WBEZ | film review http://www.wbez.org/tags/film-review Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'Before Midnight': This is what it means to be in love http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/midnight-what-it-means-be-love-107673 <p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/525370_401174553311378_212136243_n.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/Before Midnight)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>This is the romantic reality. When it is easy, it is easier than we imagined. It is holding hands and quick kisses and looks of longing. It is conversation that flows easily, breathlessly, without a moment of pause. It is laughter. But when it is not easy, when everything is not just the first time, the true reality of the complexities of a contemporary romance set in.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6">This is the premise behind Richard Linklater&rsquo;s latest film, <em>Before Midnight</em>, the third look at the relationship between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) after <em>Before Sunrise</em> and <em>Before Sunset</em>. In this latest film, the two are finally together. Whereas in the first film they just met and in the second film they were reunited, in this latest, we learn that they took the major leap, altered their lives, and ended up committed to each other. Along the way, they also had twin daughters.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6">The movie is not a response to the previous films. Rather it works as a complete end to the series. Although each &ldquo;Before&rdquo; film can stand on its own, they work best as a complete trilogy on how love &ldquo;works.&rdquo; I enjoyed the films originally because they were light and visually lush and aurally-rich. The dialogue jumped out of their mouths. The European settings were vibrant and enticing. The characters felt real in that I saw them in couples I knew and admired from afar. Audiences want to follow them because they are us. They are what we see for ourselves when we are young, when we want to fall in love, and when we actually do. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6">Prior to watching <em>Before Midnight</em>, I re-watched <em>Before Sunrise</em> and <em>Before Sunset</em>. Watching them back-to-back further unraveled the singular narrative writers Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke aimed to tell.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/179750_442767965818703_782700937_n.png" style="height: 148px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/Before Sunrise)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6"><em>Before Sunrise</em> is about the headyness of something new. The movie takes place before sunrise, before a new day. <em>Before Sunset</em> is about the lust of something real. Jesse has to fly back to the United States. Celine says, &ldquo;Baby, you are gonna miss that plane.&rdquo; Jessie replies, &ldquo;I know.&rdquo; Those unbelievably heavy last lines in that film were the cliffhanger to what we now know: they end up together.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6"><em>Before Midnight</em> then is about the frustrations of something here and now, in the real world. It is well thought out and reflects the realities of love and romance. The original films show how easy it is to fall in love. This latest shows what happens after the love has settled. Real life and relationships are challenging and messy. There are consequences to our actions. </span></p><p>It is telling that the film opens in a Greek airport as Jesse leaves his son, Hank, from his original marriage. Their relationship is loving, but strained. It is not just about his age (pre-high school), but about the situation they&rsquo;ve found themselves in. From the perspective of his son, his parents are divorced. One is (supposedly) an alcoholic and the other lives across the world with his girlfriend and two daughters. This is a complicated reality, though one that is not unfamiliar. His father found love on a different continent. For Jesse, he found love while also not being there, literally, for his son. What we want and what the world gives us are two different things.</p><p>Like the previous films, a beautiful setting (this time, a Greek island) is used in the first half of the film to frame the giddiness of love. In contrast, a cold, harsh hotel room becomes the background for a heated argument. Under the glare of reality and flawed humanity, reality is not as pleasant. Loveliness is fleeting.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6e289908-3e32-98d1-6df9-5ca573511ff6">It is nice to see them age. They are literally not driven by youth. In youth we find the desire to view the world and our interactions within it with the strength of naivete. Taking the films as a whole, their youth represents innocence and hopefulness. As they age, as wrinkles set in and forms mature, so too does the reality of building and maintaining a relationship. Life happens: with us, near us, and to us. