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TOY STORY 4 (2019) review

June 22, 2019



written by: Stephany Folsom and Andrew Stanton
produced by: Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen
directed by: Joshua Cooley
rated: G
runtime: 100 min.
U.S. release date: June 21, 2019


The talented folks at Pixar Animation have come a long way. The groundbreaking animation in the first “Toy Story” movie looks rudimentary compared to what is presented in “Toy Story 4”, the latest addition to the Disney franchise. Granted, these movies haven’t always been about visual feats, they have clever humor and emotional punch as they touch on topics that range from friendship and purpose to abandonment and mortality. While this funny third sequel touches on some relatable themes, it stands out by adding some fresh weirdness to the franchise, making it one of the oddest entries in the franchise. While no one was asking for another entry, offering something unexpected is a welcome relief considering the sequels currently out in theaters.
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June 17, 2019



written by: Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins, Marc Abrams & Derek Kolstad
produced by: Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee
directed by: Chad Stahelski
rated: R (for pervasive strong violence, and some language)
runtime: 131 min.
U.S. release date: May 17, 2019


“It all started with a puppy….” a character states in the most recent John Wick movie, the bullet-riddled, blood-spattered, marvelously entertaining action series of a hit man coming out of retirement with a vengeance (and the subsequent fallout and consequences). I continue to be impressed with this series not just for its action but its ever-growing story and world-building. Go see John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. If you haven’t seen the first two, what’s wrong with you?!? Go watch them too!

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WALKING ON WATER (2018) review

May 27, 2019



produced by: Izabella Tzenkova and Valeria Giampietro
directed by: Andrey M. Paounov
rated: not rated 
runtime: 105 min.
U.S. release date: May 24, 2019 (limited) 


What has always been most striking about the environmental works of art from Bulgarian artist Christo was how they looked when completed. His art, with wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude has always augmented the planet’s landscape in a curious and captivating manner. Whether it was the Running Fence that extended Northern California hills in 1976 or The Gates that weaved through Central Park in New York City in 2005, the couple’s installation projects provided viewers with a different way to view what familiar terrain. However, there has always been the question as to how these works of art were completed and while “Walking on Water” is not the first documentary to chronicle a project of Christo, it is the first one to catch up with artist on a new project, a decade after the death of his wife. Read more…

Interview with SATAN & ADAM director V. Scott Balcerek

May 21, 2019



Apparently I’ve known of Satan and Adam for 31 years and I didn’t even know it. I first heard the blues duo while listening to “Rattle and Hum”, the U2 album that served as a companion album to their 1988 rockumentary of the same name. It turns out they were the blues duo playing “Freedom for My People”, an infectious, soulful romp that seamlessly followed the live gospel version of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, which is where they could be seen in the film as Bono and The Edge stumble upon them playing on the streets of Harlem. I can’t believe I never paid attention to who they were. If I was the U2 fan I’ve always considered myself to be, I would’ve known that Sterling “Mister Satan” Magee and Adam Gussow were known as Satan and Adam, a fixture on the streets of Harlem in the late 80s/early 90s. It wasn’t until I saw the trailer to V. Scott Balcerek’s documentary, “Satan & Adam”, that I finally put a name to a sound.
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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.
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