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CCFF 2019 preview

May 17, 2019



It’s that time of the year again, film enthusiasts! Time to get excited. For one week in Chicago, the best films that haven’t yet been released will be showcased yet again at the beautiful Music Box Theatre on the north side of Chicago. Now in its seventh year, the Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) returns to the landmark location (which turns 90 this year) for a highly-anticipated residency from May 17th thru 23rd. This remains the only film festival curated solely by working film critics (fellow members of the Chicago Film Critics Association) who’ve taken the best of what they’ve seen at Toronto, Sundance, SXSW and other festivals, with the goal of providing the Windy City with a treasure of choice cinema. There will be viewers flying in just for this festival, but if you’re a local fan of film, you need to be here. Read more…

SPECIAL EVENT: “Still Human”, co-presented by Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema & the Gene Siskel Film Center

May 12, 2019

Still Human 2


Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema and the Gene Siskel Film Center
Present The Chicago Premiere of the Award-Winning Hong Kong feature,
“Still Human” for May’s Asian-American Heritage Month


“Still Human”, won awards for Best New Director and Best New Performer at the 2019 Hong Kong Film Awards and will now be screened in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center tomorrow night, May 13th. The film is co-presented by Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema and the Gene Siskel Film Center in celebration of Asian-American Heritage Month this month. I’ll be in attendance as will Hong Kong female director, Oliver Chan and one of the stars of the film, newcomer Crisel Consunji. Ticket information is below and available at Read more…

KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE (2019) review

May 1, 2019



produced by: Robin Blotnick, Sarah Olsen and Rachel Lears
directed by: Rachel Lears
rated: PG (for thematic elements, language and brief smoking)
runtime: 86 min.
U.S. release date: May 1, 2019 (Netflix)


People will dismiss “Knock Down the House” thinking it as some kind of hagiographic documentary on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and they’d be wrong. While the Netflix film from director Rachel Lears, which debuted at Sundance back in January where it won two audience awards, does indeed include the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, it’s in no way solely about her. Instead, it’s about three liberal American women like her who, despite the odds stacked against them, ran the historic 2018 midterm election that wound up changing the look of the House of Representatives in a historic manner. On the heels of last year’s Oscar nominee “RBG”, here is an uplifting and inspiring documentary that spotlights more trailblazing women in politics and considering that’s typically a rare subject, here is a film that shouldn’t be dismissed.
Read more…

AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019) review

April 28, 2019



written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
produced by: Kevin Feige
directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
rated: PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language)
runtime: 181 min.
U.S. release date: April 26, 2019


You may have noticed that most Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies have been building to something. Whether they are stories that stretch out into space, travel to different continents or are an origin tale set in the 90s, it’s all been building to “Avengers: Endgame” in some way. Here is a satisfying sequel that rewards those who’ve watched the twenty-one blockbuster hits that’ve led up to this three-hour epic, leaving those who skipped a few classes since 2008 a little confused. Anthony and Joe Russo are back at the helm, offering an inevitably epic and thrilling adventure that’s sprinkled with resonating heartfelt moments, much-needed laughs, geek-out moments and a hint and what the future holds. That’s a lot to accomplish and as they’ve proven in the past, the Russos do an impressive job.
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Interview: Catching up with RUNNER actor/writer/director Clare Cooney

April 23, 2019



It’s hard to believe my previous interview with multi-talented Clare Cooney was a year ago. In anticipation of her award-winning short, “Runner”, screening at the Chicago Critics Film Festival last May, I chatted with her about the short, from concept to release. It’s probably hard to believe because I’ve seen Cooney around and talked to her since then, while keeping track on the status of “Runner”. In that interview, I made it a point to ask where and when her short could be seen by curious viewers. At that time, it was still working the festival circuit, but now “Runner” is about to find it’s widest audience yet. On Tuesday, April 23rd, the short will be released on a curated YouTube channel for short films called Omeleto. Read more…

Star Wars Celebration Chicago: Day One

April 12, 2019



It’s been happening just about every two years for the past twenty years and now it’s come to Chicago. Today was the start of a five-day celebration of all things Star Wars, appropriately called Star Wars Celebration. You may have heard of it, that is if you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan. It’s essentially a convention focused on the universe that George Lucas created, which he handed the reins over to his longtime collaborator, producer Kathleen Kennedy, who has been working with Disney for a handful of years now to oversee the present and future of all things Star Wars. It’s a place where you can bump into an R2 unit, purchase Chewbacca bubble bath from the 70s or sit yourself down in the Millennium Falcon, but most of all its a place where you can feel accepted for something you’re passionate about, which is something that’s sorely needed. Read more…


April 9, 2019



written by: Peter Bogdanovich
produced by: Peter Bogdanovich, Charles S. Cohen, Role Sharon Peled, and Louise Stratten
directed by: Peter Bogdanovich 
rated: Not Rated (some mild language)
runtime: 102 min.
U.S. release date: October 19, 2018 (Chicago International Film Festival), October 5, 2018 (limited), April 2, 2019 (DVD & Blu-ray)


“In a way, Buster Keaton is the essence of movies. He is one of the inventors of cinema.”


Everything you could want to know about Peter Bogdanovich’s documentary about Buster Keaton is right there in the title. It is both a celebration of the man’s life and a gab-fest at a gathering of world class raconteurs. If, like me, you gravitated toward Chaplin and never really explored Keaton’s catalogue, this is the perfection introduction to one of our greatest screen treasures. Read more…