Archive for May, 2009

‘Drag Me to Hell’ Raimi’s return to comical horror with attitude

Friday, May 29th, 2009
Lorna Raver and Alison Lohman in "Drag Me to Hell" A dissatisfied bank customer (Lorna Raver) finally gets the ear of a loan officer (Alison Lohman) in Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell.”

The aptly titled “Drag Me to Hell” celebrates Sam Raimi’s triumphant return to frightful and cheesy horror films that elicit as many nervous laughs as cringing shudders.

We get all sorts of fun stuff for a first date at the movies: projectile eyeballs, spewing mucus, physically invasive insects, sacrificial goats, upchucked maggots, wild seances, regurgitated kitties, even bad dentures. (Read more…)

‘Departures’ expensive sentiment

Friday, May 29th, 2009

If there is such a thing as cheap sentiment, Tojiro Takita’s “Departures” must be the expensive kind. This pensive, eloquent drama centers around Daigo (Masahiro Motoki), a laid-off cellist. (Read more…)

Now playing at the Century Centre in Chicago.

Geneva Film Festival Fundraiser

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Award winning filmmakers will discuss their craft during “An Evening with the Filmmakers”. The event on May 18th, 2009 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Wildwood Restaurant, 477 S. Third St., Geneva is a fund-raiser for the Geneva Film Festival.

The evening will showcase writers, directors, producers and actors connected with the upcoming Film Festival slated for April 15-17, 2010. Among the featured guests scheduled to appear are Chicagoans Mike Houlihan and Greg Hollimon.

The $25 ticket price includes hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Call (630) 377-8325 for reservations. Go to for more details.

‘Up’ an animated, action tribute to following your dreams

Thursday, May 28th, 2009
Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) in "Up" Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) decides to stay at home and travel at the same time in Disney/Pixar’s animated “Up.”

The first 10 minutes of Pixar’s fantastical 3-D animated adventure “Up” are a sublime testimonial to the purity and magic of the cinema. I know because I was a sobbing basket case by Minute 11.

We are introduced to Carl and Ellie, who meet as little kids and fervid fans of controversial world explorer Charles Munz. They grow up and marry each other in the blink of a few scenes. Ellie becomes pregnant, then, as the film’s rosy hues cool and Michael Giacchino’s music turns melancholy, Ellie’s dreams of motherhood vanish, leaving nothing but the empty baby stroller that a sad Carl had purchased. (Read more…)

‘Dance Flick’ a comic misstep with vicious undertones

Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Essence Atkins and Shoshana Bush in "Dance Flick" Charity (Essence Atkins), left, stores her baby before going off to class with Megan (Shoshana Bush) in the comic spoof “Dance Flick.”

Hardly a filmgoer on the planet will go into see the latest Wayans brothers spoof, “Dance Flick,” and not know what to expect: A threadbare plot stuffed with pop movie references, tasteless gross-outs, exaggerated stereotypes and lampooned genre clichés.

The most audacious of the Wayans brothers canon remains 2000’s “Scary Movie,” a parody of the tongue-in-cheek horror film “Scream” and a bold flirtation with X-rated visual gags that stretched the R rating to its snapping point. (Read more…)

‘Outrage’ an angry, blistering expose

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Kirby Dick (“This Movie is Not Yet Rated”) goes on a rampage against hypocrisy in this blistering expose’ of closeted politicians who hide their homosexuality behind voting records that target gays for second-class citizenship. (Read more…)

Now playing at the Music Box Theater in Chicago.

‘Adoration’ in excess

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Atom Egoyan serves up a heavy-handed dose of intellectually stimulating ideas in a drama that succumbs to theatrically stilted scenes and soap operatic excess. (Read more…)

Now playing at Pipers Alley in Chicago.

‘Summer Hours’ bittersweet drama

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Olivier Assayas’ impeccably measured domestic drama is a loving, bittersweet poem to growing up, growing old, and being replaced by the next generation. (Read more…)

Now playing at the Renaissance Place in Highland Park and Century Centre in Chicago.

‘Museum’ sequel doesn’t live up to its comic potential

Thursday, May 21st, 2009
Ben Stiller and Amy Adams in "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" Night guard Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) befriends Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) in “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.”

Had this unpretentious, goofy comedy been directed by a Robert Zemeckis or a Steven Spielberg, and been written by a Seth Rogen or a John Hamburg, it would have been smart as well as mildly entertaining.

But “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” was directed by Shawn Levy, who gave us the vapid remakes of the classics “Cheaper By the Dozen” and “The Pink Panther.” It was written by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, the team behind the sophomoric “Reno 911: Miami” and the lowbrow improv TV series it’s based on. (Read more…)

‘Terminator Salvation’ an apocalyptic collection of action, clichés

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
Image from "Terminator Salvation." One of many Terminator units sets out to kill humans for the evil Skynet machines in the sequel “Terminator Salvation.”

The apocalyptic “Terminator Salvation,” the first entry in the popular “Terminator” science-fiction series not to be rated R, envisions 2018 Earth as a desolate, color-bled world under constant assault by explosive violence, a place where paper-thin characters speak in action-film clichés and predatory death machines demonstrate even lousier marksmanship than their human targets. (Read more…)