EBERTFEST: A SIT DOWN WITH CHAZ

April 16th, 2018 Posted by Interviews 0 thoughts on “EBERTFEST: A SIT DOWN WITH CHAZ”

As published in this month’s edition of Fete Lifestyle Magazine, April 16, 2018

Ebertfest, the unique film festival created to give films overlooked by critics and audiences a second look, celebrates its 20th year on April 18-22 in the quaint college town of Champaign, Illinois. The festival, started by Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz, continues even after Ebert’s death 5 years ago.

To read the interview in its entirety, go to Fete Lifestyle Magazine 

 

WHAT’S ON THE HOT LIST AT THIS YEAR’S TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

April 16th, 2018 Posted by Film Festivals 0 thoughts on “WHAT’S ON THE HOT LIST AT THIS YEAR’S TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL”

Excerpt from the April 16th edition of Fete Lifestyle Magazine:

It’s show time for the annual Tribeca Film Festival taking place April 18-29 in New York City.  With 96 feature films, both narratives and documentaries, let’s see what’s top on the list this year. 

Go to Fete Lifestyle Magazine to see the entire list!

“Borg vs. McEnroe” is pure love of the game and the era

April 15th, 2018 Posted by Review, Weekly VOD 0 thoughts on ““Borg vs. McEnroe” is pure love of the game and the era”

Tennis fans, rejoice!  Last year’s under-appreciated “Battle of the Sexes” has opened the doors for another undeniably entertaining biopic revolving around tennis—“Borg vs. McEnroe.”  The film, written by Ronnie Sandahl and starring Sverirr Gudnason, Shia LaBeouf, and Stellan Skarsgard, takes you back in time to the intense rivalry between two polar opposite tennis stars, the hot-headed John McEnroe and the even-keeled Nordic legend, Bjorn Borg.  The intensity spills over into the storyline, learning about these larger-than-life players and witnessing what might be the most dramatic competition in any sport.

We meet each of these players at the height of their game, but are quickly brought back to their respective childhoods, gaining keen insight to their background, difficulties, and family relationships.  The film focuses more upon the young Borg, his parents’ lack of financial wealth, and the boy’s inability to control his temper, allowing you to draw the conclusion that perhaps Borg and McEnroe really aren’t that different.  McEnroe has his own demons to wrestle from his youth, all of which he confronts as the day draws nearer to battling Borg at Wimbledon.  Never has a championship  been seen from the psychological aspect, delving into the pressures they each feel from their perspective.  McEnroe, cocky and boisterous, must defeat a 4 time champion.  And Borg, rumored to be getting old, must defend his title for the 5th time—something no one had ever done at that time.  While most of us will never be the best in one particular arena, this film gets us very close to understanding the sacrifices and the mindset it takes to do so.

Sverirr embodies Borg not just physically, but with his mannerisms and speech as well.  His head hangs in introspection with his shoulders slouching, only to gain confidence and composure once he steps onto the courts.  His long hair, cool demeanor, and chilling intensity is the very center of the real Borg, making his performance to be at once believable and real.  LaBeouf’s career seems to have stalled, but his portrayal of McEnroe is stellar.  While he isn’t McEnroe’s body double, he perfects the tennis champion’s speech and physical outbursts the player is known for.  As the story depicts Borg disproportionately, we also see Borg’s coach, Lennert Bergelin (Stellan Skarsgard), step into his life as more of a father figure with tough love and life lessons to teach.  Together, a complete picture is painted to more fully understand who Bjorn Borg is and how he became the most revered player of the decade.

As the story unfolds, editing is key with this film as we jump back and forth between childhood memories, current day situations, and recent events.  Capturing this to tell the story along a timeline that makes sense is a difficult feat that “Borg vs. McEnroe” achieves.  Incredible camera work to recreate the matches brings you directly into the stands as you hold your breath with every serve and missed call.  You know the outcome, yet you’re still on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to truly happen.

“Borg vs. McEnroe” is a sheer delight to watch, particularly if you’re a fan of tennis and that era.  Sverirr, LaBeouf, and Skarsgard expertly portray each of their characters, bringing a sense of reality and connection to the story.

You can see “Borg vs. McEnroe” in theaters and select digital platforms such as Amazon.

3 1/2 Stars

“Capturing the Flag” a timely tale at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

April 15th, 2018 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Capturing the Flag” a timely tale at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival”

If you think voter suppression is just an ugly part of our nation’s past history, think again.  It’s still happening.  Anne de Mare captures what happened in Fayetteville, North Carolina, just days before and the day of the 2016 Presidential election.  Following a team of voter protection volunteers, de Mare uncovers the subversive actions that lead to thousands of citizens being denied their Constitutional right to vote.  This shockingly frustrating and enlightening documentary captures an unbiased story that every American should see.

Watch the trailer here

Three long-time friends, all with different backgrounds, volunteer and travel to an area of the country where voter suppression is suspected.  Laverne Berry, an entertainment and business affairs attorney who is also one of the producers of this film, lead the small group comprised of Steve Miller, a seasoned veteran in these affairs, and newcomer and recent U.S. citizen from South Africa, Claire Wright.  Together, they attempt to help citizens understand how to vote, where to vote, and what to do if they encounter road blocks.  And there were plenty of roadblocks.

Laverne Berry, Photo Credit: Nelson Walker III

As we learn about each of the volunteers, it is at once inspiring to see the importance of their work and dedication.  The perspective from Claire about the concept of equality  in the United States is the most interesting because she is a recent citizen.  The reality, as we see unfold, is shocking to her and to the viewer as well.   

“Capturing the Flag” demonstrates that democracy at its very core is continually being challenged, and most of us are blissfully unaware.  As the team prepares for election day and helping fellow citizens, the laws by which we function are seemingly ever-changing.  We learn about tactics used to make it difficult to vote and how names and registrations have been purged.  Various other nefarious strategies are implemented, compounding the hurdles many  jump over in order to vote … and many who just give up.  Seeing the antagonistic behavior of  polling places as they attempt to thwart these volunteers to provide basic information is maddening.  But ignorance isn’t bliss—it’s potentially devastating.

“Capturing the Flag” is a compelling and educational film reminding us, as de Mare said in a recent interview with me for FF2 Media, “…to take better care of our democratic process, to think about [our] own role as citizens and about how [to] participate more … by getting involved with local boards of election, and by supporting grassroots organizations that put pressure on legislatures to make sure everyone has the ability to vote.”

We all know the outcome of the last election.  Knowing that volunteers across the nation like Laverne, Steve, and Claire are there to help every voter (no matter their party affiliation) know their rights is uplifting.   Knowledge is power and as a citizen, we must all be informed.  This film punctuates that fact as it lights a fire within to make sure this antiquated concept of voter suppression does not continue. 

“Capturing the Flag” is a timely tale that is as captivating as it is informative.  The natural circumstances create a tension-filled story as you truly begin to understand the situation at hand.   But most importantly, the film reminds us to cherish and exercise our Constitutional rights and perhaps we will write a different ending for historians to capture in the future.

  For more information about the film go to Capturing the Flag.  

