Posts tagged "Siskel Film Center"

Cheers to “Another Round” now showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center

December 7th, 2020 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on “Cheers to “Another Round” now showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center”

Cheers! “Another Round” stars Mads Mikkelsen as Martin, a burnt out high school teacher slogging through life. His marriage is stagnant and he lacks drive, ambition, and motivation which slaps him hard as his go-getter students fear for their lack of education. This confrontation by his students and his superiors, accompanied by his recognition of his failing marriage, spirals his mental health further down until a colleague/friend proposes that their tight-knit group tests a theory. A Norwegian philosopher claimed that they are meant to function with a low level of alcohol in their systems at all times…like Hemingway. What starts as good if not mischievous fun becomes a turning point in all of their lives.

It’s an interesting theory which writer/director Thomas Vinterberg explores with such believability that I had to look it up. Of course, there’s no such theory that claims that “…humans are born with a blood alcohol content that’s 0.05% too low,” but it sounded good. (I do enjoy my wine!) The four men, all middle-aged, struggling in some way, are high school teachers who agree to maintain a blood alcohol level of 0.05%. And as teachers, they go about the “study” with dedication and precision, writing a list of rules—no drinking after 8 pm or on the weekends— and documenting the results each week hoping to find that their lives and performances have improved. And they do, but of course nothing could be so simple and what goes up must come down.

These men begin to look more like adolescents as they sneak bottles and flasks of booze, hiding them in nooks and crannies around the school. But Martin does find new passion in the classroom. He is engaging with his students who relish in his stories and new-found sense of direction. It’s simply fun to watch his students respond and hang on his every word. And his marriage begins to breathe a breath of fresh air as he once again is partaking in life and not just watching it pass by. All of his friends, a P.E. teacher, a philosophy teacher, and a music teacher, find similar successes, but maintaining that slight buzz requires a bit more and they all begin to push the envelope. It is at this point that the fun and games come to an end and the film takes on a more dramatic tone as one by one, they hit life’s brick wall. Joie de vivre is certainly the sentiment of the film, but “Another Round” gives us so much more to consider.

Mikkelsen’s fine-tuned performance hits all the right notes as he experiences the harsh realities of life. His versatility is endless as he shows us with this character and his keen understanding of “Martin.” While his performance is captivating, the camera working and lighting amplifies his every expression and thought effortlessly.

From start to finish, we get to know these very different men and anyone over the age of 40 understands the issues at hand. In many ways, this is a coming of age film or perhaps more accurately described as a coming to terms of aging film that harkens our youthful dreams as we embrace our decades of living. It’s a brilliant script that comes full circle with each of the characters growing and changing despite themselves. With equal parts humor and drama, “Another Round” is robustly satisfying as it quenches your thirst for life.

You can see this at the Gene Siskel film Center’s “Film Center from Your Sofa” now or on Dec. 18th on major digital platforms.

3 1/2 Stars

For ticket info

“Fantastic Fungi”- The scientific magic of mushrooms

October 16th, 2019 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““Fantastic Fungi”- The scientific magic of mushrooms”

Hope. It’s what we’re missing when it comes to the future of the Earth, of humanity, but “Fantastic Fungi” is exactly what the doctor ordered. It’s this dose of hope that will inspire, educate, and renew your faith in Mother Nature and her ability to right the world. If this sounds like it’s too good to be true, think again and then take a moment to watch this visually arresting, entertaining, and thought-provoking film by Louie Schwartzberg, debuting at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Friday, October 18, 2019.

Schwartzberg tells the story of mycelium or the mushroom in this new documentary. He explores the often overlooked, but massive and interconnected magical kingdom responsible for delectable delights, decomposition of organic matter, increasing the soil’s nutrient base, and even curing diseases. Using time-lapse macro cinematography, “Fantastic Fungi” is simply mesmerizing, captivating you, as you find yourself forgetting to breathe. Schwartzberg’s masterful camera work is equally as engaging as the layered and complicated, yet easily understood scientific information. The research expressed via narration and interviews lays the necessary foundation for us to easily build a fortress of understanding. We learn about the true cycle of life, from the beginning of time to our current day and our future as well as the more immediate circle of life as living organisms die and prepare the ground for new life.


The film’s focus, mycologist Paul Stamets, brother of Chicago film critic Bill Stamets, has devoted his life to the discovery of mushrooms and their potential to solve humanity’s problems. His interest in the topic is a story in and of itself, but his discoveries and knowledge, all gained in atypical ways, has opened the previously locked doors of life’s secrets. We also gain further knowledge with interviews from author Michael Pollan, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Johns Hopkins neurologists and psychologists, giving great credibility to the information at hand.

Learning that the base that supports all life is an interconnected microorganism called a fungi, there are more than 1.5 million types of these organisms. Without them, you (we) wine drinkers, beer imbibers, and whiskey connoisseurs, would find our cocktail time uninviting. On a more serious note, the hundreds of thousands of types of mushrooms, a part of this fungi family, promises to have the potential to solve our climate change issues and help develop cancer treatments. “Fantastic Fungi” reveals the real magic kingdom, showcasing this organism’s potential as well as its roots—pun intended–as it appears that we are all interconnected. It’s a symbiotic relationship among all living organisms with a more complicated communication system than ever before realized, but it’s up to us to unlock the code and discover the answers literally beneath our feet.

When Mother Nature created mycelium which, without getting into the science behind it all in this review, takes any organic material and can process it. Think about targeting a cancer cell with this and eliminating this lethal cellular machine. Or using a type of fungi to decompose an oil spill, turning the environmental disaster into a haven for new life. Schwartzberg’s painstaking research unfolds before your eyes in wonderfully entertaining ways as you witness the wonders and magic of the mushroom.

With so many doom and gloom documentaries about the future of our world, “Fantastic Fungi” gives us hope in a future. Our Earth is a precious space that is in dire straits, but stopping to listen, see, and open our minds to a new way of learning just might prove that we have a chance after all. I was swept away by this film, its imagery, and its potency. It has inspired me to learn more about mushrooms and what might be right outside my back door in my very own yard. I am inspired, but even more importantly, I am hopeful.

Do not miss “Fantastic Fungi,” one of the most beautifully powerful and intellectually stimulating films of the year and perhaps even the decade. Paired with “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,” it’s a match made in heaven to give you a greater scientific understanding of the balance in which we need to strive.

For more information about this film, visit Fantastic Fungi
For ticket information at the Siskel Film Center where the film will screen Friday October 18th and 19th with Schwartzberg in attendance and through October 24th, go to Gene Siskel Film Center
4 Stars


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