Category Archives: 2018 Reviews

Months in Review: Films of July & August (part 2)

With a bit of a delay, below is the second part of my impressions of the new-to-me films I watched in August.

GAME NIGHT (2018) [ 3.5/5 ]

A truly wonderful cast delivers in spades in the often-hilarious Game Night from directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. What impresses most for a movie like this is the directorial prowess with which it’s filmed, adding substance to an already funny film. In the lead Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams offer chemistry that works both romantically and comically, stealing the show with a couple of stand-out scenes that show how insanely talented these two actors are when it comes to finding the right comedic rhythms.

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Months in Review: Films of July & August 2018 (part 1)

Summer has come and gone. September greets us in Chicago with the wettest Labor Day weekend in memory. It rained Saturday, Sunday and it stormed on Labor Day. I have had a view of the lake for the last 2-3 years and it looked as if a monsoon had passed. It was quite a spectacle.

Summer has been very interesting from a cinematic point of view. I finally found time to watch Asif Kapadia’s moving 2011 documentary on Amy Winehouse. This was a film that was on my radar for a long time after the very emotional experience I had watching Senna, his previous documentary feature. The majority of my time though was put into catching up with a string of wonderful films released this year, a highlight of which was You Were Never Really Here by Lynne Ramsay.

Continue reading Months in Review: Films of July & August 2018 (part 1)

Months in Review: The World Cup + Films of May & June 2018 (part 1)

As the warm summer breeze begins to sweep by Chicago’s sandy lakeshores, one is hard-pressed to find justification for staying indoors. As enjoyable as a film can be, the allure of being able to wear a t-shirt outside after a long wintry hibernation can sometimes prove too tempting.

If the summer is also accompanied by the 2018 edition of the World Cup, then the act of film watching becomes an impossibility. There’s simply no time after putting in an 8 or 9 hour work shift, to find time to watch a movie after you’ve also enjoyed two 90-minute games of soccer.

Continue reading Months in Review: The World Cup + Films of May & June 2018 (part 1)

The Case Against “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

I rewatched Raiders of the Lost Ark as if I had never seen it before. After all, it had been a good 20 years, if not longer. As I approached the idea, I was trepidatious. Raiders was a favorite growing up and I didn’t want to tarnish the memory somehow. The idea, however, would not go away. For days I poured over dozens of reviews and, apart from a rare exception, Raiders enjoyed the kind of all-encompassing adoration that few other classics have managed to attain. It seemed to me like an exaggeration, like the reviews, many of which were written within the last 10-15 years, looked at Raiders with nostalgia for a simpler time in Hollywood. After all, it was the beginning of the 1980s, a period in which mainstream cinema took a turn, giving way to the summer blockbuster and to all-encompassing silliness. Perhaps, I thought, Raiders of the Lost Ark had ceased to become “just” a film, in order to transform into a cultural touchstone for people who came of age around the early 1980s.

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Months in Review: March & April films (part 2)

Continued from the previous post.

Below my thoughts on the films I watched in April.

I, TONYA (2017) [ 2.5/5 ]

After two hours of film, I could not assert whether I, Tonya is an empathetic reevaluation of Tonya Harding, or an exploitative character study. On the surface it seems to try to sympathize with the former Olympian, but every tragic and horrible moment of her early years is accompanied by a snarky attitude or a redneck generalization. So, for every bit of information that expands and dispels the tabloid image of Harding, there is a feeling that the film is having too much fun with the material at the expense of its subjects.

Continue reading Months in Review: March & April films (part 2)

Months in Review: films of March & April (part 1)

In a year that has so far given us so many things to talk, argue and worry about, there was one thing everyone in Chicago seemed to agree on: Winter needed to end. So, here we are, after a reluctantly cold and snowy April, finally enjoying the first gush of summer breeze moments before the Groundhog was forced to quit its less than admirable job.

When it comes to the movies, both March and April were fruitful, having caught up with 20 new films in total, 10 on each month. Out of those 20 only 4 received a 4 out of 5 rating or higher, of which Isle of Dogs, Call Me by Your Name and Florida Project will be considered as candidates to the Blog of Big Ideas’ Top 250 Essential Films.

Continue reading Months in Review: films of March & April (part 1)