 

Ebertfest paving a new path of equality

April 10th, 2018 Posted by Interviews 0 thoughts on “Ebertfest paving a new path of equality”

(From FF2 Media, April 9, 2018)

Roger Ebert will forever remain in the hearts of film lovers and film critics alike. His unique personality accompanied by his insight into all things film created a new way for people to see and enjoy going to the movies. Ebertfest, now celebrating its 20th anniversary on April 18-22, in Champaign, Illinois was originally named the Ebert Overlooked Film Festival to pay “…homage to those films that he thought needed to be seen by bigger audiences…” said his wife Chaz in a recent interview.

It’s been five years since Ebert passed away, but Chaz and her team continue this festival with special events planned for the 20th anniversary celebration. I had a chance to sit down with Chaz to discuss the festival, but also to get to know this woman who continues to champion Ebert’s causes, his vision of what makes films important in life and her focus on women in the filmmaking industry.

To read the article published on April 9th in its entirety, please go to  FF2 Media.

“Beirut” blends history with fiction in this intense political thriller

April 10th, 2018 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Beirut” blends history with fiction in this intense political thriller”

Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike star in the political thriller “Beirut” written by Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton”) and directed by Brad Anderson. The film, while it depicts true events in Lebanon’s history, takes a fictitious situation and brings together the ugliness of war and its motives while humanizing each level. Thankfully, the writers give enough back story to allow for those not familiar with Beirut’s history to more completely understand this complex and on-going strife among Isreal, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.).

Mason Skiles (Hamm) is the charismatic government mediator, living a high-profile life with his wife Nadia (Leila Bekhti) in Beirut in the early 1970’s. The couple have taken in a young Lebanese boy and while his innocence is questioned, the volatility of the situation escalates and Nadia is inadvertently gunned down. The film’s foundation has been set in stone as we fast forward 10 years to 1982.

Skiles has never recovered from the loss of his wife, finding himself as a small time mediator back in the U.S. with a major drinking problem. But Skiles is requested to take on a mediation job back in Lebanon as a friend who is a high-ranking official with decades of confidential information has been taken hostage. Reluctantly, Skiles travels back to the place that created the broken man he has become.

Skiles meets CIA official Sandy (Pike) and the two begin to work together, testing each other in an effort to unravel the convoluted information they have been provided. There’s more to Sandy’s story than meets the eye, but that seems true of everyone Skiles meets. Reunited with former colleagues, Skiles is thrown right back into the thick of things, but his past seems to be haunting him. The clock is ticking and Skiles must address these ghosts while pushing forward before time runs out for his old friend Cal (Mark Pellegrino). The brutality of this war-torn country is not just visually evident, you recognize it emotionally as well. From citizens hiding in their homes to the self-proclaimed military rebels, no one seems to value life. There are shockingly horrific scenes that remain in your mind, hoping that this only happens in the movies. It’s total devastation, fighting for concepts and idealisms that will never right the wrongs from the past. The story certainly doesn’t paint Israel in a positive light, but it does make you look more deeply at the issues that still create tension in this small but volatile area.

Hamm creates with exceptional skill, the definition of a broken-hearted, flawed and jaded man. Initially a gallant man who has it all, he easily transforms into an unkempt, self-loathing loser who must revive himself. It’s a nuanced performance supported by Pike’s portrayal of an intelligent women of that era, treated in a less than equal way. Dean Norris is almost unrecognizable with a full head of hair, but his unmistakable intensity and focus in his role as Donald Gaines, Skiles former boss, is familiar and welcomed.

“Beirut” is an intense political thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time, unsure as to who to trust and waiting for the next unexpected twist to show itself. It’s a harrowing tale blending history and fiction together impeccably utilizing deft direction and skilled performances.

4 Stars

Anderson’s Midas Touch continues with “Isle of Dogs”

April 10th, 2018 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on “Anderson’s Midas Touch continues with “Isle of Dogs””

Wes Anderson has the Midas Touch when it comes to filmmaking, beginning with “Rushmore” in 1998 and continuing to gain momentum and notoriety with “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” This year, Anderson returns to his love of stop-motion animation and brings kids and adults the endearingly unique film “Isle of Dogs.” (Say it quickly and you hear three different words.)

Anderson teams up with Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, and Kunichi Nomura to write the story as he directs several of his returning favorite cast members such as Edward Norton (voice of “Atari”), Bob Balaban (voice of “King”) and Bill Murray (voice of “Boss”) while adding A-Listers such as Bryan Cranston (voice of “Chief”), Jeff Goldblum (voice of “Duke”), and Frances McDormand (voice of “Interpreter Nelson”) and many more.

The story begins 20 years in the future in Japan as the Dog Flu and Snout-Fever reportedly are cross contaminating humans in the city of Megasaki requiring the Mayor Kobayashi (Nomura) to banish all dogs to a trash island. We are then taken back 10 centuries to understand the back story of this evil empire and the no-good they’ve always been up to, complete with hilarious translations for the viewer. Back to the future, we  are introduced to the 12 year-old Atari, a ward of the corrupt Mayor,  whose beloved “Spots” (voice of Liev Schreiber) was one of the first dogs to be deported. A rebel at heart, Atari steals a plane and crash lands on Trash Island to find his best buddy. And now the adventure begins as he meets all the mongrels who help him in his quest.

“Isle of Dogs” is a classic story of a child saving the day. Anderson’s signature whimsical style, off-beat humor and staccato pacing of delivery translates perfectly into this animated feature, connecting you with each of the characters. As a story that is geared toward older children, it is a rather complicated one, allowing kids of all ages to connect on various levels. And by kids, I’m also talking about the ones over the age of 25. The story, on the surface, is about a boy in search of his dog, fighting the evil uncle/mayor. Dig a little more deeply and you’ve opened Pandora’s Box, filled with analogies into today’s political and social world—government corruption and conspiracies, dictatorships, educational suppression, news entities, and the right to protest among many more. But at the heart of it is a sweet story of a love of a boy and his dog.

The film beautifully pays homage to the story-telling master Kurosawa and the artistry of woodblock prints from Hiroshige and Hokusai, but it is the eccentric humor and delivery of these talented actors that makes it such a pleasure to watch. Hearing Murray’s voice and seeing his character dressed in blue and red as a baseball team’s mascot can’t help but conjure a Cubs uniform in disguise. Then we have Scarlett Johansson’s recognizable breathy voice as the pampered pup “Nutmeg” and Greta Gerwig’s honest and sweet interpretation of “Tracy Walker” who has an adorable crush on “Atari.” Each and every voice matches the personality of the character to a “T.”  Music is also a main character, accentuating each and every scene and sometimes even becoming the focal point.  It’s a wonderful visual, intellectual, and auditory amalgam of entertainment.

“Isle of Dogs” is an unusual animated film for both kids (over 12) and adults filled with humor and intelligence while blending Japanese culture and artistry with the avant-garde style of Anderson. Although the pacing lags about 2/3 of the way through, it picks back up toward the end as Anderson’s story ties up all the loose ends.

