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COLORS OF WIND (2017) review

March 13, 2018



written by: Jae-young Kwak
produced by: Yongsoon Hwang
directed by: Jae-young Kwak
rated: unrated
runtime: 119 min.
U.S. release date: March 13, 2018 (AMC River East, Chicago, IL)


From South Korean writer/director Jae-young Kwak comes “Colors of Wind” a film  that focuses on identity, using magic tricks and doppelgangers to tell a melodramatic love story. But describing it in such a way almost feels like a disservice to this unique and complex tale that opens the sixth semi-annual season of the Asian Pop-Up Cinema Film Festival here in Chicago, which runs from March 13th through May 16th at the AMC River East 21. In total, nine new films will see their stateside premieres, some of which will be exclusive to Chicago and many of the screenings will be followed by post-film discussions with actors or filmmakers involved in the film. “Colors of Wind” may come across like a slow-burn for some, but it’s a film that’s worth the time spent experiencing it, one that has an unexpected nod to Luc Besson. Read more…


2018 CEUFF: Gutland

March 11, 2018



“Sometimes it’s necessary”


Perhaps the best thing about Chicago’s annual European Union Film Festival is that it exposes a diverse, moviegoing city to an entirely different style of film. Many of the films I saw at last year’s festival are still with me, and if the first film I saw from this year’s festival is any indication, Chicago is in for another great festival year. Read more…

2018 CEUFF: Souvenir

March 11, 2018




As always, this year’s annual film festival will be loaded with Chicago premieres, sixty-one actually, from twenty-eight European Union (EU) nations. The largest festival in North America that exclusively showcases films from the EU is once again running almost a full month, from March 9th through April 5th, at the Gene Siskel Film Center and, although there seems to be a film festival just about every weekend here in the Windy City, this is one of my very favorites, thanks to both its specificity and variety. It’s a festival that never fails to turn me on to filmmakers and actors who are new to me, in films that take me to places I’ve never been to. However, some films stand out when I see certain actors showing up in the lineup. Such is at the case when I noticed that Isabelle Huppert, one of the most luminescent actors alive, appears in “Souvenir”.  Read more…

BADSVILLE (2017) review

March 10, 2018



written by: Benjamin Barrett and Ian McLaren
produced by: David J. Phillips and Douglas Spain
directed by: April Mullen
rated by: unrated
runtime: 97 min.
U.S. release date: December 1, 2017 (limited) and February 6, 2018 (VOD, Amazon)


Right from the start, “Badsville” turned me off with its hoaky narration coming from a weasely-voiced tough guy that sounds like he was weaned on gangster movies from the 40s. Although I was curious as to what tone the movie would take on and how the story here would play out, the way it opened didn’t build my confidence in it. It took a while to buy into the vibe director April Mullen is going for, which is essentially an update on an old-school street gang yarn – the marketing even describes it as a movie that follows a “greaser gang” in the titular “slum town” – and after a while there were good moments between some of the actors, but ultimately this is a story that ultimately doesn’t bother with doing anything original with familiar material. Read more…

A WRINKLE IN TIME (2018) review

March 9, 2018



written by: Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell
produced by: Jim Whitaker and Catherine Hand
directed by: Ava DuVernay
rated: PG (for thematic elements and some peril)
runtime: 109 min.
U.S. release date: March 9, 2018


I went into “A Wrinkle in Time” with an open mind, hopeful that I would be wowed by a big-budget fantasy from a passionate filmmaker. However, the IMAX screening I attended began with an “explainy” video introduction from director Ava DuVernay, who preceded to share how the $103 million Disney movie she spent two years making, an adaptation of the 1962 science fantasy novel of the same name from Madeleine L’Engle, is for young people and people who are young at heart, essentially asking viewers if we could tap into that inner child while watching her movie. The thing is, I was kind of already planning on that. I didn’t have to be asked. I didn’t need an introduction. With that sour taste in my mouth, I watched a movie that I wound up admiring and appreciating despite it being kind of a mess. Read more…

2018 Peace on Earth Film Festival

March 6, 2018



Another weekend, another film festival in Chicago. I try not to complete at the Windy City’s plethora of riches when it comes to celebrating and embracing film, but it feels like a film enthusiast can barely catch his/her breath. As a critic, it’s a daunting task to try to cover it all and each festival will have films of interest.  Sometimes the only thing to do is just get the word out about them, which is what I’m doing here with Chicago’s Peace on Earth Film Festival. The festival has a specific focus – promoting civic awareness, global engagement, discussions and ultimately, a positive social change – and this year celebrates its 10th year anniversary from March 9th through 11th at the newly-renovated Davis Theater, located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.  Read more…

The 90th Academy Awards Oscar winners…

March 4, 2018



Guillermo del Toro is one of my favorite filmmakers working today. I love his predilection for horror, sci-fi/fantasy and the weird, but I never thought any of his movies would win Best Picture. Yet, tonight at the 90th Academy Awards telecast at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, the writer/director wound up winning 4 (out of 13 nominations) Oscars for his latest film, “The Shape of Water”, for Best Production Design, Best Score, Best Director and Best Picture. The movie earned the most Oscars tonight, followed closely by Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk”, which nabbed three Oscars including Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. Below are the rest of the winners, as well as some thoughts on the near-four-hour show tonight… Read more…