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David Styburski

DVD Review: Belgian ‘Left Bank’ is Short on Suspense

Left Bank

CHICAGO – “Left Bank” centers on` a woman whose apartment appears to be above a black hole, or a pit or something dark and deep like that. The Belgian horror outing (which has gone straight to DVD in the United States after playing in Chicago at the EU Film Fest) isn’t nearly as dumb as that synopsis makes it out to be, but in the end, that’s actually more of criticism than a compliment.

DVD Review: ‘Il Divo’ Explores the Bloody Trenches of Italian Politics

Il Divo

CHICAGO – Since the totality of what I know about Italian politics could fit inside a fortune cookie, I’d normally be inclined to demand that films on the subject keep it simple by not utilizing too many characters and not bothering with a complicated plot that spans roughly fifteen years. But the slick “Il Divo” didn’t have me pleading with writer director Paolo Sorrentino to slow down so that I could catch up with its history.

DVD Review: ‘Cheri’ Knows Love Isn’t Love if It’s All About You

Cheri

CHICAGO – “Cheri” could be confused with an updated adaptation of a Jane Austen novel if its characters weren’t so comfortable with what goes on between the sheets. Like players in many stuffy costume dramas, they wear the best clothes, live in lavishly decorated homes and speak their perfect grammar in posh accents. But since they aren’t sexually repressed, they do it all with a little bounce in their step.

DVD Review: ‘Lymelife’ is the Same Old Story

Lymelife

CHICAGO – Only a few short weeks ago, I sat through the two-hour shrug-fest that is Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock” and lamented how so many of the film’s interactions between parents and the younger generation were played for cartoonish laughs instead of striving for the haunting poignancy of the director’s 1997 family drama “The Ice Storm.” Well, upon viewing Derick Martini’s “Lymelife,” I determined that the cliché is true: Be careful what you wish for.

DVD Review: ‘O’Horten’ Tells of One Odd Fellow

O'Horten

CHICAGO – The problem with defining yourself by your job, as anyone in this god-awful economy might tell you, is that you probably won’t work forever. Odd Horten, the kind yet unexcitable title character in a strange, little Norwegian comedy by Bent Hamer, has steered locomotives for 40 years, and if you were to take the trains out of this simple fellow’s life, there wouldn’t be much left.

DVD Review: The Insignificance of ‘Important Things With Demetri Martin’

Important Things With Demetri Martin

CHICAGO – The inaugural sketch in the first season of Comedy Central’s “Important Things With Demetri Martin” takes place on a movie set where an actor knows his lines but can’t summon the proper emotions to make them believable. The character calls his unfaithful girlfriend some nasty names in what is supposed to be a fit of fury, but the words coming out of his mouth are said in a nonchalant, nearly cheery tone.

DVD Review: ‘Silent Light’ Rewards Those With Patience

Silent Light

CHICAGO – Proving that its title is at least partially appropriate, “Silent Light” is loaded with torturous durations of quiet. The cinematographer shoots a landscape. A clock ticks and tocks.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Not One Batu

    CHICAGO – The State of Hawaii may be one of the most misunderstood in America. Because of its reputation as a tourist mecca, the fact that native peoples live and work there like any other place is hard to imagine. Also unimaginable is the drug use of island residents, but playwright and Hawaiian native Hannah li-Epstein wrote about it in her stage play “Not One Batu,” now in its Premiere Chicago run at the Berger Park Coach House through July 28th, 2018. For more information, including tickets, click here.

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