CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
CHICAGO – Life is made up of moments, as the philosophy of the new Richard Linklater film wants to convey. What formulates a person’s ideals and soul, born in a certain place and time? Over 12 years, the writer and director created a fictional family using the same actors in “Boyhood.”
CHICAGO – Director Richard Linklater is a great American storyteller. In 2002, he embarked on a filmmaking journey that would be twelve years long, and conceived a fictional tale of a boy as he ages from age six to 18. Using the same actors over all those years, the result is the epic and philosophical “Boyhood.”
The instant-response nature of our media has forced a bizarre question on nearly every minute of the Sundance Film Festival — “Is it a GOOD year?” Journalists and festival goers talk in hushed tones about the first time they saw beloved Sundance films like “Clerks,” “Bottle Rocket,” “Winter’s Bone,” or “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and wonder if there’s anything this year to compare. Personally, I had a spectacular year.
CHICAGO – As the excellent year in film winds to a close, I’m going to be writing a lot about a drama I saw almost ten months ago in Park City, Utah, and is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming services — the amazing “Before Midnight.” Building on the romantic foundation of “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset,” Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, & Julie Delpy examine the truth of what happens after the grand gestures of romance we often see in cinema. It’s a masterpiece, a film that deserves comparison with the work of John Cassavetes in the way it captures pain, beauty, regret, and love in the same moment. There are a few weeks left but it’s still my choice for the best film of the year.
CHICAGO – Richard Linklater’s “Slacker” is one of the most important films of the ’90s. Appearing at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival, this incredibly low-budget piece of work helped launch the indie film movement of the decade, teaching people that anyone could make a movie. Shot on 16MM for less than $25k, “Slacker” ushered in an era of DIY filmmaking. Kevin Smith has said that “Clerks” wouldn’t exist without it. And the ironic thing is that you can now watch one of the most influential low-budget films on the high-definition format of Blu-ray, courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
CHICAGO – We are at the tipping point of a technology that has been used for a hundred years to capture the moving image. Shooting on film is going away as more and more filmmakers use digital technology to tell their stories. How does this change the art form? Is it a creative new landscape or the death of something important?
CHICAGO – Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” is one of those unusual stories that is so bizarre that it has to be true. It is the saga of Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), a closeted, affable mortician who befriended an irascible, cranky woman named Majorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). After years of psychological abuse, he shot her in the back and stored her in the freezer in their garage. As he does with all of his projects, Linklater approaches this true story from a unique, entertaining angle. He’s simply one of our best living filmmakers and “Bernie” is merely further proof.
CHICAGO – Hulu, in addition to being a most enjoyable word to say while jumping out of a plane (Huluuuuuu!) is also one of the most popular websites on the internet for streaming video from television’s biggest channels. Featuring content from FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS and a litany of other networks, Hulu.com has essentially replaced the re-run in eyes of the American lexicon.
CHICAGO – Jack Black is a smart and interesting actor. Not content to ride on the modern day John Belushi-type roles that might have pigeonholed him, Black portrays “Bernie,” a convincing conniver in Texas, based on a true story. Veterans Matthew McConaughhey and Shirley MacLaine add spice to the brew.