager struggling with a debt-ridden mother, being taunted by her contemporaries ... Read More »

THE END OF THE FEST

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After bushels of popcorn, mounds of milk duds, gallons of diet coke, but quintessentially a myriad of fine films, time to bid adieu to the 55th Chicago International Film Festival; so long to heart palpating, mind boggling, enlightening, stunning scenarios; energizing, electrifying movies that titillate, horrify, prod viewers to tear down, blast ingrained perceptions, opening highways never tread, leading to ... Read More »

CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: NEARING ITS CONCLUSION

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In its 55th year and stylishly stunning in its elucidation, diversity, and searing topics; documentaries have gone beyond the pale in focusing on subjects and events worthy of exposure, illumination; highlighted are: FORMAN VS FORMAN (reviewed 10/22), THE HYPNOTIST (reviewed 10/24) MOTHER (reviewed 10/24) LOVE CHILD: winner of the Gold Hugo for Best Documentary (yet to be seen).   “THE ... Read More »

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 »

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 »

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 »

DOWNTON ABBEY

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Incomprehensible that this was my initiation into the “Downton Abbey” syndrome; fortunately, my last foray into the old British elitist, titled microcosm; servants and their mean-spirited, acerbic, acidic characters dampen any expectations of ingenuity, even the King and Queen’s entourage reek of pompous, pitiful, pettiness; their doomed, dour contribution ruin, what should have been a rambunctious, halcyon romp into a ... Read More »

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