3 1/2 Stars

“Find Me” World premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center April 11

April 8th, 2018 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Find Me” World premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center April 11”

The award-winning writer and director, Tom Huang, is back in action with his new dramedy  “Find Me.”  Huang writes, directs, and stars in this film as “Joe,” a recently divorced and depressed accountant whose co-worker/best buddy, Amelia (Sara Amini) goes missing.  Weeks later, Joe receives a letter from her with two words:  FIND ME.  Following clues she has set along the way, Joe embarks on an adventure through National Parks, allowing him to discover much more than he anticipated.  “Find Me” is filled with  humor, love, and most importantly, inspiration to reconnect with ourselves and nature. 

Joe is the poster child for a sad sack.  Working all day, helping to care for his aging father and dramatic mother, living alone, and eating dinner on the couch only to fall asleep watching mindless television is his every day existence.   Poor, sweet Joe.  We love him immediately.  He’s wallowing in his woes while Amelia, the polar opposite of Joe, attempts to get him out of his funk.  We get to know the two of them, understand their lives, and love watching them interact at work.  Their silly conversations as they refer to themselves in the third person or quoting movies while deeply talking about what’s happening in their lives gives this friendship a sense of reality.  They truly care about one another and we care about them. 

And then one day, Joe and Amelia connect on a different level and she immediately disappears.  Joe seems lost without her.  He watches the days go by, texting her with no response, checking her office with no luck.  Little does he know, she has already given him his  first clue to finding her—“Amelia’s Easy Adventure Book.”  He needs an extra push, the letter, to direct him to find her.  And the adventure begins!

“Find Me” is a high-tech geocache game as Joe embarks upon a trail of breadcrumbs to find Amelia.  Her plan is carefully orchestrated, introducing Joe to important people and extraordinary places, all allowing him to transform and to understand Amelia and her life better.  Joe travels to unique treasures in our country such as Death Valley where he camps under the stars, The Narrows in Zion where he first connects with the grandness of his surroundings, and the cliffs in Yosemite, reminding him (and us)  how remarkable Mother Nature truly is. 

“Find Me” never loses sight of the humor in life and it’s a constant throughout this film.   From the beginning, as we listen to the description of Joe’s trip to the Grand Canyon with his parents to the interactions he has with the hotel receptionist in Zion and the conversation with the waitress in Death Valley.  Each moment is priceless as is each hike he takes, searching for Amelia’s next clue in the form of an SD card.  The film, however, isn’t just a fun little romp around the Wild West.  It’s a meaningful and poignant film with life lessons that will make you sigh and even shed a few tears.

Huang’s writing gives “Find Me” a unique format as this very small cast creates a very large story.  While Amelia isn’t with Joe on this trip, she is there in voice and through the technology of the SD cards.  She is with him every step of the way, much like the viewer feels, walking right next to Joe and experiencing the glory of the scenery.  The keen eye of Cinematographer Kyle Crowell captures all of these awe-inspiring moments, adding to the indescribable peacefulness it brings to Joe and the viewer.

The entire cast is outstanding in “Find Me.”  Huang and Amini are a joy to see together in their roles as they have natural chemistry.  Their comfortable conversations and non-verbal communication create a naturalness not typically captured in films.  Amini brings zest to Huang’s writing for her character who has wonderful working knowledge about nature.  And Huang has a stellar performance as a reluctant traveler filled with a longing for more.   Wearing multiple hats of both star and director can be difficult, but Huang does so effortlessly.  

“Find Me” is a funny, uniquely charming, and gorgeous film that will inspire you to “be a traveler, not a tourist” in life.  Go ahead and “break out of this cycle of non-existence” and find your inner self!

For more information about the film and where to see it, go to FINDME.  If you’re in Chicago, “Find Me” has its world premiere at  the Gene Siskel Film Center on Wednesday, April 11 with Huang in person to answer questions after the film!  

 

4/4 Stars

“A Quiet Place” gives new meaning to the term “silent film”

April 6th, 2018 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““A Quiet Place” gives new meaning to the term “silent film””

 

John Krasinski, known most readily for his role in “The Office,” not only stars in the new horror/thriller “A Quiet Place,” but has also written and directed it. This is only the second feature film in which he has worn all three hats and he sits quite comfortably in the director’s chair this time. It’s also the first time Krasinski has co-starred along side his real life wife, Emily Blunt…and it won’t be the last based on the predicted success of this film.

Lee (Krasinski) and Evelyn (Blunt) and their three children live in a world of silence in a post-apocalyptic small town. There is no other sign of life as they walk through an abandoned grocery store, shelves wiped clean except for the well-stocked chip shelves, (yes, that’s important) no cars on the street, and the surroundings appear to have been long-forgotten. It’s fall, dressed in sweaters, the family walks barefooted back to their home in absolute silence, only to have the sweet family of 5 quickly become a family of 4 thanks to a forbidden battery operated toy.

Communicating through sign language, mourning the death or their youngest, the family attempts to live day by day in as normal of a way as possible…in silence. Playing board games with dice rolled on a rug, using lettuce leaves as plates, walking on paths made of sand or ash are all a part of how to live quietly. However, as mistakes are made such as trying to be silent while giving birth, the family must outsmart the blind, but super sensitive auditory creatures. Coincidentally, the oldest daughter is hearing-impaired, frustrated by a non-functioning cochlear implant.

The story is a rather predictable horror/monster/alien invasion film—we’ve seen them a hundred times before—but what makes this one different is the demonstration of the extraordinary responsibility and love a parent has for his or her children. Creating this scenario, complete with a rebellious young teen and a boy who still needs to be coddled, isn’t an easy task, but Krasinski hits all the right notes. While there are plenty of “gotcha” set ups, seemingly following a how-to guide book for horror movies, and a few holes in the premise, Krasinski gives us a story must find out how it ends. We care about this family and their survival as we, too, attempt to find the creatures‘ weakness.

Blunt and Krasinski, not surprisingly, give exceptional performances as a husband and wife, trying to survive. Noah Jupe (“Wonder”) and Millicent (“Wonderstruck”) portray the couple’s children with utmost ease. Besides being adorable, the kids have a connection the immediately bonds us to them.

The character of silence is also a part of this film. (Please refrain from bringing bags of chips to the theater. This completely ruins the atmosphere!) You can hear a pin drop and you realize you’ve been holding your breath. As you exhale, you can hear it. “A Quiet Place” gives the term “silent film” an entirely new definition. The ear-piercing screech of the monster/alien is equally jarring, juxtaposing the silence. There’s no underscore of music, at least that I can recall, giving my own senses the command to be uneasy…and I’m sure that’s exactly what Krasinski wanted. The computer generated monster is terrifying, especially as it uses its sensitive hearing. Half man, half t-rex, with a smattering of other scary features, you’re always awaiting this flying creature to appear, adding to your anxiety while watching.

Krasinski amplifies his ability in filmmaking with “A Quiet Place” as he demonstrates the skill to set up just the right situations and connections to make you care and your heart race. While it’s somewhat predictable with a few holes in the plot, it’s entertainingly horrifying as you can’t help but relate to this family living in silence.

