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About Me

I love entertainment...

Sex: Female
Language: English
Relationship Status: In a Relationship
Interested In: Men and Women

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Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India


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    Highest Rating

      • 5/5 (2 votes)
      • Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim
        5/5 (2 votes)
        Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim

        Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. Let me say that again because it’s little a hard to believe. Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. The first time I saw the promo of this film, I said to myself it’s going to be...

      • 5/5 (1 votes)
      • Interstellar
        5/5 (1 votes)

        Nolan’s "Interstellar," about astronauts traveling to the other end of the galaxy to find a new home to
        replace humanity’s despoiled home-world, is frantically busy and earsplittingly
        loud. It uses booming music to jack...

      • San Andreas
        5/5 (1 votes)
        San Andreas

        In a match between a supremely catastrophic California
        earthquake and the former wrestling star turned movie action hero Dwayne
        Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock, aptly enough here I guess, although he’s not thusly
        credited), who are you going to bet...

        • Entertainer

          Grace and Nature: On Criterion’s Release of The Tree of Life

          By Entertainer
          Following the premiere of a new extended cut of the film at the Venice Film Festival, the Criterion Collection has released Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” on a Blu-ray with a new 4K digital transfer, 5.1 surround DTS-HD...
          • Entertainer

            Jane Fonda in Five Acts

            By Entertainer
            Jane Fonda keeps coming back to a photograph of her family at a picnic when she was a little girl. It was taken before her mother committed suicide, before her movie star father, Henry Fonda, remarried and sent her off to boarding school, before her...
            • Entertainer

              Assassination Nation

              By Entertainer
              In Sam Levinson’s needlessly self-serious “Assassination Nation,” a gruesome, modern-day spin on the 17th century Salem witch trials by way of Mean-Girls-Gone-Wild, the central character Lily is an 18-year-old, opinionated...
              • Entertainer


                By Entertainer
                In “Colette,” based on the life of the foremost female French novelist, Giles Nuttgens’ gorgeous cinematography invites us into the lush, candle-lit world of late 19th century France, contrasting the thick greenery outdoors of...
                • Entertainer

                  The Song of Sway Lake

                  By Entertainer
                  This movie is suffused with golden and near-emerald hues, from its very beginning. There’s an idyllic skinny-dipping scene, set, the viewer will infer, in Sway Lake. And the beauty of the bodies, a male and a female, and the quality of...
                  • Entertainer

                    Thumb proportions image 9

                    Judy Greer assembled a monumental cast for her directing debut, “A Happening of Monumental Proportions.” Then she stranded her fellow actors with material that doesn’t even begin to tap into their talents.

                    Common, Storm Reid, Anders Holm, Jennifer Garner, John Cho, Kumail Nanjiani, Rob Riggle, Katie Holmes, Allison Janney and Bradley Whitford (although never at the same time, for those of you hoping for a mini-“West Wing” reunion) are all stuck playing barely-there characters in one of those intertwined-Los-Angeles-lives movies. It’s sort of a dry, dark comedy but it’s also sort of a sweet, sentimental drama; rather, it occupies an uncomfortable middle ground where nothing resonates in either direction.

                    Why Greer would choose this story to tell for her first filmmaking foray is puzzling. A longtime standout supporting player—she’s equally great as dippy secretary Kitty on “Arrested Development” as she is in the Alexander Payne drama “The Descendants”—Greer has always made inspired choices and left an appealingly off-kilter impression within many an ensemble. Here, she’s gathered her own ensemble, but the script from Gary Lundy woefully wastes everyone’s abilities. Greer also has trouble navigating the tricky tonal shifts that abound throughout the film’s jam-packed single day. She awkwardly makes light of serious occurrences while also failing to achieve the emotional heft she seeks as her storylines wrap up at the end.

                    We begin the day with various characters heading off for work and school; by sundown, we’ll see how they’re all linked and supposedly experience some sort of profound feeling of connectedness.

                    Janney and Riggle play administrators at a private school who discover the body of a gardener on the morning of Career Day, when parents come to talk about their jobs. Jaunty music plays clunkily as the two struggle to drag the corpse up a flight of stairs and hide it in the teachers’ lounge. (Then again, jaunty music needlessly punctuates a multitude of scenarios here.) Holm plays Mr. McRow, the school’s depressed music teacher who shuffles like a zombie through his day, smokes multiple cigarettes at once in front of his students and offers them dour life advice. Cho frustratingly shows up in maybe two scenes as the stoic shop teacher.