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>&quot;Before Midnight&quot; is out now in Chicagoland theaters.</em>&nbsp;<em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Jun 2013 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/midnight-what-it-means-be-love-107673 Milos Stehlik reviews the Henri-Georges Clouzot film 'Wages of Fear' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-20/milos-stehlik-reviews-henri-georges-clouzot-film-wages-fear-95694 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-20/Wages.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Made in 1953, the film <em>Wages of Fear</em> will be re-issued in a new reconstructed print. This is one terrific thriller — and unlike most thrillers which terrorize the audience or shock them with gratuitous fear, <em>Wages of Fear</em> is different and special in how it brilliantly manipulates our positive empathy. We cheer for the characters to make it out alive.</p><p>Master postwar French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot directs the film. His body of great work includes such films as <em>Diabolique</em>. <em>Wages of Fear</em> is set in a squalid South American town — basically owned by an American oil company. It’s feels like you're on the outskirts of civilization. Stranded characters fill this nowhere and nothing of a place, where boredom is the major event of the day.</p><p>With great mastery, Clouzot reveals to us shades of near-desperation, similar to the hell of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, “No Exit.”</p><p>For the film's main characters, the distant promise of escape comes out of the blue, with the offer of a $2,000 reward, a huge sum in 1953. The job is to drive 300 miles with two trucks filled with nitroglycerin. The destination? An oil well burning out of control in the middle of the jungle.</p><p>The men who take their chances are Luigi, an Italian bricklayer, and Bimba, an arrogant and fearless German. Jo, a middle-aged gangster, and Mario, a Corsican, drive the second truck. Yves Montand plays Mario in a career-defining performance.</p><p>The treacherous journey and dangerous roads push each man to their limit. It’s hot, sweaty, dirty, noisy, dark and far. <em>Wages of Fear</em> exhibits its greatness as Clouzot pushes us to understand and empathize with these men’s weaknesses as their bravado, courage, perseverance or sheer force of will fail them. Clouzot emphasizes their humanity, reveals their heroism, their tragic flaws, by revealing these moments of fragility and vulnerability.</p><p>Clouzot himself revealed much about the film by saying he deliberately steered away from the exotic, and instead chose a solid, realistic setting and focused on “complex human material and the gripping accessory of a truck loaded with nitroglycerin.” This allowed him to develop the grand elements of the film. “Yes,” Clouzot continues, “This is an epic whose main theme is courage — and the opposite.” It’s an illuminating dichotomy because of how anti-heroism exposes the characters’ courage.</p><p><em>Wages of Fear</em> is also ingenious for its sharpness. We see South America exploited by the American oil company, quite daring for a film in 1953. Ruthless and incessant greed — broken and shattered lives left in its wake — profit at all cost, all done with impunity: these themes are old-hat now, but Clouzot demonstrates their tragedy because he underpins their absurdity and their blindness.</p><p><em>Wages of Fear</em> was a resounding international success and became a timeless classic. It still is, and much more today<span style="font-style: italic;">.</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/contributor/milos-stehlik" target="_blank">Milos Stehlik</a> is the director of <a href="http://www.facets.org/" target="_blank">Facets Multimedia</a>. His commentaries&nbsp;reflect his own views and not necessarily those of Facets Multimedia, </em>Worldview<em> or WBEZ.