Kartemquin Films in association with the Indo-American Heritage Museum, Apna Ghar, the National Alliance of Mental Health, the Independent Filmmaker Project Chicago, and the Eyes on India Festival present a week of screenings for Dinesh Sabu’s Unbroken Glass at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Beginning Friday the 17th through Thursday the 23rd, Sabu will be in attendance for post-screening Q&As in what’s certain to be a lively discussion, particularly in the wake of a Trump administration that more or less displays a disinterest in the continued benefits, (particularly in regards to the mental health) offered by the Affordable Care Act.Read More
The aerial shot of the New York City-scape that opens Chad Stahelski’s John Wick: Chapter 2 features the brief but unmistakable image of Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr projected aside a skyscraper. Stahelski, a stuntman-turned-director, pays tribute to the messiah of cinematic physicality, submitting a fever dream of violent giddiness that’s heart-delaying in its beauty. The lineage of reference here is not one ingrained in modern action filmmaking but rather, much like Mad Max: Fury Road and the debt it pays to films like Battleship Potemkin and The Phantom Carriage, rooted in the silent comedies of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd; filmmakers that expressed their anxieties and wrath through the physical. The architecture of John Wick: Chapter 2 recognizes the foundation that the three silent comics, particularly Keaton, have on contemporary action filmmaking, and as such, Stahelski crafts something that’s all at once modern and timeless.Read More
Stewing about in this dystopian caldron of 2017, where our cultural decadence has made me involuntarily cognizant of a subset of society that, let’s just say, isn’t especially becoming, has made the act of writing gratingly difficult. Thing is, I need to get out of the political moment – a moment filled with the ABCs of alternative facts and bad hombres and carnage, all bellowed through the loudspeaker of a tiny-handed goblin cloaked in a butterscotch human-epidermis costume– and I need to get out of it in a hurry.
The Gene Siskel Film Center offers refuge for those looking to disconnect in the form of Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s latest film, Happy Hour (Highly Recommended). His five-plus hour opus screens for (just) two afternoons, this Friday and Saturday, and its booking at the downtown theater is a significant grab for a film that undoubtedly presents its own set of scheduling obstacles. But while its length will undoubtedly keep casual attendees at bay, I urge all cinephiles to experience Hamaguchi’s quaint and brazenly humanistic portrait on the big screen.Read More
Don’t trust a man on the subject of his parents. He’ll try to camouflage his experiences, unable to grapple with the reality that his perspective is arrested from childhood. He views his parents through the lens of a child and can’t will himself out of that reality, no matter how happy or unhappy his childhood may have been. That’s a critical obstacle to consider when approaching Mike Mills’ new film, 20th Century Women. It’s a (quasi)?- autobiographical account of Mills’ childhood, with a particular emphasis on the women that shaped his worldview. There’s a gleaming, nostalgic quality that speaks directly to our inability to confront our parents, particularly our mothers, without succumbing to wistfulness. But while Mills may be prone to romanticizing his milieu and characters, he contextualizes them within a historical framework.Read More
I thought it inadequate to consider Martin Scorsese’s Silence (Essential), which screens extensively at the Music Box Theatre this weekend, at too much length. The film is such a massive object, worth deeper consideration that only comes after additional viewings and a greater gestation period. My numerous drafts recounting my experience with Scorsese’s latest masterwork offered a deficient analysis of the film as a historical, spiritual, and even personal object; combining the three just came across as fragmented, lost, and in perpetual search of something elusive that may have escaped my grasp during my initial viewing.Read More
I took it easier this year. I didn’t watch as many films nor did I really want to. I read more, exercised more, and traveled a bit. I stepped outside of my comfort zone on at least two separate occasions, which for most might not seem like a big deal, but for me it was like a glass ceiling crashing down. Life can be a series of lateral moves, but I’ll celebrate those ever-fleeting upward ones every chance I get.
But for many, 2016 represented a decline in our dignity and empathy. They’re not wrong. Some of the films outlined in my top 25 spoke, prophetically, to this decline. Others looked at the tail end of the Obama years with a glimmer of hope.Read More
Adapted from Patrick Ness’ low fantasy young adult novel, J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls displays both a formal and thematic aptitude that is a rarity of its genre. Make no mistake: it’s a film that deals with the obvious, explicitly contending with themes of guilt and death in a blunt and direct manner. It may leave you yearning for a film that operates with more subtly. It was a feeling I produced during at least half of A Monster Calls’ runtime. But this is a film with a very persuasive emotional tenor, one that leaves you to consider your own capacity to deal with the obvious (the certainty of death) and the emotional equipment required to handle loss. I think there is something very admirable about a film that confronts its audience with such a reality, if only to expose how ill-equipped we are in dealing with the decay of a loved one before our eyes.Read More
First, let me just say one thing: Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures is an unchallenging film. It’s an unchallenging film about race. It’s an unchallenging film about race in 2016. But whatever, right? The film comes during the most racially charged climate of my lifetime and while a slew of cerebral and emotionally complex films have broached the subject of disenfranchisement and race relations (from Ava DuVernay’s 13th to Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America), none possess the sort of Hollywood-gloss and superficiality of Everything Being Just Fine as Hidden Figures. It is simply more pleasant to be happy than it is to be pissed off, as Hidden Figures considers the painful without the pain, aims for sincerity despite a motive, and engages without demanding.Read More
Beginning with the omission of its opening crawl, if Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One aspires for one thing it’s to not be the same. Which, with a cavalcade of media properties ranging from film to video games to an R2-D2 thermos, not to mention the incalculable $$$ at stake and soul-crushing “creative committee” involved, one can ask without a hint of irony: how can you afford to be different? Well, this becomes a bit of a gray area, as Rogue One is a peculiar product of dueling ambitions. It exists within the spectrum of a massive industry complex defined by arranged sequels when its intentions are, surprisingly, much more noble. Instead, it’s defined by a sense of finality. And to suggest anything conclusive within the Star Wars Universe™ is most assuredly an act of not being the same.Read More
John Madden’s Miss Sloane reminded me of a bad John Grisham novel. Which may mistakenly suggest that there are good John Grisham novels. Though if one were to ascribe a kind of Grisham-curve onto Miss Sloane, where Grisham’s grishamness is ascribed some metric of virtue, than Madden’s film would still fall considerably short of any threshold of quality. Miss Sloane is just a poor film, through and through. It’s a deathly self-serious yet utterly preposterous film that probably would’ve garnered a couple of Oscar nominations back in the 90s. We liked Grisham back in the early 90s, right? Boy, am I glad those days are behind us.Read More