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WHERE IS KYRA? (2017) review

April 4, 2018



written by: Andrew Dosunmu and Darci Picoult
produced by: Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa and Rhea Scott
directed by: Andrew Dosunmu
rated: not rated
runtime: 98 min.
U.S. release date: April 6, 2018 (limited)


Right away, I found myself commending Nigerian filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu’s latest film “Where is Kyra?”, simply for including a question mark in the title. I’ve touched on this before, but it annoys me to no end when a movie title is clearly a question, yet has no question mark in it. That causes unnecessary attention to something that ultimately doesn’t matter: a title. What’s interesting about this film’s title is how layered this titular question is the more time we follow how infectious story unfolds. “Where is Kyra?” is Dosunmu’s follow-up to “Mother of George”, a film from 2013 that, like this film, he co-wrote with screenwriter Darci Picoult and, also like that film, focuses on desperate characters in modern-day Brooklyn simply trying to make ends meet, searching for things to go their way. Read more…



March 26, 2018



written by: Leslie Zemeckis
produced by: Sheri Hellard, Jackie Levine and Leslie Zemeckis
directed by: Leslie Zemeckis
rated: not rated
runtime: 93 min.
U.S. release date: March 8, 2018 (Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills, CA), March 25, 2018 (Chicago History Museum, Chicago, IL), March 27, 2018 (MoMa, NYC) & April 10, 2018 (DVD/VOD/digital)


We all complain about our jobs to some level, but it’s easy to lose sight that there are many professions where any day could be your last. But, what kind of person puts themselves into such very real life-threatening risks, day after day? “Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer” touches on that, delving into what kind of person Mabel Stark was, where she was from and how she came to raise and train tigers.The in-depth film does a fine job enlightening those viewers (like myself) who’ve never heard of Stark, while also focusing on the history of training wild cats, how the profession has changed over the years and the obvious considerable risks of such a job.  Read more…

THE DEATH OF STALIN (2018) review

March 25, 2018



written by: Armando Iannucci and David Schneider and Ian Martin, based on the comic book by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin; additional material by Peter Fellows
produced by: Catherine Dumonceaux, Nicolas Duval Adassovsky, Kevin Loader, Sofia Maltseva, Tanya Sokolova, Laurent Zeitoun, Yann Zenou 
directed by: Armando Iannucci
rated: R (for language throughout, violence and some sexual references)
runtime: 107 min.
U.S. release date: March 9, 2018 (limited)


“No, he said something quite complicated about a voucher system.”


Scottish political satirist Armando Iannucci (“Veep,” “In the Loop”) is undeniably the sharpest wit of his generation in his particular niche. Part of the reason no one seems to compete with him is that his works are so singular. Like Christopher Guest and Robert Altman before him, he’s created a genre that solely includes the director’s own work. Read more…

I KILL GIANTS (2018) review

March 24, 2018



written by: Joe Kelly
produced by: Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Joe Kelly, Nick Spicer, Kyle Franke, Kim Magnusson, Adrian Politowski & Martin Metz
directed by: Anders Walter
rated: not rated
runtime: 106 min.
U.S. release date: March 23, 2018 (limited, VOD/digital)


Here’s why an “I Kill Giants” movie could work: because writer Joe Kelly, who penned the graphic novel that this fantasy thriller is based on, also wrote the screenplay. One would think that would be an obvious decision, but it rarely happens. Granted, it’s not a guaranteed sign that the movie will be great, but it is a hopeful one, considering that big-screen comic book adaptations rarely ever have the writer of the source material serve as screenwriter (let alone writers who truly know the source material). In this case, it does indeed work and while the feature-length directorial debut from Anders Walter benefits from Kelly’s involvement, there is also a strong balance here of fantastical elements and the real-world themes and complexities the main character navigates, something that is not an easy feat.
Read more…


March 22, 2018



produced by: Leslie Hills and Stefan Told
directed by: Thomas Reidelsheimer
rating: PG (for brief language)
runtime: 92 min.
U.S. release date: March 9, 2018 (limited), March 23, 2018 (Music Box Theatre, Chicago, IL)


The full title of the latest documentary from German editor/cinematographer/director Thomas Riedelsheimer is called “Leaning into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy” and it serves as a satisfying introduction to that unique artist. That is especially true if you’re like me and had no clue who this Goldsworthy is going in or what he does. Maybe you’re aware of the other documentary on the artist that Riedelsheimer shot, “Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy” from back in 2001, if not and you’re like me, this is a fine place to get to know him and his work and I can attest you’ll come away from the viewing experience just as if you had opened your eyes from a refreshing meditation.  Read more…

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…