                    Common’s Daniel has plans to come to school later in the afternoon to talk about his work in publishing; Reid, who was such a breath of fresh air as the star of “A Wrinkle in Time,” plays his daughter, a kindhearted and conscientious sixth-grader. It’s just the two of them now since her mom died. But Daniel has been having an affair with his married assistant, Nadine (Garner in a truly thankless role that requires her to do little more than be profane in a pencil skirt), a plot point that seems to have been introduced simply for shock value. This comes to light when Whitford’s character, a corporate hammer who’s been sent to investigate a broken coffee machine, begins asking questions. (Whitford’s understated, withering demeanor is good for a vague chuckle here and there.) So not only does Daniel lose his job over the fling, he also must face the wrath of Nadine’s husband, who insists on confronting him once he’s done with Career Day. The identity of who plays the betrayed husband holds such promise and is perhaps the biggest casting waste of all. 

                    Meanwhile, back at school, the paramedics have arrived; they’re played by Holmes and Oscar-winning “Descendants” co-writer Nat Faxon in a bizarre bit of stunt casting. Their entire raison d’etre is to show up and be surly, one of the movie’s many examples of gratuitous, inappropriate behavior that goes nowhere. The proliferation of raunchy humor isn’t necessarily offensive, it just feels like a lazy screenwriting device to inject an irreverent edginess to these mundane settings. Also at the school, Reid gets trapped in a contrived subplot in which the sensitive, nerdy new kid (Marcus Eckert) asks her to be his girlfriend within minutes of meeting her, then sobs when she politely rebuffs him.

                    Greer jumps jarringly between all these various stories until they reach their collective conclusion. The worst example of this is when she cross-cuts between the brokenhearted kid opening up to his suicidal teacher on the roof, and two parents engaging in a knock-down, drag-out brawl on the ground before an aghast crowd of onlookers. So actual, monumental things eventually do happen here, but they don’t even come close to registering the way they were intended.

                    By: Christy Lemire
                    Posted: September 21, 2018, 1:59 pm

                    • Entertainer
                      Entertainer published a blog post The Song of Sway Lake

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                      This movie is suffused with golden and near-emerald hues, from its very beginning. There’s an idyllic skinny-dipping scene, set, the viewer will infer, in Sway Lake. And the beauty of the bodies, a male and a female, and the quality of the sunlight coming through the green but hardly sickly water is intoxicating indeed.

                      “The Song of Sway Lake” never gets anywhere near that heady again. In narration, it tells of both the lake and the song, a catchy tune made popular by a female vocal group in the era of 78s. The family after which the lake is named is, over the years, an unhappy one, and, in 1992, young man Ollie Sway (Rory Culkin), accompanied by a feisty Russian pal named Nikolai (Robert Sheehan), plans to storm the family’s magnificent lake house, from which he intends to steal a rare recording of the song. 

                      Sounds like a flimsy pretext for a movie plot and it is, even if writer/director Ari Gold (yeah, that’s his real name; his father was the novelist Herbert Gold, who was also an academic colleague of Vladimir Nabokov) uses it to wax peripherally philosophical on the lures of recorded music, and Ari’s musician brother Ethan, responsible for the soundtrack, uses it to construct some reasonably credible pastiches of period music.

                      In most other respects, the movie comes off like a severely unfocused coming-of-age story. Thinking they’re breaking into an abandoned home, Ollie and Nikolai find some attractive locals on the property, whom they shoo off, but not before making note of one of the most attractive of them, a young woman who calls herself Isadora (Isabelle McNally), after whom you’ll never guess.

                      Then Ollie’s grandmother (Mary Beth Peil) and housekeeper (Elizabeth Peña) show up. The grandmother seems a hardy old goat, one making vocal opposition to the noisy jet skis and rapacious land development plans overrunning the lake that bears her family name. But she’s also snooty, secretive, genuinely contemptuous of the locals. The movie veers listlessly between the poles of its story, never alighting satisfactorily on any of them. 

                      Gold seems most enthusiastic about the record-collector wonk stuff. Ollie fondly remembers his suicide father’s analog enthusiasm: when the needle hit the groove, dad used to say, there was a “crackle you could live in.” When Ollie slaps a 78 on the hi-fi, he raves, “Listen! Just listen! His voice is off key—it’s not perfect—that’s why it’s better!” You know, there are dozens of vinyl fanatic internet forums where I could read a higher grade of this kind of fulsome blather. I don’t need a movie to experience it.

                      In addition, I think there should be an indefinite moratorium on male filmmakers building shrines to the wounded-puppy look they got on their faces when they went to a party once when they were teenagers, and walked in on the girl they “liked” making out with another guy. In “The Song of Sway Lake” and so many other pictures, such a scene serves no other purpose except to underscore, finally, not so much the pain of awkward adolescence but the perpetual obnoxiousness of teenage boy entitlement. “How dare she?!”

                      The attractiveness of the scenery, and a quiet, dignified performance by Ms. Peña in what could now be her last movie appearance, wind up being the main redeeming values here. 

