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France

Strange ‘15:17 to Paris’ Can’t Make the Connection

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – What’s up with Clint Eastwood, and why in the Sam Hill did he attach himself as director to this film? Also, why was the decision made to use the actual rescuers as the actors in a true terrorist train incident? Nothing adds up in the strangely disconnected “15:17 to Paris.”

Zen and the Art of Cinema in ‘24 Frames’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (“Certified Copy”) passed away in 2016, but he left one more meditation on cinema and illusion, in the artistic “24 Frames.” Yes, it refers to the number of still photos that make up a second of film, but in this case it is also Kiarostami’s observations of stillness in motion.

Inflammatory ‘In the Fade’ is the State of Our Now

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

CHICAGO – In one of the more truthful and contemporary films of 2017, “In the Fade” is a German/French production about the fallout due to a terrorist act. What it also emphasizes is the generated hatred, frustration and waste of such acts, and its textual story is stunning and distressing.

Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet in ‘Leap!’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – One of the rites of passage for most girls in the U.S.(and elsewhere, I presume) is ballet lessons. Usually it lasts for a very short time, but some girls-to-women keep pursuing it, and may even become prima ballerinas. A new animated film named “Leap!” is dedicated to that spirit.

Heroics of ‘Dunkirk’ Portrayed Ardently & Humanely

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – War is hell, even in “The Good War.” The early days of World War II were a desperate time for the British, and the events of “Dunkirk” were largely about loss, yet mostly about inspiration. Director Christopher Nolan gives his film a grand cinematic treatment, evoking an era that has mostly faded away.

Emotionally Animated ‘My Life as a Zucchini’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Leave it to the Europeans to inject some realistic drama into the art of animation. The recently Oscar nominated “My Life as a Zucchini” is opening in Chicago this weekend, and tells the story of parental abandonment, orphanages and finding family. Co-produced by France and Switzerland, it uses a familiar claymation stop-motion style for more emotional resonance.

A Fashionable Man is Captured in ‘Yves Saint Laurent’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Fashion is art, and the canvas is provided by the wearer of that fashion. The designer biography depicted in “Yves Saint Laurent” is one of tortured genius, as Saint Laurent influenced and commodified the world of clothing and accessory creation for over 50 years.

Pieces Fit Together in Sublime ‘Chinese Puzzle’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Life is chaos. We in the human race can all agree on that. The new film “Chinese Puzzle” allows that chaos to happen, and the results are funny, affecting and warm. Writer/director Cédric Klapisch completes his “Spanish apartment trilogy,” bringing back the characters from “L’Auberge Espagnole” and “Russian Dolls,” to place them squarely in middle age.

Nature’s Instincts on Display in Unique ‘Augustine’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – How the human species was able to survive, given its dismissal and treatment of women during certain points in history is somewhat miraculous. This film from France, “Augustine,” chronicles the relationship between a 19th century neurologist and his prized female patient, as she tries to work through a condition called nature.

More is Preferred in ‘Love is All You Need’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Creating the lofty name for this film, “Love is All You Need” – from a translation of its original title, “Den skaldede friser” – is intently ambitious considering its source is a lyric from one of The Beatles most famous songs. The film has its moments, but cannot sustain itself in a stew of high drama and mixed emotions.

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