Cinema Chatter #39 – 2015 Catch Up

This morning the Chicago International Film Festival announces its slate of films and with it a (hopeful) deluge of highly acclaimed foreign and American films. Amid the hysteria of the fall festival season, where critics and audiences alike make quick and often exaggerated declarations on films, it’s easy to forget some of the year’s earlier offerings that don’t usually generate the same degree of communal fervor. The outlined films are available on most VOD and streaming services or could very well be playing in a local arthouse theater. They are all, to varying degrees, worth your time. 

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Cinema Chatter #36 - Speculation

I’ve always had an unhealthy fixation with the Academy Awards, futilely hoping for the best and constantly disappointed by its worst. While I usually follow the year-long build up to the ceremony, it was last year’s omission of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis that was the last straw. I simply could no longer absorb such a crushing and disappointing blow like that again. So, I gave it up. No longer was I following the awards’ calendar or regional critic citations with the same sort of fervor that I once had done. Though this increasingly bizarre awards season ultimately proved too strange to abstain for long - it’s this year where Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson are emerging as potential Oscar juggernauts. Think of how laughable that would have seemed twenty years ago. Or consider that the Belgium brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have a legitimate, albeit fringe, best actress contender in Marion Cotillard. It’s possible. But I do this every year. I ignore the negatives while highlighting the positives - after all, Birdman and The Theory of Everything are clearly major players in the field as well. Fool me once… 

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Cinema Chatter #34 - 2014 Catch Up

Like a holiday tradition, film critics find themselves scrambling to catch late December releases or catching up with whatever films they may have missed over the course of the year, all in a futile attempt to declare the best films of the year. Of course, this is all a pretty silly exercise in attempting to codify films within a given time period. But there’s an irresistible, almost OCD, appeal in ranking and composing a list - of which I’m certainly not above. My top ten of 2014 drops on the last week of December. Until then, here are some films that I caught up with, all currently streaming on the usual sources or on DVD/Blu-ray, that are certainly worth your time. 

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Cinema Chatter #31 - Seven Months In

As I depart for a Parisian sojourn, I figured it was time to reflect on the year as it stands, at least cinema-wise. And it’s been an impressive year, with the upcoming fall slate sure to have a difficult time keeping up with what the past seven months have offered. While major Hollywood productions have been considerably better this year, most of these films played in limited release. Beyond a matter of record keeping, the following films should attract your attention. 

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