3 Stars

“We’re Listening:” Founders of Cherry Picks Reviews to launch new site for female critics

April 5th, 2018 Posted by Interviews 0 thoughts on ““We’re Listening:” Founders of Cherry Picks Reviews to launch new site for female critics”

(As published in FF2 Media, Thursday, April 5, 2018.  To read the interview in its entirety, go to FF2Media)

Cherry Picks Reviews (CPR) is the much-anticipated upcoming critical site for all things women-in-media launching this fall! The gender equality issue has been making the headlines for the past couple of months, particularly in filmmaking. As a female film critic (over 50), Cherry Picks Reviews is a welcome change from the predominantly white male critical terrain which had been painting a skewed picture for film lovers.

Women comprise more than 50 percent of the population, yet less than four percent of the top 100 grossing films have been directed by women, according to Sundance.org. Times are changing, and Cherry Picks Reviews co-founders Miranda Bailey and Rebecca Odes talked to me about this “new voice in the critical conversation.”

Pamela Powell (PP): Why did you decide to create Cherry Picks Reviews?

Miranda Bailey (MB): Cherry Picks came about because of the lack of representation that was happening across the critical landscape in media itself, whether it was film or television, music or video games or any of the above. And now that we’re doing these aggregated sites and scoring systems that consumers are using [and] not having an equal opportunity playing field, it was really skewing the score…skewing the scores as to whether something was worth consumers’ money or not. We started Cherry Picks to specifically cherry pick out the female critical voice across media to shine a light on it to support it…and also just for women to know what other women think about something…whether or not they should spend their money on it. I think a lot of what is out there right now is from a very specific point of view that doesn’t represent all of the consumers…Men worry that [CPR] is perhaps skewed in some sexist way, but it’s really not. It’s about support, not segregation. It’s really no different than any other website that would be for females.

Go to FF2 Media for the complete interview.

Ebertfest 2018: 20th Anniversary

April 4th, 2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Ebertfest 2018: 20th Anniversary”

Ebertfest, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, was started by the world-renowned movie critic Roger Ebert to celebrate films that didn’t receive the recognition they deserved during their original runs: “The festival gives these films and their filmmakers a well-deserved second look.”

Open to the public, this five-day event now programmed by Roger’s widow, Chaz, and festival director Nate Kohn, keeps in mind what Roger would have wanted, following an established criteria for selection. Each film is followed by an in-depth discussion with actors, directors, critics and, of course, the audience.

To read the entire article, published April 4, 2018, go to

THE DAILY JOURNAL

#Day4Empathy

“Ready Player One” Fun-filled Easter Eggs

March 30th, 2018 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Ready Player One” Fun-filled Easter Eggs”

Review from the March 30, 2018 edition of The Daily Journal:

The future is bleak in “Ready Player One,” based on Ernest Cline’s book of the same name. It takes us to Columbus, Ohio, in the year 2045, when the world has taken an ugly turn to be litter-ridden, unsafe and poverty-stricken.

At least that’s Cline’s vision. Steven Spielberg’s film version is a fast-paced visual extravaganza, engaging both gamers older than 13 and those of us who grew up in the ‘80s. (There are more pop culture references in this film than Storm Troopers on the Death Star. Reportedly, even the crew of the film tried to plant a few surprises for their director!)

The world’s population does everything to escape reality, including venturing into a gaming world called OASIS. Playing is costly, and the world is addicted. This addiction lines the pockets of OASIS, but creator Halliday (Mark Rylance) has died, giving gamers an opportunity to find all the keys to his kingdom in a virtual race against one another as they become Gunters, or Easter egg hunters. (For those not familiar, an “Easter egg” is an unexpected feature in a piece of computer software, usually added as a joke.)

The prize? Halliday’s fortune and OASIS itself.

To read the review in its entirety, go to

THE DAILY JOURNAL

“All I Wish” finds life for overlooked demographic

March 28th, 2018 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““All I Wish” finds life for overlooked demographic”

I am finding that wishes really do come true, even if they’re in the form of a movie.  As a woman in my mid-50’s, it’s simply refreshing to see a fun romantic dramedy about someone in my age bracket who’s still living life, still re-creating herself, and who can still be perceived as romantic.  We find all of this in writer/director Susan Walter’s new film “All I Wish,” starring Sharon Stone. 

According to Lesley Coffin’s interview with Walter in FF2 Media, “All I Wish” didn’t start out to appeal to audiences in my demographic.  With the financial and creative magic of Stone who was originally approached to play “Mom,” the project was transformed to hit a target audience who’s been completely overlooked in the past.  According to the FF2 Media article, Walter shared that Stone said, “Why not make [the film] about someone turning 50, who’s had a dream that’s been festering for decades?  Wouldn’t that be more interesting?”

Stone’s suggestion certainly did make for a much more interesting film.  Senna, Stone’s character, is a hip, bright, funky unattached woman—exactly the type of friend everyone loves to be around.  But she’s struggling internally with her achievements, particularly her work.  As a fashion designer who has not yet realized her potential, Senna finds herself without a job, floundering for a bit as she rights herself in the turbulent waters of life.  The film follows Senna, picking up on her birthday each year and we see a beautiful evolution exemplifying what it’s like to always have dreams…and wishes even women our age.

Senna’s very close to her mother, Celia (Ellen Burstyn), who is always the first to call and wish her daughter a happy birthday.  Their bond is sweet yet very real as it’s not perfect; her mother says and does (humorous) typical mom things and Senna’s reaction to them is spot-on.  Senna’s friendships are also endearing yet realistic as we watch and understand her interaction with Darla (Liza Lapira) whose life unfolds in a predictable way.  It’s Darla’s honesty and encouragement that pushes Senna to pursue her dreams that reminds us what best friends should be.

 

“All I Wish” is a romantic film as well, but Senna’s future and happiness doesn’t hinge on finding the right man as most romantic comedies portray.  It is a vital part of her life, but her independence and wisdom at this stage in her life allows her to continue to be who she is.  Tony Goldwyn plays her love interest, Adam, a bright and charming man who gives Senna a run for her money and we watch their relationship change on those mile marker birthdays.

What makes “All I Wish” unique is Senna’s age.  She has gone through all the typical growing pains of life, learned from them, yet still finds lessons to learn.  She has to go through the pain of loving and losing her mother, something many of us 50-somethings have had to endure. Rarely do you find a film that tells a story that encompasses this stage of life and living, but “All I Wish” does just that.

Stone’s portrayal of Senna seems to be right in her wheelhouse.   She doesn’t look her age and this vibrancy exudes from her character of Senna as she lives life to its fullest.  Stone allows the viewer to understand Senna’s innermost fears, relating to her outward confidence while masking some of the pain she is experiencing.  Of course, Burstyn shines as Senna’s mother as she embodies a loving mom we all would like to have.  Together, these women create an unbreakable bond while still finding a balance of independence. 

There is humor in the story as well.  It’s the irony of life; the situations we can all understand.  It’s perspective that comes with experience.  And there is the one scene at the beach involving a car trunk, a towel, and a misplaced set of keys that will make you laugh out loud. 

