CHICAGO – The legacy of public housing is one of the strangest forces of karma in the City of Chicago. For example, sites that were once some of the roughest and most neglected housing for the poor now contain luxury condos. It is the people of those former hellholes that still remember the sorrowful history of what they once called home. The American Theater Company (ATC) have gathered these stories for the poignant and extraordinary “The Projects.”
CHICAGO – We’re born, we’re nurtured, we seek purpose and we die. In between there are a million decisions between the words of that opening sentence, and writer/director Noah Baumbach understands that intuitively in his great new film, “While We’re Young.”
CHICAGO – Director Noah Baumbach is a master in creating cinematic atmosphere. Whether it’s the adolescent mood of “The Squid and the Whale,” the weird loneliness of “Frances Ha” or his screenplays with director Wes Anderson, Baumbach generates a worthy emotional imprint. His latest film is “While We’re Young.”
CHICAGO – Greta Gerwig is a gift to the type of film acting that dominates the screen. This beautiful, versatile actor gives poignant energy to her latest title character, “Frances Ha,” a collaboration with indie director Noah Baumbach (“Greenberg”).
CHICAGO – From “(500) Days of Summer” to “Ruby Sparks,” Fox Searchlight has been distributing some of the most refreshingly honest films about twentysomething romance in recent memory. The unapologetically flawed titular heroine in “Lola Versus” may have appeared more groundbreaking had she not debuted the same year as HBO’s “Girls,” which has the market cornered on such heroines.
CHICAGO – Writer/director Woody Allen continues his film travelogues in “To Rome with Love,” touring The Eternal City with four separate vignettes. An all-star cast – including Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz and Woody himself – hit and miss with this varying blend of stories.
CHICAGO – Greta Gerwig is now being recognized in the movie universe, and has climbed a ladder from micro-budget independent (“Baghead”) to mainstream monstrosities (the “Arthur” remake). She takes the lead role in “Lola Versus,” and anchors a terrific story about “settling down” and the decisions behind that certain time of life.
CHICAGO – The sly satires of Whit Stillman have cultivated a fan base that appears to consist largely of his fellow peers. Manhattan-based filmmakers such as Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach and Lena Dunham have cited his subdued comedies as an influence on their own similarly mannerist yet considerably more accessible work. For many moviegoers, Stillman’s brilliantly constructed, emotionally distant pictures are easy to admire but difficult to like.
CHICAGO – It takes a special kind of talent to appear wholly natural on-camera. Delivering dialogue with dramatic inflection is easy.
CHICAGO – Have we reached such a politically-correct place in our culture that drinking excessively can’t be seen as humorous even in a dumb comedy? How else to explain the boneheaded decision to basically make the legendary character of Arthur Bach (played by Dudley Moore in the Oscar-winning original and Russell Brand in the potential-Razzie-winning remake) into a man-child instead of an actual drunk? That decision (along with a few others) sunk “Arthur,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, before it even shot a frame. Although the actual production didn’t help.
CHICAGO – I have become nearly exhausted by writing reviews about the modern decline of the romantic comedy, the genre most in need of a complete overhaul. Most of them nowadays are horrendous. So, no one is more surprised than this critic to say that “No Strings Attached” with Ashton Kutcher & Natalie Portman, now available on Blu-ray and DVD, isn’t bad. It’s no genre classic, but it’s an enjoyable comedy on a Saturday night.