Archive for 2017

Jonathan Demme Sang Our Song

Jonathan Demme Sang Our Song
Though our aging population has more octogenarians, nonagenarians and even centenarians than ever, you can’t rationally claim that 73 is a tragically young age to die. Why then did Jonathan Demme’s passing this past April, at age 73, hit me—and so many others who were strangers to him—so hard? How could it feel “too soon?”... Read more »

"Free Fire" Is a Misfire Despite Killer Cast

"Free Fire" Is a Misfire Despite Killer Cast
With his new slapstick shoot-‘em-up, Free Fire, British writer-director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, High-Rise) seems on the verge of moving from cult film favorite to a more mainstream career. The movie is getting by far the widest U.S. release of his six theatrical features, its high-profile cast includes recent Oscar winner Brie Larson, and no... Read more »

Top-Tier Filmmaking and Performances Make "The Levelling" a Must-See

Top-Tier Filmmaking and Performances Make "The Levelling" a Must-See
The Levelling is too damned good for its likely fate: becoming another under-the-radar gem lost in an overflow of independent productions competing for a moment’s attention in a film culture that shunts so much of its best to the margins. Catch it while you can, because this powerhouse drama of grief and deep-seated family resentments... Read more »
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Epic Western Fable "Brimstone" Is Both Impressive and Pretentious

Epic Western Fable "Brimstone" Is Both Impressive and Pretentious
The flooded film market sees a lot of features, good and bad, go straight to a VOD release. A few get a token theatrical release to go along with that. Usually these are low- to medium-budget indie features, trying to find an audience off the festival circuit, or pure genre films (horror and action mainly)... Read more »

March Film “Mini-Fest” Roundup: Juggernaut in Review; Looking Ahead to Peace on Earth and DOC10

March Film “Mini-Fest” Roundup:  Juggernaut in Review; Looking Ahead to Peace on Earth and DOC10
On the city’s busy film festival calendar, March is pretty much owned by the massive Chicago European Union Film Festival, running throughout the month at the Gene Siskel Film Center. (You can read my star-focused preview for that event over at Chicagoist.) But there are some smaller specialty fests that also help make it an... Read more »

Message Makes Formula Forgivable in "Before I Fall"

Message Makes Formula Forgivable in "Before I Fall"
The Groundhog Day template gets stamped onto the young adult fantasy genre in Before I Fall. It’s an utterly formulaic effort, with paper-thin characters and connect-the-dots plotting, but it’s a hard movie to dislike. Underneath its factory-issued construction is an anti-bullying, anti-peer pressure message conveyed with undeniable sincerity. As a male in my late ‘40s,... Read more »
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"Unbroken Glass" Examines a Legacy of Family Tragedy with Mixed Results

"Unbroken Glass" Examines a Legacy of Family Tragedy with Mixed Results
A powerful, personal story is shared in the new documentary, Unbroken Glass, but the cinematic telling of that story fails to do it justice. Director Dinesh Das Sabu covers a lot of territory in under an hour as he investigates his complicated family history, informed heavily by tragedy. That history is certainly compelling, but structural... Read more »

Not Just Kid Stuff: "Stray Bullets" Shows Younger Fessenden Has Some Chops

Not Just Kid Stuff: "Stray Bullets" Shows Younger Fessenden Has Some Chops
It’s been about a decade since the release of The Last Winter, the last feature indie horror auteur Larry Fessenden (Habit, Wendigo) wrote and directed, but he certainly hasn’t been idle over those years. He’s worked as a character actor, with roles in dozens of independent features and shorts; served as producer or executive producer... Read more »

Media Matters: 8 Movies Trump Defenders Need to See

Media Matters: 8 Movies Trump Defenders Need to See
Donald Trump says he has a “running war with the media,” but as with so many statements made by this combustible, fragile man-child who has inexplicably ascended to the nation’s highest office, it’s a lie. His war is only with media that dares to challenge him. It’s a tyrant’s strategy and those who buy into... Read more »
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Jarmusch Salutes the Quiet, Creative Life in "Paterson"

Jarmusch Salutes the Quiet, Creative Life in "Paterson"
Coming out of the screening of Paterson, I overheard another critic say to a colleague, “Well, he managed to paint a very accurate portrait of a boring life.” I suspect many will share those feelings concerning Jim Jarmusch’s latest, but longtime fans of the director and new converts to his laid-back, observational style and deadpan... Read more »
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    Joel Wicklund

    Joel Wicklund has been writing about movies for over two decades now and, shockingly, he is still allowed to do so. He was a film critic for Chicagoist before its demise, among other outlets. He insists on claiming more online space here in the hope of indoctrinating more lost souls in his personal cult of cinephilia. Reviews, rants, interviews, features…you get the drift.

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