“All I Wish” is a heartfelt and relatable film filled with humor as we enjoy getting to know and grow with Senna.  The film confirms the fact that we’re never to old to have dreams, try new adventures, and start another chapter in our lives all the while holding on to a concept of love and sexuality.  In the end, it’s one of those movies you find yourself breathing a sigh of delight and just feeling good.

Chicago filmmaker Michael Glover Smith looks to Seed & Spark for his next movie “Rendezvous in Chicago”

March 28th, 2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Chicago filmmaker Michael Glover Smith looks to Seed & Spark for his next movie “Rendezvous in Chicago””

Michael Glover Smith picks up his proverbial pen to culminate his trilogy of relationship films with “Rendezvous In Chicago.”  Reuniting a few familiar faces from his first two endeavors, “Cool Apocalypse” and “Mercury in Retrograde,” Smith’s newest film is comprised of three unrelated vignettes, telling, as he said, “the story of a single relationship.”  But don’t worry…if you haven’t seen his first two creations, it’s not a prerequisite, although you’re missing out on two wonderful films!

Smith had a chance to talk with me about making “Rendezvous in Chicago,”  addressing key points such as funding, the Inclusion Rider, his plans for shooting, and the talented cast with whom he has, in many cases, developed “…a kind of short hand on set.”

Independent filmmaking always has its challenges, but first and foremost, funding is  the most difficult.  Smith said, “‘Cool Apocalypse’ was made for very little money and I raised it all by crowdfunding.  ‘Mercury in Retrograde’ had a considerably higher budget and was financed through equity investors.  ‘Rendevous’ is a combination of the two approaches: we’ve raised some money through investors and are using Seed & Spark, a great crowdfunding platform designed specifically for filmmakers, to raise the rest of the money we need.”

Smith is thrilled to be reunited with Nina Ganet (“Cool Apocalpyse” “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party”) recognizing that she was just 22 years old when they first worked together.  Now, four years later, “…she has a lot more acting experience and life experience”  which will allow Ganet’s portrayal of “Julie” to bring, as Smith stated, “…a lot of the changes that have occured in her own life to the character.”  Smith has also worked with Kevin Wehby (“Cool Apocalypse,” “Mercury in Retrograde”) and Shane Simmons (“Mercury in Retrograde”) and is looking forward to working with Clare Cooney, Rashaad Hall, and Matt Sherbach (“Chicago P.D.”), describing them as “brilliant actors.”

As a seasoned writer and director, Smith is not at all daunted by the filming process.  He said, “Honestly, I think the actual shooting is going to be fun and easy.  We have a great cast and crew and I anticipate it being a summer camp-type atmosphere.”  Smith is cognizant of the need to give women opportunities in the world of filmmaking and has the innovative Layne Marie Williams as Assistant Director and sole producer.  Williams, founder of Women of the Now, will be bringing in Armani Barron as Production Manager and Hannah Butler as the Script Supervisor.  Smith has already announced Christine Sciortino as Hair & Makeup Stylist and Haley McCormick as the Art Director and Costume Designer.   Additionally, Smith anticipates hiring women as production assistants and as part of his camera crew.  Smith excitedly said, “This means more than half our crew will be women.  I’m a fan of the Inclusion Rider!”

With so many wheels already in motion, Smith’s only reservations come  in the form of how to fund “Rendezvous in Chicago.”  “The hardest part will be raising the money in advance.”  With lightness and a certain encouraging tone, Smith said, “…most campaigns are funded through the accumulation of many small donations.  Even $25 can help a lot!”

Interestingly, in a typical 30-day campaign to fully fund a film, the successful projects are 1/3 funded in the first three days.  Smith is hoping for a “…strong start right out of the gate.”  Contributing in other ways is also very helpful to independent projects such as “Rendezvous in Chicago.”  Sharing a link on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is also greatly appreciated.

For links to contribute, go to Seed & Spark

“Unsane” is insanely thrilling

March 23rd, 2018 Posted by Review, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on ““Unsane” is insanely thrilling”

Steven Soderbergh is a prolific producer, but his directorial resume is quite impressive as well, particularly with the more recent film “Logan Lucky” which unfortunately flew under the radar with both critics and viewers.  Now, Soderbergh takes a “stab” at his first horror film, “Unsane.”  But to label it as just that, does it an injustice.  It’s more of a psychological thriller with horror elements a la Stephen King.  Think of it as a bit of “Shutter Island” and “Misery” blended together with touches of reality versus paranoia and you have “Unsane”  all shot on an iPhone!  

Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy-”The Crown”) leads a paranoid life, always looking over her shoulder, haunted or perhaps I should say, hunted, by a stalker.  As she seeks professional counseling in yet another new town where she works successfully as a banking analyst, Sawyer is inadvertently self-admitted into a psychiatric ward.  Unable to control her temper and “seeing” her stalker as a caregiver at the facility, she lashes out, increasing her observational time at the institute.  Attempting to get out, Sawyer befriends Nate (Jay Pharoah), contacts her mother, all the while unravelling from within with a little help from Violet (Juno Temple) and Nurse George (Joshua Leonard).  

“Unsane” sets the uneasy tone as we first meet Sawyer in her new surroundings, narrating what her thoughts are and giving us a few hints about her past.  A few ideological seeds are planted regarding her mental status creating a distrust between the viewer and this supposed protagonist.  The questioning continues throughout the film, even when we are provided with solid information and it is this intuitive writing that hones into the viewers’ psyche making “Unsane” insanely captivating.  

Foy plays a strong and smart young woman with nerves of steel whose very inner being is tested.  Each and every scene delves more deeply into her paranoia with just enough uncertainty that you begin to wonder what you would do in that same situation.  Could you endure the treatment?  How would you get out?  Could you just be quiet and try to assimilate until your insurance ran out?  (It’s the medical system so it’s all about the bottom line!)  Pulling the viewer personally into that situation makes your heart race as you audibly gasp at some rather chilling and horrific occurrences.  

Leonard has a dual role and again, he evokes feelings of trust as well as distrust in the first half of the film.  As the truth is revealed, the story plunges down that rabbit hole of panic, tapping into the fight or flight defense mechanism we all inherently have.  Pharoah stands out in his role as confidante, providing a bit of much needed levity and Temple is a natural in her role as psych patient with her bizarre mannerisms and lashing out unexpectedly.  

As with any thriller/horror film, it is the element of surprise that makes them fun and while I can’t say this is fun, it most certainly kept me guessing.  There were also some scenes that I simply couldn’t keep my eyes on the screen and I was thankful that I sat in the front row so that when I quickly sank into my seat to avoid what was coming at me visually, I didn’t kick the person in front of me.  Here’s a warning—there are some psychologically disturbing and gruesome scenes, particularly toward the end that may be too much for some viewers.

Now, back to the iPhone as the camera.  Knowing this when you go in, you take notice of some of the camera work initially, but you quickly forget about it as you are sucked into the plot and the characters.  Seeing a film from a writer/director/producer/cinematographer the calibre of Soderbergh who chose to film “Unsane” on an iPhone will surely inspire future filmmakers everywhere.  

