Movie Review

Film Review: Tim Burton’s Version of ‘Dumbo’ is Disappointingly Glum

CHICAGO – For reasons which remain unexplained, Walt Disney Studios and director Tim Burton have decided to weigh down the sweet story of a flying elephant with a whole pachyderm’s worth of pathos. The animated original clocked in as one of Disney’s shortest full length animated features. But the live action version drags us through nearly an extra hour’s worth of post-World War One misery.

Film Review: ‘The Aftermath’ is Strained & Illicit Romance During War

CHICAGO – One of the roots of the sexual revolution in America was World War II (as it was the roots of many social movements). The stakes of life and death in an instant motivates the softest of puppy love to passion. “The Aftermath” takes that time honored emotional intensity into a right-after-the-war romance.

Film Review: Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Gets Bogged Down in Conventionality

CHICAGO – Like his first film, “Get Out,” writer/director Jordan Peele creates a horror/thriller filled with symbolism and laughs. Unlike “Get Out,” “Us” is awash in overly concentrated plot points, a reliance on lesser references and an ending that can be seen from outer space. It’s not sophomore “jinx,” but more like the sophomore “over think.”

Film Review: Tribal Side of Drug Trafficking in ‘Birds of Passage’

Birds of Passage

CHICAGO – One of the overriding characteristics in the movies, when it comes to drug traffickers, is the stereotypical image of a fat and corrupt cartel leader who usually have machine gun wielding henchmen and bikini clad groupies. “Birds of Passage” goes back to the business of the drug trade, but it is about the families that controlled the territorial borders during that key era, and the basis of that control in ancient tribalism.

Film Review: ‘Transit’ is an Absorbing Thriller with a Perplexing Conclusion

Transit

CHICAGO – What if a new fascism were to sweep the land, and affects Paris, as it did in World War 2? “Transit” postulates on that very theory and creates a paranoid atmosphere that is stunningly real, but brings that emotion to a conclusion that I believe is redundant, and pretends to be deeper than it is.

Film Review: Imagination is the Key to Charming ‘Wonder Park’

CHICAGO – Most animated films depicting the “family” often includes a parallel lesson about togetherness or some such domestic symbolism. In “Wonder Park,” the lesson is how the spark of imagination can keep a childhood alive. When that spark is temporarily dosed, the destination of the title also suffers.

Film Review: 1970s Caper Film in Enjoyable ‘Finding Steve McQueen’

Finding Steve McQueen

CHICAGO – The “caper” film, AKA the heist film, is one of the old reliable genres in the movies, and usually involves a gang of mismatched thieves. “Finding Steve McQueen” goes all the way back to the 1970s to spotlight a based-on-truth burglary that involves Tricky Dick himself, President Richard M. Nixon.

Film Review: Julianne Moore is a Ringing Sensation in ‘Gloria Bell’

CHICAGO – The sheer ordinariness of life is not fodder for most dramatic films … the popcorn munchers generally turn out for something more high concept. But in Exhibit A, there is “Gloria Bell,” in which Julianne Moore portrays the title character in a series of ordinary extraordinary events.

Film Review: Brie Larson as ‘Captain Marvel’ is Not as Marvel-ous

CHICAGO – Since the Marvel cinematic universe began over a decade ago with “Iron Man,” it’s shown an amazing talent for consistency. While only a few installments have surpassed their comic book origins to become great examples of the genre – and great stories in general – Marvel hasn’t had many out and out clunkers either (possible exception, the second Thor movie).

Film Review: Familiar Scares of ‘Greta’ Has Too Many Plot Holes

CHICAGO – Admittedly, horror films are not my thing. I find them redundant, pandering and more reliant on gore rather than story. “Greta” is somewhat of a thriller horror film, about an older lady stalker preying on a younger New York City woman, but it had both a seen-it-before and unreliable plot.

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