</em></p></p> Fri, 20 Jan 2012 18:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-20/milos-stehlik-reviews-henri-georges-clouzot-film-wages-fear-95694 Worldview 1.20.12 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-12012 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2012-january/2012-01-20/cyprus1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Turkey is threatening to cut off relations with the European Union if Cyprus takes over the rotating E.U. presidency, as planned later this year. The U.N. will bring together both Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders this weekend to move negotiations forward. Chicagoan Endy Zemenides, executive director of the <a href="http://www.hellenicleaders.com/" target="_blank">Hellenic American Leadership Council</a>, tells <em>Worldview </em>what’s at stake. Also, the European Union just sanctioned the U.S. on the death penalty, passing legislation that limits our access to the drugs we use for executions. <em>Worldview</em> delves into this issue with <a href="http://www.law.northwestern.edu/faculty/profiles/SandraBabcock/" target="_blank">Sandra Babcock</a>, clinical director at the <a href="http://www.law.northwestern.edu/humanrights/" target="_blank">Center for International Human Rights</a> at Northwestern Law School. She helped push for the E.U.’s recent legislation. And, film contributor Milos Stehlik reviews <em>Wages of Fear</em>, a film by master post-war French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot.</p></p> Fri, 20 Jan 2012 14:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-12012 Worldview 8.12.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-81211 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-august/2011-08-03/us1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the final installment of our <em><a href="http://wbez.org/herethere" target="_blank">Here, There</a></em> series on abortion, we return to the divisive struggle over reproductive matters in the United States. While in some instances, other countries' politics resemble our own, one thing clearly distinguishes ours from the rest: the pitched, protracted and -- at times -- violent battle between those who want to restrict abortion and those who want it kept legal and readily available. While Americans are all too familiar with the current debate, the history of how we got here might surprise you. To find out more, we talk to <a href="http://cwpp.pdx.edu/content/dr-melody-rose" target="_blank">Melody Rose</a>, author of <a href="http://www.cqpress.com/product/Safe-Legal-and-Unavailable-American.html" target="_blank"><em>Safe, Legal and Unavailable? Abortion Politics in the United States</em></a>. Later, <em>Worldview</em> film contributor Milos Stehlik ruminates on the depiction of abortion in film.</p></p> Fri, 12 Aug 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-81211 Film Review: Wedding chaos the source of laughs in 'Bridesmaids' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-17/film-review-wedding-chaos-source-laughs-bridesmaids-86498 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-13/Bridesmaids Universal Pictures cropped.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Filmmaker Judd Apatow has a knack for making pretty much anything funny. A 40-Year-Old Virgin, an unexpected pregnancy in <em>Knocked Up</em>. Now he’s lent his name, as producer, to the hilarity that ensues when you’re a member of a wedding party.<br> <br> But <a href="http://www.bridesmaidsmovie.com/" target="_blank"><em>Bridesmaids </em></a>is actually a Kristen Wiig joint. The <em>Saturday Night Live</em> cast member co-wrote and stars in the movie. Hank Sartin is senior editor at <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/" target="_blank"><em>Time Out Chicago</em></a>, and he recently reviewed the film with <em>Eight Forty-Eight's</em> Alison Cuddy.</p><p><em>Music Button: El Ten Eleve, "Falling", from the CD It's Still Like a Secret", (Fake Record Label)</em></p></p> Tue, 17 May 2011 13:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-17/film-review-wedding-chaos-source-laughs-bridesmaids-86498 Jonathan Miller reviews 'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-14/jonathan-miller-reviews-uncle-boonmee-who-can-recall-his-past-lives-8517 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-14/Uncle Boonmee kickthemachine.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Filmmaker <a href="http://www.kickthemachine.com/staffs/joe.htm" target="_blank">Apichatpong Weerasethakul</a> was born in Thailand but his formative film education came about in the Windy City. He earned his MFA in experimental film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His latest film <a href="http://www.kickthemachine.com/works/Uncle%20Boonmee.html" target="_blank"><em>Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives</em></a> has won a number of major awards, including the Palme d’Or at the 2010 <a href="http://www.festival-cannes.com/" target="_blank">Cannes Film Festival</a>. The film has a run in Chicago beginning on Friday.<em> Eight Forty-Eight</em> asked Jonathan Miller to take a closer look at the film.<br> <br> <br> Boonmee, a farmer in rural Thailand, faces death. His kidneys are failing.&nbsp; His sister-in-law Jen comes to spend time with him. She is accompanied by Tong, a young man who can help care for Boonmee.</p><p>Boonmee’s proximity to death draws the world of spirits closer.&nbsp; The night Jen arrives, Boonmee’s wife, Huay, appears at the dinner table. She has been dead for 19 years.