                      By: Glenn Kenny
                      Posted: September 21, 2018, 1:59 pm

                      • Entertainer
                        Entertainer published a blog post Assassination Nation

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                        In Sam Levinson’s needlessly self-serious “Assassination Nation,” a gruesome, modern-day spin on the 17th century Salem witch trials by way of Mean-Girls-Gone-Wild, the central character Lily is an 18-year-old, opinionated high-school senior with a zero-f*cks-given attitude. She wears “Fatal Attraction” socks for kicks and sports kiddies’ arm floats at the pool for no apparent reason. Her aura of indifference is so extreme that when she’s rightfully called into the principal’s office to answer for her pornographic class drawings, she shrugs it off at first. Then she launches into a feminist defense of her art as an expression of how hard it is for women to exist in the misogynistic ranks of the selfie-obsessed social media. “It’s not about the nudity,” she explains to her genuinely inquisitive teacher. “It’s about the thousands of naked selfies you took to get just one right.” 

                        Her principal (Colman Domingo) lets her off the hook with a gentle warning and an insinuation that she might just be a beyond-her-years genius. But if I’m being honest, even after hearing Lily’s lengthy justification twice, I am no closer to understanding her argument than I am to appreciating the messiness of the film that surrounds it. It’s not that Lily is wrong—social media is sexist and toxic and guilty of setting impossible standards and every damning thing in-between. She is on the right track in articulating that (in this key scene and others) nudity doesn’t automatically equate to sexuality. It’s that her drawings don’t make a sound point in the ballpark of her appeal. Like “Assassination Nation” itself, Lily clearly has a lot on her mind concerning our faux existence online. But neither she nor the miscalculated film that centers on her seems to have any clue as to how to grapple with critical thoughts in full-fledged statements. In that, “Assassination Nation” serves more like a checklist of grave topics that exclusively speaks, like Lily does, in shallow buzzwords without giving any of its themes the depth they deserve.

                        And right from the start, Levinson’s film grants itself the permission to do exactly that—be a free-for-all table of contents that says close to nothing. The narrator Lily (a brave Odessa Young) gives us a trigger warning before she tells the tale of how her town Salem (get it?) lost its “motherf*cking mind” (her words, not mine). She indicates we’ll be exposed to sexism, racism, homophobia, male gaze, swearing, rape attempt, blood, guts and all-things-awful imaginable in her tale of overnight survival that also involves her three best friends: Bex (Hari Nef), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse) and Em (Abra). And off we go: we laze with them during their philosophical gossip sessions, stroll with them in the inexplicably dark hallways and auditoriums of their school and get a feel for their superficial senior lives through feverish cinematography and a mind-numbingly busy soundtrack.

                        Meanwhile, we learn about Lily’s anonymous sexting with a shady guy named Daddy—perhaps because it’s dangerous, or self-assuring (or a little bit of both), she sends him her nude photos in exchange for suggestive compliments. The only problem is, an online vigilante seems to be on the loose in town, harboring a grudge against everyone crooked. Let the hacks begin! A dishonest conservative politician goes down first. Then the wholesome school principal unfairly faces the same fate. Exposing a village-wide digital Burn Book and spreading its pages like an online virus with irreparable consequences, the ruthless hacker finally lands on Lily, along with almost half the town of Salem. Eventually, Lily and her friends find themselves as the target of the town’s frightening hatred and murderous acts. With that, the film instantaneously takes a turn towards the direction of “The Purge” as Salem’s attacks on the girls intensify, launching a full-fledged thriller where our vengeful heroines unavoidably arm up.

                        Throughout “Assassination Nation,” Levinson’s visual range—recalling everything from Quentin Tarantino to ‘80s slasher films and even “American Beauty”—remains loud and unfocused with plenty of crimson red, split screens and showy slow-motion to go around. So hectically overdone in style that it already feels dated despite its timely leanings, Levinson’s film vaguely shelters a compelling story about today’s unforgiving online mob mentality beneath its convoluted layers. Despite the fact that he misses the mark on his good, feminist intentions and unfortunately introduces an accidental (yet all the same troubling) “good guys with guns” dimension into his story, Levinson does seem to have an undercooked thesis on contemporary mass hysteria. What a shame it gets drowned out by incessant noise in the end, which, like an online mob, attacks your senses from all directions.

                        By: Tomris Laffly
                        Posted: September 21, 2018, 2:00 pm

                        • Entertainer
                          Entertainer published a blog post Jane Fonda in Five Acts

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                          Jane Fonda keeps coming back to a photograph of her family at a picnic when she was a little girl. It was taken before her mother committed suicide, before her movie star father, Henry Fonda, remarried and sent her off to boarding school, before her days as a sex kitten married to Roger Vadim and then an activist married to Tom Hayden. And all of that was before she retired from acting to be the wife of billionaire Ted Turner and before she un-retired to go back to acting and activism.

