CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
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.
CHICAGO – A few weeks ago saw the release of the R-rated “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” a gore-free creature feature that was given the MPAA stamp of 17-plus due to “pervasive scariness.” This week sees the PG-13-rated “Contagion,” a film SO much more pervasively scary than the movie about goblins in a distant mansion because, well, it’s about the fact that the world is pervasively scary.
CHICAGO – Summer is continuing to heat up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the first images of on-set filming for the highly anticipated “The Dark Knight Rises” has emerged. The third film after “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” again features Christian Bale as The Batman and is directed by Christopher Nolan.
CHICAGO – Liam Neeson may have opted out of landing a cameo in “The Hangover Part II,” but now sources are hinting that the Oscar-nominated actor may have set his sights on appearing in an even more anticipated sequel.