“Unsane” is a brilliantly thrilling horror movie that any Stephen King fan would enjoy.  Its chilling premise, unflinching acting, and gut-wrenching elements of suspense allow even the jaded movie goer to feel like he/she has seen something new.  And without any spoilers, the end of the film is simply perfect.

3 1/2 Stars

“I Kill Giants” In theaters and VOD Friday, March 23

March 21st, 2018 Posted by Review, Weekly VOD 0 thoughts on ““I Kill Giants” In theaters and VOD Friday, March 23”

The action graphic novel “I Kill Giants” by J.M. Ken Niimura comes to life on the big screen starring Madison Wolfe as Barbara, the slayer of giants. Barbara is an outcast in her school, exhibiting bizarre behaviors brought about by her tumultuous home life. The story creates a portrayal of a teen’s inner and symbolic demons as she attempts to control both, coping with her inevitable future. While the pace of the story is meandering and slow at times, the payoff is worth the wait with its emotionally beautiful ending.

Three siblings, seemingly fending for themselves, live in a beautiful home along the coast. Karen (Imogen Poots), the eldest, takes on the role of mother as she works and cares for her younger brother and sister. Barbara rebels against her siblings and takes herself into the world of monsters and giants. It is here that reality and imagination blend together as we question the difference between the two. Bringing her back to reality and grounding Barbara is her new and only friend, a new girl in town, Sophia (Sydney Wade).  Attempting to  understand Barbara while navigating the angst of middle school, Sophia’s kindness is pushed to the brink.  Barbara’s inner monsters must first be addressed before she can find a way to sort through her own reality.

Wolfe carries this film as she portrays a character who lashes out, wielding her words like a sword.  She is, on the surface, weird and  insensitive, yet in her mind she is there to save the town from certain demise from the Giants. This is Barbara’s story and we are submerged in her world, trying to understand what she is truly grappling with. It isn’t until the final 30 minutes of the film that there is that long-awaited crescendo connecting us to this little girl. The supporting cast is just that, supporting. The adults in the film are integral to Barbara’s character and emotional growth, but the adult characters are never really developed. The story unfolds from Barbara’s point of view, but it also accentuates the importance of a consistent and caring adult in a child’s life and the impact upon her resiliency.  The consistent adult in this story is the counselor, Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana).

“I Kill Giants” is gorgeously shot, melding together the world of reality and make believe in magical ways. For those who have not read the graphic novel, it comes as no surprise  that this would be the inspiration, given the intensity and vivid images. Barbara’s imagination is brought into full focus, allowing the viewer to be a part of her fears and powers or lack thereof. In many ways, this film is reminiscent of J.A. Bayona’s “A Monster Calls” as it tackles adult issues thrust upon a child and the use of imagination as a coping mechanism.

“I Kill Giants” is a vibrant and bold depiction of a young teen’s imagination as she grapples with toxic stress. The film reminds us that knocking down the walls to truly understand a child who seems a bit odd is worth the time and patience.

3/4 Stars

“Women Represent at the SXSW Film Festival”

March 16th, 2018 Posted by Film Festivals 0 thoughts on ““Women Represent at the SXSW Film Festival””

The SXSW Film Festival, now a quarter century old, will run from March 9-17 in Austin Texas.  The premier festival showcases festival favorites from Sundance, world premieres from around the country, and Texas shorts and Texas high school shorts.  The line up is always amazing and the distractions include an array of music events, comedy headliners, and of course, barbecue!  

As I perused this year’s SXSW Film Festival line up, I had an immediate rush of hope.  Hope that this festival could feasibly be the best in representing women!  The first category was “Narrative Features” listed in alphabetical order.  The first one, “Family” is written and directed by Laura Steinel.  The second, “First Match,” was written and directed by Olivia Newman.  I began to sit more erectly in the chair in front of my computer, scrolling a little more quickly as I read through the entire list.  Number 3, 4, and 5 on the list were also projects of female filmmakers!  In fact, 80% of the Narrative Feature films at this year’s SXSW Film Festival are by women!  

To read the article in its entirety, go to Fete Lifestyle Magazine

An Interview with Yeardley Smith at SXSW

March 14th, 2018 Posted by Film Festivals 0 thoughts on “An Interview with Yeardley Smith at SXSW”

Yeardley Smith is a woman of many talents, one of them is possessing the most recognizable voice in television history—the voice of Lisa Simpson.  Actress, podcaster, author, and producer also fill her lengthy list of accomplishments, but this talented woman whose success came quickly and early in life, hit a few road blocks along the way.  Smith took time away from her schedule (and noshing on delectable barbecue) in Austin where her film “All Square” premiered to talk about her career path, words of advice, and the future of women in Hollywood.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

PP:  What advice would you give your younger self?

YS:  Do not attach your value to your accomplishments…I didn’t realize I was doing it until I was 20 years into my career, that I had tied my identity and my value to  external things.  And of course you can’t fill up the inside from the outside.

PP:  And you do a one woman live stage show?

YS:  I did.  Do is the wrong tense.  Did.  I’ll never do it again.  Around that time that I thought, ok I better pull up my socks and do it myself.  Sadly, the NYT reviewed it like your mother would write.  Pretty much everyone else disliked it.  I think it was terribly misunderstood where people thought, you have everything.  I don’t know why I should feel sorry for you.  And I was like, Oh my God, you’ve missed the point!  That’s what I’m telling you, I have everything and how come it didn’t work.  How come all of that material wealth and all of these opportunities didn’t make me feel like whatever I felt was broken inside of me is now fixed.  The audiences really loved it, but because it was not well reviewed, we couldn’t fill the houses and it closed. 

The audio interview in its entirety here

 

Female directors featured at CEUFF down from last year

March 12th, 2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Female directors featured at CEUFF down from last year”

Hosted by the Gene Siskel Film Center, the month-long Chicago European Union Film Festival (CEUFF) will feature 9 films directed by women (9 out of 61 = ~ 14.8 percent, down from last year’s record high of 25 percent). The festival is celebrating its 21st year year, beginning March 9 through April 5.

Dramatic narratives are the stories women are telling most at this festival, ranging from period pieces such as Barbara Albert’s moralistic and psychological period film Mademoiselle Paradis to Elina Psykou’s powerful current-day tale of Oedipus.  Tonie Marshall puts the spotlight on games women (have to) play when trying to compete and win in the corporate boardroom in the French film Number One, and Marleen Jonkman’s Messi and Maud captures the societal pressures of motherhood and the freedom of a road trip through Chile.

To read the article in its entirety, go to:

FF2 Media Female directors featured at CEUFF down from last year

“Son of Sofia” A hauntingly powerful story portraying a current day Oedipal conflict

March 12th, 2018 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on ““Son of Sofia” A hauntingly powerful story portraying a current day Oedipal conflict”

“Son of Sophia” had its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and is now a powerful part of the annual Chicago European Union Film Festival.  Written and directed by Elina Psykou and staring Victor Khomut as a young boy, wrestling with issues of betrayal, abandonment, and love as he leaves childhood behind.  This thought-provoking and psychologically deep film about a mother and her son creates an intriguingly insightful look at growing up in less than ideal circumstances.