                          Susan Lacy’s “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” a fascinating new documentary about her remarkable life, keeps returning to the photo as well. As Fonda says, it is telling; it was not a picnic. The photo was posed for publicity. It was not a real family outing, just another kind of acting. Fonda’s mother, Frances Ford Seymour, is in the foreground of the image, but she is out of focus. The family member shown most clearly is Henry Fonda, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, most often the exemplar of integrity on screen but in life, without a script, uncomfortable with any emotion but anger. No one is looking at the children.

                          Fonda’s work as an actor deserves its own appreciation, as her tantalizing description of her improvisations in “Klute” and “On Golden Pond” and comments from directors Alan Pakula and Sydney Pollack tell us. But this survey of her life, or more specifically, her very distinct lives, is the story of a woman looking for love but convinced until very recently that she was unloveable. The interviews and archival material are illuminating but the heart of the film is her own commentary, her engagement with her past and her honesty about her mistakes and regrets and the way she gave up part of herself in each of her marriages. Near the end, she says she wishes she had the courage not to do cosmetic surgery, and be truly herself like her friend Vanessa Redgrave. And yet her next comment shows how truly herself she is: “I wish I was braver, but I am what I am.” Later she adds, “Trying to be perfect is a toxic journey …Good enough is good enough.”

                          Baby boomers may think that they know the scope of Fonda’s life already because she has been a public presence since the late 1950’s. She seemed to personify and even define so many of the upheavals of the second half of the 20th century. The first four “acts” in the film’s title are labeled with the names of the men she was trying to please: Henry, Vadim (as she calls him), Tom, and Ted. The fifth act is her own: Jane.

                          No one was more free love in the free love mid-1960’s than Jane Fonda, who went from playing the good girl ingenue who couldn’t have sex outside of marriage even if she tried (“Sunday in New York”) or sometimes even in marriage (“Period of Adjustment”) to posing nude on the beach, marrying the notoriously louche Roger Vadim and appearing in his films (“Barbarella”). She then became an outspoken activist against the war in Vietnam and on behalf of minorities, and married one of the notoriously radical Chicago 7 defendants, Tom Hayden. She infuriated Richard Nixon by going to Hanoi and posing with North Vietnamese soldiers, and infuriated many veterans by claiming that the North Vietnamese did not torture American POWs. The movie opens with one of Nixon’s tapes. We hear him ask, “What is the matter with Jane Fonda?” and express sympathy for her father, “a nice man.” He would have been pleased to know that Henry Fonda told his daughter that if he found out she was a communist, he would turn her into the authorities.

                          Fonda and Hayden lived in a tiny house with no dishwasher or washing machine. They drove a station wagon to the Oscar ceremony when she won her first Best Actress award for “Klute.” To communicate with people in a way that speeches and protests could not reach, she made movies like “Coming Home,” “The China Syndrome,” and “9 to 5.”

                          All of those films were critical and box office hits and cultural touchstones. But it was a very different kind of movie that had her greatest influence. Fonda and Hayden decided to start a business to make money to support their efforts. She said, “The one thing I know is workouts.” VCR technology was just becoming available, and Fonda’s first workout tape hit at exactly the right time. It is still the number one all-time best-selling video and the companion book she wrote was at the top of the best-seller list for two years.

                          That marriage ended, and Fonda had a hard time getting work in Hollywood. It was especially devastating when 18-years-younger Debra Winger was cast opposite Fonda’s “Barefoot in the Park” co-star Robert Redford in “Legal Eagles.” And then she got a call from cable television billionaire (and Republican) Ted Turner. They differed on politics, but they both loved “land and critters.” And she loved the way he loved her, for a while, until his need to have her nearby at all times became claustrophobic. She has a sweet visit with him in the film, calling him her “favorite ex-husband.”

                          After that marriage ended she went back to work in films and appears now in the fourth season of “Grace and Frankie,” co-starring with her “9 to 5” pal Lily Tomlin. For the first time, she is truly her own woman, loving her friends, and defining herself instead of trying to earn love by changing to be what a man wants her to be.

                          Director Susan Lacy has the great advantage of a subject whose life has been extensively documented literally since birth, and the archival material, including an interview with the late Tom Hayden, is thoughtfully selected and presented. Wisely, it is not always chronological. Older material is included when it is most thematically appropriate, as an echo of Fonda’s understanding over time of who she is and when to let go of past hurts and mistakes. 

                          Fonda’s own interviews are candid and insightful. Her regrets about the way she allowed herself to be used by the North Vietnamese are sincere but practiced. She has said this many times. More visceral is when she is visably shaken admitting her sadness in not being a better mother to her oldest child, Vanessa Vadim (named after Redgrave). While Vanessa’s children appear briefly in the film, Vanessa herself does not. Fonda’s son with Hayden, actor Troy Garrity, and their adopted daughter, Mary Luana “Lulu” Williams, do appear. Their affection and respect for their mother show that Fonda achieved her greatest wish, to be the loving parent she never had.

