CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.
CHICAGO – Some say, to use a FOX News term, that America is “post-racial.” The election of Barack Obama is supposed to have ended the debate on race, and any marginalization because of race. Of course, that is not possible in society and culture, and it’s articulated in writer/director Justin Simien’s new film, “Dear White People.”
CHICAGO – Jason Schwartzman likes to portray writers – he was one in his HBO series “Bored to Death” – and he portrays one in his latest film, “Listen Up Philip.” He also has played many characters in director Wes Anderson’s universe, and did a fantastic turn as composer Richard M. Sherman in last year’s “Saving Mr. Banks.”
CHICAGO – She was the Queen of 1980’s femme fatales, who later became a memorable stage and character actress. Kathleen Turner wowed audiences back in the day with hits including “Body Heat,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Prizzi’s Honor,” “Peggy Sue Got Married” and “War of the Roses.”
CHICAGO – Love him or not, Oliver Stone is one of the most important directors of the last generation. The creator of “Born on the Fourth of July,” “JFK,” “Platoon,” “Nixon” and “Any Given Sunday” was at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival to introduce his director’s cut for “Alexander” and “Natural Born Killers.”
CHICAGO – The opportunity to sample new filmmakers is one of the true pleasures of the 50th Chicago International Film Festival, and this year’s crop of City & State short films, made in either Chicago or Illinois, was no exception. Directors Lonnie Edwards, Joel Benjamin, Meghann Artes and Robert Carnilius represented the area.
CHICAGO – “The Good Lie” is a honorable film overview of the Sudanese “Lost Boys,” who were refugees from a horrific civil war in that African country. Many of those boys came to America, and producer Molly Smith (“The Blind Side”), with actors Ger Duany and Emmanuel Jal, were part of the team that brought the film to life.
CHICAGO – There are few better opportunities for a filmmaker than directing Bill Murray in a character role. Theodore “Ted” Melfi got that assignment, after pursuing Murray with his screenplay for the new film, “St. Vincent.” The effort to convince the veteran comic actor to take the title role paid off, and other notable actors joined in.
CHICAGO – Simply one of the best movies of 2014, “Whiplash” has a tone, energy and sensibility all its own. Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the story of a jazz drummer prodigy at a prestigious New York City music college, tortured by his tyrannical instructor. The drama is scintillating, in rhythm with the natural story flow.
CHICAGO – In America, we all came from somewhere, and there is always that other “home.” Brothers/filmmakers Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo – twenty-plus years removed from their native Haiti after moving to Chicago – go back to their homeland after the 2010 earthquake, and captured that journey in the new film, “Lakay.”
CHICAGO – The stylings of author Zane, who has dominated the best seller list and pay cable networks for several years with her steamy and sensually oriented stories, gets to the big screen with the recently released “Addicted.” Actors Boris Kodjoe and Tyson Beckford are part of the ensemble cast.