Misha (Khomut), a quiet and reserved 11 year-old travels on his own from Russia to Athens to live with his mother, Sofia (Valery Tscheplanowa).  The two have been separated for years and their reunion shows the unfamiliarity but obligatory connection.  The living situation is just one of the many surprises for Misha as he learns that he and his mother will be living with an older gentleman, Mr. Nikos (Thanassis Papageorgiou).  This man, he will discover, is also his new stepfather.  It’s evident that Misha still needs his mother and isn’t ready for this new “father” in his life.  He is still a young boy at heart as we see him clinging to the comfort of fairy tales. Jarringly, he is then abruptly pulled into the world of an older boy with no parental influence.  The struggle is palpable as Misha grows up in this foreign land, not understanding the language and thrust into a surprising situation which push the envelope of emotional capabilities of any child.

“Son of Sophia” is a complexly layered story, delving into not just the growing pains of young Misha, but of the conflicting loyalty that Sofia now has.  She’s torn between the love of her son and the needs of her new husband as well as her financial dependency upon him. She is treated as less than a person, demands placed upon her, and commanding her son to do the same. This heartbreaking and internal  struggle is beautifully portrayed, demonstrating what many wives and mothers deal with on a daily basis.

“Son of Sofia” develops another story within the film as we see another viewpoint; that of Misha.  He longed to be only with his mother and finds Mr. Nikos to be a competitor.  It’s a classic representation of a boy with an Oedipus Complex, attempting to do away with his competition.  Misha’s new-found friend, Victor (Aremois Havalits) couldn’t be any worse of an influence, but with no parental involvement, Misha delves into inappropriate situations.  His ability to understand right from wrong seems to become less clear as do his skills in coping with losing his childhood.

Khomut is the lead actor, supporting the film completely with his nuanced performance.   Balancing on the edge of childhood’s imagination and the dark world of adults is intellectually difficult, but Khomut finds a way to do exactly this.  Tscheplanowa gives us a beautifully dramatic performance, creating a conflicted and apprehensive character.  She brings us a character who is not only real, but believable.  The interaction between the two is familiar and relatable while the cinematography gorgeously captures each and every mood and feeling.  The story-line does become disturbing, but it is required to do so in order to expertly bring the Oedipal Complex to its bitter-sweet conclusion.

“Son of Sofia” is remarkably haunting and dramatic as it captures the love between a mother and her son and his need to grow up.  Its complexities are revealed through deft direction and writing, allowing the cast to shine.

“All Square” A dark comedy at SXSW gives Michael Kelly a chance to shine in new ways

March 10th, 2018 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on ““All Square” A dark comedy at SXSW gives Michael Kelly a chance to shine in new ways”

Remember when films took you away to a not so different place, yet one that let you escape your own life?  Movies that were filled with interesting characters, perhaps one that you could even identify with?  Or somehow, that imperfect character who was the focal point of the story allowed you to root for him even with all his flaws?  “All Square,” which premiered at the SXSW film festival, is just that movie.  It’s good old-fashioned storytelling complete with characters we love, identify with, and hope beyond hope that they make it across home plate.

Michael Kelly stars in “All Square,” the story of a small-town bookie, following in his not-so-successful father’s footsteps, after failing to be the town’s baseball prodigy oh-so-many years ago.  John (Kelly) is constantly behind the eight ball, attempting to collect on debts, having a heart when he shouldn’t and trying to be tough in all the wrong ways.  Caring for his elderly father, paying medical bills and for cigarettes (oh, the irony) John attempts to up the ante and score it big…in a youth baseball league gambling ring he has devised.  After a one-night stand with Debbie (Pamela Adion), a former flame, John connects with her son Brian, a pitcher with perhaps some skills yet to be mined.  John’s foresight is a bit lacking and his actions not getting any votes for stand in father of the year, his plan spirals out of control, with the fallout unpredictable—at least to John.

Kelly’s role as John, the lovable loser who never seems to learn a lesson, is certainly a departure from his typical roles as Doug Stamper in “House of Cards,” or numerous law enforcement agents.  He seems to comfortably slip into this role as blue collar worker with a heart as well his Carharts.  His comedic timing in this dark comedy allows him to show a different and very entertaining side of his skills which I hope we will see more of in the future. 

Partnering with a child actor who must have the skills to  lead Kelly’s character to develop is a tough act to find, but Sheps is a natural.  The love and antagonistic relationship the two develop give such depth to not only their characters, but to the overall story.  Sheps portrays “Brian” with touch of maturity while still maintaining his youthful innocence that John could only dream to have had at such a young age.  And Sheps never takes this role over-the-top as some films and actors might have done.  He always finds that level of reality to bring to the character, allowing the audience to somehow find compassion for both main characters.

The cast is exceptional as is the writing and succinct and deft direction by John Hyams. The storyline of “All Square” has a touch of drama and suspense as well as comedy, albeit most of it either ironic or pitch black.  With writing and characters that connect with the viewer, the film is sure to be an audience pleaser as it comes full circle.  Filming in Dundalk, MD, the understated suburb of Baltimore, the town’s personality shines through to accentuate the story and its message.  Adion, Josh Lucas, Harris Yulin, and a cameo from Yeardley Smith (interview coming soon) round out the talented cast of characters to create a story that is as engaging as it is entertaining.

 “All Square” will screen again at the SXSW Film Festival on March 13 and 15.  For more information, go to SXSW FILM SCHEDULE

Watch for the upcoming interview with Yeardley Smith, Producer (voice of Lisa Simpson from “The Simpsons”)

“A Wrinkle in Time” is a powerful story of love, family

March 9th, 2018 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““A Wrinkle in Time” is a powerful story of love, family”

Director Ava DuVernay’s newest endeavor, “A Wrinkle in Time,” takes a departure from her usual, heavy, historical-based topics — “Selma” followed the Montgomery, Ala., voting rights marches and “13th” covered the 13th amendment — and embarks on a magical journey filled with beauty, love and a young girl’s strength and courage.

This departure just might be what audiences are in need of given the darkness of world events that surround us.

DuVernay interprets author Madeleine L’Engle’s novel “A Wrinkle in Time,” staring the young Storm Reid as Meg, a precocious young girl whose parents are prolific astrophysicists, breaking boundaries and bending minds in new directions. She’s joined by a powerful supporting cast including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling (“The Office”), Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Doctor Who”) and Levi Miller (“Pan”), plus recent newcomer to the screen Deric McCabe.

To read the review in its entirety, go to:

http://www.daily-journal.com/life/entertainment/wrinkle-in-time-is-a-powerful-story-of-family/article_393eae03-e65d-5d40-8502-ed829015ea23.html

Video Wrap from “Hollywood on State” via Reel Chicago

March 7th, 2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Video Wrap from “Hollywood on State” via Reel Chicago”

There were a few additions to the Hollywood on State Oscar night viewing party at the Gene Siskel Film Center last night: I ventured into the celebration with staff writer Joey Filer, who wielded a camera and microphone to capture the action for a thrilling video.  Watch the video below and go to www.reelchicago.com for the full story!

