CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
Jennifer Jason Leigh
CHICAGO – There is directness in the reflective philosophy of “Anomalisa,” but there is also a sense of disconnection. From writer/co-director Charlie Kaufman (“Being John Malkovich”) comes another meditation on the life of life, and the twists of fate that inhabit the journey.
CHICAGO – Charlie Kaufman is one of the most inventive and creative minds in film – he has written “Being John Malkovich,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Adaptation.” He recently teamed up with an animation director, Duke Johnson, to produce an unusual and contemporary stop-motion film, “Anomalisa.”
CHICAGO – Story-wise, there is not much difference in “The Hateful Eight” – regarding themes and violence – that writer/director Quentin Tarantino hasn’t explored before. But it is also an outrageous and big western tale, and it’s presented in some theaters in a huge 70mm screen format.
We are surrounded by fiction about teenagers that treats both its subjects and its target audience like idiots. So few filmmakers understand the problems and emotions of young people that when a film as great as “The Spectacular Now” comes along (my #13 of 2013), it’s a small miracle. Reminiscent of the best of Cameron Crowe, James Ponsoldt’s adaptation of Tim Tharp’s novel (from a script robbed of an Oscar nod by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber) is a fantastic drama about a kid realizing that he may be peaking in high school. The Blu-ray is well-accompanied by a fantastic commentary from Ponsoldt, 20 minutes of deleted scenes, and featurettes.
CHICAGO – The movies has been berry berry good to 1950s Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsburg. For the sixth time since 2009, his persona is actualized on celluloid – this time by Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe – in the coming-of-age part of the poet’s story, “Kill Your Darlings.”
CHICAGO – HollywoodChicago.com hooks you up to see the very best movies (large and indie) for free before anyone else can. While we’ve been doing that since 2008, in this rare Hookup we offer up advance-screening tickets to a film that has been specifically handpicked by Chicago film critics.
CHICAGO – Jenji Kohan’s “Weeds” was one of the best comedies on television in its first few seasons on Showtime. From 2005-2008, it was easily one of the best half-hour programs on TV, netting Emmy nominations every year, including ones for Best Comedy, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress.
CHICAGO – Is there something special about 8/9/11 like 4:20? The notorious smoke-down time is well-known but I ask about August 9th because it’s a date with a massive influx of pot-themed movies, including new hits like “Paul” and “Your Highness” (which we’ll cover with full reviews soon) and re-releases of classics like “Dazed and Confused” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” both hitting the HD format tomorrow. It’s a stoner free-for-all!
CHICAGO – What has attracted Noah Baumbach to the mumblecore movement? Has he noticed similarities between the developmentally arrested misanthropes of his pictures and the ambling twentysomethings that populate micro-budget indies from filmmakers such as Joe Swanberg, Andrew Bujalski and the Duplass brothers? With “Greenberg,” his third and best feature to date, Baumbach draws a link between two generations, uniting them in their shared angst.
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
CHICAGO – With one of the most ambitious screenplays of 2008 and one of the most talented ensembles in years, “Synecdoche, New York,” now on Blu-Ray, is a must-see for fans of Charlie Kaufman’s earlier screenwriting work (“Adaptation,” “Being John Malkovich,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) and the incredible ensemble, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, and Michelle Williams.