                          By: Nell Minow
                          Posted: September 21, 2018, 2:00 pm

                          • Entertainer
                            Entertainer published a blog post Colette

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                            In “Colette,” based on the life of the foremost female French novelist, Giles Nuttgens’ gorgeous cinematography invites us into the lush, candle-lit world of late 19th century France, contrasting the thick greenery outdoors of the countryside with the highly decorated interiors of Paris. Both locations are seductively lavish, not in terms of the money spent by the people who live there, but in the wealth of lived-in detail bathed in soft, golden light. Colette herself, played by Keira Knightley, is in increasingly stark contrast to both settings, too curious and independent-minded for the quiet life of the country, too honest and unconfined for the conventions of the city.

                            We first see her as a young woman, then known as Sidonie-Gabrielle “Gaby” Colette, barely out of school. Her hair is in long braids and she appears to abide by her mother’s strict rules, though not without some grumbling. A man named Willy (Dominic West) visits from the city and presents her with a gift, a snow globe of the new Paris attraction, the Eiffel Tower. She accepts it politely, but then we see that their relationship is not the kindly uncle figure and shy schoolgirl her parents think, when after he leaves for the train she goes for “a walk.” That is what she tells her mother (Fiona Shaw). But her “walk” is straight to the barn, where she and Willy have a joyous romp in the literal hay. “Your hair is a phenomenon,” he tells her. She is a girl without a dowry, she reminds him.

                            But soon they are married, and the country girl finds herself in the middle of the Paris arts community, letting those who might think of her as unsophisticated know that she is bright, brave, and eager to be a part of what is going on. A snobbish acquaintance, hearing Willy is married, says, “The wild days are done, eh?” and Gaby replies with asperity, “On the contrary, the wild days have just begun.” That is truer than she knows. She expected that being married to Willy would make her “so entire and happy,” and for a while, it does. And then it does not.

                            When Willy can no longer afford to pay his authors, he asks Gaby to write a novel with “enough literature for the highbrows enough filth for the great unwashed—or vice versa.” He rejects her first draft as not having enough plot and being “too feminine.” But then he puts his name on her story of Claudine, a teenage girl. It becomes a sensation because of its unprecedented honesty in presenting the perspective of a young woman. Willy pushes Gaby to write sequels, even locking her in a room until she produces more pages.

                            Willy betrays Gaby as a wife: he explains constant infidelity is just how men are and she has to get used to it. And he betrays her as a writer: she begins to believe her own name should be on the Claudine books, which are not just her perspective, but also her own experiences.

                            She begins to work out what is going on in the present through the books, telling Willy, “I’m planning on killing Reynaud [the Willy character] off in the next one,” and reminding him of his own statement that “the hand that holds the pen writes the history.” Willy does his best to keep Gaby, who now wants to be known as Colette, as the young country girl he first met, even asking her to dress in Claudine’s schoolgirl uniform. But she becomes more independent, having a long-term affair with one of the many young women who insist, “I’m the real Claudine.” 

                            Colette learns to dance and act and begins to perform on the stage. She has affairs with women (one of whom also has an affair with Willy). And she fights to put her name on her work.

                            The film struggles with the same challenge in all movies about writers: there is nothing less cinematic than someone sitting at a desk with brow furrowed, putting words together, even when it is with an elegant fountain pen in a gorgeous belle époque setting. It would have given the story more depth, especially for American audiences, who may vaguely only know that Colette wrote the story that inspired “Gigi,” to provide more of a sense of her work, its frankness and modernity.

                            But the chemistry is palpable between Knightley and West, whether they are in love or estranged, and Knightley gives one of her best performances as a girl with spirit and talent who becomes a woman with ferocity and a voice.  


                            By: Nell Minow
                            Posted: September 21, 2018, 2:00 pm

                          • Thumb tree5

                            Following the premiere of a new extended cut of the film at the Venice Film Festival, the Criterion Collection has released Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” on a Blu-ray with a new 4K digital transfer, 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio, and fascinating extras, including a printed essay by Roger Ebert and a video essay by our very own Matt Zoller Seitz. The film itself remains divisive—someone on Twitter tried to use it as a film that critics pretend to like just this week—but it remains a masterpiece in my eyes, only growing in power with repeat viewings, and gaining emotional strength as I have raised three boys of my own this decade. It’s a film I respond to like none other from this era—the real world falls away as I watch it, and I return to it only when it’s over. In an age of increasing distraction, “The Tree of Life” has a nearly religious impact on me, something in which I can immerse myself and find beauty and truth within it. There's no other movie like it.


