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BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE: ULTIMATE EDITION (2016) review

July 23, 2016

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written by: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer
produced by: Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder
directed by: Zack Snyder
rated: R (for profanity, bloody violence and brief nudity)
runtime: 182 min.
U.S. release date: June 28, 2016 (VOD) & July 19, 2016 (DVD/Blu-ray)

 

Just as Warner Bros/DC and Zack Snyder promised, here is the R-rated version of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” with an additional 30 minutes of footage dispersed throughout the theatrical cut released back in March. As Snyder’s “Justice League” is currently in production and a “Wonder Woman” already finished and ready, both set for release next year, this “Ultimate Edition” will have to bide the time for fans of this new DC Cinematic Universe (DCU for short). It was available for rental and purchase last month and this past week the DVD/Blu-ray hit was released. The timing is just right with Comic-Con currently upon us, but one has to wonder if these additional 30 minutes adds anything to an already polarizing movie. Is this just a cash-grab or a more fulfilling viewing experience? Read more…

THE WITNESS (2015) review

July 22, 2016

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written by: William Genovese, Russell Greene, Gabriel Rhodes & James D. Solomon
produced by: James D. Solomon
directed by: James D. Solomon
rating: unrated
runtime: 89 min.
U.S. release date: October 6, 2015 (New York Film Festival), June 3, 2016 (limited), June 22-27, 2016 (Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL)

 

When you live in a big city, you get used to its loud sounds and go about your life in the comfort of your own home. The sirens, the alarms, the honking and the sounds of seemingly endless construction may still be annoying, but all city dwellers get used to these sounds – even gunshots. But, what about blood-curdling screams from outside your door late at night? Do you run out and check or look out your window to see if anyone needs help? Or do you just dial 911? Could your action save someone’s life or is it best to stay out of it? These questions and more are posited in “The Witness”, a documentary directed by James D. Solomon that goes over the details of one of the most famous murders in New York City and the lives that were affected when no one responded to a cry for help. Read more…

DON’T WORRY BABY (2016) review

July 22, 2016

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written by: Julian Branciforte
produced by: Nick Shore, Thomas Kaier, Sam Harper, Brendan McHugh, Jean-Raphael Ambron
directed by: Julian Branciforte
rated: unrated
runtime: 86 min.
U.S. release date: July 22, 2016 (limited)

 

“Your father’s habit of having sex with girls half his age is getting old, so I’m gonna take off for a while.”

 

To virtually everyone of my generation, Christopher McDonald will forever be Shooter McGavin from “Happy Gilmore” – though the more film literate members of my generation may always think of him as Tappy Tibbons from “Requiem for a Dream.” He’s one of those stalwart character actors who seems like he’s just never been given a shot to show how good he is as an actor. Along comes “Don’t Worry Baby,” a film that plays to his unique strengths of being simultaneously repulsive and lovable. Read more…

The Chicago French Film Festival 2016

July 21, 2016

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The 6th annual Chicago French Film Festival opens on Friday, July 22nd and will run through Thursday, July 28th, 2016 at The Music Box Theatre. Co-presented by The Consulate General of France in Chicago and Alliance Francaise, this is where you will find the latest in French cinema. The festival kicks off with Jaco Van Dermal’s “The Brand New Testament” and closes with the surreal animated feature “Phantom Boy”.  Some of these films have been making the rounds on the festival circuit already, while others are premiering at this festival. I’ve seen some of these films already and will post my reviews below.  Read more…

GHOSTBUSTERS (2016) review

July 15, 2016

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written by: Katie Dippold and Paul Feig
produced by: Ivan Reitman and Amy Pascal
directed by: Paul Feig
rated: PG-13 (for supernatural action and some crude humor)
runtime: 116 min.
U.S. release date: June 15, 2016

 

Do I wish that these talented funny ladies were in a comedy that wasn’t surrounded by so much unnecessary controversy? Sure. Am I disappointed that Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are starring in a reboot/remake of “Ghostbusters”, one of the best comedies of the 80s? No. Not at all. I had a lot of fun watching this movie and I can’t say that for many other comedies released this year. It’s that sitting-back-and-enjoying-seeing a movie unfold on the big-screen kind of feeling. Director Paul Feig, who co-wrote this with his writing partner from “The Heat”, Katie Dippold, made that possible. So, the good news is: this is a fun and often laugh-out-loud hilarious comedy with a witty and loose script featuring actors that are having an absolute blast. It takes nothing away from what come before it, but that’s up to you.  Read more…

LIFE, ANIMATED (2016) review

July 14, 2016

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(this is a repost of a capsule review from the Chicago Critics Film Festival this past May to coincide with a local theatrical release) 

 

written by: Ron Suskind (from his novel, Life, Animated – A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism )
produced by: Julie Goldman and Roger Ross Williams
directed by: Roger Ross Williams
rated: unrated
runtime: 89 min.
U.S. release date: July 15-21, 2016 (Music Box Theatre) and July 15, 2016 (Landmark Renaissance Place Cinema, Highland Park, IL)

 

Yes, I cried while watching this heartbreaking-yet-inspired doc about 23 year-old Owen Suskind, a gentle and sensitive soul who has autism. The documentary covers how his supportive and loving parents watched as their bright and active 3 year-old verbally and cognitively shut down and how they soon learned that the only thing Owen responded to were the Disney animated features that he would endlessly consume. There are moments of joy and sadness here, as one would expect, but to see how optimistic Owen is now is truly inspiring. Read more…

NUTS! (2015) review

July 14, 2016

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(this is a repost of a capsule review from the Chicago Critics Film Festival this past May to coincide with a local theatrical release) 

 

written by: Thom Stylinski
produced by: James Belfer, Caitlin Mae Burke, Daniel Shepard and Penny Lane
directed by: Penny Lane
rated: unrated
runtime: 79 min.
U.S. release date: July 15-21, 2016 (Facets Multimedia, Chicago, IL)

 

Here’s a unique documentary about a doctor who used goat testicles to help infertility issues with men – and it worked – or else, why make a movie? Directed by Penny Lane (“Our Nixon”) and based on the book The Life of  a Man by Dr. John R. Brinkley, “Nuts!” is the so-strange-it’s-true story of Dr. Brinkley, who built quite a name for himself with his goat testicle impotence cure, earning himself some very prominent patients and seemingly created a new zip code back in 1920s Milford, Kansas. Read more…

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