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CLASSICS: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

February 10, 2016

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written by: Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer
produced by: Rudolf Meinert and Erich Pommer
directed by: Robett Wiene
rated: unrated
runtime: 71 min.
release date: February 26, 1920 (Germany) and April 3, 1921 (Capitol Theatre, New York City)

 

Sometimes when I watch an old film, I wish I could’ve been alive to experience it during its initial theatrical run. To see a film with a live audience in a giant movie house with a crowd back in 1920 to take in German director Robert Wiene’s surreal “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” would’ve been a mind-blowing, surreal and possibly horrifying experience. I would imagine this iconic black-and-white silent film would’ve been the very first venture for an audience back then into what we now call horror. Even if a viewer is discovering this landmark in German Expressionist filmmaking now for the first time today, there is much to take in. Read more…

BOY & THE WORLD (2015) review

February 9, 2016

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written by: Alê Abreu
produced by: Tita Tessler and Fernanda Carvalho
directed by: Alê Abreu
rated: unrated
runtime: 80 min.
U.S. release date: December 11, 2015 (limited) and February 5-11, 2016 (at Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL)  

 

Out of all the Oscar-nominated Animated Features, “Boy & The World” is the most vibrant and innovative, offering an abundance of color in a kaleidoscope manner.  This is the sophomore effort from Brazilian writer/director by Alê Abreu, a follow-up to his 2007 feature-length debut, “Garoto Cósmico” and is fortunately and unfortunately a timeless tale of a boy taking stock of where he’s at and who he is in comparison to the world around him. Without a line of dialogue and an eclectic, energetic score, Abreu communicates the beauty and confusion of exploration and education. Read more…

JANE GOT A GUN (2016) review

February 8, 2016

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written by: Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis & Joel Edgerton
produced by: Natalie Portman, Aleen Keshishian, Zack Schiller, Mary Regency Boies, Scott Steindorff, Scott LaStaiti & Terry Dougas
directed by: Gavin O’Connor
rated: R (for violence and some language)
runtime: 98 min.
U.S. release date: January 29, 2016 (limited)

 

I’m a western nut. I feel right at home with them. Unfortunately for me and other western fans, we’re long past the time when westerns were the norm, leaving aficionados of the genre have to squint a little harder to find a movie set in the Old West. Which brings us to “Jane Got a Gun”, a movie I imagine a lot of people haven’t even heard of. Released in theaters on January 29th, it’s had a dramatic production and is basically being released in theaters because….I don’t know, it takes millions of dollars to make a movie. So what’s the verdict on this little-advertised western? Read more…

DEADPOOL (2016) review

February 7, 2016

 

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written by: Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese
produced by: Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner and Ryan Reynolds
directed by: Tim Miller
rated: R (for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity)
runtime: 108 min.
U.S. release date: February 12, 2016

 

I’ve had no faith in a Deadpool movie and with good reason. Considering how his big-screen debut was quickly botched back in 2009’s “Wolverine: X-Men Origins”, I was quite pessimistic 20th Century Fox could do anything worthy of the character’s potential. Don’t blame Ryan Reynolds, who fittingly portrayed the wise-cracking, katana-slinging mercenary Wade Wilson within the first fifteen minutes of that movie. The character nosedived when his mouth (his most appealing attribute) was sewn shut and martial artist Scott Adkins stepped in on the action. Devoted fans of the Marvel Comics anti-hero – a character who spun-off from the X-Men universe – were understandably ticked off, and although there was talk of Reynolds reprising the role in the character’s own movie, it mostly felt like all talk. Well, surprise surprise – we now have that movie and “Deadpool” is actually one of the best of the Marvel/Fox movies since 2003’s “X2: X-Men United”.  Read more…

HAIL, CAESAR! (2016) review

February 6, 2016

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written by: Joel Cohen and Ethan Cohen
produced by: Joel Cohen, Ethan Cohen, Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner
directed by: Joel Cohen and Ethan Cohen
rated PG (for moments of mild language, violence and sensuality)
runtime: 100 min. 
U.S. release date: February 5, 2016

 

Just as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was the Star Wars-iest of all Star Wars movies, “Hail, Caesar!” could easily by the Cohens-iest of all Cohen Bros. movies. It’s a movie that recalls with a knowing smirk the previous comedies given to us by writer/producer/director brothers, Joel and Ethan Cohen – and by now, you should know whether or not you fall into the crowd that enjoys their brand of humor. As a Cohen Bros. loyalist, I find that I mostly enjoy their comedies – although (gasp!) I haven’t shined on to “The Big Lebowski” like everyone else in the world – but I prefer their dramas. That being said, I do enjoy movies set in 1950s Hollywood and I like it when filmmakers pay homage and satirize that era – and that’s what “Hail, Caesar!” does best. Read more…

SOUTHBOUND (2015) review

February 5, 2016

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written by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath and Dallas Hallam
produced by: Brad Miska, Roxanne Benjamin, Radio Silence, Greg Newman and Chris Harding
directed by: Radio Silence, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner and Patrick Horvath
rated: unrated
runtime: 89 min.
U.S. release date: February 5-11, 2016 (at Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL) and February 9, 2016 (iTunes, Amazon & VOD)

 

I don’t know about you, but each time I’ve taken a long-distance road trip, I always wind up looking around and wondering what kind of people leave way out here far removed from major cities or even one stoplight towns. Don’t worry, I keep my eyes on the road too – if anything “Southbound” has reinforced that for me.  It’s the latest indie horror anthology presents five tales of evildoers receiving their just comeuppance, friendly demon worshippers offering roadside assistance and a 911 call gone way wrong. These creepy macabre tales are more Tales from the Crypt and EC Comics than they are The Twilight Zone and intertwine in quite a creative fashion. What “Southbound” is most successful at doing is tapping into that fear of being in the middle of nowhere and realizing you’re in over your head.  Read more…

26th Annual Festival of Films from Iran: AVALANCHE (2015) review

February 3, 2016

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written by: Morteza Farshbaf
produced by: Javad Noroozbeigi
directed by: Morteza Farshbaf
rated: unrated
runtime: 85 min. 
U.S. release date: February 6-7, 2016 (Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL)

 

While snowfall can be quite beautiful and relaxing, a subzero and windy winter can damper the spirits and drive those already struggling with depression into a downward spiral. Such an atmosphere can also summon a newfound awakening of these feelings, so you imagine what a blizzard would do to someone who’s been working the same tedious job for years. We find out in “Avalanche” the latest film from Iranian writer/director Morteza Farshbaf, which doesn’t contain a literal natural disaster, but a different kind of avalanche that unexpectedly builds in the life of one particular character, as the film unfolds. Read more…

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