                            The reason Malick’s personal masterpiece continues to divide people is simple—he asks a great deal of the viewer. Some people, even critics, don’t think what he asks for is worth giving, but Malick wants you to participate, and not just intellectually but emotionally. What does this mean? How does this make me feel? What does this make me think of in my own life? The new era of Malick sees cinema as more of a sermon than a passive experience. Like a great church service, you won’t get anything out of his films unless you submit to an ineffable connection that inspires both critical insight and barely perceptible emotion. His films of the ‘10s have been about a very personal search for meaning. He looks for it in his family in “The Tree of Life,” in religion in “To the Wonder,” in excess in “Knight of Cups,” and in relationships in “Song to Song.” “The Tree of Life” remains the best of his recently prolific output and the Criterion release places it on the appropriate pedestal, even offering a whole new cut of the masterpiece that offers a deeper take without losing much of the original’s power.

                            By the now the story of “The Tree of Life” is well-known but a bit of background seems appropriate. For decades, as far back his work on Great Movie “Days of Heaven,” Malick talked about making a film about the history of the universe. Yes, “The Tree of Life” actually sprouted from its infamous sequence in which Malick attempts to capture creation and evolution in visuals, somehow finding a way to merge the religious and the scientific, and even include CGI dinosaurs. Known for years under the codename “Q,” Malick could never quite figure out the second half of the film, only cracking it when he decided to use his own Texas upbringing as the foundation of the story. In doing so, Malick unlocks the magic of “The Tree of Life” in the way it illustrates the perspective we all have on our background and how it shaped us—we are created by it as much as the universe was created by the big bang. Everyone's personal CGI dinosaur is different.


                            “The Tree of Life” is a visual masterpiece, (shot by Emmanuel Lubezki, who would win three Oscars for Cinematography after this but bafflingly lose this one to "Hugo") and has never looked better than it does on this Blu-ray. Much has been written about how Malick seeks to find that “magic moment” when he’s making a film, only really knowing if he got it when he’s editing. He got so many of those moments here, from the butterfly that lands on Jessica Chastain’s wrist to the light streaming through a stained glass cinema to the framing of a father touching his new son’s foot for the first time—the film is so full of remarkable imagery that it’s emotionally overwhelming at times. I’ve long been a proponent of films that only work as films—not merely faithful adaptations of books or filmed plays, for example—and “The Tree of Life” understands visual language as well as any movie of the last decade. And it uses those striking images to ask the truly big questions. How do we grieve? How do we remember? How do we live? And what role does God play in all of this?

                            “The Tree of Life” was a pretty substantial 139 minutes on its initial release, but the new cut, which is not being billed as a director’s cut even though Malick oversaw it, is 50 minutes longer. Believe it or not, it feels a bit more conventional in the three-hour length as most of the new footage fills in some of the background of Jack’s family, almost making the movie into more of a traditional flashback story. There’s a fascinating early sequence with Sean Penn’s Jack that offers a bit more of an explanation as to why he would look to memory for stability—and feels almost like an early take on “Knight of Cups” with its multiple partners, chaos in the streets, etc.—but most of the new footage is in the center of the film. Some parts feel like extended versions of stuff from the original, but it’s actually Brad Pitt’s Father and Jessica Chastain’s Mother who get the most fleshing out. We even learn more about their upbringings, which plays into Malick’s cinematic representations of life's cyclical nature. Perhaps the best thing about the Extended Cut is how richly it deepens Pitt and Chastain’s work, which may be the best performances of their careers. Clearly, it’s a must-see for film fans, but I prefer the original if I had to pick. The theatrical cut is pure cinematic poetry; the extended, while also absolutely phenomenal, is closer to prose.


                            The Blu-ray from Criterion contains some excellent special features, but I may be a bit biased in claiming that a 2011 video essay from Matt Zoller Seitz and Serena Bramble done for the Museum of the Moving Image is my favorite. The printed essays by Roger Ebert and Kent Jones are two of the best from Criterion all year. And a 2011 documentary called “Exploring The Tree of Life” is included, which offers insight into why the film is such a masterpiece from Christopher Nolan and David Fincher, as well as interviews with many of the major players, including Pitt and Chastain. Criterion also provides a new interview with Chastain and senior visual effects supervisor Dan Glass; a new interview with critic Alex Ross about Malick’s use of classic music; and a new video essay by critic Benjamin B about the film’s cinematography and style, featuring audio interviews with Lubezki, production designer Jack Fisk, and other crew members.

                            We’re just about a year away from the impassioned conversations about the best films of the ‘10s. The Criterion release of “The Tree of Life” only deepens my belief that this is one of them.

