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HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION (2018) review

July 15, 2018

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written by: Michael McCullers and Genndy Tartakovsky
produced by: Michelle Murdocca and Carey Smith
directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
rated: PG (for some action and rude humor)
runtime: 97 min.
U.S. release date: June 13, 2018

 

I haven’t been a fan of the two previous “Hotel Transylvania” movies and if caught in a conversation about them I can usually be found bemoaning about their existence as much as your average cinefile will complain about the alleged onslaught of Marvel movies. There should be more complaints about remedial animated features filled with fart jokes, pop culture references and repetitive stereotypes than there is the number of superhero movies released each year. Needless to say, my expectations were quite low for “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” the second sequel from director Genndy Tartakovsky, an artist whose animated work I’ve admired before long before checked in to this annoying vacation spot. Read more…

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BLEEDING STEEL (2017) review

July 6, 2018

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written by: Leo Zhang, Erica Xia-Hou and Siwei Cui
produced by: Paul Currie, Jaycee Chan, Aileen Li, Bin Sun, Hungyao Chuchen, Defu Jiang, Edward Li, Jerry Li, Qin Li, Ke Wang, Zhiqian Li, Quan Liu, Fei Xu, Yang Yue, Grace Zhang & Allen Zhu
directed by: Leo Zhang
rated: R (for violence and some language)
runtime: 110 min.
U.S. release date: June 6, 2018 (VOD/Digital, AMC Woodridge) 

 

It’s best not to figure out “Bleeding Steel” or even try. The ridiculous title alone of the latest Jackie Chan actioner is a head-scratcher, something you’d call the fourth album from a big-hair metal band from the 80s. Ironically, that’s the decade Lionsgate Premiere is marketing for the U.S. release, as they describe this Chinese movie as “an action-packed drama reminiscent of 80s techno-sci-fi thrillers” (to name just two of the genres that are riffed on here) in their official synopsis. I suppose that’s right, since the movie resembles the kind of late 80s/early 90s B-movie that would star Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren (either or both), but even those movies were more tonally streamlined than this convoluted and unnecessarily confusing mess which seems to blend so many elements from Chan’s previous movies and pour them out into a 32 ounce cup from 7-11. Read more…

LARGER THAN LIFE: THE KEVYN AUCOIN STORY (2017) review

June 28, 2018

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produced by: Jayce Bartok, Bronwyn Cosgrave and Troy Surratt
directed by: Tiffany Bartok
rated: not rated
runtime: 103 min.
U.S. release date: June 29, 2018 – July 5, 2018 (Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL)

 

I typically find myself puzzled, impressed and sometimes surprised when I see footage from the past in documentaries. Granted, that is often the route filmmakers must take when their subject is deceased, but questions come to mind like: “Who was recording?” “What was the intention?” and, “Did they ever thing the footage would land in a documentary years later?” Those are some of the questions that came up while watching “Larger than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story”, the documentary from director Tiffany Bartok which explores the meteoric career and tragedy of the titular makeup artist’s death and the groundbreaking impact he had on the art form. Aucoin was an artist who took something considered beautiful and enhanced it in a unique and personal way, leaving a lasting legacy yet he was an artist who couldn’t find the beauty within himself.  Read more…

IZZY GETS THE F*CK ACROSS TOWN (2018) review

June 22, 2018

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written by: Christian Papierniak
produced by: Mackenzie Davis, Meghan Lennox, Melissa Panzer & Christian Papierniak
directed by: Christian Papierniak
rated: not rated
runtime: 86 min.
U.S. release date: June 22, 2018 (limited)

 

Did the title catch your attention? Well, that’s the idea. If you took a swig of ale every time you hear the F-word while watching “Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town”, you’d need an anti-hangover concoction before the end credits role. The dizzying comedy is the feature-length debut for writer/director Christian Papierniak and its kinetic tone and acerbic humor is infectious, but its Mackenzie Davis who is absolutely contagious. If the title gets viewers to see this talented, charismatic actress own and run away with her first lead role, well then they’re in for a treat. Read more…

Cinepocalypse 2018 preview

June 22, 2018

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Cinepocalypse is back at the Music Box Theatre from June 21-28, offering a wide range of genre films from all over the world. It’s a festival that has become the Midwest’s largest gathering of horror and fantasy and more – and the festival’s organizers are thrilled to have “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill as Co-Presidents of their 2018 Feature Film Jury. The sheer variety of selections that are packed into the lineup is impressive, ranging from recent to cult classic films that will find new life in the most majestic theater houses in Chicago. Read more…

IT WILL BE CHAOS (2018) review

June 17, 2018

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produced by: Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo
directed by: Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo
rated: not rated
runtime: 93 min.
U.S. release date: June 18, 2018 & June 20, 2018 (HBO) 

 

World Refugee Day is coming up on June 20th and I bet you’re wondering what to do on such an occasion. Don’t worry, I didn’t know it was a thing either, but I was made aware of it after watching the new HBO Documentary “It Will Be Chaos” from husband-and-wife filmmakers Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo, a stirring and harrowing five-year look at the refugee crisis spanning the Mediterranean Sea. The film follows brave asylum seekers from Eritrea and Syria, who have left their war-torn home seeking freedom and safety for themselves and their family. While immersing viewers in their plight, the film also includes Italian locals whose lives have been impacted by the massive influx of immigrant arrivals. These are complex and desperate situations and a film like this is necessary to humanize what we may or may not hear about on the news.  Read more…

INCREDIBLES 2 (2018) review

June 14, 2018

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written by: Brad Bird
produced by: John Walker and Nicole Paradis Grindle
directed by: Brad Bird
rated: PG (for action sequences and some brief mild language)
runtime: 118 min.
U.S. release date: June 15, 2018

 

In the hours leading up to my viewing of “Incredibles 2” I thought of how I felt leading up to my viewing of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”. I wanted another Indiana Jones movie so bad for so long and when a sequel was finally released, I couldn’t help but think of all the adventures we could’ve taken with the character in the nineteen year absence in which we thought it would never happen. I felt the same way in anticipation for the only Pixar sequel I ever wanted, which comes fourteen years after writer/director Brad Bird delivered one of the best superhero movies ever. Absence may make the hard grow fonder, but it can also be frustrating and it’s often impossible to please expectations.  Read more…