And the winners (might) be…Oscar Predictions 2018

March 4th, 2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “And the winners (might) be…Oscar Predictions 2018”

The Oscar winners will soon be known, but until the curtain draws to a close, RHR has her predictions (and hopes) for the talented recipients of   that little gold statue.  Without further ado, here they are with predicted winners in bold and RHR’s hopefuls with an asterisk *

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

NOMINEES

TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET*

Call Me by Your Name

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS

Phantom Thread

DANIEL KALUUYA

Get Out

GARY OLDMAN

Darkest Hour

DENZEL WASHINGTON

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

NOMINEES

WILLEM DAFOE

The Florida Project

WOODY HARRELSON

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

RICHARD JENKINS

The Shape of Water

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER*

All the Money in the World

SAM ROCKWELL

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

NOMINEES

SALLY HAWKINS*

The Shape of Water

FRANCES MCDORMAND

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

MARGOT ROBBIE

I, Tonya

SAOIRSE RONAN

Lady Bird

MERYL STREEP

The Post

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

NOMINEES

MARY J. BLIGE

Mudbound

ALLISON JANNEY*

I, Tonya

LESLEY MANVILLE

Phantom Thread

LAURIE METCALF

Lady Bird

OCTAVIA SPENCER

The Shape of Water

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

NOMINEES

THE BOSS BABY

Tom McGrath and Ramsey Naito

THE BREADWINNER

Nora Twomey and Anthony Leo

COCO*

Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson

FERDINAND

Carlos Saldanha and Lori Forte

LOVING VINCENT

Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

NOMINEES

BLADE RUNNER 2049

Roger A. Deakins

DARKEST HOUR

Bruno Delbonnel

DUNKIRK

Hoyte van Hoytema

MUDBOUND

Rachel Morrison

THE SHAPE OF WATER*

Dan Laustsen

 

COSTUME DESIGN

NOMINEES

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST*

Jacqueline Durran

DARKEST HOUR

Jacqueline Durran

PHANTOM THREAD

Mark Bridges

THE SHAPE OF WATER

Luis Sequeira

VICTORIA & ABDUL

Consolata Boyle

 

DIRECTING

NOMINEES

DUNKIRK

Christopher Nolan

GET OUT

Jordan Peele

LADY BIRD

Greta Gerwig

PHANTOM THREAD

Paul Thomas Anderson

THE SHAPE OF WATER*

Guillermo del Toro

 

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

NOMINEES

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL

Steve James, Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman

FACES PLACES*

Agnès Varda, JR and Rosalie Varda

ICARUS

Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan

LAST MEN IN ALEPPO

Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed and Søren Steen Jespersen

STRONG ISLAND

Yance Ford and Joslyn Barnes

 

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

NOMINEES

EDITH+EDDIE*

Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright

HEAVEN IS A TRAFFIC JAM ON THE 405

Frank Stiefel

HEROIN(E)

Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon

KNIFE SKILLS

Thomas Lennon

TRAFFIC STOP

Kate Davis and David Heilbroner

 

FILM EDITING

NOMINEES

BABY DRIVER*

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos

DUNKIRK

Lee Smith

I, TONYA

Tatiana S. Riegel

THE SHAPE OF WATER

Sidney Wolinsky

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Jon Gregory

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

NOMINEES

A FANTASTIC WOMAN

Chile

THE INSULT

Lebanon

LOVELESS

Russia

ON BODY AND SOUL

Hungary

THE SQUARE*

Sweden

 

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

NOMINEES

DARKEST HOUR

Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick

VICTORIA & ABDUL

Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard

WONDER*

Arjen Tuiten

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

NOMINEES

DUNKIRK

Hans Zimmer

PHANTOM THREAD*

Jonny Greenwood

THE SHAPE OF WATER

Alexandre Desplat

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

John Williams

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Carter Burwell

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

NOMINEES

MIGHTY RIVER

from Mudbound; Music and Lyric by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson

MYSTERY OF LOVE

from Call Me by Your Name; Music and Lyric by Sufjan Stevens

REMEMBER ME*

from Coco; Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

STAND UP FOR SOMETHING

from Marshall; Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Lonnie R. Lynn and Diane Warren

THIS IS ME

from The Greatest Showman; Music and Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

 

BEST PICTURE

NOMINEES

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges and Marco Morabito, Producers

DARKEST HOUR

Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten and Douglas Urbanski, Producers

DUNKIRK

Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers

GET OUT

Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr. and Jordan Peele, Producers

LADY BIRD

Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Evelyn O’Neill, Producers

PHANTOM THREAD

JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupi, Producers

THE POST

Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers

THE SHAPE OF WATER*

Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale, Producers

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh, Producers

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

NOMINEES

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

BLADE RUNNER 2049

Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Alessandra Querzola

DARKEST HOUR

Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

DUNKIRK

Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis

THE SHAPE OF WATER*

Production Design: Paul Denham Austerberry; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeffrey A. Melvin

 

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

NOMINEES

DEAR BASKETBALL

Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant

GARDEN PARTY

Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon

LOU*

Dave Mullins and Dana Murray

NEGATIVE SPACE

Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata

REVOLTING RHYMES

Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer

 

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

NOMINEES

DEKALB ELEMENTARY

Reed Van Dyk

THE ELEVEN O’CLOCK

Derin Seale and Josh Lawson

MY NEPHEW EMMETT

Kevin Wilson, Jr.

THE SILENT CHILD*

Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton

WATU WOTE/ALL OF US

Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen

 

SOUND EDITING

NOMINEES

BABY DRIVER*

Julian Slater

BLADE RUNNER 2049

Mark Mangini and Theo Green

DUNKIRK

Richard King and Alex Gibson

THE SHAPE OF WATER

Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce

 

SOUND MIXING

NOMINEES

BABY DRIVER*

Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis

BLADE RUNNER 2049

Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth

DUNKIRK

Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo and Mark Weingarten

THE SHAPE OF WATER

Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

NOMINEES

BLADE RUNNER 2049

John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick

KONG: SKULL ISLAND

Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES*

Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist

 

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

NOMINEES

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Screenplay by James Ivory

THE DISASTER ARTIST

Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

LOGAN

Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold

MOLLY’S GAME

Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin

MUDBOUND*

Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

 

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

NOMINEES

THE BIG SICK

Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani

GET OUT

Written by Jordan Peele

LADY BIRD

Written by Greta Gerwig

THE SHAPE OF WATER*

Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

The Gene Siskel Film Center’s “Hollywood on State: Where You’re the Star”

February 27th, 2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “The Gene Siskel Film Center’s “Hollywood on State: Where You’re the Star””

The Gene Siskel Film Center will once again hosts its annual Oscar viewing party — “Hollywood on State: Where You’re the Star” — on Sunday, March 4.

This star-studded extravaganza, sponsored by Southwest Airlines, BMO Harris Bank, and The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Foundation, gives participants an opportunity to watch the 90th Academy Awards show, live via telecast, in one of the newly renovated theaters as well as walk the red carpet while photogs capture the moment.

To read the article in its entirety, check out the link below:

Best seats in town: Siskel Center Oscar Viewing Party

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