                            Buy it here


                            By: Brian Tallerico
                            Posted: September 21, 2018, 2:00 pm

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                            Next month will mark the 54th year of the Chicago International Film Festival, continuing the gathering’s mission of introducing Chicagoland audiences with new favorites from all over the world. The festival starts on Wednesday, October 10 and ends on Sunday, October 21, with an exciting roster of movies that have played fests like Cannes or Toronto, along with titles making their U.S., international, or even world premiere. 

                            Three particularly major events for your calendar: CIFF starts with with a screening of the addiction drama “Beautiful Boy,” starring Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carell. Reviewing the film from Toronto, Brian Tallerico said that the film includes "another phenomenal performance from Timothee Chalamet, nearly matching last year's turn in 'Call Me by Your Name.'" Director and co-writer Felix Von Groeningen will be there to present the film; there are two  (To get tickets for the Opening Night Gala Presentation of "Beautiful Boy," click here)

                            Then, on October 16, Carey Mulligan will come to the festival to present “Wildlife,” the latest display of her incredible acting talent, and also the directorial debut of Paul Dano. Brian Tallerico said in his 3 1/2-star review of the film that "Mulligan hasn't been this good since her Oscar-nominated work in 'An Education.'" Mulligan will also be receiving a special tribute to her career. (To get tickets for the Centerpiece presentation of "Wildlife" and Carey Mulligan tribute, click here)

                            The Chicago International Film Festival will end on Sunday, October 21 with a screening of “The Front Runner,” Jason Reitman’s film about Gary Hart’s scandal back in 1988. The film just played at Telluride and the Toronto International Film Festival, and will now play Chicago with Reitman in attendance. (Click here to read Tomris Laffly's interview with Reitman and his two co-writers about “The Front Runner" ; to get tickets for the Closing Night screening of "The Front Runner," click here)

                            This year’s International Feature Film Competition includes 16 films, and the latest from the likes of Jia Zhangke (“Ash is Purest White”), Alice Rohrwacher (“Happy as Lazarro”), Olivier Assayas (“Non-Fiction”), Christian Petzold (“Transit”) and more. The category will also feature Kent Jones’ Tribeca Film Festival favorite “Diane,” which will be having its Chicago premiere. 


                            Steve McQueen’s highly anticipated “Widows,” his first film after “12 Years a Slave” from five years ago, will be presented at the festival as part of its Black Perspectives programs, which features nine films and a program of seven shorts. The program continues the festival’s goal of “showcasing excellence in filmmaking from African American filmmakers and the African diaspora.” Along with “Widows,” the program will featured a special showing of George Tillman Jr.’s new film, “The Hate U Give,” a new film starring Tessa Thompson (“Little Woods”), a documentary about “roller-skating’s pivotal role in the African-American community” titled “United Skates,” a documentary about Sandra Bland (“Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland”) and more. 

                            The Black Perspectives program will also feature a tribute to Ruth Carter, the costume designer most recently behind “Black Panther” but who was nominated for an Oscar for her work on “Malcolm X” and “Amistad.” (Click here to read our interview with Ruth Carter about her work on “Black Panther”; to get tickets to the Ruth Carter tribute, click here) 

                            Among the festival’s speciality programs, the Masters program is an excellent place to see the latest from the most revered auteurs working today. Included titles are Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Cold War,” Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” Asghar Farhadi’s “Everybody Knows,” Avi Nesher’s “The Other Story,” and Mike Leigh’s “Peterloo.” There are also spotlight sections on Comedy and Italy. 

                            The festival is a great place to get a leg-up on Oscar contenders in the Best Foreign Language category. Along with Alfonso Cuaron's “Roma,” which is Mexico’s official submission for the category, there’s also Ali Abbasi’s “Border” (from Sweden), “Birds of Passage” (from Colombia) and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or winner, “Shoplifters” (from Japan). 

                            Fans of short films will have certainly have lots to choose from with the festival’s eight different programs. The different sections include: “Around the Corner — City & State”; “Outside the Lines — Animation”; “Bad Don’t Sleep — After Dark” (with a short by Dev Patel starring Armie Hammer); “In Real Life — Documentaries”; “Searchers — Drama” (featuring a short by Guy Maddin); “Laughing Matters — Comedy” (with a short starring Jason Schwartzman and Jake Johnson); “Beyond a Boundary — Black Perspectives,” and “Meditations — Experimental.” The latter features the latest short from Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a short about “a sublimely orchestrated journey into the realms of sleep and landscape.” 

                            Keeping with the festival’s top interest in promoting women filmmakers, the festival’s “Women in Cinema” program is highlighting 36 features and 21 shorts directed by women. Included titles are: Elizabeth Chomko’s Chicago-shot “What They Had,” starring Hilary Swank and Michael Shannon; “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” by Marielle Heller; Julie Bertuccelli’s “idiosyncratic family drama” “Claire Darling” starring Catherine Deneuve and many more. 

