March 2019 archive

Mercy Black

The latest horror movie to hit Netflix arrives with the unusual timing of 12:01 AM PT on a Sunday morning. But given the monster of “Mercy Black”—a sinister, hypnotic, fictitious supernatural force like Slenderman, Candle Cove, or the Blair Witch before them—it makes sense: Netflix is quietly dropping “Mercy Black” into its library like an …

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Agnès Varda: 1928-2019

Few world cinema figures were as beloved in recent years as Agnès Varda, a Belgian-born director of French cinema who brought an irresistibly restrained sort of wacky charm to all of her public appearances and her appearances in front of the camera in so many of her documentaries. She made only eight or so narrative features …

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Slut in a Good Way

Countless books, gender studies papers and personal essays have pored over the meaning of the term slut for as long as there has been feminism. Yet, no matter how far we think our culture has progressed, the gendered term is still one that women—like the teenagers at the heart of Sophie Lorain’s righteously funny “Slut …

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Amazon Clones 2011 Film Hanna for Frustrating New Series

“Hanna” is one of the more maddening examples in recent film adapting, and not just because it’s so similar to its singular 2011 parent, Joe Wright’s “Hanna.” It’s also that streaming service Amazon has produced the considerably longer eight-hour series, and you’re surprised they didn’t give it a knock-off title like “Hannah.” which wouldn’t be any …

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Diane

Diane (Mary Kay Place) stops briefly to deliver a casserole to a friend whose husband is recovering from surgery. “It’s your casserole dish I’ve had for six months,” Diane says as she hands it over. The friend hands her a dish she has made for Diane as thanks for all of her help. “This is …

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The Legend of Cocaine Island

It strikes me that “The Legend of Cocaine Island” is being released on Netflix the same day that Harmony Korine’s Miami-based film “The Beach Bum” hits theaters. This is a very Florida story, the kind of tall tale that Matthew McConaughey’s Moondog might tell after a few bong hits and Coronas. But Hyden’s unexpected dabbling …

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The Brink

At last fall’s Venice Film Festival, a new film by director Errol Morris premiered. Titled “American Dharma,” it was another one of Morris’ portraits of an American political figure. In this case, Steven Bannon, the oddly-dressed, seemingly shambling, red-faced self-described “nationalist” who masterminded, he would be the first to tell you, President Donald Trump’s victorious …

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Screwball

The story of steroid use in baseball has yet to write its final chapter. Outrage seems to have lessened about what performance-enhancing drugs did to America’s pastime, to the degree that Alex Rodriguez can be an announcer and tabloid star but not quite to the degree that Roger Clemens can be in the Hall of …

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The Chaperone

Among the most awe-inspiring tools in an actor’s arsenal is the ability to convey the wholeness of one’s inner life in a single glance. Both Elizabeth McGovern and Haley Lu Richardson are endowed with this gift, which makes the very notion of them teaming up for a feature instantly enticing. They each made their first …

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A Vigilante

“A Vigilante,” which stars Olivia Wilde as a domestic abuse survivor who remakes herself as an avenging angel, is one of those small but brutal films that major directorial careers are made from. Every frame of it feels measured and thoughtful, even when the camera gets so close to its heroine’s pain and rage that just looking at her …

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Join Us to See What We See Through Our Lens at the CHA/DePaul Spring Doc Film Premiere on April 28th

These Young Women Filmmakers Invite Us to See What They See, Through the Lens of Their Cameras I am so proud to host this second premiere of films by emerging women filmmakers who completed the CHA/DePaul Filmmaking Program. On Sunday, April 28th, you are invited to join us in Chicago at the 300-seat Claudia Cassidy Theatre, …

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A Personal Journey to C2E2

For my second year going to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), I was excited to explore everything I could. And by everything I especially mean feeding my vice of purchasing toys, comics, retro Blu-ray/DVDs, and movie posters, while admiring the absolute painstaking work that goes into everyone’s costume.  In this video journal, I document my …

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Jordan Peele’s Reboot of The Twilight Zone Lives Up to Original

Are you ready to go back to “The Twilight Zone”? Jordan Peele and CBS All Access sure hope you are. After the massive success of “Get Out” and “Us,” Peele continues his quest for worldwide domination with a reboot of the Rod Serling masterpiece that changed science fiction forever. Reworking ideas from the original series …

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Dumbo

Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” feels like one of the big-eared baby elephant’s early flights: It’s adorable and earnest but it causes a lot of commotion, and it only sporadically, haltingly soars. Burton’s live-action incarnation of the 1941 animated Disney classic consists of pieces of better Burton movies stitched together. With his oversized ears that make him …

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Home Entertainment Consumer Guide: March 28, 2019

3 NEW TO NETFLIX “Kung Fu Hustle””The Lives of Others””A Separation” 8 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD “Aquaman” At its best, James Wan’s “Aquaman” is a live-action cartoon, complete with armies astride seahorses and sharks. It has a fantastic cast, including great supporting work from Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, and Willem Dafoe. It’s refreshingly goofy from a …

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Every Day’s a Brand New Deal: On American Splendor

Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman’s “American Splendor” freely combines fact and fiction with its eclectic mix of feature film, animation, and documentary. With Paul Giamatti playing the ordinary and legendary comic book writer Harvey Pekar, the film gives us a rich, compelling human comedy full of wit, humor, and life.  Pekar’s comic book series was …

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HBO Lays Claim to Best Comedy Hour of the Year with Barry and Veep

People are counting the hours until the final season of “Game of Thrones” begins on April 14th, but HBO isn’t waiting until then to produce one of the most acclaimed and award-winning hours of TV by pairing their two best comedies, “Veep” and “Barry,” starting March 31st. As the incredible “Veep” begins a final season, …

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John Lee Hancock and John Fusco on The Highwaymen, Telling a Different Bonnie & Clyde Story and More

Just about everyone can tell you the names, at least the first names, of the notorious couple who robbed banks, stores, and gas stations in the early 1930s until they were gunned down by law enforcement. Bonnie and Clyde have been immortalized on film half a dozen times, including the Arthur Penn black and white …

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Higher, Further, Faster: Why Captain Marvel Matters

In the grand finale of “Captain Marvel,” our heroine, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson)—who has gone from a headstrong Ace fighter pilot to an amnesiac alien warrior to a renegade soldier reclaiming her humanity—finds herself prostrate before the Supreme Intelligence, the supposedly all-knowing leader of the Kree people, like an AI version of The Wizard of …

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Working Woman

“Working Woman” tells a story that’s timely yet timeless. Like countless before her, a woman finds her career caught in the vices of her boss’s desires because she needs to provide for her family. Even as she tries to reassert control in the office, she feels powerless at home, unable to talk about it with …

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