CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.
Sony Pictures Classics
CHICAGO – In one of the best film acting performances from 2014, Julianne Moore devastatingly portrays a woman in her fifties who is a victim of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As the effects of dementia physically deteriorates her life, it is a wonder if she is “Still Alice.”
CHICAGO – The thing that can be said for British writer/director Mike Leigh is that it’s never known what story may capture his fancy. The auteur of “Happy-Go-Lucky,” “Topsy-Turvy,” “Secrets and Lies” and “Life is Sweet” now tackles the last quarter century of a notable British painter’s life, through his strange maneuverings and unconventionality, in “Mr. Turner.”
CHICAGO – In the memorable film “Barton Fink,” the title character is asked to write a wrestling movie for Wallace Beery. If Fink had isolated himself long enough, he might have come up with “Foxcatcher,” demonstrating once again that a true story is much stranger than fiction.
CHICAGO – There are many categories of film director types – facilitators, tacticians, framers, to name a few – but there are few real artists. Bennett Miller has guided three films in his career, “Capote,” “Moneyball” and his latest “Foxcatcher.” All three have a purposeful artistry, and explore the soul within the humanity it portrays.
CHICAGO – When is the last time you had a bit of sweat after coming out of a movie? “Whiplash” will do that, and it contains not one action sequence or superhero, unless you consider J.K. Simmons as a sociopathic music guru a hero (he is in a way), and drumming as action (it is).
CHICAGO – Simply one of the best movies of 2014, “Whiplash” has a tone, energy and sensibility all its own. Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the story of a jazz drummer prodigy at a prestigious New York City music college, tortured by his tyrannical instructor. The drama is scintillating, in rhythm with the natural story flow.
CHICAGO – It is a time, and the time is now. Leave it to filmmaker Ira Sachs to break a barrier simply by having the right timing. Exploring a long time gay couple, right at the cusp of their now-legal marriage, opens the door to an odd series of ordinary circumstances in “Love is Strange.”
CHICAGO – One of the notable films to kick off the autumn film season is writer/director Ira Sach’s “Love is Strange.” The story of two men in a longtime gay relationship, who finally can marry – but whose lives go off track unexpectedly – features brilliant performances from veterans John LIthgow and Alfred Molina.
CHICAGO – The pure, character-driven film is as rare as a comic book movie with a bad opening weekend. “Land Ho!” is one of those celluloid treats, the simple story of “Odd Couple” senior citizens – portrayed unforgettably by Earl Lynn Wilson and Paul Eenhoorn – who take a trip to the country of Iceland, and learn how to, and how not to, get along.
CHICAGO – There might not be a more unusual movie this year than “Land Ho!” The film follows two “golden boys,” sixtysomethings Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) and Colin (Paul Eenhoorn), as they take an Odd Couple-type trip to Iceland. Writer/director Aaron Katz (“Dance Party, USA”) breaks that ice between the two men.