                            The full schedule can be found at the Chicago International Film Festival's website here. Be sure to check back at often as we dive deep into one of world's finest festivals. 

                            The 54th Chicago International Film Festival runs from October 10-21. For more information, showtimes, and tickets, showtimes, click here

                            By: Nick Allen
                            Posted: September 19, 2018, 8:35 pm

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                            When my late husband Roger reviewed Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" upon its release 50 years ago, he bookended his four-star rave with the poetry of e.e. cummings, who once wrote, "listen—there’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go." Roger's tireless excitement for exploring other worlds through the portal of cinema will be celebrated at the first Roger Ebert Symposium, "Empathy for the Universe: Storytelling and Data Visualization," held Monday, October 1st, at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, 1205 W. Clark St., in Urbana, Illinois. The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will kick off at 9am and feature three interactive panel discussions assembling a diverse collection of visualization experts, journalists, scientists, media experts, artists, designers—and—an astronaut. We will end the day bedazzled by the majesty of the universe in a film at the IMAX theater in Savoy. 

                            Roger was a brilliant film critic and philosopher, and that is reflected in the film festival that has beared his name at the Virginia Theater for the last twenty years. But the emphasis he placed on empathizing with those who share this journey with us is part of his legacy that resonates even with those who are not movie lovers, and is something that I nurture studiously in my lectures on empathy, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Roger also had the vision to see that cinema and science were not incompatible, and used properly could both foster better relations among people. He noted that some of the greatest achievements in science and technology took place at his alma mater, the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and it is there at his Ebert Center with the assistance of Dr. Donna Cox, and alumni Dr. Brand Fortner and Dr. Nate Kohn, that we will focus specifically on the cinematic presentation of science and related subjects. 

                            The day’s first panel discussion, "Science on the Screen," will include former NASA astronaut Terry Virts, a cinematographer for the IMAX film "A Beautiful Planet," who spent 200 days aboard the International Space Station and shot much of the footage. He will be joined by Toni Myers, the writer/director of the movie as well as other NASA-related IMAX pictures. Jennifer Lawrence served as the narrator, while NCSA’s Advanced Visualization Laboratory collaborated on the opening and closing virtual scenes of flight through intergalactic space, based on scientific data. At 4:30pm, "A Beautiful Planet" will be screened for free at the Goodrich Savoy 16 IMAX theater, 232 Burwash Avenue in Savoy, Illinois. The theater is co-sponsoring the event.

                            As a collaboration between the College of Media, the Ebert Center and NCSA, the symposium draws from Roger's belief that movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts. The scheduled panels aim to embody the principles Roger stood for, including empathy, compassion and inclusion, whether we are talking about the earth, the cosmos or our oceans. It is our hope to illustrate how cinema can bring a deeper understanding of nature, society and the universe. We will show in an emphatic way that science and the arts are not mutually exclusive, but share a bond that results in greater benefits to humanity.

                            Joining me as fellow panel participants at the symposium are Donna J. Cox, Illinois professor of art and design, director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory and co-organizer of the event; Anita Chan, Illinois professor of media and cinema studies specializing in global imaginaries around new information technologies; Brand Fortner, Illinois alumnus, professor of physics at North Carolina State University and an expert on accessible scientific visualization. They will be joined by Brant Houston, Illinois professor of journalism who specializes in investigative and computer-assisted reporting; Karrie Karahalios, Illinois professor of computer science specializing in computer-mediated communication and online community building and Nate Kohn, Ebertfest director, film producer and director of the MFA screenwriting program at the University of Georgia. 

                            I am happy to announce that other panels will be led by the illustrious Katie Mack, professor of physics at North Carolina State University known for her public science outreach through the @AstroKatie Twitter account; Stacey Robinson, Illinois professor of graphic design whose graphic novels and other work explore ideas of Afrofuturism and black utopias; Rachel Switzky, the inaugural director of the Siebel Center for Design at Illinois and former executive at the global design firm IDEO.

                            We will be presenting an award to Doron Weber, vice president at the Sloan Foundation who runs a program to advance public understanding of science, technology and economics and to bridge the cultures of science and the humanities. Participating remotely in the symposium will be Temple Grandin, Illinois alumna and professor of animal science at Colorado State University known for her work on the humane treatment of livestock. (Claire Danes portrayed Temple Grandin in the acclaimed HBO movie.)

                            It will be a day that Roger would have been thrilled to participate in. I hope you will join us.

                            Tickets for the film and the symposium are not required, but preference will be given to individuals who pre-register online. Online registration is now open on the Ebert Symposium website

                            The full schedule and additional information on participants can be found at

                            By: Chaz Ebert
                            Posted: September 19, 2018, 9:30 pm


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