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MON ROI (2015) review

August 22, 2016

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written by: Etienne Comar and Maïwenn
produced by: Alain Attal
directed by: Maïwenn
rated: unrated
runtime: 101 min.
U.S. release date: August 19-24, 2016 (Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL)

 

Broken, abusive and volatile relationships have been a cinematic tradition for many years, especially in French cinema. That’s not to say that French relationships are more problematic, just that they are more interested in delving into the details and nuances of a dissolving union, more than any other culture. “Mon Roi”, released in the U.S. as “My King”, reflects on one such toxic relationship that should’ve never started, which is easy to see from the outside. Directed by French actress Maïwenn, the film is less erotic drama (despite being marketed as such) than it is an unsettling and confounding portrait of a woman who can’t seem to escape a tumultuous relationship that anyone but her can see she needs to quit.  Read more…

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (2016) review

August 19, 2016

 

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written by: Marc Haines and Chris Butler
produced by: Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
directed by: Travis Knight
rated: PG (for thematic elements, scary images, action and peril)
runtime: 101 min.
U.S. release date: August 19, 2016

 

Of the many animation studios releasing features throughout each year, Laika Entertainment is the studio that has my utmost respect. The Portland, Oregon-based studio, specializing in 3D stop-motion animation, has continuously delivering beautiful, inventive and kind of creepy stories that consistently entertain and impress me. All of their films have been great and now their fourth feature,”Kubo and the Two Strings”, directed by the company’s CEO Travis Knight, may just be their greatest yet. Like the studio’s previous films, “Coraline”, “Paranorman” and “The Boxtrolls”, here is a visually striking film that displays wonderful artistry in a story that follows a young protagonist on a unique journey that touches on themes such as tragedy, loss and destiny. Read more…

BEN-HUR (2016) review

August 18, 2016

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written by: Keith Clarke and John Ridley
produced by: Mark Burnett, Sean Daniel, Duncan Henderson & Joni Levin
directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
rated: PG-13 (for sequences of violence and disturbing images)
runtime: 123 min.
U.S. release date: August 19, 2016

 

I think it’s funny and absurd that there were “fans” protesting and gnashed their teeth on the internet about a “Ghostbusters” reboot/remake that was released last month, yet it’s been all quiet about this “Ben-Hur” remake. What a finicky and peculiar time we live in. I haven’t seen any petitions or boycotts relating to this remake of the 1959 MGM motion picture epic that won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and three Golden Globes.  No uproar at all. When trailers came out earlier this year for this Paramount/MGM remake, critics and moviegoers groaned and scoffed. That’s about it. No one aware of the original classic asked for it to be remade and yet here we are, because Hollywood is insistent in continuously remaking this movie.  Read more…

BLOOD FATHER (2016) review

August 12, 2016

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written by: Peter Craig and Andrea Berloff
produced by: Chris Briggs, Peter Craig, Pascal Caucheteux & Sebastien K. Lemercier
directed by: Jean-François Richet
rated: R (for strong violence, language throughout and brief drug use)
runtime: 88 min.
U.S. release date: May 21, 2016 (Cannes) and August 12, 2016 (limited) and August 26, 2016 (iTunes, Amazon and VOD)

 

You know, Tom Hardy was good in “Mad Max: Fury Road”, but man, watching “Blood Father” left me imagining how cool it would’ve been to see Mel Gibson back in the title role. That’s how Gibson is in this thriller from Jean-François Richet (who directed Vincent Cassel in the two-part “Mesrine” gangster movie) as the former A-list movie star turns in a return-to-rage performance that’ll leave his die-hard fans with a satisfying smirking. I already accepted his “return” in enjoyed him in “The Beaver“, “Get the Gringo”, “Machete Kills“, heck even “The Expendables 3“, but his role in this pulpy, scuzzy yarn most resembles what he’s currently know for, something the actor acknowledges and embraces here with a tight, weathered fist. Read more…

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (2016) review

August 12, 2016

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written by: Nicholas Martin
produced by: Michael Kuhn and Tracey Seaward
directed by: Stephen Frears
rated: PG-13 (for brief suggestive material)
runtime: 110 min.
U.S. release date: August 12, 2016

 

When I was in high school, I remember a teacher sharing her recent experience as a missionary in Tahiti with a packed auditorium.  She spoke about what she taught and the children and families she met while there, but what stood out to me this most – to this day even – was a specific audio recording she played. What was heard was hard to describe and somewhat inaudible. It sounded like a pack of wounded animals or wailing people and had many students laughing, yet there was a passion behind it all. We were told these were villagers singing to God during a worship service and the reason this teacher shared the audio was to show that it doesn’t matter how you sound when you sing from the heart. I thought of this while watching “Florence Foster Jenkins”. Read more…

NORMAN LEAR: ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU (2016) review

August 9, 2016

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produced by: Suzanne Hillinger and Brent Miller
directed by: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
rated: unrated
runtime: 91 min.
U.S. release date: January 21, 2016 (Sundance) and July 8, 2016 (limited)

 

“Norman Lear: Another Version of You” is an important documentary for viewers who have no clue or who the ground-breaking 93-year-old television producer/writer is and enlightening experience for those who already knew of his influential make on television history. This is a guy that at one time had six of the top ten sitcom series in primetime television. That’s right, there was a time when you could find smart, relevant and poignant content through the prism of both drama and comedy when you turned on the television at night. The 70s wasn’t just an amazing time for movies, it was also a time when topics that has risen to the national consciousness such as war abortion, racism and feminism, could be found on CBS shows that Lear created like “All in the Family”, “Maude”, “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons” – all classic shows with timeless, indelible characters.  Read more…

DON’T THINK TWICE (2016) review

August 8, 2016

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written by: Mike Birbiglia
produced by: Mike Birbiglia, Amanda Marshall and Ira Glass
directed by: Mike Birbiglia
rated: R (for language and some drug use)
runtime: 92 min.
U.S. release date:July 29, 2016 (limited)

 

For those of you aware of what “Yes and…” means, “Don’t Think Twice” is a film that will recall the highs and lows of performing improvisational comedy with a troupe of somewhat like-minded characters. Any given night can be great, filled with unimaginable cohesive creativity, while other nights can be absolutely abysmal, rife with an uncomfortable depletion of synchronicity.  This is an intuitive and impressive look at that world, written and directed by Mike Birbiglia, who also co-produces and stars as a member in the ensemble group the film follows.  Read more…

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