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.
An Oscar winner, a major Oscar nominee, two more pieces of Oscar bait, and a few movies that never got anywhere near Oscar. Welcome to What to Watch. We don’t play favorites. Oh, wait, yes we do. You should definitely rent or buy the titles on this first page. The second page is more optional.
CHICAGO – The world of creation, and the imagination behind it, gets an honorable and elegantly performed treatment in the fascinating “Saving Mr. Banks.” What seems like a “making of” film about the legendary “Mary Poppins,” becomes much more rich in symbolism and consideration.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 100 pairs of advance-screening tix up for grabs to the “Mary Poppins” backstory “Saving Mr. Banks” with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks!
CHICAGO – Was “Toy Story 3” the last great Pixar production? With the modest critical reaction to “Cars 2,” “Brave,” and “Monsters University,” it seems an entirely defensible position to take. In fact, one could easily argue that “Small Fry,” the “Toy Story” short that premiered with “The Muppets,” and “Partysaurus Rex,” which played with “Finding Nemo 3D,” should be considered higher on the Pixar hierarchy than “Cars 2” and maybe even “Brave.”
CHICAGO – Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) leaves his wife Andrea (Catherine Keener) for yet another journey captaining a cargo ship off the coast of Africa. Shortly thereafter, a Somali boy named Muse (Barkhad Abdi) heads into the same waters on a collision course with the Maersk Alabama.
CHICAGO – There’s a large part of me that wants to wholeheartedly recommend and embrace “Cloud Atlas” for two reasons. One, it’s based on arguably the best book of the millennium so far, David Mitchell’s stunning masterpiece. And if more people see the movie, more are likely to read a book that everyone should experience.
CHICAGO – We’ve officially entered the summer movie season, which means that any true film fan has already set their sights on the fall. While, sure, we’re jazzed to see “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Hangover Part III,” they’re now SO close to finally being released that it’s almost not worth speculating about them anymore.
CHICAGO – Not all great works of literature make great works of film. David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” is a masterpiece but Tom Tykwer, Andy & Lana Wachowksi’s “Cloud Atlas” is definitely not. It is an ambitious work with many of Mitchell’s fascinating ideas about the ripple effect of emotion through time left intact but it is a work that frustrates as often as it thrills.
CHICAGO – So there I was at a packed awards consideration screening for Stephen Daldry’s latest prestige-filled tearjerker. Though a few of my fellow colleagues were grumbling about the grim task of sitting through more Daldry Oscar bait, my heart was filled with goodwill. I loved Daldry’s feature debut, “Billy Elliot,” and had plenty of favorable things to say about “The Hours” and “The Reader.”
CHICAGO – The September 11th tragedy is still percolating through the cinematic filter, and there is a well intentioned thread throughout the various interpretations.