&nbsp; Then Boonmee’s lost son, Boonsong, emerges from the shadows of the night jungle as a monkey ghost. Boonsong explains that he became fascinated by an image of a monkey ghost that showed up in one of his photographs. He began to stalk them, and eventually found one to be his wife.&nbsp;</p><p>The monkey ghosts stare at the human world from behind the dense jungle foliage, laser bright red eyes surrounded by long dense black fur. Weerasthakul’s finds the source for these striking creatures in popular Thai films he watched when he was young. They are at once familiar kitschy and unearthly profound.</p><p>The up-country landscape is lush, eerie and brimming with spirits, alive and dead.&nbsp; There’s a quasi-animistic quality to the world that Weerasthakul depicts — the wheel of karma can be felt spinning in every action.&nbsp; Killing mosquitos with an electronic zapper leads to profound consequences.&nbsp; Boonmee invites Jen to taste the honey right from one of the hives on his bee farm. The honey, with flavors of tamarind and corn, is bitter and sweet, the distilled essence of life.</p><p>Boonmee confesses a belief that his illness is the result of his karmic debt. He is burdened by deaths that he has caused, from insects to humans. His thoughts on these actions point to a subtle political subtext. Part of the history of the area where Weerasthakul sets the film involves clashes between the government and farmers turned communists.&nbsp;</p><p>Appearances in this film are deceptive — the world of the living and the world of the dead, dreams and the future, all interpenetrate. In the opening moments of the film, a buffalo slips its tether and runs off into the woods; it may be Boonmee’s memory of a past life. A princess, woebegone because of her flawed appearance, stops by a waterfall in the woods, where a talking catfish convinces her of her beauty and seduces her. Boonmee’s long-dead wife tends to his medical needs at his bedside and they embrace.</p><p>Boonmee stands for a world that is passing into extinction, an ongoing process in which the present engulfs its origins. The tale weaves its way toward its peak moment as Boonmee Jen and Tong descend into a cave.&nbsp; The explicitly womblike quality of the location provides a platform for the blurring passage between birth, death, and rebirth. Boonmee senses a previous incarnation as he moves deeper into the cave, a primordial undifferentiated birth, maybe human, perhaps animal, at the least, alive.&nbsp; Perhaps it began among a handful of fish swimming in a pool in the caves far from the light of day. Here, in the depths of the earth, the fission of spirit and matter occurs and completes another turn in the cycle of existence and extinction.</p><p>Even the living may separate from themselves to exist in two places at once. Perhaps because of the deadening qualities of modern life: at complacent moments, lulled by distraction, or lies, blinded by ideology, it may be that we die a bit, at which moment our spirits have to go forward seeking fulfillment.</p><p>Weerasthakul’s gentle and subtle film moves with unhurried fluidity. The pace of everyday rural life meshes with overarching cosmic rhythms. Few filmmakers would ever try to show us how we can, to paraphrase William Blake, “Hold Infinity in the palm of our hand
. And Eternity in an hour.” Weerasthakul demonstrates most deftly that a brightly-lit, colorful restaurant with a karaoke soundtrack can be the purest paradise.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives</em> opens in Chicago on Friday at the <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/uncle-boonmee-who-can-recall-his-past-lives/" target="_blank">Music Box Theatre</a>.</p></p> Thu, 14 Apr 2011 13:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-14/jonathan-miller-reviews-uncle-boonmee-who-can-recall-his-past-lives-8517 Milos Stehlik reviews the latest film from Abbas Kiarostami http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-18/milos-stehlik-reviews-latest-film-abbas-kiarostami-83929 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-18/105231508.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Abbas Kiarostami&rsquo;s most recent film, <em>Certified Copy</em>, won the Best Actress Award for its star, Juliette Binoche. Binoche had a smaller role in Kiarostami&rsquo;s recent interesting feature-length experiment, <em>Shirin</em>. In <em>Shirin</em>, we watch a movie audience as they themselves watch a movie &ndash; the love story of Khoswrow and Shirin which is an 800-year old Persian romantic myth about self-sacrifice. We see the reactions of the audience, the sound from the film they are watching, but we never see the action of the film.</p> <div>&nbsp;Watching <em>Shirin</em> one is, in effect, watching the watchers. These reflections and filters on what an audience sees and knows which Kiarostami experiments with reach a new dimension in <em>Certified Copy</em>.