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ANNOUNCEMENT: 2018 CFCA film awards

December 9, 2018


Director Alfonso Cuarón with Yalitza Aparicio in “Roma”


It was festive and packed tonight at the annual Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) film awards dinner! As a member in good standing going on five years now, it’s still an honor and never ceases to be anything less than a joy to spend time with colleagues as we celebrate the year’s best in film. Regardless of what you think or what you hear, it’s been a fine year in film. If you disagree, than you haven’t seen enough films. Maybe some of these winners will point you in the right direction. Read more…


Nominees for the 2018 CFCA film awards…

December 7, 2018




I voted. I didn’t boo…I voted. As a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), it’s my duty to take part in our annual round-up, in which we nominate what we consider to be the best of the year. It’s always a challenge, but the way I approach this is very similar to how I approach my year-end Top Ten lists – I think about which films, performances, scenes and screenplays standout or resonate and why. Like every year around this time, there’s still some films I need to catch up with, yet there are voting deadlines to be met, so I just had to submit my nominees based on what I’ve seen. That may seem like an obvious thing to do, but you’d be surprised what happens during awards season. So, here’s the official announcement from the CFCA, as well as a full list of our nominees… Read more…

A KLINGON CHRISTMAS CAROL (2018) theater review

November 28, 2018



The saying, “There’s an audience for everything” certainly came to mind during the intermission for “A Klingon Christmas Carol”, a passionate and riotous theatrical merging of Star Trek and the Dickens holiday classic. Considering the variety of geek-centric plays and musicals that derive from a wide range of pop cultural or literary sources, it should come as no surprise that there is a place where fans of both iconic properties can find amusement and entertainment in a thoroughly committed production. While one would think the target audience for such a play would be limited to Trekkies or Dickensian aficionados, I can attest that what I experienced during the final night of tech for this play can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of your knowledge of Rura Penthe or an Age of Ascension ritual. Read more…

Interview with RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO writer/director Michael Glover Smith

November 26, 2018



It’s that time of the year again fellow film enthusiasts, specifically for those in the Chicago area! The Oakton Pop-Up Film Festival (or Oakton PUFF) returns this week to the Footlik Theater at the Des Plaines campus of Oakton Community College for its fifth consecutive year. Curated by film professor and local filmmaker, Michael Glover Smith, the FREE festival runs from Tuesday, November 27th through Friday, November 30th, highlighting choice selections from local and national filmmakers. Each afternoon viewing will be followed by a discussion led by either Smith himself or a local film critic, often with special guests such as the director or actors involved in the film. The lineup this year is quite special in that Smith’s latest film is scheduled, which is the reason for my latest interview with him.  Read more…

UNDER THE WIRE (2018) review

November 20, 2018



written by: Chris Martin
produced by: Tom Brisley. Danny Gabai, Michael Kronish & Stephanie Mavropoulos
directed by: Chris Martin
rated: not rated
runtime: 95 min.
U.S. release date: November 16, 2018 (limited)


I decided to watch Chris Martin’s documentary “Under the Wire” before I caught the biographical drama “A Private War”, which is currently earning some buzz in select theaters. Both films were made to capture the work and death of American journalist and war correspondent Marie Colvin, notably her coverage of the Siege of Homs during the Syrian Civil War. But, while that film is a dramatic (somewhat fictionalized) depiction of who Marie Colvin was, “Under the Wire” is told from the perspective of her partner, British war photographer, Paul Conroy, who often accompanied her in war-torn locations and survived the blast from the Syrian army that killed his colleague on February 22, 2012. The harrowing and unsettling documentary prominately features Conroy as he recounts his time with Colvin and his ordeal on that fateful date.
Read more…

TEAM KHAN (2018) review

November 18, 2018



produced by: Oliver Clark, Blair Macdonald and Toby Welch
directed by: Oliver Clark and Blair Macdonald
rated: not rated
runtime: 97 min.
U.S. release date: November 16, 2018 (AMC South Barrington 30, South Barrington, IL) 


The kind of viewer who will benefit most from watching the boxing documentary “Team Khan” is someone who can compile on one hand just about all they know about The Sweet Science from the movies they’ve watched. That’s an assessment based on my own stance, since although I respect the sport, I primarily know about it by how it’s been depicted in movies. If you’re already aware of British-born Muslim professional boxer Amir Khan then watching what Australian filmmakers Oliver Clark and Blair Macdonald offer may be illuminating. It’s an opportunity to follow the fighter outside the ring, offering some personal and professional insights. Without knowing who Khan was prior to viewing the film, I walked away appreciating how “Team Khan” provided a well-rounded depiction of what he’s done so far and more importantly, the kind of man he is. Read more…

OUTLAW KING (2018) review

November 14, 2018



written by: James MacInnes, Bathsheba Doran, David Harrower, Mark Bomback and David Mackenzie
produced by: Gillian Berrie
directed by: David Mackenzie
rated: R (for sequences of brutal war violence, some sexuality, language and brief nudity)
runtime: 121 min.
U.S. release date: November 9, 2018 (Netlfix)


This year more than ever, Netflix is going above and beyond to convince their subscribers that there’s no longer a need to walk into a movie theater, in turn claiming themselves as a studio to contend with from the comfort of your own couch. “Outlaw King” is one of the many original films that the streaming giant is distributing and backing heavily, coming off it’s world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September. The historical epic reunites actor Chris Pine with his “Hell or High Water” director David Mackenzie, for a sweeping tale set in the Scottish filmmaker’s homeland. It’s an ambitious endeavor with impressive production values, picking up where Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning “Braveheart” left off (be that intentional or not), that doesn’t mean it’s not without some problems. Read more…