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CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: NEARING ITS CONCLUSION

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

“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

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)

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 »

JOKER

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 »

“WHERE’S MY ROY COHN?”

A title implying ownership, shared familial DNA, director Matt Tyrnauer’s prescient documentary vivisects demigod Roy Cohn’s (1927-1986) amoral, Machiavellian history; from his coddled, privileged formative years; his prodigious intelligence led him to starship, at twenty-three, with Senator Joseph McCarthy’s (1908-1957), quest to destroy, malign anyone who flirted with Communism; pivotal in the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (1951); Army-McCarthy ... Read More »

JUDY

Renee Zellweger excavates the core of the vulnerable, superlatively gifted, but tremendously tragic Judy Garland (b.1922); her last stand, in London, 1969, where, like Custer, she flounders and fails. With flashbacks of her highway to stardom, viewers visit the embryonic source of her ultimate addictions; a creepy, controlling Louis B. Mayer (Richard Cordery) gives off pungent vibes of psychological (possibly, ... Read More »

AD ASTRA (INTO THE STARS)

Strangely hypnotic, director and writer James Gray (mediocre, “The Immigrant”, exceptional “The Lost City of Z”) entrusts viewers a realistic glimpse into the future: shuttles to the moon and Mars, emotional sensors, translating one’s psychological health, fashionable space gear; acceptance of the premise, guarantees scintillating distraction. Brad Pitt, is subtlety inspirational as “Major Roy McBride”, a wounded, isolated soul, sent ... Read More »

HUSTLERS

On occasion you see a movie infused with decent acting but leaves one wondering why it was worthy of being made; “Hustlers” directed by Lorene Scarfaria, a true narrative, based on women who used their pneumatic, curvaceous forms to bilk Wall Street charlatans out of their supposed ill-gotten gains; alcohol, drugs administered during salacious, staged encounters, where victims are financially ... Read More »

THE GOLDFINCH

Donna Tartt’s 2014’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel translates into an anemic, poorly edited, lackluster rendition of a scenario, that I found flawed and overwrought in reading, and excruciatingly tedious in viewing. Tartt’s gifted, descriptive prose is wasted;  Nicole Kidman, gives a stilted performance as “Mrs. Barbour”, the matron who housed “Theo Decker” (credible Oakes Fegley) after his mother was killed ... Read More »

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