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Since his film, <em>The Wind Will Carry Us</em>, Abbas Kiarostami &ndash; certainly the greatest Iranian filmmaker - has had difficulties in Iran. His last films were barely distributed. Financing them seems to be an issue. After <em>The Wind Will Carry Us</em>, Kiarostami wrote and published poetry, did photography, went to a lot of festivals, made a short film in Italy, and took part in an interesting exhibition based on correspondence between Kiarostami and Spanish filmmaker Victor Erice. Now he is in the process of transition to make films in Europe &ndash; never an easy adjustment for filmmakers whose work is deeply rooted in their own culture.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>For her part, Juliette Binoche is smart enough to realize that the number of leading roles available to her is shrinking. She is 46. Her solution is to find directors with interesting ideas and new ways of working, and use her star-value and hopefully bankability &ndash; to help them make films in the West in which she gets challenging roles. Her first outing was with the brilliant Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsen, and his first European venture, <em>Flight of the Red Balloon</em>.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><em>Certified Copy</em> is set in Tuscany where Binoche runs an art gallery. She sits prominently in the audience as an English author arrives to read from and promote his latest book which is titled &ndash; naturally, <em>Certified Copy</em>. Binoche has bought 6 copies of the book for him to sign. The author &ndash; in my opinion, in a rather stiff performance -- is played by British opera star William Shimmel.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Shimmel and Binoche take a drive through the Tuscan countryside, and arrive at the picture-perfect town of Lucignano. Here is where memory &ndash; which is, after all, only a copy of the real event &ndash; begins to play in a sense of déjà vu and mirrored reality.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Shimmel tells a story which inspired him in writing his book. Binoche responds in an emotional tone. A café proprietress presumes that Binoche and Shimmel are husband and wife. They may have been. Remembering a hotel, she insists on visiting a room which looks over the roofs of Lucignano toward the cathedral. Had they spent a night there together, years before? He remembers nothing.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Binoche and Shimmel &ndash; her character is never named during the film &ndash; play with these paradoxical elements as a kind of offhanded, jazz riff. It is as if bits and pieces of the characters&rsquo; lives were fragments of play-acting and narrative inserted into a story that&rsquo;s still being written. Does it matter who and what these characters are and what really happened? We won&rsquo;t really know, and perhaps neither does Kiarostami. It&rsquo;s a game, a representation of something which will always remain indistinct and elusive &ndash; a metaphor for what?</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Certified Copy is challenging and &ndash; for me, most irritating &ndash; when characters constantly slip in and out of different languages. At various times they speak English, Italian, French &ndash;shifting in and out of languages like out of wet socks. Do these language changes have a meaning? Damned if I know.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Kiarostami&rsquo;s strength and uniqueness as a filmmaker has always been in creating situations in which characters become vessels for deeper philosophical ideas. He is rarely much concerned with characters&rsquo; psychology. This problem shows up in <em>Certified Copy</em> because the obliqueness of his characters, the way he sets up characters to mirror each other and their situations leads to what I would consider &ldquo;intellectual mush.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Kiarostami deliberately keeps the audience from being able to come to any conclusive, logical interpretation of either the characters or their situations. Every character clue is followed by an ironic undermining and questioning of that same clue.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the end, you can&rsquo;t be sure of much that you&rsquo;ve seen, except, perhaps, the beautiful Tuscan countryside. There is a lot to be said for that.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><em>Milos Stehlik&rsquo;s commentaries&nbsp;reflect his own views and not necessarily those of <a href="http://www.facets.org/">Facets Multimedia</a>, </em>Worldview<em> or </em>91.5 WBEZ<em>. His reviews air on Fridays.</em></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-18/milos-stehlik-reviews-latest-film-abbas-kiarostami-83929