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.’
CHICAGO – Just like every year before it, there were no perfect films in 2014. I do not see this as a negative thing - reaching for greatness is far more electrifying than the plateau of achieving it, as presented in a hustler’s opus like ‘Whiplash,” which specifically eschews applause after a drum solo that just may have been perfection.
CHICAGO – The 50th Chicago International Film Festival of 2014 gets into gear this week, with a line-up of films from all over the world. The festival breaks down these films in several categories, including the Main Competition, New Directors, Docufest, Out-Look (LGBT), World Cinema, After Dark and Spotlight Scandinavia.
CHICAGO – Just in time for a national holiday is the release of two films about surviving as “the outsider” in a tumultuous American society. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” isn’t the only movie that opines about how the outsider will survive in America.
CHICAGO – It’s been three years since Jacques Audiard made a sizable splash in American art houses with “A Prophet,” a spellbinding picture that certainly ranks as one of the great crime films of the last decade. By following an Arab youth through his punishing sentence in a French prison, it provided audiences with an unforgettable portrait of corrupted innocence.
CHICAGO – The landmark ensemble film “The Big Chill” (1983) featured seven former college friends reuniting for the funeral of one of their own. The French film “Little White Lies” takes that concept a step further, as friends go on a yearly retreat without one of their own, because he is in the hospital. Francois Cluzet, Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin co-star.
CHICAGO – With “The Dark Knight Rises”, Christopher Nolan epically follows through on most of the themes he set up in “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” with amazing technical skill and an ambitious sense of scope. No one can deny the effort and intensity of this closing chapter of the most acclaimed superhero saga in the history of film.
CHICAGO – Sound the gong for one of the best films of the summer, as “The Dark Knight Rises” delivers an awe-inspiring blockbuster on virtually every level of storytelling and performance. Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and director Christopher Nolan create grand, metaphoric and visionary cinema.
CHICAGO – January 2012 is Steven Soderbergh month. The man’s newest film, “Haywire,” opens in theaters on January 20th (and we’ll have a review up shortly before it opens) while Criterion is upgrading his Oscar-winning “Traffic” to Blu-ray and re-releasing their DVD edition on the 17th of the month (you can, of course, also expect a review of that to run soon). The first wave of the Soderbergh trifecta is the Blu-ray and DVD release of “Contagion,” another expertly-made piece of filmmaking from a man who seems to know how to do nothing less.
CHICAGO – At times, Woody Allen’s new film releases stink like an old glove, and thankfully there are times when they fit like an old glove. His latest is “Midnight in Paris,” just released on Blu-ray and DVD. This is classic romantic Woody, set in the City of Lights, and featuring Owen Wilson taking on the Allen persona. It’s also featured in my Top 10 Films of 2011.
CHICAGO – Holy exploding football field Batman! The new trailer for “The Dark Knight Rises” has officially been released from Warner Bros., and let’s just say there is a lot to look at. Unlike the teaser trailer that premiered before Harry Potter last summer, this new trailer gives us a full look at the cast of characters and some of the unbelievable sequences Christopher Nolan has ready for us in his third and final Batman film.