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COCO (2017) review

November 21, 2017



written by: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina (story/screenplay) & Jason Katz and Matthew Aldrich (story)
produced by: Darla Kay Anderson
directed by: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
rated: PG (for thematic elements)
runtime: 109 min.
U.S. release date: November 22, 2107


Walt Disney Pictures seems to have established a yearly recipe for moviegoers to consume. Within the last couple of years their recipe has called for one Star Wars movie, three Marvel movies and two Pixar features (one a sequel and one an original feature). Considering what they have to offer and the fan base that will clamor to the release of any of those, who’s to blame them? Certainly not me, since I’ve been enjoyed most of their work – especially the confident and creative animation features from Pixar, even this past summer’s “Cars 3” was a delightful return to form. But, if I’m honest, it’s the studio’s original works that I’m most interested in and their latest, “Coco” has captured my imagination and my heart. It’s a strikingly beautiful movie, both for its visuals and its emotional story, celebrating memories, dreams and family. Read more…


BIG SONIA (2017) review

November 18, 2017



written by: Eric Frith
produced by: Leah Warshawski
directed by: Todd Soliday and Leah Warshawski
rated: not rated
runtime: 93 min.
U.S. release date: November 17, 2017 (limited)


Why is the documentary that follows the diminutive 91-year-old Sonia Warshowski called “Big Sonia”? It obviously has nothing to do with her stature, but rather everything to do with her character. As the film progresses, we see her youthful vigor and independent resilience, yet it’s her “big” heart – along with her generosity, vulnerability and openness – that will confirm why she such a compelling subject. However, there are revelatory reasons why this documentary, directed by Todd Soliday and Sonia’s granddaughter, Leah Warshawski, was made and those reasons tell a heartbreaking and inspiring story that takes place in the past and present.  Read more…

DOC NYC 2017: A Murder in Mansfield & Sky and Ground

November 13, 2017



DOC NYC is a film festival in New York City that started seven years ago, focusing exclusively on current documentaries from all over the world. By 2014 it would become known as America’s largest documentary film festival, meaning there are others across the nation that take the same approach, but none are quite as ambitious as this one. The eighth edition of DOC NYC kicked off on November 9th and runs through the 16th and will include appearances from filmmakers, special guests and include over 250 films and events. While many of the documentaries have already appeared at other film festivals within the past year or so, there are 23 world premieres and 23 U.S. premieres scheduled – that alone finds this to be a fascinating and enticing film festival.  Read more…

78/52 (2017) review

November 10, 2017



written by: Alexandre O. Phillipe
produced by: Robert Muratore and Kerry Geignan Roy
directed by: Alexandre O. Phillipe
rated: not rated
runtime: 91 min.
U.S. release date: October 13, 2017 (limited) and November 10, 2017 (at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, IL and available on VOD, Amazon & iTunes)


Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece “Psycho” was controversial when it came out back in 1960 and left an indelible mark on cinema on many levels, but especially for filmmakers. It became the most well-known film by the director, specifically for the infamous shower scene at the Bates Motel. Now, a documentary called “78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene” from Swiss-born director Alexandre O. Phillipe looks at that violent scene in detail, breaking down how it was accomplished, the response from the audience at the time and how influential it’s been in movies and beyond. It’s a scene worthy of extensive study, something this obsessive, fun and informative film offers up, reminding us of movie magic.  Read more…

MAYHEM (2017) review

November 9, 2017



written by: Matias Caruso
produced by: Mehrdad Elie, Lawrence Mattis, Matt Smith & Sean Sorensen
directed by: Joe Lynch
rated: R (for bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use)
runtime: 86 min.
U.S. release date: November 10, 2017 (limited)


We spend way too much of our lives at work (at least in here in the States we do),  so your job should hopefully be something you enjoy and find contentment in. If you’re working a 9 to 5 gig someone else, hopefully it’s in an environment where you feel valued and appreciated and you’re not surrounded by back stabbers, annoying complainers and entitled slackers. Sadly, in the corporate world, that’s kind of rare, which can lead to pent up resentment, dissatisfaction and things won’t turn out there’s no release for all that pressure. In the horror action comedy “Mayhem”, director Joe Lynch has definitely created a violent outlet for boiling work frustrations and resentments, finding colleagues embracing how they truly think and feel without the typical filters. Audiences can either see their wish fulfillment play out in an insane manner before their eyes or be appalled at the complete loss of inhibitions.   Read more…

THOR: RAGNAROK (2017) review

November 4, 2017



written by: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost
produced by: Kevin Feige
directed by: Taika Waititi
rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material)
runtime: 130 min.
U.S. release date: November 3, 2017


“Thor: Ragnarok” is going for uproarious fun, taking the blockbuster big-screen version of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comic book creation in an exhilarating and hilarious direction. Humor has always been a charming element to the Thor movies, but this sequel definitely cranks it all up to next level status. For most of the movie, New Zealand actor/director Taiki Waititi (“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and “What We Do in the Shadows”) takes us on a wild space fantasy ride, yet it eventually succumbs to inevitable third act superhero movie expectations that we’re seen before. Even more problematic is the squashed potential of a compelling villain, a problem Marvel fans are unfortunately familiar with as well. Still, the first 90 minutes is quite a hoot, playing fast and loose which is just the right jolt this character needs.  Read more…

THE LIGHT OF THE MOON (2017) review

November 2, 2017



written by: Jessica M. Thompson
produced by: Jessica M. Thompson, Carlo Velayo and Michael Cuomo
directed by: Jessica M. Thompson
rated: not rated
runtime: 94 min.
U.S. release date: March 24, 2017 (SXSW) & November 1, 2017 (limited)


There have always been films about rape victims and all that transpires after their devastating assault – the investigation and the trauma, as well as the extremely uncomfortable feelings that come with each day following the crime. In “The Light of the Moon”, writer/producer/director Jessica M. Thompson provides an intimate and honest look at the aftermath of rape, free from what’s typically depicted in a film including this material, like police procedurals and identity of the rapist. After all, the criminal’s life is rarely ever altered in the wake of such a despicable act and figuring out how to put one foot forward for the victim can be a minute-by-minute process. What Thompson does in her thoughtful and sensitive feature-length debut is remind us what transpires in the life of someone who never wanted to be considered a victim. Read more…